Our desktops of yore.

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Muirium
µ

24 Aug 2019, 16:34

mr_a500 wrote:
24 Aug 2019, 15:20
It's strange that we're now at a time where desktop computers and CRT monitors are considered "vintage".
That’s what getting old is all about.
vometia wrote:
24 Aug 2019, 13:04
Image
My desk in about '91-ish, complete with thoughtful observation about the meaning of life from one of our ops. Quiet as I'd turned up at 8am to avoid the traffic: the more local the staff, the later they arrived!
The lack of mice / pointing devices in front of Vometia’s displays gives me the same tinge of dread so many people had back then, when face to face with a computer. “How do I even use this thing?” By knowing all the magic spells, of course, you imbecile.

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vometia
irritant

24 Aug 2019, 19:30

mr_a500 wrote:
24 Aug 2019, 15:20
My office looked similar - except we usually had those typical fabric dividers so you didn't have to stare at the ugly faces of co-workers (a considerable improvement).
Oh, yeah, we had lots of those in the immediate vicinity too. It's just that our bunch got rid of a lot of them in the immediate vicinity so we could yell at each other. There was a divider just out of view to the right, the other side of which sat a Frenchman who smoked smelly Gauloises all day long. He was a lovely chap but the fog he created was quite acrid.

The dividers were a thoughtfully considered greige colour considering that smoking in offices was still permitted. Some keyboards were pretty disgusting, though I'm not sure it was entirely down to cigarette smoke as there wasn't a direct correlation between amount smoked and grubbiness.
Last edited by vometia on 25 Aug 2019, 06:39, edited 1 time in total.

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vometia
irritant

24 Aug 2019, 19:36

Muirium wrote:
24 Aug 2019, 16:34
The lack of mice / pointing devices in front of Vometia’s displays gives me the same tinge of dread so many people had back then, when face to face with a computer. “How do I even use this thing?” By knowing all the magic spells, of course, you imbecile.
I think I did have a pointing device for the PC as it had Windows 3.1 on it at some point, though it may have been running Minix or something in this picture: I honestly can't remember. What is interesting is that most people got used to green-screen terminals extremely quickly (except for one notable middle manager who refused on the basis that "typing is women's work") but once they started to be replaced by PCs, which was just starting around this time as is evident from the picture, users started to have a really difficult time of it and found the "user-friendly" graphical windowing system to actually be much more confusing. Plus they'd start saving stuff on their PC instead of what would now be termed "the cloud" which sucked for them if they accidentally deleted something or their hard drive (or frequently floppy disk) failed. No, we can't recover it from backups because the backup system can't magically back up stuff it can't access.

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Muirium
µ

24 Aug 2019, 20:01

I had a reunion with Windows 3 in the late nineties, when I was face to face with Windows For Workgroups at a government agency. Using Windows 95 and 98 in the intervening years had completely blanked my older knowledge. It was damn well goofy in comparison. “What? Expand the ducking window, it’s nowhere near the edge!” But the other workers there, right enough, were running through their mundane data entry jobs with well worn paths of keys and clicks. They’d done the exact same thing before, thousands of times over. It was hard for me because I was trying to find something. There’s using and there’s using, evidently.

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Muirium
µ

25 Aug 2019, 00:22

Here’s a friend’s vintage 3D attempt at modelling his room at the time (circa 2000) while learning 3D Studio Max.

Image

He says the keyboard wasn’t anything fancy. The simplified slab like geometry actually looks quite modern. Unlike those CRTs. 17 whole inches of Eizo.

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mr_a500

25 Aug 2019, 00:32

Muirium wrote:
24 Aug 2019, 20:01
I had a reunion with Windows 3 in the late nineties, when I was face to face with Windows For Workgroups at a government agency.
Ah, Windows for Workgroups... I remember that. It was supposed to be so "modern". I thought it was a piece of shit compared to the Amiga Workbench I'd used years earlier. I tried to like it. Really I did. Then I remember all the hype around the introduction of Windows 95. When got to use it, I just said... "meh". It was only years later when I really got to know - and violently hate it. (oh GOD how I hated the infinitely corruptible registry)

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vometia
irritant

25 Aug 2019, 07:00

mr_a500 wrote:
24 Aug 2019, 15:20
It's strange that we're now at a time where desktop computers and CRT monitors are considered "vintage".
Funny how quickly things move on. That office I've pictured was still quite unusual for the time in that nearly every desk had a terminal and/or PC on it: the only reason the "U" of desks next to me are largely vacant of computer equipment is that's where the COBOL guys were until recently sitting and they'd been moved downstairs or something. Oh yeah, in spite of the courtyard suggesting otherwise, this is actually the 2nd floor: the computer room was underneath it and the "planters" are actually the coolers for its air-con. Anecdotally it caused rather literal bugs to happen as the occasional unfortunate woodlouse would find its way through, drop through the ceiling of the computer room and the really unfortunate ones find their way into the removable hard drives, those really big washing-machine-size things with the 14" (17"? 18"? I forget) platters, the ring of squashed insect being a very visible trace of the ensuing head crash.
mr_a500 wrote:
25 Aug 2019, 00:32
Muirium wrote:
24 Aug 2019, 20:01
I had a reunion with Windows 3 in the late nineties, when I was face to face with Windows For Workgroups at a government agency.
Ah, Windows for Workgroups... I remember that. It was supposed to be so "modern". I thought it was a piece of shit compared to the Amiga Workbench I'd used years earlier. I tried to like it. Really I did. Then I remember all the hype around the introduction of Windows 95. When got to use it, I just said... "meh". It was only years later when I really got to know - and violently hate it. (oh GOD how I hated the infinitely corruptible registry)
Oh, I absolutely loathed Windows 3.1/3.11. The former seemed to serve no useful purpose and did everything badly and slowly: we'd actually have people doing their spreadsheets on their Windows box just in terms of data entry, then upload them to the Unix cluster using the green-screen version to do the actual number crunching, then move them back to their PC for running queries and stuff. The latter was touted by some as a viable alternative to that Unix cluster in spite of them not even having a TCP/IP stack and it crashing all the time, compared to the Unix boxes which generally only did so if there was a hardware fault. I think these were the same guys obsessed with using Windows for everything, including (once they did start using IP) their suggestion that I stop using a Unix system as an internal firewall but just use a Windows PC instead. I just kinda looked at him. Apart from anything, it needed to be able to run 100% of the time, not just occasionally when it felt like it. Grr.

I never liked PC-based stuff though. I also came from the "home computer" background which were mainly BASIC-oriented at the time; and yeah, I've previously done my rant about being saddled with Microsoft BASIC, which looked curiously like DEC BASIC only not as good, but some of the other software was really innovative, stuff like OS/9 and Flex for my Dragon if I'd had the money. Which I didn't. And then off to college to play with VMS and Unix on their mainframes (okay, technically speaking, "superminicomputers", though really the difference between a Vax 8650 and a contemporary IBM System/370 was rather semantic, I feel).

It wasn't until after that I encountered my first PC, initially pre-Windows. DOS, what a lovely system that wasn't. I could see the charm or at least utility of CP/M on much more modest hardware in its heyday 10+ years previously, but to see a somewhat poorly-created clone of a system that was already of its time and itself a sort of mish-mash of concepts of the second part of CP/CMS and TOPS-10 was underwhelming to say the least. Windows did not enhance that already unimpressed viewpoint. X11 came a bit later for me, only when I was dragged off to a customer site on some programming job, but at least it actually seemed functional and to have a useful purpose. Still fugly, though.

