When did you get your first computer?

When did you get your first computer? by kOoLiNuSkOoLiNuS (/home/kOoLiNuS)

Do you have a child? How soon and in what forms did you let him/her play with smartphones and tablets?

When did you get your first computer?

When did you get your first computer? by kOoLiNuSkOoLiNuS (/home/kOoLiNuS)

Do you have a child? How soon and in what forms did you let him/her play with smartphones and tablets?

I got my first computer in 1980 when I was 14 years old. I had begged my father for a computer for my birthday, and he bought me a brand new Commodore VIC-20. It was one of the most popular machines of its time. I loved that thing and spent many hours learning BASIC and programming my games. My grades dropped because I was so focused on using that computer. My father had to take the computer away until my grades improved.

When the first child got a computer when they were just a few years old, it was an old Windows PC running Windows 98. I installed a few simple games allowing them to make things happen. When they were older, I bought an iMac for the entire family to use.

But their very first personal computer was my old iPad two which I presented on their 11th birthday, followed by an iPhone when they started high school.

My nephews are much younger than my kids and started using these devices much sooner; elementary school. I think that was a mistake. They can’t function without them. Going out to dinner, I see my sister-in-law struggle to keep them focused on the meal or even just casual conversation.

Life without a computer?

I vividly remember the day I got my first computer, the Commodore VIC 20, a remarkable 35 years ago when I was just a curious 15-year-old. Computers were considered expensive hobbyist gadgets back then, and the home computer industry was still in its infancy. Nevertheless, I enthusiastically delved into programming with enthusiasm, mastering BASIC and crafting simple games for my friends. My passion for computing grew, leading me to upgrade to the Commodore 64 a year later.

During my final year of high school, I established the area's first computer club, thanks to a local business person’s generous donation of two used Apple IIs. After completing my A-levels, I pursued my dream of studying computer science and electrical engineering at university.

I was thrilled when Drew University introduced a program providing every incoming first-year student with an IBM PC equipped with WordPerfect running on DOS 3.3. My time at Drew exposed me to Pascal programming and one of the most enjoyable projects involved crafting a basic text editor with a built-in spell checker. Fond memories!

My journey continued through engineering school, where I honed my microcontroller programming skills. In graduate school, UNIX became my new playground and an important part of my first job, programming microcontrollers with video compression algorithms. These experiences paved the way for technology consulting and web development, ultimately leading me to my current information systems security consulting role. In this capacity, I play a crucial role in ensuring that organisations safeguard their information, making it accessible only to authorised personnel.

The significance of computers in my life cannot be overstated. They underpin every aspect of modern life, with cars, planes, food distribution systems, and the medical industry all relying heavily on these technological wonders. Personally, computers have been instrumental in managing my Type 1 diabetes. My medical needs are efficiently addressed thanks to computer-powered insulin pumps, continuous glucose monitoring, and glucose meters, sparing me from archaic "boiling urine" methods and affording better health outcomes.

Reflecting on my life without computers is an exercise in disbelief. It's hard to fathom a world devoid of these ingenious machines that have empowered me and countless others. The impact goes beyond my career; it touches every facet of my existence. From the advanced insulin that keeps me alive to the precision eye surgery I underwent, computers have been at the heart of significant medical advancements.

Some may argue that we survived without computers in the past. While that's true, we shouldn't overlook the immense progress and improved quality of life that computers have brought. They have enabled us to thrive unprecedentedly, making the seemingly impossible a reality. So, when some claim that computers hinder relationships and communication, I firmly disagree. Such matters are in our hands; computers are merely tools, and we decide how to use them.

In response to the writing prompt, "Your life without a computer: what does it look like?", I can't help but feel grateful for the life I've built, a life made possible by the extraordinary capabilities of computers. Without them, my journey would have been drastically different, and I shudder to think of a world without the opportunities they have provided.


Before buying a Mac mini in 2005, the last time, I had used an Apple product was when I started the computer lab at my high school with a couple of used Apple IIs (1983). The school let me do it because I had "experience" programming Commodore VIC-20s and Commodore 64s. LOL.

I am happy to say I am back to loving computers again after buying that Mac mini ( and a MacBook in 2006 ). I tossed Firefox off my Mac after one too many crashes and recently tried Safari. I was much impressed with the speed. I decided that speed and stability are more important to me than extensibility ( in a browser ).

Don't get me wrong, I like Firefox. I really do. But sometimes it feels slow and kludgey. It takes a long time to start up, consumes a lot of system resources, and crashes on me for no apparent reason.

Safari isn't without it's faults ( lack of an extension mechanism is one of them ) but it doesn't crash nearly as often, and it's very responsive. If my tests with the development version of WebKit is any indication of what to expect in Safari (WebKit is FRACKING FAST!), then Firefox is about to leave my desktop for a long time.