Slyfoot (slyfoot) wrote in oldware,

The Good Old Days?

Back in 1981 I fell in love with a computer that most people would laugh at today. It was called the TRS-80, affectionately known as the Trash 80, and while most people preferred the cool brown Apple II because it had better games, I preferred programming in BASIC on the shiny TRS-80. I wasn't exceptionally good, but I wasn't exceptionally bad either. I should have played more games on that Apple because when I went to high school I had no access to a computer for three years, and that didn't change until my college days.

I first started going online in the early 90s, so there's plenty of veterans who have been online longer than I have. I first started chatting and downloading files on two BBS systems called Dynasty and Infinite Space. The WWW was new, and people would wander into the chatrooms asking how to get to the Internet, and they usually meant "How do I get on the World Wide Web?"

Ah, I have such fond memories of those days. The BBS systems used Worldgroup, so we could connect to other BBS systems all over the country using Worldgroup. Those were the days of MUDs or Multiple User Dungeons, which still have a small but loyal following today. I also played great old textmode games called Tradewars, Mutants, Autobots, and others I can no longer remember. If you lived through the same period, you can relive those days with TELNET, and here's a good place to start:

It was also a real thrill to download files, freeware and shareware, ANSI and ASCII art, techfiles on how to get applications running, game solutions and walkthroughs, etc. I remember how absolutely stunned I was when I first tried the original Duke Nukem: It beat the hell out of anything I had played on Nintendo! You could find "underground" and "anarchy" files, which gave everything a really colorful cyberpunk flavor. I imagined that I was a cyber cowboy like Cowboy in Neuromancer, but I suppose I was just an average BBS user in those days, a professional dilettante, just like today. Then I discovered the WWW and IRC and after that the BBS days were almost over for me.

But were the good old days really better than today? Surprisingly I would say "Nah, not always." There was a distinct feeling of camaraderie on the BBS, and we would often have get togethers and talk about "geeking" with the users and sysops, and I met several girlfriends that way (grin), but do I really want to go back to the days of 2400 baud modems when I can download a hundred megabytes in less than 5 minutes today? No way! And is DOS really better than Linux? Not by a long shot, IMHO! But I never forgot that first fascination with the command line, I never forgot those old files, and I've spent the past couple of years browsing through Textfiles and old BBS systems searching for files that I remember using on my first PC. I'm no expert by a long shot, but I've accumulated quite a lot of old games, files, resources, and knowledge about those days.

If you want to see a real slice of computer history, particularly the BBS days, I encourage you to browse There's a wealth of text files (and freeware, shareware, and game files) to download. It brings back many memories, and it does a good job of preserving the atmosphere of early online culture. Check it out!
Tags: coffee talk, links, pics
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Heh, I learned Assembly Language on the Trash-80.
My first computer was a Timex Sinclair 1000.

It had 2k ram, and used your TV for video, and a cassette for storage. I Learned Basic on that.

I've still got the Timex and it's powerpack, and TV interface. The only thing now is.. I lack patience to use it.. *lol*
Hey, that's a great pic, feel free to make pic posts!

I am so glad I started this comm, fun times ahead!
Yup, The 80's were definitely an interesting period for everything. TV, Music, Computers, Games... etc..etc..

In computers I used are the
Timex Sinclaire
The Macintosh
the Apple II
Apple IIe
Several Motorola Computers (Working for CODEX, FOUR-PHASE, MOTOROLA COMPUTER DIVISION) from 83 - 91)

For relaxation I had the Fairchild Game console

My friends had the Atari.

I think we'll add a section in Memories for pic posts, and tag them too.

I used TRS-80, Apple II, C-64, and black and white Mac SE. Not as impressive as your list though. :)


10 years ago


10 years ago


10 years ago

And my first PC was Apricot-Xi... it so totally kicked ass, compared to IBM PC!! it had 768K memory, 800x600 monochrome display (green on black) and a 2nd 16-color display 640x350 (I think), 2 3.5 inch floppies (double density!), a 20MB external hard disk (the driver for the disk had to be loaded in config.sys) (it was very convenient to switch the disks around our 4 machines), 3-channel soundcard, and a trackball. And there was a LED screen on the keyboard, with a calculator! (however it required batteries which were soon stolen so it didn't work anymore).

