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What got you in retrocomputing?


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For me personally, I have always liked the computers I grew up on, mainly Texas Instruments, Commodore, and Tandy, with a spattering of others. With Commodore being the one dominated a vast majority of my time and money. Of course, back then, they were just what we had, now we call them all "retro". haha

I credit my uncle for getting me into computers, and my father for getting me into technology/electronics in general, and all of them for fostering it and giving me the opportunity to explore that awesome digital world.

These days, I think it's mostly all about reliving those wonderful memories, the nostalgia of it all. The machines of the 70's and 80's were groundbreaking for their time (both computers and consoles), there was always something new and exciting just around the corner, and with each new "generation" you could actually see, hear, and appreciate the advances being made. A lot of it was all being done for the very first time, it was truly awe inspiring. Something that I personally think is lacking these days, like we have hit a plateau where there are generational improvements, but not like we seen back then, at least in perception. There were also so many compaines trying their hand at the home computer market, and while a lot of them failed, and some of them succeeded, through that trial and error, they all paved the way for the technology we have today.

These days, I seem to enjoy my "retro" more than my "modern", but I truly do just love technology. 🙂

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9 hours ago, Strider said:

For me personally, I have always liked the computers I grew up on, mainly Texas Instruments, Commodore, and Tandy, with a spattering of others. With Commodore being the one dominated a vast majority of my time and money. Of course, back then, they were just what we had, now we call them all "retro". haha

I credit my uncle for getting me into computers, and my father for getting me into technology/electronics in general, and all of them for fostering it and giving me the opportunity to explore that awesome digital world.

These days, I think it's mostly all about reliving those wonderful memories, the nostalgia of it all. The machines of the 70's and 80's were groundbreaking for their time (both computers and consoles), there was always something new and exciting just around the corner, and with each new "generation" you could actually see, hear, and appreciate the advances being made. A lot of it was all being done for the very first time, it was truly awe inspiring. Something that I personally think is lacking these days, like we have hit a plateau where there are generational improvements, but not like we seen back then, at least in perception. There were also so many compaines trying their hand at the home computer market, and while a lot of them failed, and some of them succeeded, through that trial and error, they all paved the way for the technology we have today.

These days, I seem to enjoy my "retro" more than my "modern", but I truly do just love technology. 🙂

It's interesting to learn more about the grandfathers of modern computers and technology.

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My first computer was a retro computer... not because I wanted a retro computer but it was what my dad picked up from a car boot when I was young a green screen amstrad CPC 464 bought second hand in the 90s. Recently I found out that the computer was about as old as I was although I think at that time I was in better condition 🙂

It helps that I also just happen to have a lot of the devices I used to own (not the amstrad unfortunately) I still have my original snes with its original packaging including woolworths vouchers for games I apparently forgot to cash in 😞.  

I guess I too fall into the category of growing old and discovering my stuff has become retro.

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  • 5 weeks later...

 I was born in the 80s, so I'm too young to be nostalgic about retrocomputers. Yet, I feel a kind of vicarious nostalgia (is vicarious the right term?). I have been fascinated with computers from a young age, and I was always interested in the idea of hacking, although it is an interest I didn't actively pursue until much later (while I was doing my PhD). What I like about retrocomputers is that they invite you to get to know them better. For example, when I am booted into a BASIC environment instead of a point and click GUI, I feel a stronger encouragement to develop a good understanding of how the machine operates, so that I can interact with it. I am now learning how to code in assembly language on a C64 emulator (the64 maxi), which also gives me a strong sense that I am getting more closely acquainted with the machine I am working with (even though it is a bit of a facade in this case, since it concerns an emulator ;)). I am not even sure what I want to eventually do with that knowledge, but it is how I currently spent most of my evenings, because I find it entertaining and it gives me a great sense of accomplishment. I don't have this sensation with my high-end laptop (which I love for other reasons); There, I don't even really know where to start to get acquainted with the machine in the same way I do with the C64. 

Another reason is that I like the people in the retrocomputing community that I've encountered so far.

Yet another reason: Although I was not into retrogaming until recently, this also struck a chord with me. I was an avid gamer when I was younger, but I can no longer bring myself to playing these highly elaborate games that I used to play (think GTA, Red Dead Redemption, Elder Scrolls). The investment of time is too big, which just stresses me out, because I always have the sense that I never really get to see the end of the game anyway. The few games that I was still playing on my PC were usually smaller indie-games, preferably roguelikes where I usually die within 5 minutes anways, because I I am terrible at them. What is nice about these games is that it doesn't matter that you die so many times, because there's not necessarily this elaborate story that you have to see through, alongside $FFFF side-quests that you could pick up; it is more about the gameplay mechanics. I didn't buy the C64 Maxi because I wanted to play games (I was interested mostly in using it to learn machine language), but I do find myself playing games much more than I did. I think this is for similar reasons. Also, retro graphics are just cool.  

