My First Computer

December 25, 1982

I got my first home computer for Christmas, 1982 (about a month before my 8th birthday). It was a TI 99/4A with a speech synthesizer, built-in BASIC interpreter, and audio tape storage device. I had a chance to play with the Apple II in elementary school, but this one was ours!

I played my first video games on it. I remember my two favorite games were Henhouse and Ambulance. I even got an introduction to text-based adventure games with Adventure.

But twitch-games can only entertain you for a while. It wasn’t long before I started fooling with the BASIC interpreter to make my own sounds and graphics. My crowning achievement was a program that would estimate how many marbles were in a jar by specifying its geometry.

I remember when it dawned on me that since the storage device used regular audio tapes, it might be possible to copy them using another tape recorder (and it was!) Too bad I only knew one other person with a TI.

The only thing missing was a modem. In retrospect, it was probably all for the best that I didn’t have access to a modem for another few years.