nos-tal-gia (noun) – A sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.
I’ve been thinking a lot about retro-computing. I am most definitely a child of the 1980’s – the glory days of the personal computer revolution. However, I was never a “gamer.” In fact, I used to think the term was an insult. So my nostalgia is wrapped up in my curiosity of how computers work and the ability to master a new bit of code. Things I never had growing up. Not to mention the desire to have a personal project where I can build something, be successful, and see the progress happen right in front of me.
One of the things I never owned was a Commodore 64. I have been beyond fascinated by the fact that people, today, in 2019, are [writing1 and selling games, written in assembly, for the Commodore 64, MS-DOS, and other 1980’s platforms. But I’ve been captivated by, perhaps, obtaining my first Commodore 64 and flexing my own coding muscle. But again, games never held a lot of interest for me. If I had a toy coding project here what would it be? (Not a Time Series Data Base.) Why does getting some experience with VICE not interest me?
Back in the 1980s, my parents owned a small business and acquired computers to help run the business. My first machine was an Apple IIe. I remember having a stack of 5.25 inch floppies of my own games and enjoying them. We had a blue monochrome screen.
The next computer in my life was a Tandy 1000. I have vivid memories of playing Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego which came out in 1989. Also, of experimenting with the office software – word processors and such – to do school work. Again, the primary use was supporting the business, which meant my life was constrained to a green monochrome screen. The only color monitors I could use were when I could use a computer at some special school program. My schools usually had Apple II series or perhaps Apple IIgs machines at this time.
Later the family acquired a Compaq Prolinea machine with an Intel 486. This was the machine I played King’s Quest VI over and over on. This is the first computer I ran Linux on. This was the computer I learned to program on. I learned how to add and remove components and do simple repairs.
In the 1990s I did purchase a second hand Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) which I enjoyed very much playing the original Final Fantasy. Again, I had a small selection of games and much of what I was exposed to didn’t hold my interest. Final Fantasy sure did.
From this point onward I usually built new machines and they were modern 32 and 64 bit Intel class machines. I did some flirting with Windows 95 and Windows NT, but college convinced me that all I never needed was Linux. The first time I would have a commercial machine and operating system would be years into my chosen career when work issued me a standard MacBook Pro laptop.
So, maybe I should just buy an old style USB game pad controller and install an NES emulator on my Linux machine. Or perhaps build a RetroPi. I’m not sure what I’m looking for. But 8 bit computing sure was a lot of fun.