Replacing an Apple IIe with a 286 desktop PC

A brief history

I started computing with the Commodore 64 in kindergarten. The village library had little-used books on BASIC programming that enabled me to edit the cassette-borne educational programs in amusing ways. I also wrote my own programs from scratch, text-based of course. I had the idea to take some of the Choose Your Own Adventure book texts that will probably never make it to computer-based use and set the text to music and even some primitive graphics. One of the issues is to not make it too dependent on the type of computer. Using simple shapes like ovals and squares, the drawing from BASIC is slow but becomes much easier to run on different kinds of computers.

A problem is that no one here likes computers except for playing games. Wouldn’t it be interesting to create your own game, even if borrowing text enhanced by pictures and sounds you yourself make? It seems like a non-starter here.

The 286

The Deskpro 286 opens up a whole new world–with 1 MB of memory and a 40 MB hard drive and 3.5” drive and Windows 3.0 and DOS 5.0! The disc drive itself is a massive improvement vs. flipping over 5 1/4” floppies and with similar storage capacity. The shutter helps keep the disc safe from the junk on my desk.

QBasic is so much better than old Basic interpreters. Having a real development environment with the program text is awesome.

The single-bit sound from the speaker is OK. I would like an actual sound card to be able to save and playback audio. Instead of building hardware filters I could do them in software.

I spent $200 on this computer. It may not have been a steal but I simply can’t reach the 386 level yet. With CPU and FPU advances coming so heavily I want to get my feet wet before making a big jump.

A far cry from Apple II, Colecovision ADAM, and the video game systems I had before!

how to afford a computer

Birthday money. Hoeing weeds in the field. Basically a lot of finding electronics in the trash and fixing them. Often times they work already, it’s just that the owner didn’t want to bother advertising them. Consignment shops sometimes won’t handle this stuff as they can’t figure out how to hook up the stuff.

what to keep

Already this month I got a bunch and I mean a bunch of radios from a radio operator’s parents. The kid had moved out of state after college and didn’t want any ham radio any more. Lafayette HE-30 500kHz - 30MHz AM/SSB/CW receiver, Hammerlund HQ-110 receiver and Hallicrafters HT-37 transmitter. Also a Swan power/SWR meter. Lots of old coax cable, some so old and stiff the jacket cracks and buckles. An old Johnson Messenger 123A 23 channel CB too.

I think I’ll start with the CB since the farmers around here use CB in their trucks. And the regular truck drivers too of course.