Do You Remember… Computers

On my previous post Do You Remember… Typing Class, keoni suggested this topic about our first computers or exposure to computers.


For me, this was my first home computer.


Computer PS2


I believe I paid around $1,800 for it – from Costco.  It came with 2 MB of memory.  I immediately went out to Memco and purchases another 2 MB of memory for $200.  I was cookin’!  And I believe it was running Windows/98.  Today, I have an iMac with 4 GB of memory.  That’s 4,000 MB of memory compared to 4 MB on my very first computer.


Looking back, my very first exposure to computers was in the 12th grade.  Mrs. Loo was my business teacher and she also taught a one-semester course called Data Processing.  She talked me out of architecture as a career and said that I should go into computers instead.  That was some of the best advice I received.  Thanks Mrs. Loo!


In our Data Processing class, we actually had 2 keypunch machines.

Computer Keypunch


… in which we used


Computer 8080 Card

80/80 keypunch cards


Mrs. Loo taught us BASIC programming concepts and she even had us punch a small BASIC program on the keypunch machine.  She then took the cards to a data center and had the printouts brought back to us showing us that we had written our first computer program.  But then she said that one of the innocent girl’s program had a comment printed that said “Mrs. Loo is a dork”.  Mrs. Loo knew exactly who set up the girl.  It was the smart-ass kid in the class who acted like he knew all about computers.  He did himself in.


Then at Kapiolani Community College – PENSACOLA campus, I majored in Data Processing (DP), later called ICS.  We had an IBM System/3 computer.


Computer IBM S3

See that blue thing the girl is holding?  That was the removable disk.  There was also a fixed disk that contained the computer’s operating system.  It read in the program cards first, followed by the data cards.  Then printed out your report.  Notice that there’s no screen?  That “typewriter” behind the girl was the computer console.  Error replies were entered by turning the dials on the central processing unit (CPU).


My first computer job as a part-time computer operator had me working on an IBM System/34


Computer IBM_System34

At least this one had a CRT monitor for a console.  Check out the line printer.  That thing used to vibrate like a washing machine!  But it was fast!


I continued on programming in RPG language on an IBM System/36, then on to an IBM AS/400 – later renamed an I-Series.  But while I was spending my time fixing legacy code, the industry switched from main-frame computers to client-server systems.  I became obsolete.  Or specialized – depending on how you look at it.  LOL


But all the concepts and knowledge that I gained over my career, I contribute today as an Analyst.  I kinda miss the programming part, especially the debugging.  It was like a huge logic puzzle to me.  And when I’d start digging into the code, I would get entrenched in it and would have notes written all over the program printout hunting down the problem.  And when I found it – the imaginary light bulb above my head lit up.  The puzzle was conquered.


What’s your computer story?  Do you remember you first computer?  Today, are you a Windows or Mac person?  Thanks for the blog idea, @keoni.


45 Responses to “Do You Remember… Computers”

  1. ray says:

    I was introduced to 80/80 punch cards in 1967 while at the Pentagon. We had 10 026 card punches and 5 026 punch verifiers. We also had two sorters, a gang puncher, and printer that printed from the cards.

    Later I worked at a place that had several 029 punch/verifiers. I had a young lady working for me that could actually jamb up an 029 on punch mode.

    • Rodney says:

      @ray – Welcome and thank you for sharing your old computer memories with us. Times have really changed, eh?

  2. LINDA KATO says:

    Hi MLCer’s: after I posted my comments about hp computers never crashing….. in 2 years…. I opened up a virus that said: PC Updates which corrupted all of my files. I had to have the GEEK SQUAD at Best Buy delete all of my files and restore everything…. took a week…. without a computer! Boy was I having computer withdrawals! Missed you guys. Too bad Ankles wasn’t in Hawaii at that time! All is good today! I won’t be opening any pop ups any time soon!

  3. Mike Bates says:

    We had that IBM card machine at UH-Hilo community college back in the early 80’s. I moved over to UH Manoa and they had PC’s!

  4. Jibo's Brother says:

    Wow, totally forgot about this. I learned Machine Language programming on an IMSAI 8080. The original Wargames computer. Although, as i recall, the 6800 had an easier architecture to learn.

