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How everything started: down the memory lane
Posted on 15-Dec-2004 20:52 by M Freitas | Filed under: Blog

Today I decided to use Google to find some stuff related to my memories... I started using a computer back in 1983, when I attended to these BASIC classes. Yes, BASIC as in Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code The whole class had one Dismac D8000 computer to share. It was an incredible machine (or so I thought, being the first time touching a computer). It was a TRS-80 model I clone, with no monitor, built-in K7 recorder for data and program storage, Z80 CPU @ 2MHz, 16KB RAM. With that I found out about algorithm, program, Syntax Error. A year later I started my formal IT course, and the laboratory at the University was powered by an Edisa ED281 MP/M with 3 TTY terminals attached to it. How fun was compiling FORTRAN, CIS COBOL and COBOL 80.

Dismac D8000
The Dismac D8000

At that time I found my first job, on a Burroughs client, where I attended my first course in DMS II and LINC. I started my professional life coding for mainframes (which I still do, but they are different these days). Well, the B1700 is hardly a mainframe for today's standards, but after training my actual job was based on a B6910 mainframe. The B1700 in the picture has a K7 for boot, but actually we had a few removable disk drives, each the size of a fridge and about 200MB capacity.

The B6910 had 6MB memory and 500 terminals attached to it. Some over satellite lines, connected at 1.2kbps. Yes, that's right. Since the terminals used the Poll Select protocol and they received the whole screen (25x80 characters) it could be sometime before the user 8,000 km away received the full screen with the results of a transaction.

Things changed. I left this Burroughs client, Burroughs bought Sperry and formed Unisys, Unisys hired me, and this is where I still work today, after sixteen years.

Burroughs B1700
The Burroughs B1700, image courtesy of School of Computing Science at Newcastle University

Now, compare this with my computers today. My main Pocket PC is the iPAQ h4150 with a CPU running at 400MHz, 512MB SD card and Wi-Fi, capable of connecting at networks with speeds up to 11mbps. The Harrier Pocket PC Phone Edition connects to a wireless mobile network (CDMA EV-DO) at speeds of 512kbps to 1mbps. I have a 256MB SD card on my Windows Mobile Smartphone, and I have just installed 1GB RAM on my Toshiba M200 Tablet PC (1.6GHz) so I could enjoy it even more. Notebook Review has published a Toshiba M200 review, and I agree with the author: this convertible Tablet PC is really nice and fast. Check out the Half Life 2 screenshots on that review.

More numbers? My first experience with remote networks was accesing a BBS with a 1.2kbps connection. When a company setup the first ISP where I used to live their total bandwidth for all users (about 1,000) was 64kbps! The cable modem connection at home is now 10mbps - just for our use at home.

Anyway, I receive some funny e-mails here at Geekzone. Some are just scam like "I want to buy 10 of your Smartphone. Please send to Nigeria, and we'll pay the order with our credit card issued in Mexico". Some are serious questions. But the funniest one is from someone that obviously is addicted to SMS:

"dear gkzn, can u pls tll moi whr 2 get anser 2 Q. I want no if nz nokia charger wl chrg uk nokia phn. u no whr 4 hlp? me cheap cheap girl girl, buy phone cheap cheap ebay use nz? tank q 4 helpin".

I translated this into:

"Dear Geekzone. Could you please answer the following question? I need to know if the Nokia charger sold in New Zealand would work with a Nokia mobile phone bought in the UK. Do you know where I can get this information? I found a bargain on eBay and bought it for use here in New Zealand. Thanks in advance."

Took me a couple of minutes to understand this. And Darryl gave the suggestion of posting it here.

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