"My first exposure to computing was filling in Fortran coding sheets in the fourth form, circa 1977. They would be processed by Hampshire County Council and returned a week later with a sheet of lined listing paper that usually showed an error message, but occasionally had printed out some rudimentary calculated results such as all the times tables from 1 to a hundred.
The maths department had an HP machine like a hugely overgrown scientific calculator, that was fed with punched cards, often sellotaped together in continuous loops by the real boffins who made very impressive things happen. I do vaguely remember punching the cards by hand with the point of a compass. Not that I can recall the effort involved yielding any productive results. At sixth form things looked up. We had an original Commodore PET and a teletype terminal with card punch/reader that connected to a PDP-11 at Southampton university by acoustic modem. But it was online and you could play some excruciatingly tiresome text-based role-playing games. The keener class members had their own Sinclair ZX80s which I viewed with some scepticism. Jealousy, really, I expect.
From there, it was computer black-out until my third job, when I had an Apricot F1 to use. The keyboard connected to the base unit, I think I remember, by a fibre-optic light-pipe. And after that it was onwards through Amstrads (PCWs and PC-compatibles) to the present day, stopping at Sinclair, Tandy, Apple and numerous versions of DOS and Windows, Unix and Linux.
Indeed, I have a horrible feeling that there is a Sinclair Z88 in the loft somewhere (in as-new condition, mainly because it was impossible to use for a significant time as a portable without the batteries running out and your work evaporating), a Mac Plus and others."
Pic: psychlist1972 cc2.0