  5. AnkleBYTERS says:

    Volleymom2: I still have those Zip drives in my closet and the PC that created them in the late ’90s. Those drives weren’t cheap back then, over $100+ for one….

  6. Volleymom2 says:

    Oh now I know kinda what my dad did- I think he was a computer programmer or analyst. Always wanted to know about those machines- liked the visuals. I started learning on the radio shack ones and then onto desk tops and then to laptops and iPads. I am a pc person. Remember those Zip drives? They went out really quick- what happened?

  7. keoni says:

    When I became a network technician for H&R Block is when I really got into the hardware end of it. We used several different computers over the 12 years I was with them from Compaq to HP. I loved wworking on the Compaqs – so easy to swap out hard drives, video cards, etc. And the printers were easy to service with some of the more simple things like adjusting the tension in the paper tray or replacing the fusers in the HP printers – I did many of them! Block switched over to Lexmark printers a few years before I left; they were a real workhorse.

  8. dihudfan says:

    don’t remembah my first computer… think it wuz a Apple II… started working on computers in the old days… most of them developed for newspaper use… one of the first wuz a Compositor… wired wound boards and had to load a boot strap off a 8 level tape, which took at least 45 minutes to a hour to load… in the old days there were 2 sides of people that worked on the computers, software or hardware… I wuz a hardware guy, trouble shooting down to chip level… as time went by we had to learn how to use software to manipulate the hardware… worked on dumb terminals to individual pc and macs… went to many classes for the main frames… linux wuz useful… but laddah all I did wuz work on Macs… this wuz a lot of fun… today I use a iMac, ipad and itouch… love it, cuz its so simple…

  9. keoni says:

    Who remembers the type in programs, much like the sample below, which appeared in magazines such as Compute or Byte:

    10 CALL CLEAR (or however your computer cleared the screen)
    20 PRINT “HELLO”
    30 GOTO 20

    When you typed in RUN to start the program it would print “HELLO” on the screen over and over.

  10. 4G says:

    Back then, you were, at least, a little concerned about hogging (the only) telephone line. 😉

    For UHCC – was it PACX?

    Something like:

    Service? 22


  11. keoni says:

    I remember the local BB’s back in the day. Had fun chatting with people on them. You could even download or share programs through them.

  12. 4G says:

    @Ankles – eh, howzit?! Long time, man!

    Those vending machines sure were helpful. I liked the chicken soup, too. Only, my “sandwich” was a burrito (had microwave with the vending machines during my time)! 😉

  13. AnkleBYTERS says:

    @4G – made many a purchases from the vending machines right outside the building in the hall….chicken noodle soup was my favorite and the egg salad sandwich.

  14. AnkleBYTERS says:

    …and it’ll cost you only a Zippy’s meal….lol….

  15. AnkleBYTERS says:

    Hey @Linda, when I retire this year, I’ll give you lessons when I’m back in 808 land….

  16. AnkleBYTERS says:

    My 1st encounter with a computer was in the BA building on the UH campus. I would study in the empty rooms in the evening and one night I found a room full of teletype machines….paper rolls and paper tape readers. The room was empty so I sat in front of one and saw on the paper, a game of tic-tac-toe called ‘Batnum’ someone was previously playing. So I typed in ‘Batnum’ (no userid/password in those days required) and a start to 42+ years of computers began. I enrolled in my first computer coding class, BASIC, the next semesters and that followed with COBOL classes. I spent many a nights at Keller Hall, punching cards and submitting jobs to the IBM/360…I still have the outputs on green bar paper from the COBOL classes. I have a tale or two about dropping a box of cards 🙁 . Little did I know, as I found out later, that upstairs were terminals where you could edit and submit your jobs from!!

