18 March, 2008

This 'n That

Just so you can have a better idea of what we're up to with the "remodeling" of the downstairs part, here's the working drawing that we're using as our blueprint.
Ground Floor
This morning, I got on a kick with Google, just to see what I could find on the net regarding some of the computers or software I've used in the past. Dates are all approximate.

1979 - The first PC I used was at Eastern Washington University (EWU), in the computer lab. It was a first edition IBM PC. I don't remember what the number was, but I do remember, the first time I was allowed to use it, its speed scared me to death.

Up to that time, as an underclassman, I was only allowed to use a dumb terminal in the lab or a teletypewriter, that existed in a hallway outside. Both were tied to the school's mainframe on a time-share basis. Were they ever slow - especially if payroll or something similar was being run.

Anyway, the sheer speed of the PC was what terrified me, that is, until I somehow managed to give it a command it couldn't figure out and spent some time before responding to me. At that point, my fear went away. I realized it was just a stupid machine.

1983 - After that, when I was with Clark-Skamania Emergency Management, I convinced my boss we needed to enter the cyber age. We were able to buy a Radio Shack TRS-80 Model III. Wow! Dual, single-sided floppy drives, running TRS-DOS. WooHoo!

That was my first intro to wordprocessing. We used WordStar 1.0. Command code city! But I loved it.

We eventually upgraded the machine to dual-sided floppies.

Then, after I became Director, we managed to get a Model IV, 128 K RAM (after an upgrade from 64K) with double density, dual-sided floppy drives.

Somewhere around here, I went over to the county courthouse on some business errand and saw my first revelation of the computing world. The Apple Lisa. It had this clicky-thing connected to the computer. The guy called it a "mouse". Wow. It allowed you to move all over the computer screen without touching the keyboard. This was the first time too that I heard the computer screen referred to as a "desktop".

1984 - About that same time, I bought my first computer for home. It was a Commodore, SX-64, the first true portable machine. It had a 5" diagonal screen and a floppy drive. I ran an early version of CP/M on it.

I played the only action game I ever liked on this machine too - Sub Search. A great game. You commanded a WWII US submarine, leaving port from any of 8 or so pacific ports to do battle with the Japanese fleet. The detail was astounding as was the skill required to operate the sub. It was not unusual to have two or three guys helping to run the sub, all with only one PC!

Later on, I got my own Model 4 and ran a bootleg copy of CP/M on it. I developed a budget tool for my work Model 4 using VisiCalc.

Around that time, Dianna was working at the Good Samaritan Foundation in Portland. There she used a Vydec Word Processor. The thing was actually built into a desk, or vice-versa. It used at least 8 1/2" floppies.

About 1986, I was at Washington Emergency Management, and we managed to convince the bean-counters to let us get an IBM PC with a whopping 5Mb hard drive. They thought that would last us forever. Within a month we were back with a purchase request for a 10Mb drive. They went ballistic, to say the least.

We were using dBase. I don't recall there being a "1, 2, or 3" at that time - just dBase. Then we upgraded to dBase 3 and then 3+. It really was a bear to use.

I was learning DOS. Then I discovered the Mac big time when I bought a Model 30 for myself. What could be easier or more fun?

We almost converted the agency to using Macs, but the powers-that-be knew better, and mandated Microsoft DOS for us.

Shortly after that, Windows came into existence, and you pretty much know where we've been ever since. I don't care what they say, even XP and Vista are still DOS shells. Why else would you have the structure still hanging around?

So, roughly, that's it. Now how did I get from floor plans to a personal history of computing?

Hmmmm, one of life's great ponderables, I guess.

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