I had a mechanical computer called a Digicomp that you programmed with plastic pegs in 1969. I suppose my first real computer that I owned was an Intel 8080 based model assembled by a company based in Hackensack, NJ.
Started with a Commodore 64 back in '84. First a cassette player, and I finally managed to save up for a disk drive.
That lasted for some years, till a stray bit of static electricity fried the CPU.
I especially loved how it came with a foot warmer for those chilly winter evenings :)
By first PC were a Pentium, 120 MHz, 16MB RAM and a whopping 1.2GB HDD, in '95, It came with Windows 95, and I weren't impressed with it, so I installed OS/2 instead, which were my sole OS till 2001 if I recall.
I've gradually upgraded between complete rebuilds to the current system, which is a little better than the Pentium I had back then, :)
Even then, the current system is barely able to handle HD, at least not without a veritable workout of my patience :)
Processor Technology "Sol 20" computer:
Purchased in 1977. With accessories, it cost around $1500 and came in kit form. I had to solder all the components to the PCB and assemble. I thought I was overdoing it when I bought a 16k RAM PCB. BASIC was loaded via an audio cassette deck.
In grade school our library allowed us to borrow a Radio Shack TRS-80 for 3 days at at time - it had the chicklet style keyboard... I wrote a crude flight simulator program for it and saved it to cassette tape. In high school I skipped study hall to help my teachers install an Apple IIe computer lab. I was so jealous of the kids who could fork-out $2,000+ to buy one.
From my summer job I eventually saved-up enough to buy a Commodore C128, 5.25" floppy, monitor & dot matrix printer. I had planned to use it for college but ended-up selling it to pay for college. No computer in college, just a good electric typewriter...
After college I did a lot of desktop publishing, so bought a 386SX with Windows 3.1 and $750 color Deskjet 500C printer. It had a 40MB hard drive and 1X CD Reader.
The one thing that stands-out throughout these years is that I have definitely spent more money on technology than on cars and technology depreciates even faster than cars...
Back in the early 80's when Apple came out with their Apple II, at that time (unlike today) Apple had open technology and once they became popular there were quite a number of Apple II clones on the market.
My first machine was a Syscom II, an Apple II clone. I still have it and may need to fire it up to see if I can run Castle Wolfenstein, or Visicalc.....lol
"I couldn't touch-type the keyboard and the display would not update realtime."
The Sinclair was a marvel of efficient engineering. There was a reason that the display didn't update in real time. Turns out that it didn't have any video hardware. The designers simplified it by having the CPU compute and output the necessary waveform to generate the video display. Thing is that those old Z80 chips weren't fast enough to do that and compute at the same time. So, the thing would compute for a while, during which the screen was blank, then when it was done computing it could let the CPU generate video output for a while.
Seems kinda kludgy, but it did let them fit the thing in a 5x6" box and sell it for under $100. In fact, in the latter days, it was going so cheap that it was cheaper than the Z80 chip could be bought for. I know some folks who scraped up used or discontinued Sinclairs for $20 each, pulled out the Z80 chip which they could sell for $30, and tossed the rest of the computer in the trash.
Commodore C64, Atari 800, TRS-80, Osborne Portable (Still in garage).
First serious working computer was the Cromemco System III with four 8" floppy drives. Eventually added Kennedy 80 mb 15" SMT platter hard drive. Ran Cromix with 6 users, 2 printers (daisy wheel and line printer) and two 2400 baud modems on 584 kb memory on the 2 mhz CPU. Each user had 64 kb partition to use. Ran my business on this beginning about 1979. I still keep it and the hard drive in a rack cabinet in the garage.
This was in 1973, a LONG time before most people consider that the personal computer industry started. HP didn't want to market these products as "computers" because they thought that had too intimidating an image.
This photo below is of me, using a sister computer, the 9825A.
The 9830A had ROM BASIC, and the ability to interface to a floppy drive and an external monitor. It is interesting that it doesn't get included in the history of the personal computer because, in every way you can name, it was precisely the same thing -- except more capable -- than many of the products which followed four to six years later.
Wait a minute, John. The question was about personal computers. If it was computers, well I did not own it, but the first computer I worked with used punch cards. That was in 1965. We also had a (Russian) Minsk 22 which used tape and was a miracle of engineering in those days.
The first microcomputer I programmed at all was an RCA single-board computer, 1200-series CPU I think. It had 256 bytes of RAM.
The first serious programming I did on a personal computer was on my best friend's PET 2001, in 1977. The first one I actually owned was the Exidy Sorcerer.
The first personal computer I contributed to as an Engineer was the Commodore PLUS/4, followed by the Commodore 128. The first personal computer project I headed was the Amiga 2000 project, also at Commodore... also worked on the Amiga 2500, Amiga 3000 and Amiga 4000.
I got a PC Clone in 1993... oh well. Many others since then. As well as two Android devices (O.G. Droid and Notion Ink Adam), both very much personal computers in the original sense (eg, not PC(tm), but a computer for an individual person).
Not sure about functioning as a personal computer so much.. that whole blanking the screen while heavy computing went on with the ZX-81 was wonky.
In '83, Commodore offered a trade-in program: send in any computing device, and get $200 off the C= 64. All of these would up in Engineering at our West Chester, PA offices. The ZX-81 was in high demand... it might have been a questionable personal computer, but it was a nearly ideal door-stop. That wedge shape, the rubber feet, it worked very well :-)
Just as long as we're going OT, I might as well go WOT. Back in 1995, I was using my Gateway 386 for desktop video (it's a stretch!). As evidenced by my post to rec.video.desktop Here (you may have to have a Google ID to view that).
In 1976 this was a circuit board and support parts sold by Motorola that allowed engineers to evaluate a new concept in digital design; something called a Microprocessor. This plus an RF modulator and a surplus MODEM and I had a functional home computer.
My first commercial computer was an Apple ][+ with 48k RAM, a 16k RAM extension card and two floppy disk drives. I still remember the man at the finance company with the puzzled look on his face when he asked me what I wanted the loan for; and I said "a home computer"! With the Apple I became a contributing editor to NIBBLE Magazine, and wrote two programs that were featured on the cover. I earned enough from those programs and their royalties to actually pay for the computer.
I used the Apple until the late 1980's when I finally bought an Epson IBM compatible PC.