How far have we come? (12 May, 2022)

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How far have we come? (12 May, 2022)

Postby aardvark_admin » Thu May 12, 2022 7:39 am

This column is archived at: https://aardvark.co.nz/daily/2022/0512.shtml

We've come a long way in 40 short years -- but what does the future hold for computer tech and the way we use them?

To be totally honest, the early years of computing provided me with so much challenge and reward that I have to wonder if today's gamers get anywhere near the buzz from their use of computers that we did -- way back in the day.

Although the tech was much simpler, the barriers were far higher and thus (I believe) the rewards were far greater.

As computers get simpler to use and more capable, is this improving the "buzz" factor or reducing it I wonder?

When did you get the most joy out of computer technology. Was it "back in the day" or more recently?

Are you a dedicated FPS gamer or an old-school guy who far more enjoyed the early days of computing when *everything* was much harder and therefore more rewarding when accomplished?
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Re: How far have we come? (12 May, 2022)

Postby hiscoca » Thu May 12, 2022 11:06 am

Boy Oh Boy Electronics Australia Educate 8 z80 what fun entering code with flick switches
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Re: How far have we come? (12 May, 2022)

Postby graymond » Thu May 12, 2022 11:42 am

All interesting comments Bruce,

my first computer was a Dick Smith System 80, alaTRS80, 12k of ROM, 16k of Ram, no audio, we piggy backed 32 1k RAM chips on to existing RAM and got 48K,(system boot said 48k RAM) plus hooked into graphics chips and got sound.

My first car was a 1926 Essex, Super Six, 2 door.

My first Amateur radio transceiver was a Yaesu FT-101ZD, a great radio that allowed hands on repairs when required.

yes they were interesting times, mostly hands on, but as times changed, so my way of life changed and keeping up with the latest and greatest, as one ages becomes a bit of a problem doing hands on repairs, but, there are other things that allow you to keep up to date, ie setting up your computer to do what you want it to do, changing radio firmware to make them better.

As to the future, I am waiting
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Re: How far have we come? (12 May, 2022)

Postby phord » Thu May 12, 2022 1:17 pm

Dick Smith System 80

Back in those days, my classmates & teachers thought I wasn't the full quid, that was until I quickly wrote a basic program on the school's System 80 that drew pictures upon hitting the arrow keys.
The SET statement rendered these huge blocky pixels.
A few classmates tried using my program and thought it was amazing.
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Re: How far have we come? (12 May, 2022)

Postby aardvark_admin » Thu May 12, 2022 1:54 pm

phord wrote:Back in those days, my classmates & teachers thought I wasn't the full quid, that was until I quickly wrote a basic program on the school's System 80 that drew pictures upon hitting the arrow keys.
The SET statement rendered these huge blocky pixels.
A few classmates tried using my program and thought it was amazing.

It's amazing how even the simplest things were so amazing back then eh?
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Re: How far have we come? (12 May, 2022)

Postby Perry » Thu May 12, 2022 6:24 pm

Bruce wrote:It's amazing how even the simplest things were so amazing back then eh?

Like ASCII pix?

Bruce wrote:. . . have brought us supercomputers in a smartphone that even a child can navigate with ease.

Makes harking-back and being child-like look quite good.
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Re: How far have we come? (12 May, 2022)

Postby Kiwiiano » Fri May 13, 2022 7:12 am

Looking back thru the mists of 70-odd years i can just make out a crystal set complete with an actual galena(?) crystal & cat’s whisker, hand-made copper wire coil and condenser attached to a cable slung between the chimney and the willow tree at the bottom of the garden. Worked well thru headphones for 3YA and 3YC that were both as boring as hell but just OK for 3ZB except when the Ham operator 3-doors down the street went on air, when a blow-by-blow description of his cat having kittens was the best I could hope for. Another neighbour across the street did a fair bit of welding that wiped out any hope of reception.Things improved with access to valves although batteries were a challenge. Fortunately a mate’s dad ran a radio shop so we could score nearly flat batteries from portable radios that kept us going for weeks.

Looking forward I wonder how long our current luxuries will continue. Unlimited information & entertainment. A supercomputer in my shirt pocket. Casual video conferences across the planet effectively for free. This morning’s Press floats an article warning of ”GPS at risk as satellites targeted”. Putin’s mob are jamming GPS signals and there are reports of Russian satellites making close approaches to other satellites for unknown reasons, possibly rehearsing something more sinister. There’s a risk of something stupid setting off a Kessler event that could have a shattering effect on our comfortable technology even without any nukes being involved.
~ Kiwiiano
“I've no idea of how to act my age, I’ve never been this old before!”
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Re: How far have we come? (12 May, 2022)

Postby aardvark_admin » Fri May 13, 2022 7:24 am

You're right about crystal sets. I used to make lots of them when I was a kid. When I ran out of OA91 diodes I read up on the science and realised that you could use almost any metal oxide as a rectifier. Small pieces of copper with a pencil-lead resting on them were almost as good as a store-bought germainium diode I discovered. Then I read an article about "razor blade radios" which used the old Gillette safety razor blades and found that they also worked very well (same metal-oxide principle).

These days, I think NZ is one of the few countries that hasn't adopted the digital system for its radio broadcasts so a crystal set would still be an option for eager young geeks. Unfortunately, there's now such a proliferation of stations on the AM band that the woefull selectivity of a crystal-set (and the lack of tuning capacitors that can be recycled from old valve radios) poses a barrier to such activities :-(
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