you told me to go back to the beginning and so I have

My first computer (though it wasn’t really mine) was a Radio Shack TRS-80 Model I, which my dad got in 1978, when I was 8 years old. It had a whopping 4K of RAM when we first got it.

By the time we were done with it, my dad had that system fully tricked out. It had with the expansion module with 48K of RAM, three disk drives, and a Mountain Bell 212AR modem, which I used to get on BBSes starting in about 1981. I know the main computer was $1000 before any of the upgrades we got, I shudder to think what all the upgrades must have cost. Remember that this is 1978 dollars, when a new car would cost only a few thousand dollars.

I remember one upgrade pretty vividly – the modification (I think it was a chip replacement) that resulted in proper display of lowercase letters on the screen. This made writing reports for school about a thousand times easier. Before this, the word processor that I was using would display lowercase characters as a character 32 bytes lower in the ASCII code than the uppercase version.

abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz
!"#$%&'()*+,-./0123456789:

The really scary thing is that after writing a report or two like this, I was actually able to read it. I figure that was probably because I could watch it come up on the screen as I typed it.

4(% 15)#+ "2/7. &.8 *5-0%$ /6%2 4(% ,!:9 $/'
the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog

Before the lowercase upgrade, I always had to print everything I wrote at least twice, to catch typos. It took forever. Try waiting for a 10 page report on an old 9 pin dot matrix printer! I would always print the proofreading copy in draft mode … the final copy took even longer to print.

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