    My first personal computer was the Radio Shack TRS-80 Model I, Z80 processor, 1.7MHz and 4KB of RAM…paid just over $1k for it in ’78. I used it in the mini storage property I was managing as I wrote my own applications in BASIC. I was then also working for a university as a Systems Programmer and would take home on weekends a TI Silent 700 with 300 baud modem to play ‘Zork’, connected to one of the computer companies in the valley….I went through many rolls of those thermal papers. The university had a bunch of DEC PDP/1170s so a few of us chipped in to buy it and it came on an 8″ floppy and we would play during off hours. My first exposure to a mainframe was a Univac 1100….the kind of computers that you always see portrayed in movies with its tape drives spinning and console lights flashing….warp speed Mr. Sulu. This was replaced with an Amdahl V7 with 16MB of memory. There was a lot of gold in its circuitry when it was eventually salvaged. The ’80s brought forth networking between users via IBM/HP/DEC/Cray mainframes. I did a lot of BAL programming on the mainframes, especially in JES2, MVS/XA, VM/XA and VAXes. Our university was connected to other universities (UH included) around the US and Europe via a network call BITNET (Because It’s Time Network) – basically a store-and-forward network. At its height of usage, there were over 3,000 nodes (you’d call them IP addresses today) but support ended in ’96. There is a high speed BITNET2 network between universities now. Many of the applications available today on the Internet was available back then – email, chat, irc, social forums but no WWW. I ran a RELAY (IRC) back then on campus and I still keep in contact with a few of the players from that era. In fact, I first met my current FWB and SM on BITNET back in the mid ’80s. Hard to believe my SM’s daughter is now a freshman in college. This was way way before and its peers were even a thought in the minds of their creators…lol…

    I currently use Windows on PCs at work but I support Linux and Xen on servers and run Windows and Linux at home.

  17. Jibo's Brother says:

    Back before the Internet there was BBS’s! 1st modem was a whopping 300bps, later upgraded to a 2400bps.

    1st email address i had was 9906,

  18. Hawai'ian by heart says:


    Urgh you just brought up memories of a filipina nun i had in second grade who used to wack me with a ruler when i was holding the pencle wrong when doing cursive writing. 🙁

  19. Hawai'ian by heart says:

    The first time i was exposed to computers was arcade games and the first atari(remember that?) My first computer was an apple 2e with logo, bankstreet writer etc. At home im a windows guy at work im an apple guy because apples are better for graphic arts. Remember playing sim city on that old apple 2e. 🙂

  20. 4G says:

    It’s National Handwriting Day?

    With the decreased reliance on handwriting, I find that I can’t write as much as I could before. My hand/fingers get tired and can even cramp up. 🙁 My handwriting used to be nicer (not that it was that great) and seemed to have taken less effort. Sometimes, I really have to think about my signature . . . .


  21. Seawalker says:

    What’s that old geek saying that some people swear by it?

    “Once you go Mac, you never go back!!!!”


  22. keoni says:

    Looking back from where we are today, one wonders how we functioned with what seems so primitive now. But we worked with what we had and produced some pretty amazing results, yeah?
    I do know that we who came to love that little 99/4A took the computer far beyond anything or any uses that TI ever imagined! And there are a lot of people still seeing how far or much further they can push it!
    Eh 4G, geeks of da world, IMUA! 😆

  23. keoni says:

    I remember when someone brought out a 5 MB hard drive for the TI. You could probably fit everything that was ever produced for the machine on that one drive since even the game cartridges which Texas Instruments made for it were under 100K and the programs AND memory usage couldn’t be larger than 32K when they were run! 😯

  24. Mark Shelby says:

    In the early 1980’s we bought a large computer for our Marsh Company Home Furnishings.

    It was kind of like the one in the pic above with the lady in the green dress. But a little bit more modern, and nothing tall and large on top of the desk.

    But it was a very large L~Shaped desk. And it used the very Large disk like in the pic above. I had no idea how to operate it. And somehow our cute little Filipino office girls figured it out! That was awesome! It’s cost us $35,000 Bucks!

    This was obviously an industrial strength business computer for it’s time.

    And it was used to keep track of our, employees, sales, inventory and customers. ……Etc.