Edited by wahsp
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<!There seems to be a reoccurring theme here 🤣!>

Personally, it is because now that I am an old fart with grown up teenagers, and their growing interests in other areas, I find myself reflecting on those things which made me happy in my youth.  Call it a nerds mid-life crisis, I guess, but I remember feeling like I had all the time in the world, freedom to explore where technology could take me, and a mind like a sponge.  For me, retro computing represents reconnecting with the path I left for stability; a career, and family life.  Modern day games never appealed to me; if I want manipulated reality I can just turn on the T.V.. There is to much safe space in modern game design.  Not what I am looking for.  IMO, 8-bit games are a true test in maximum imagination with minimum resources; the ultimate challenge to see how far you can push ideas to a breaking point.  I may never amount to much in the 8-bit world, but I for one recognize how fortunate I am to be able to relive a time in my life when computing was on the cutting edge and the future was wide open.  <cue the synthwave>

Have a great day all! 

Edited by evlthecat
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For me it was like going backstage for all the stuff I used to love - I was a video game addict, and I did do some programming on my C64, but somehow, assembly language was like "that black magic that you hear about, but YOU will never understand." I always would have loved to have written my own games on the C64 but never fell into a crowd of people who were into computing for computing's sake. No, for me it was always about games, ultimately.

Fast forward a few decades, and I had beaten Human Resource Machine, and watched Ben Eater's series on building a computer from scratch on breadboards. It then dawned on me that I now possessed the knowledge to accomplish something I had always wanted to do: make my own game on C64. So I went and made Flappy Bird for C64. (not the version you've seen, but my own). It's not that I love Flappy Bird so much - it's that it's a very simple game and doesn't require a lot to get it going - so it's a good way to hone coding skills. I had only just a few years ago gotten rid of my original C64 and stuff (the only thing I regret getting rid of) so I decided to go on EBay and buy another one. Of course I cross-built it on PRG Studio, but I made my game run on real HW by jove!

And now that I've been a fan of Ben Eater's content, and gained a lot more interest in this low-level stuff, I'm constantly thinking of stuff to do w/ hardware. Now I just need to go buy a solder station. 🙂

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Like most people here, being born in the late 70's means that I got into retro computing before it was retro.

My first computer was an Atari 800XL but I used it mostly for games. I did type BASIC listings from various magazines to play small games but I didn't really try to learn BASIC.

It was with the Atari ST that I really went into programming. At the time, the ST really blowed my mind. It seemed so much more advanced than 8-bit machines that I dismissed them as old crappy things 😄

On the ST I programmed in STOS BASIC, which was very much like 8-bit BASIC: line numbers, no procedures/functions, the ability to PEEK and POKE the hardware. It also came with neat commands for manipulating images, sprites and sounds.

Then it was the Atari Falcon with assembly language, then PC compatible with C++/OpenGL... and we're not retro anymore. It was the Atari Jaguar than got me back into retro-computing in 2011. I got a Jaguar in 1994 but it was a commercial failure. It left me frustrated: it was obviously an neat machine but being a gaming console it was almost impossible to code on it.

Fast foward 2011, I knew at the time that it was now possible to program the Jaguar with some piece of hardware (the Skunkboard) but I was not yet sure to get started. It needed cash and time. The Jaguar also had a reputation of being very difficult to code. However at the time Jaguar emulation became good enough that you could play games on it. So I decided to try programming on emulation, it was free. Turns out I really liked the machine so I bought the necessary hardware (new console, skunkboard, video adapter etc.).

Since I was active on the Jaguar, I visited the AtariAge forum. There were people involved with 8-bit computer so I got curious. This was at this time that I came to appreciate how cleverly designed 8-bit machines were. But I deemed them too hardcore for me. 6502 assembly was simple but TOO simple in fact: working with more than 8-bit number requires some work and let's not talk about multiplication/division! Also addressing individual pixels was not easy. I need my pixels to be in chunky mode otherwise it's too frustrating!

Still, I thought that I should somehow get into 6502 assembly. Many people were loved it, I was clearly missing something.

Fast forward again, 2020: I learn about the X16. It has a friendly 256 colors chunky mode and a fast 65c02. I finally make the jump a few months after this discovery, starting with Matt's tutorials. And here I am!

 

 

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