Monday, November 16, 2015


It was another midweek holiday and another opportunity to take 2 days off and be out of work for 5 days. This time my nearby European trip was London. I've always wanted to visit and it's just a 2 hour flight from Stockholm, so why not? Life has a time limit so I still plan on doing as much as I can while I can.

I saw lots of touristy things in 4 days of wandering using the London Underground. There's still so much more to see and do that I'll have to go back several times to feel like I've seen it all. Maybe I'll even try to get posted there some day since it's one of those cities I just enjoyed being in. I took hundreds of photos so it's hard to pick out representative samples but I'll try...

Geek Section

The Science Museum had an Information Age section so I'll share some things of a more personal interest. I'm an Information Management Specialist and there may be other current or future IMSers stumbling on this blog so this is for my fellow geeks who get nostalgic looking at old hardware.

This is a TI-99/4A which was the first computer I ever played with at a friend's house. We loaded games on it with a tape player and even messed around a little with the BASIC language. I think I was about 11 years old.

Later on I had another friend with a Radio Shack Tandy TRS-80 (lovingly called the Trash 80). This was also in use at my middle school but I didn't get much time with it there. I thought it was a step backwards because it wasn't in color like the TI-99/4A. It did have a floppy drive so the vector graphics tank game we played a lot loaded relatively fast.

My own first computer was an Atari 800XL with 64K of memory. Sadly they didn't have one on display. I wasted spent lots of time messing around with that at home and did even more playing with BASIC programming and computer games.

My second computer was a cheaper clone of the IBM below with a monochrome monitor, dual floppy drives, and no hard drive. I could boot from one floppy and swap out other floppies in the second drive. It was so convenient! My favorite game was the very first version of SimCity as well as the Infocom text game of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. You can actually play that on the web here. This computer was also similar to what I used in high school for typing class. The teacher put a bit of cardboard over the backspace so we could learn typing the "proper" way since the class was a recent convert from using typewriters. I've used the backspace ever since that class because the key was put on the keyboard for a very good reason!

My high school also introduced a Computer Science elective after they received these beautiful Mac computers like below. We learned the Pascal programming language on it. We also did a lot of fooling around and customized these systems much to the chagrin of our teacher. One of our favorite tweaks was a utility to play a puking sound whenever the floppy ejected. We all saved our work on floppies so a few minutes before the bell rang there would be about 20 of these babies all puking out their floppies at once!

So there's a little of my own computer history which I found on display in the Science Museum there in London. There was also a room devoted to Ada Lovelace who was a British mathematician in the 1800s. She's often regarded as the first computer programmer because of her work on Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine but that's probably enough geek for one post...

1 comment:

  1. Loved reading about your time in London Jeff. Loved the puking computers!! lol. Pam