    I was actually very upset that my Dad spent that much money on a new fangled computer that took up an entire room! I did not think we needed it. Maybe my Dad was evolving faster than me!……hehe

  25. LINDA KATO says:

    Good evening, MLCer’s ❗ Happy Thursday ❗ 😀

    Our first computer was a McIntosh from Computer City…. cost over $1k. I read the manual and set it up myself…. can you imagine THAT ❗ In those days, we used it for word processing to type up homework papers. We were not connected to the internet. My kids would constantly delete the entire program by mistake and I would have to reload it with the backup disc. Our first computer connected to the internet was a DELL Windows Millenium since that is what we had at work. I used Mcafee Security but this computer constantly caught viruses and was down a lot. I also had to buy ink through DELL only via mail…. I hated THAT. My IT Specialist son told me never to buy DELL again so we bought an HP computer and a Brother printer (ink sold anywhere…yay)! On this current computer I use a NORTON virus protection…. so far so good. It’s been 3 years and I have not caught a virus once due to this security protection. I don’t have to call my son to fix this or that so we’ll never get a DELL computer again! My son swears by his MAC computer but it looks complicated to me. I use the Microsoft word program for word processing which I am familiar with so all is good when I need to type a paper or kids need to do there homework. Some day when I get around to it, I will take a computer class at the community college so I can do more things with this computer. I had 1 8 hour on the job training at work on how to use our computers and that was it…. we were expected to know how to type up and run our computers with very little instruction after that…. I am amazed I survived! My kids are super good on their computers unlike their Mom. 😀

  26. NaPueo says:

    Took a computer course at LCC in the early ’70’s. Don’t remember much about it. My first personal computer was a Apple IIe. It used 5.25in floppy discs. Also bought a dot matrix printer.

  27. Mark'75 says:

    Hope this works. That IBM looked just like this but with two floppy drives.–bwbbF7j-m4/UmINrIkruNI/AAAAAAAAAao/l5YLn87xI90/s1600/ps255sx.jpg

  28. Mark'75 says:

    The WANG word processor in the mid ’80s was my first experience with computers. Just the thought of being able to save and edit reports without having to retype the whole thing was a miracle!

    Sometime around ’89 I went shopping for my first PC. At the time, there were desktops with 10 or 20 megabyte hard drives. I thought I’d never have a need for that much memory, and besides, there were nightmares of hard drives crashing.

    So I opted for an IBM desktop with two 3.5 inch floppy drives! 😆 One slot for the start up MS-DOS disc. That IBM filled my need mostly for its word processing capabilities.

    BUUUUT the best thing about that old IBM was the keyboard with “clicky” keys that provided very positive key strokes….nothing like the spongy keyboards I’m typing with today. I guess for that I’ll have to pay for an upgrade to a mechanical keyboard.

  29. Seawalker says:

    Microsoft and IBM were the visionaries back in the early days of the PC. They were all over colleges and universities. Of course, when you learned it on their machines, it carries over to your working world. Gone are the days of R-Base. Lotus 1-2-3 is history. Think I’ll go hold and stroke my flip phone that I still use just for old times sake. 😀

  30. adobo says:

    One of the earliest emergencies I had, high speed card punch breaks the timing shaft, everything past it was stripped, twisted, broken. Nothing plastic, all machined metal parts. Replaced what could while awaiting shaft to be flown in. Working with my manager who was a machinist in past life. Part arrives but wrong hole in the shaft, needs to be modded for taper pin. We head to base machine shop and corrected. Again, WTS did I get myself in to? I ain’t no machinist but back then everyone helps others. Anyone who worked on base remember the old Schwinn bikes that everyone use to use to travel between shops or buildings.

  31. adobo says:

    That blue thing the girl is holding? Removable disk, whopping 5M. Include the fixed disk for a total of 10M. Later, the multi-platter CDC drives (washing machines) with the clear covers, 288M. I’ve had operator’s mount a crashed 288M into all of their other drives, crashing every drive there after, right on down the line. The look on their faces when I explained what they just did. Felt so sorry for them and never let their manager know what happened. Hours if not days of OT for the tech who had to rebuild those drives.

  32. Jibo's Brother says:

    My first computer was an Atari 800. The School I went to after the military was Electronics Institute, and they had just purchased a TRS-80 w/5MB HD!
    My next computer was a “custom built” from a computer shop on King St, whose name escapes me. Cost was $900.

    My first job, i repaired Keypunches, line printers, Mainframes and PC’s for the Air Force, Navy and Army.

