30 years

It was 30 years ago that I first released the Kinetics program for the IBM PC. 1984 was also the year this classic film was released:

I had a yellow bug and a hair cut almost like KB’s:

Kinetics originated a couple of years earlier on a Timex Sinclair ZX81. Advertised as the first computer for under $100, it cost $99 (a lot for a new college graduate). About all you could do with the Sinclair was to write programs, it came with BASIC burned into the ROM. I’ve always been a hands-on learner, willing to jump into something before knowing everything about it. So I played around with the Sinclair for weeks until one day it all clicked, and I was able to write programs that actually did what I wanted.

1984 was also the year of the famous Apple super bowl commercial by Ridley Scott.

Oh, how I longed for an Apple PC, but there was no way I could afford one. Instead I bought an IBM PC jr.

It had two floppy drives and two cartridge slots on the front panel. The keyboard was line-of-sight wireless, and would only connect when it was positioned just so. To save money I bought the amber monochrome monitor instead of color. Back in those days computers came with printed manuals (because they really did need them). I wish I had kept those IBM manuals, they were gorgeous and well written:

The Kinetics program was originally written in IBM BASIC. On the PCjr, BASIC was supplied on a cartridge. The advantage being that a real programming language was always ready without taking up system memory. Being stored in ROM, the BASIC would load very quickly, not needing access to the floppy disk or other storage.

1984 was also the year that PC-SIG was founded. They published an annual mail order catalog of public domain and user supported software. Programmers could submit their work. A friend gave me a copy of the compiler for IBM BASIC. So I compiled the Kinetics program and sent it to PC-SIG. If memory serves it was published in the 3rd edition, 1986.

Before the internet there was CompuServe and the dial up Bulletin Board System. ASHP operated a BBS they called Pharm-Net. It was an electronic meeting ground and forum for exchange of ideas. Renato Cataldo, who was with ASHP at the time, asked me to post the Kinetics program in the download area of Pharm-Net. If memory serves that was around 1987.

My uncle I.J. retired from IBM in the early eighties. He was so tired of keeping up with the latest tech that he vowed never to buy another new electronic device. He still has a rotary phone to this day. The rest of us have not been so inclined.

Who needs google glass if you have this 1984 invention?

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