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WYSICRAP – The Tandy WP-2

WYSICRAP – The Tandy WP-2 Back when we had to start the car by hand, walk 4 miles to school uphill…both ways and the milkman was still blamed for kids that didn’t quite look like mom “or” dad, computers sat on a desk. Portability meant fitting in a backpack (first baby Macs) or, in the case of early laptops something that weighed about nine or ten pounds. So, as a young college student in the early 90’s the only options you had for taking notes was a pen and paper and any typed assignments required you either owned your own computer or hunkered down in one of the campus computer labs and made damn sure you didn’t forget your box o’ disks. Then one day while flipping through a circular for Radio Shack I saw an ad for the Tandy WP-2 Word Processor.  I immediately thought “dude, you HAVE to have this!”. It was on sale and I believe if memory serves it was $199. It had a full keyboard, 32K of memory with an expansion slot for extra memory, a monochrome LCD screen that displayed about 9-10 lines of text at a time and full word processing capability including spell checker and a dictionary. It also had parallel and serial ports. In sum, for the time if you needed a small, light, full-featured word processor that was no larger than a standard textbook this was pretty much your only option. So, I got one.  Here she is: The first time I took it to class I remember all the weird looks from classmates and my professors. Everyone wanted to know what the hell it was and where I got it. The budding inner geek in me (I say budding becuase it would be a few more years before I achieved full geekhood) was like, “oh yeah, this is cool!”. I used it for the last year and a...
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BBS’s : Social Media and File Sharing in 1987

BBS’s : Social Media and File Sharing in 1987 The most dramatic “future” I ever lived in, was 1987. There was no public accessible internet. No WiFi. Laptops were suitcases. If you had a computer, you were one of the few. And that few used computers to load the totaly awesome original “California Games”. I was one of the few. But like Neo on his search for Morpheus, I knew there was more. I needed to expand my reach on the tech grid in its infancy. Selling my second computer, a Tandy TRS-80 Color Computer 3, I went mainstream and bought a used Commodore 64. It came with a box full of pirated 5.25″ floppy disks and a 300 baud modem. 300 baud means painstakingly slow. You would use the modem to dial into other computers through the telephone land line.  After you hear the audible handshake of computers in a fury of staticky computer tones, you watched the text stream in front of your eyes.  That’s data streaming through copper wires at roughly 500 bps. Electronic sounds played through the telephone line so that a modem can translate into digital input that the computer could understand. 500 bps – bits per second A character on your keyboard will simply take one byte – it takes 8 bits  to create1 byte Doing the math, thats 62.5 characters per second Factor in error correction, old copper lines, and latency – you were getting no where near even that speed At this very second, I am averaging 25 Mbps, or 25,000,000 bps, on my home WiFi. So you can see, things have changed a little. Just imagine the amount of data that had to stream through that 300 baud connection to download a game. It often took all night – just to fill a floppy disk.  Or if it spanned multiple disks, we would use a new technology called zipping....
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Typing In Code By Hand : How It Was

Typing In Code By Hand : How It Was Kids today! Why they never knew they had it so good! *pumps fist in the air Now I am not going to be one of those old timers that preach about, “when I was a kid, i had to walk uphill in the…” No i’m not, simply because I am not old. Kinda. I’m talking about the App Store. You see, when I was a kid, I would wait 30 days for a magazine to get my apps.  And in those days, they were called programs. Let me ‘splain. No, there is too much, let me sum up. It was 1985, I had my first computer – a Tandy TRS-80 Color Computer 2. Embarassingly, they were commonly referred to as the CoCo. I never called it that in fear I would get my ass whooped. I was think I was the only kid in my hick town with a computer. I was damn sure the only person that knew how to use one. I would plug my computer into the family television set and wait for the green screen to come up with an “OK” prompt. It was actually only a fraction of what it takes Windows to load. Then, opening my latest copy of Rainbow Magazine (don’t judge, it was for “CoCo’s”), I would flip to the back where it contained pages of sample code. Hundreds and hundreds of lines. Hours passed where I would patiently, manually, type the code into the computer.  …what the hell was wrong with me… There wasn’t a software store in town, or in the state, and I there was no app store or even any sort of network to access one. To see a computer do something, I typed. And typed for the big payoff. The code was on the lines of: 10 CLS 20 PRINT “ARE YOU LAME (Y|N)” 30 INPUT Y$...
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How Does a 5.25″ Floppy Disk Compare Today? [infographic]

How Does a 5.25″ Floppy Disk Compare Today? [infographic] Infographic comparing the standard 5.25″ double-density floppy disk, common around 1987, to current technology: hard drives, data speeds, MW3 (Modern Warfare 3), and even an average iPhone app.  Old vs. New. For additional context around this infographic, check out this article: 1987: Emailing, Instant Messaging, File Sharing...
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