    In my various jobs, i’ve worked with all manner of Unix, LInux, long dead PC brands, Macs and tablets. Never worked a PDP, but seen some.

    Oh-i installed Win 1.0 for “fun” on a military PC in the early 80’s. When Windows 3.0 came out i said why would anyone want to do more than 1 thing at a time on a PC-Lol.

  33. mows says:

    My first PC was a packard bell running windows 3.x for $1000 from Computer City in Waikele. I souped that puppy up with Windows 95, MS Office suite and a bigger hard drive, forget how big it was but it had that partition problem. Didn’t pay for any of the sw as it was told to me from the computer lab guy at HCC…all you need is the program. Somehow got it all to work and it took me all through college. Even met my wife on it. Now I’m a programmer for the state and I hate mainframe programming…yuck.

  34. 4G says:

    Early to mid-80’s – I remember someone went through the TSO terminal room in Keller and put a .22 bullet hole through all the TSO terminal screens . . . .

  35. 4G says:

    Getting time on the TSO terminals was a rarity, so the better option, IMO, was the card/keypunch route. Even getting time on the keypunch machines was problematic – that’s why I would go to Keller Hall at like 2 or 3 on Sunday mornings . . . .

  36. 4G says:

    LOL – I once dropped a deck of cards that contained a 2,000 line COBOL program. My heart dropped . . . . 😉 It was a sequential file processing routine to update a Master file from a Transaction file – adds/changes and deletes.

    It was not unusual for me to lug at least a 1/2 box of cards around campus in those days . . . .

  37. PA says:

    My first experience with computers was the ibm keypunch at khs I think we did a mouse maze program which we had to flowchart and keypunch the cobol code card deck then our teacher would take it to town to run come back a week later to find out we had a syntax error and the program wouldn’t compile
    Don’t think anyone completed the project
    in college we had access to minicomputer in town through an acoustic coupler that would disconnect everytime a truck drove by got real good at saving source code every 2 minutes
    got a job with Univac maintaining and tuning the operating system at a big govt installation remember
    when there was a OS crash my job was to find the problem by looking through the dump of octal code 4 ft high the most interesting piece was when we replaced hardware I remember seeing the price for a 8K ram board on the GSA schedule was $64,000 when I would go back east to the beltway where our hq was I’d hear stories that were pretty shocking to me at the time in regards to how business and the govt
    worked together to line each others pockets the one story I’ll share in one about this device called the FFD which stands for fast flying drum which was heavy brass drum the size of large refrig which was spun up to a hi rpm apparently one of these broke free crashed through a wall and killed a few secretaries in an adjoining room. Still in the computer industry

  38. Gareth says:

    The first computer I met was a massive monstrosity located in Keller Hall at the University of Hawaii, a hunka hunka computing junk. We students had to stand in line to use it, holding our tall, heavy stacks of computer cards carefully typed beforehand in Fortran, Cobol or other computer languages. If even one card was mistyped or bent or out of sequence, your program would not run correctly, and you have hunt down the error and then feed them in all over again. Sometimes someone would drop their cards on the floor, and you would hear some colorful language as he or she tried to put them back in order.

    In a small room off to the side there were a few unattractive terminals, which our professors said were somehow connected directly to the mainframe computer. The screens were small and poorly lit, with tiny, hard-to-read greenish-yellow letters and numbers glowing dimly against a dark background. Only one or two people were using them, at most. Many people shook their heads and said this newfangled “online computing” would never catch on…

  39. 4G says:

    Today, I must have 4-5 TB of disk storage at home. I rarely turn the external drives on, these days . . . .

  40. 4G says:

    Wow – this topic is going to stretch my memory. That’s a risky proposition since everything is not as pliable as they used to be – something might break! LOL.

    Technically, the first “computer” owned by me was a C-64. That’s a Commodore, 64K. LOL. It was actually more of a gaming machine than true “computer” though I did play around with a couple of BASIC programs. I was married and working full-time by then and the work computers were easier to work with and much easier on the eyes (from a resolution perspective). It had a 5.25” floppy drive – and that was a “luxury” add-on option!

