Quisp Cereal, The Tootsie Pop Owl, and My First Tech Love
Take me back to the days of Quisp cereal or the Tootsie Pop owl (before we knew what those things were filled with) and I’ll wax nostalgic – let’s see, where was I? Yes… in the spirit of the upcoming Valentine’s Day holiday I’m recalling my first tech love.
My first tech love was to take place during my high school days when I had access to my first real computer (or time-shared computer). Our school had a ‘computer lab’ and there I learned some rudimentary programming. The time-shared computer I learned on was a mainframe: Digital Equipment Corp’s DEC PDP-10 or 11, and the operating systems were called TOPS-10 and TENEX, which were used to build out the precursor to today’s Internet. Later, in college I’d use the same computer to learn LISP, APL, and other alphabetic recipes for late night fun.
But – back to my first tech love… well, in fact it was a mainframe game called Star Trek; and it was played on the DEC PDP-10’s terminals. You could almost say that the timeshare / terminal concept was the ‘cloud’ of its day. Here on the left is what Star Trek – a text-based game – looked like. Now, this may look completely monochrome and primitive to you; but to me, it looked like bliss. The objective was to navigate The Enterprise or -E- amidst the Klingons +K+ with a little help from Star <*> bases. SRS would give you an updated scan of the local quadrant / environment. You’d use text-based phasers and torpedoes to nix the klingons. And you could even then warp WAR to a starbase to refuel and repair – until the enterprise or all the klingons were destroyed.
Thanks to Wikipedia, I found out that the game’s developer was Mike Mayfield. So, a very belated thanks, Mike!
Ok, maybe my first tech love contained a bit of hacker folklore and culture – back to a time when I’d rush to the mailbox and await the arrival of my next byte magazine and read about BMUG (Berkeley Macintosh User’s Group)’s latest creations. Had I not chosen to share the story of Star Trek (the text game), you’d have had to hear the bleeps or the Theremin-like sounds of the 70’s electronic game “Simon”.
So – I’ll leave it to you to decide which makes for a better tale.
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