Was it really only a century ago?

This post brought back some ancient memories … and I’m always amazed how far we’ve got in the last 30 years. For me, it all started with an IBM 360, having 48K (forty eight kilobytes) of core memory in which it ran an operating system and three user partitions. Fortran IV was the only programming language and card reader the only input device.

Moving to a VAX 11/780 was a major improvement; it was a multitasking environment with real terminals. VAX was an interesting beast: the first step in the boot process was to start an embedded PDP-11 processor that read an 8” floppy disc and uploaded the microcode to the main CPU. The only drawback was that 30 users had to share 2M (two megabytes) of main memory and so I couldn’t crash the machine whenever I wanted.

A few years later, I managed to get access to a really cute research PDP-11 running RSX-11M. Finally I could start writing device drivers and kernel code without risking the wrath of dozens of users years older than myself. And then the personal computers appeared and I probably made one the best choices I could – the BBC Micro from Acorn. It was never popular, but it had an amazingly well-designed operating system that you could extend in any way you wish (and even symbolic assembly language built into its BBC BASIC).

3 comments:

  1. Hello Ivan,

    As an oldies lover I advice you to browse this webpage:
    www.pagetable.com/?p=48

    Programming in Commodore Basic under nowadays operating systems! Yummy!Yummy!

    Cheers,

    ReplyDelete
  2. My first computer was a Timex Sinclair ZX-81 with a 16K external RAM module and a Sony tape recorder for high quality computer program feed to the ZX-81 from a cassette tape. The membrane keyboard was difficult to type and use; and the external ram module was a joke because it always came loose and thus locking the computer up many times. Did I mentioned that you need a TV to see the output from the ZX-81? That was 1982 and it's amazing how far PC has evolved in 25 yrs.

    ReplyDelete

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Ivan Pepelnjak, CCIE#1354, is the chief technology advisor for NIL Data Communications. He has been designing and implementing large-scale data communications networks as well as teaching and writing books about advanced technologies since 1990. See his full profile, contact him or follow @ioshints on Twitter.