    If we go down the game machine path, the C-64 was preceded by things like a ColecoVision, Intellivision, and Atari 2600. Prior to that, a dedicated Atari Breakout box and prior to that, a Pong machine. It was a little difficult getting rid of the ColecoVision, Intellivision and Atari 2600 boxes (not the mention the ton of games) in the great purge of a few years ago.

    I almost bought an Osborne computer while in school – one of the first “portable” computers – “portable” being a relative term . . . . LOL. It ran CP/M, the premier operating system of the day for “personal computers”, until IBM and Microsoft decided to mess things up with MS/DOS! LOL. It looked something like this:

    In school, I think my first exposure to programming was via an HP/2000 mini (via UH Business Administration) with the majority of school work being done on an IBM System 360, baby (the big bad mainframe of its day)! It’s amazing to me that the basic S/360 still lives on today, in fact, we’re in the process of acquiring a z-114, one of its modern descendants (there’s actually a newer model recently out)!

    My first full-time job exposed me to a PDP 11/70 (with a whopping, maximum program size of something like 32K) and VAX minicomputers, in addition to the workhorse S/360. Wang word processing minis and standalones were on the periphery. *Sigh*, I miss the DEC days . . . . Disk drives for those puppies where size on miniature washing machines. 8” floppy drives were prevalent.

    My first “real”, “personal” (i.e., owned by me) computer was a Macintosh SE/30 (30 MB [that’s “M”, not “G”] hard drive, baby! LOL). I think Windows was just coming out around this time. From there it was a whole parade of IBM laptops – mostly Thinkpads, pre-Lenovo days, to a Vaio and most recently, an HP laptop.

    Personally, I see Macs as a much more civilized machine than the descendants of MS/DOS, the IBM PC and Windows, but the work-a-day world, for the most part, sees it otherwise. Thank goodness that primitive mindset is FINALLY starting to change. LOL.

    Formal school work, in addition to, of course, BASIC, included COBOL (love COBOL! LOL), PL-1, RPG and FORTRAN, with a smidge of Assembly.

    Okay – I feel REALLY old, now! 😉

  41. M says:

    Guud morning MLCers!
    I don’t remember my first computer, only that it was a Windows. At the time I wasn’t computer savy and didn’t know much. A friend actually help me buy my first computer and showed me the basics how to use it.
    Since that time I built a computer from scratch some years ago and has fixed friends computer errors and problems.
    I’m a Windows guy from the start, my computer today is an HP, 1 TB hard drive and 16GB of memory.

  42. Seawalker says:

    Hey @Rod, you one Analyst too? That’s a fancy title for ‘know a little of everything, but a whole lot of nuthin’. Hehehe, I just described me!

  43. 4G says:

    Oh, wow, @keoni – I never know you was one geek! LOL.

    Welcome to the club! 😉

  44. keoni says:

    Since I one elemakule old fut, we were in the beginnings of IT at our school in the early 60’s. They had started an electronics course, but that wasn’t my field of study – went with Candy Making instead! 🙄
    My first computer was the TI-99/4A which I bought for $150 in 1982. It came with 16K of RAM and could be expanded with a 32K memory card plus other peripherals which most people put into an 8 slot metal expansion box which was extremely sturdy steel. (The TMS9900 CPU had originally been designed for military or scientific/technical uses, thus the quality construction) 48K of RAM seems unbelievably small today, but the “99’er” devotees wrote very tight code back then (BASIC, ASSEMBLY, EXTENDED BASIC
    (abbreviated as XB), FORTH, a subset of C, and several other less known languages).
    That initial $150 investment grew larger over the years as I added more peripherals, printers, moniters, and other things to my system. Must have spent several thousand on it all told! LOL
    I got pretty good with the BASIC and XB and also dabbled with Assembly and C. I modified a Biorhythm program and had it published in th TI magazine “Micropendium” back then. I was also president of the local TI Users group for a while. In 1995, after moving back to NJ from WV the special monitor I used died and I reluctantly had to store it away and began using a PC at home and kind of catching up with what I had been using at work for a few years.
    Then I found out about “emulator” programs and there was one for the TI! How could I resist!? 😆 Now I use that a lot on my PC and have many user-written games, etc. which I employ to “too much waste time”

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