Old PC Technology (too long, sorry)

Subject: Old PC Technology (too long, sorry)
From: "Simon North" <Simon -dot- North -at- quintiq -dot- com>
To: <sintac -at- home -dot- nl>,<techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, <PoshedlyK -at- polysius -dot- com>, <michael -dot- mcintyre -at- rosegardenmusic -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 08 Mar 2007 15:52:59 +0100

Well, pull up a sandbag ....

My first computer was a ZX81, it had 8K ROM and 1K RAM running at 3.25
My stepfather bought an Apple II and an Apple IIe to go into business
as an
independent accountant. I can remember the excitement when we bought
the first dot matrix printer.

In 1972, when I went to study CS at university we were taught Fortran
IV on an
IBM System/360-67; it ran CP/CMS which to our delight was quite easy to
(not so much fun for all the local industries that time-shared on it).
I think my
class was the first to get real-time access, through a teletype printer
(we didn't
have CRTs yet), while normal work was done on punch cards.

I got into tech writing in aerospace. At Dunlop, writers wrote in
pencil and it
was typed up by the typing pool. At Lucas Aerospace we had 2 turnkey
systems (it had a native Pascal compiler that was really cool).

My first PC was an IBM PC-XT clone (math co-processor chip, 10 MB
Seagate hard
disk, Hercules graphics card and a Rampage Above Board RAM extension
pushing the RAM to 1 MB) , followed by a Compaq. As I remember, and
are unreliable, I built it myself and paid about $4000 for the
hardware. The HP
LaserJet printer came out at about the same time, which was a nightmare
as they
refused to release any documentation about their PCL (it was ASCII
based, and we
were documenting using IBM DisplayWrite, which was EBCDIC for mainframe

compatibility). To justify text using WP 4.2 you had to manually
correct by adding
spaces (that's why I needed to see the codes so much).

I was working for the European Space Agency at the time, where I
TeX on the mainframe; it was either that or carry on documenting using

DSR (runoff) - remember it? That was the year the Atari ST came out;
the graphics on that were nice. We did wireframe animations (satellite

solar panel deployment sequences) using stop-frame capture to a video
recorder. That was real fun.

Gem, Windows 3.0, Windows for Workgroups, Windows 3.11, 95, 98, NT,
2000, XP, Vista. Got Word for Windows, Word 6, Word think-of-a-number,

Doc-to-Help, RoboHelp ... Interleaf came and went (I miss it still, and
wonderful things you could do with Lisp). SGML came and went (I soooo
miss DSSSL). Frame came, and is still lingering. HyperCard died, but
came ... I hope it goes soon. HyTime was stillborn (sob, sob) and we
XML and XSLT instead ... sigh. Sometimes I think we're actually going


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Old PC Technology (was: RE: certification; was: ranting STC): From: Poshedly, Ken

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