I came to computers early in the personal computer revolution, though I was almost 30 years old myself. It was 1979 and there I was learning BASIC on a Tandy (Radio Shack) TRS-80, one of the first “real” personal computers available. I was getting a crash course in preparation for taking up my duties as a partner, and head of technical services, in a new start up, Heart Lake Distributors. Heard of them? Probably not. One of my less profitable moves, though it was leading-edge inovative, and did lead to better things.
What that position did do, though, was put me in front of a Commodore CBM 8032 business computer for several hours a day as I programmed it to handle things it was never meant to do. Heart Lake Distributors closed before that baby really got a chance to show us what it could do, but not before I discovered how “connected” I was to computers. They would form an important part of my life from that time forward.
The venerable 8032 was a wonderful machine in it’s day. After all, it had a powerful 8-bit processor, a full 32 KB of RAM and the external twin floppy drive unit (about as big as a bread box) stored a whopping 1.2 meg per double-sided disk. Shazam!
Through a strange set of circumstances I ran into the opportunity to acquire an 8032 some ten years later. The price was right (free) and I thought, “What the heck!” and took it home to show the family what “my first” computer had looked like. No one was all that excited. The really neat thing, though, was when I started accessing some of the accompanying software I discovered some of my own work, done several years earlier for Heart Lake Distributors. An examination inside the computer revealed a couple of chip modifications we had done. This was the SAME computer I worked on way back then. The exact same one!
I still have that 8032 and it still works. 1979 was a very interesting year. For me, and for music: