8 bit journey (Greg’s story)

I am not sure what year it was, but I am thinking that it may have been 1982. It was a couple of months before Christmas, and I was a sophomore in high school. We were at the local mall, and I saw 2 computers side by side. The Vic 20 for sale at the price of $199 and I think a Timex Sinclair for $99. Being the frugal person, I asked my parents for the cheaper one for Christmas.

I think it may have been only about 2 weeks later and we were at the mall again. I shot off to Woolworth’s where I had seen the computer display previously. Lo and behold, the Commodore Vic 20 was now on sale for $99. I looked back over both choices and immediately changed my mind to the Vic 20. I told my parents, and Christmas morning of that year I found a Commodore Vic 20 under the Christmas tree along with a datasette so I could do some programming and store my files.

I outgrew that in about 2 years and ended up with the Commodore 64 and a 1541 floppy drive. Now I was styling. Oh, the fun. There are 2 games in particular that I remember the most from those not quite college days. The first was Summer Games by Epyx. It took a bit to master, but a whole bunch of my friends would regularly gather around, passing the joystick and competing against each other. The second was The Bard’s Tale. What a grand game. I wasted untold hours at college playing and I finally made it to the end.

By this time game systems were starting to come out and things got interesting, but I held on to that Commodore 64 and used it regularly. Once a lightening strike took it out and I needed to replace it. It was probably the late 80s at this point and a friend and I drove to Toys-R-Us, and I ended up with the Commodore 128. I was always a bit disappointed that there was never very much software made specifically for the 128, but very happy that I could still use all of the software that I already had for the 64.

It was not long after that that I ended up going into the PC world. I bought a Gateway 2000 and that was it for my 8 bit days…..

…..until now.

Twice I have ventured into that rabbit hole of recreating that nostalgia. The first time I had to drop that and sell off everything I had accumulated thus far. The second time happened when I started a new business of computer recycling. I was getting all kinds of interesting things in and saving anything that was collectible while dismantling and recycling everything else because, well, that is the business that I am in.

I started stalking E-bay around that time and started buying up old Commodore gear. Mostly not working but getting lucky here and there. Not a bunch, but enough to wet my beak. Then one day when I visited my buyer of circuit boards and such, had a handful of Commodore stuff for me. I even got one fixed up and got it back to him for display in their retro room.

One of my E-bay purchases as I was trying to grab cheap stuff, was a Texas Instruments 99/4a. I picked it up for just $50. The next week, someone dropped off 2 of them for recycling. Crazy how that works. Maybe I should go out and buy an Apple Lisa. All 3 of those Texas Instruments machines still work.

Well, time for a bit about my background in electronics. I went to Hamilton Technical College. They offered a fast-track version of an associate degree in electronic engineering. And I learned a bunch. All the basics for electronics that give me the tools I need to repair all of these awesome machines. Soldering, diagnosing, how all the components work, and we even built our own bench power supplies from scratch. Right down to putting traces on a board and having them sent out to be etched before assembling them.

So, some closing remarks here as you stumble upon our blog and hopefully join this journey with us. We will be making 8 bit doodads, testing 8 bit doodads, reviewing 8 bit doodads, vlogging 8 bit doodads, repairing 8 bit doodads, playing various games on 8 bit computers, and hopefully so much more.

We will be about more than just 8 bit doodads. We will be looking at other vintage computers and various electronic hobby ventures.

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