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Funday Friday: What was the first personal computer you programmed?

Cisco Employee
Cisco Employee

Technically, the first program I wrote was for my friend's homebrew Z80. But that was a one-shot deal. I wrote the assembler code for a space invaders style game, flashed it to a ROM, and ran it. It almost worked. I never got the chance to fix it.

Some time later, I bought the Atari 800 and the 6502 Assembler cartridge to write code. I was a poor schlub but I charged it on my credit card for $500. It was the bare bones model with a connection for a cassette tape. I never upgraded to a floppy drive. The next week, the same Atari 800 was available for $129. That's my luck. Regardless, I consider the Atari 800 officially the first personal computer for which I wrote code. At home, I wrote 6502 assembler, at work I wrote Z80 assembler. Once you know one kind of assembler, it's easy to learn another. 

The next computer was an AT&T PC based on the 80286 processor. I picked up a copy of Borland Turbo Pascal and had a blast with it. I wrote several programs, some practical, some games. My favorite game project was a do-it-yourself crossword puzzle maker. I absolutely loved Turbo Pascal. 

So, how about you? What was your first personal computer you used to write code for fun or profit? 


3 Replies 3

Ken W. Alger
Cisco Employee
Cisco Employee

Turbo Pascal was soooo much fun to work with.

Cisco Employee
Cisco Employee

Thanks Nick. My own introduction to programming mirrors this experience as well. My first 'paid' computer program also took place on an AT&T PC equipped with the 80286 processor, using Turbo Pascal. At the time, I recall being captivated by the inspiring narrative of Philippe Kahn, the visionary behind Borland Software Corporation in Scotts Valley, California. Borland's initial ascent to prominence was attributed to the success of its Turbo Pascal programming language and integrated development environment (IDE), which garnered immense popularity within the software development community during the 1980s and 1990s.

It's remarkable to think that Philippe arrived in the United States with scant resources, carrying only a couple of floppy disks containing the source code for his Pascal compiler!

Yeah, I loved Turbo Pascal. It was fast, and I loved how you could write directly to video memory. That's what made my crossword generator so cool. 

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