Part 1: How it all Began

In fall of 1982 the local department store began selling strange looking typewriters connected to TV sets - so-called "home computers". Interesting, but not really lighting a burning desire in me to get one of these machines. Sure, I saw that they could be used to play video games, but for a video game, the price was incredibly high. The presentation of the machines wasn't too clever as well. Nobody could really demonstrate anything useful on the computers and the "information" printed on glossy paper didn't generate this "I have to get this" feeling, either. At that time, the computers were either switched off or would run game software from modules, so no chance to watch somebody typing the typical

10 PRINT "Hello"
20 GOTO 10

to impress everybody else (especially parents and salesmen) standing behind.

In January 1983 German television started broadcasting the "Computer Club". I watched it a couple of times, but this was all a bit too much for me. At age 13, being just an average kid, without anybody around me knowing anything about computers, I just didn't understand what they were talking about on TV. What I needed was somebody giving me an introduction, just for the first, very small steps.

Arund easter 1983 I spent two weeks at my uncle's house, visiting the youngest of three cousins. At that time the oldest cousin served his (mandatory) military service in the German army. When he came back for the weekend, he showed me what he had bought: a ZX81 computer. Simple, but affordable. I watched him writing small BASIC programs for a whole weekend, tried to write some code on my own and I now knew that this was something I was really interested in.

My parents weren't too excited though, remembering all too well the money spent on the model railway that was catching dust, never really being used. But my father slowly got interested in computers, too. So the research for the "right computer to buy" began. The ZX81 was not seriously considered, as its limits were already too obvious. The TI99/4a and the VIC20 couldn't convince us, either. Technically, the C64 was an attractive machine (really nice looking graphics), but it did cost around 1400,- DM (714 EUR), which was a lot of money back then. The computer my father eventually bought was a TRS-80 Color Computer (around 800,- DM). The manual was perfect for beginners, even though it was written in English, and the "Extended Color BASIC" had commands for drawing lines and circles (the C64 BASIC did not).

(continued in part 2: "My First Computer")

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