For the software, it had Dos 2.11; but besides the command line, there was a cool graphic program with tutorials and some system functions (like font selection) ! there was some CAD program (Dragon?), compilers (Fortran, GWBasic, assembler; later somebody brought C and Pascal); a word processor, called (I think) Wordstar, a music playing program, a few text adventure games (the original Adventure and a few others - I'm ashamed to admit that I wasn't excited about them at all, then...) and a few graphics games, most importantly the Snake (snake eating apples) - we were so crazy about it! It was running in text mode, but it loaded special font to redefine the characters which were used for the apples, walls and the snake body.

There was some graphic library which we used for programming. Right now I don't remember how it was called. Whenever I visited Moscow (I'm originally from Russia), I was always hanging around the Apricot center - to copy new programs, learn new tricks and interact with fellow Apricot geeks...

DAMN. It makes me all mushy and nostalgic to think about it :'(

Apricot Xi wasn't IBM-compatible, so it couldn't compete... the next version was IBM compatible but it was too late, soon the company was dead. But then, we all moved to the clunky IBM PCs. At least, there was a lot of graphic games for them, and then the "quests" by Sierra-On-Line made their way to our office :)
I'm jealous of both you and hntr :-) By the time I was able to afford my first computer, it was a Black and White compact Mac SE. I never should have sold it because I had such fun times with it.
Oh, I bet you had bought your *own* computer before I bought mine ;) which was around 1992, all my previous fun with computers was at the workplace :)

(But my workplace was really *special*, even for Russia - so much freedom and opportunities to learn and to play).

And for the record, my first (non-PC) computer was a mainframe ;) IBM-370 (rather, a Russian version of it), I've even succeeded to use punchcards for a couple of months, before switching to the multi-terminal environment. I worked with it for about a year, programming in PL/1 and Fortran, it went ok... there were even a few games... but the moment I saw the little Apricot, and the demo program with the green truck moving across the screen, in all the 800x400 splendor (oops sorry I mistyped the resolution in the 1st post) and dissolving into the graphic menu with all the neat stuff... I was so hooked! it was love at the first sight :) never in my life had seen anything so beautiful and sexy!

when I was sent to the Apricot lab (we had 4 of them) with the "evaluation" mission - to try using it for a couple of weeks and decide if it's feasible for our projects... I never returned back to the mainframe :) (at the end it turned up very useful, because when our department had split off and we founded our new small company, the PCs were the true way to go, and I was the only one with the PC and MSDOS experience :)
No, I think I bought my Mac right around the time you bought your first computer. :)
Hey, what company (sorry, "organization" ;-) did you work for in Moscow?
I happen to be working in 1986-88 for the "sharaga" that was installing
those 4-Apricot bundles all over the old no-good Rodinka, yet most of my
customers were in Moscow. I was searching for info on Apricots on the web
(mostly, nostalgia) and came across your LJ entry.
Hey :) I'm not from Moscow, just used to drop by from time to time. Sorry, I try to keep this public online identity separate from the one in meatspace, but you can email me for details. Yes, we had a 4-Apricot bundle! Nice to see that I'm not the only one feeling nostalgic about them... :)
This post brought back many memories of my first real computer which was a CGA 286 laptop with 4 shades of blue for my "colors". I would dial into BBSs with it as well as my dialup UNIX account. I got it in 1994 and still have it to this day. I remember our IRC chats and get togethers - man that feels like such a long time ago. But definitely good times! =)
Yeah it does feel like a long time ago...
OM, I so recall the Trash-80, loved the computer to death. I didn't own it, but a friend in 8th grade did. Those days were so fun on that box back in '84.... and another friend owned a Franklin ACE 1000... so although I didn;t have a box at the time, I enjoyed my time between the TRS-80, the Franklin ACE 1000, a few years later the Commodore 64... thanks for the link.
I was on Infinite Space. I remember Pixie and Peaches and HollyWould. I remember the occasion meets with the Ft Lauderdale gang too. I knew Herb and his brother. DreamWeaver and his wife. Lawmaker, Nisey, etc etc etc. Horrible karaoke but fun too.
Blast from the past! Glad to hear from another BBSer.