And given that this is the keyboards forum I've neglected to mention any of the user input devices. There is actually a mouse in my photo, it's on the other side of the phone. I don't think it got much use. As for the keyboards, the terminal's was... well, just a keyboard. It did its job adequately and didn't stand out in terms of being notably good or bad, it was about as average as "just a keyboard" can be. I don't even know if it was mechanical or rubber dome, though the non-mechanical examples of the era tended to be not terrible. Still no idea who made them: as I said, our Philips terminals were rebadged Motorolas, which in turn were rebadged Ampex (I think) but I suspect still made by someone else.

The PC keyboard... no idea either. It would've been Philips, and I recall it was an improvement on its predecessor, their AT ("big-ass enter" style) keyboards really being the work of the devil: horrible sculpting and flat key profile but the worst thing is that they had the most horrible squeaky, juddering, binding keyswitches I've encountered anywhere. Horrible things altogether. Their then next-gen PCs (grey, slimline units as opposed to big boxy beige things made of razor-sharp steel sheeting) were a lot nicer in all respects.

Edit: actually there's an ugly beige AT (or possibly 386 by then but in the same style of case) on the right of the picture for comparison, though I see its owner has replaced its horrible keyboard with a better one.

Edit 2: also couldn't figure out from the previous page whether this was supposed to be a "reveal thyself!" topic or not, but since I'm not in my office picture (as I was taking it) photo evidence of my lard-arsed existence, as if my profile pic wasn't already too much. I've kinda given up trying to smile for the camera: I figured it's better if I don't. Everyone else's turn now. :p

Image

(obviously(?) not contemporary with the '91 picture as this was a month or two back.)

User avatar
Muirium
µ

25 Aug 2019, 09:38

So, apparently, all my recent mountaintop selfies are topless. Maybe not the best thing to inflict on a Sunday morning public. All together now: “I’m too sweaty for my shirt…”

Quite how other climbers are up there in layers and jackets I’ve nae idea. Aren’t you people burning calories on the way up, too? Did I miss the ski lift?

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mr_a500

25 Aug 2019, 13:05

Nice picture, vometia.
Muirium wrote:
25 Aug 2019, 09:38
So, apparently, all my recent mountaintop selfies are topless. Maybe not the best thing to inflict on a Sunday morning public.
Thank you for that. I'm having my morning tea and I don't want to spit it over my computer.

Well crop out the topless-ness and lets see what a mountaintop Muir looks like.

tigpha

26 Aug 2019, 11:27

I don't have images to share of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum (first or second revision, can't recall) But I do have images of the Atari ST 520, and the dot matrix I persuaded dad to buy back in 1988.
AtariST-1988.jpeg
Atari ST recently after purchase circa 1988...
AtariST-1988.jpeg (32.08 KiB) Viewed 163 times
AtariST-June-1989.jpeg
My brother using the Atari to edit manuscript...
AtariST-June-1989.jpeg (58.96 KiB) Viewed 163 times
I was studying BTEC Graphic Design at the time, so I have plenty of Ilford monochrome negatives in a folder, as part of the course work. You see, I originally wanted to be a cartoon artist, inspired by the French & Belgian bandes desinées, such as Moëbius/Jean Giraud and François Schuiten. Programming the computer came about because I used it to create wireframe models of various geometric shapes, which are fiddly to draw convincingly freehand.

My brother grew interested in the Atari ST because of a word processor (can't recall which it was), and he discovered that his writing production and creativity exploded thanks to the ability to cut, paste and rearrange the text. The loud dot matrix printer was heavily used too. He also exploded when the floppy disk failed, and he lost a few hundred pages of his precious work! Yeah, backups etc, but we were young, enthusiastic and ignorant back then. I learnt far more about floppy disk sectors than is healthy while painstakingly recovering all the hundreds of pages of the manuscript. A formative experience, probably turned me to the Dark Side ever since :-)

But back-on-topic-thority: The Atari ST rubber dome keyboard was utterly shit! Nearly as bad as the Spectrum! But I barely knew of anything better at the time. Except for a donated Rafi keyboard I was given early 1980's. I tried hard to connect that comparatively lovely keyboard to the ZX Spectrum, and nearly succeeded before it was lost --- Sobs!

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