You know you're an old techie when...

This post is more than 2 years old.

You click the Start menu, look away, look back, and have no idea what application you were about to run.

While reading a web page, you remember a link that you need to visit as soon as you finish this page, but when you finish reading the current page, you've already forgotten about the other page. (Thanks CJ!)

You still get surprised when streaming video/audio works because you remember the very first RealAudio application.

You set up WinSock to get Windows 3.1 on the net.

You installed a sound card for.... sound.

You remember thinking how nice a 3.5 inch floppy was compared to the old really floppy 5.25 inch version.

You remember "upgrading" to color from monochrome.

You entered programs by hand from magazines. (Anyone remember Family Computing? I'd kill for some of those.)

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About Raymond Camden

Raymond is a senior developer evangelist for Adobe. He focuses on document services, JavaScript, and enterprise cat demos. If you like this article, please consider visiting my Amazon Wishlist or donating via PayPal to show your support. You can even buy me a coffee!

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Archived Comments

Comment 1 by charlie griefer posted on 8/10/2006 at 11:11 PM

speaking of 5 1/4" floppies...

remember using a hole puncher to punch a hole in the side to make 'em double sided? :)

Comment 2 by JesusWept posted on 8/10/2006 at 11:11 PM

When you bought your first 1gb hard drive and thought "im NEVER gonna be able to fill this up!"

Comment 3 by Mikey posted on 8/10/2006 at 11:13 PM

You think "I can do this faster in vi than regex"

Comment 4 by Raymond Camden posted on 8/10/2006 at 11:15 PM

Is it ok for me to comment to my own post?

I remember upgrading to 128k on my Apple.

This let me play a particularly complex Infocom game I believe.

Comment 5 by Scott Stroz posted on 8/10/2006 at 11:16 PM long for the days when console game controllers had 1 button.

Comment 6 by Scott Stroz posted on 8/10/2006 at 11:19 PM remember thinking that pr0n in 16 colors was soooo much better than 8.

Comment 7 by charlie griefer posted on 8/10/2006 at 11:20 PM

heh. i remember thinking pr0n was cool in green monochrome :)

Comment 8 by Mikey posted on 8/10/2006 at 11:24 PM

You remember playing Zork on your TRS-80. And thought it was amazing.

Comment 9 by Scott P posted on 8/10/2006 at 11:30 PM

You played nerf basketball and kept score on a Timex Sinclair 1000.

Comment 10 by JesusWept posted on 8/10/2006 at 11:31 PM

When your PC Speaker was actually used for mildly irritating melodies to the latest blocky dos games when sound cards weren't the norm.

Comment 11 by Justice posted on 8/10/2006 at 11:32 PM

when you ran everything on dual 20 meg hard drives and learned BASIC from the back of 3-2-1 Contact magazines. Anyone else remember typing in the turtles game? =)

Comment 12 by Torgo posted on 8/10/2006 at 11:33 PM

@Mikey -

...or if you've ever been eaten by a grue.

Comment 13 by Robert Owen posted on 8/10/2006 at 11:34 PM

You were amazed when that Turbo button that Pushed your PC's speed all the way up to 33 mhz.

Comment 14 by JesusWept posted on 8/10/2006 at 11:37 PM

When you bought your latest dos game and had struggle to free up enough conventional memory by altering your config.sys

Comment 15 by Justice posted on 8/10/2006 at 11:39 PM

@JesusWept remember running memmaker when it came out, over and over trying one config after another to get as close to 640 conventional free memory as you could, hehe.

Comment 16 by Simeon posted on 8/10/2006 at 11:40 PM

....when you saved your program code using a tape recorder because your TI-99 didnt have a floppy drive. (

Comment 17 by Raymond Camden posted on 8/10/2006 at 11:42 PM

Speaking of the configuring memory, in that movie, Johnny Mnomnic (I know I spelled it wrong, who cares), I remember laughing when I saw it because he used a doublespace program for the memory bank in his head, which, of course, was based on a REAL doublespace program. I think it was part of one of the last versions of MS-DOS as well.

Comment 18 by JesusWept posted on 8/10/2006 at 11:45 PM

when you'd be loading from a tape and something would go wrong, so you had to rewind slightly and play, then rewind, play , times

when i first came across this i was really young and I (like many others) didn't know the difference between memory and harddrive space so i'd just go around deleting files I didn't think were necessary

Comment 19 by Raymond Camden posted on 8/10/2006 at 11:47 PM

Code on tape? That's nothing. There used to be code on vinyl.

Comment 20 by Joel Cox posted on 8/10/2006 at 11:55 PM

@ray, mikey, torgo, et al thought that Infocom games were the greatest thing ever. Then, again, maybe they still are.

No other games ever caused me to bolt upright in the middle of the night because my relaxed brain finally saw the relationship between a locked gate, a helium balloon, and a blind dwarf. The sense of 'Eureka!' and euphoria has never been surpassed by all the video bling in subsequent years.

Comment 21 by Greg Nilsen posted on 8/11/2006 at 12:00 AM

The Commedore 64 was the best gaming computer you could get your hands on.

You understand how to properly use GOTO statements without mucking up your code.

You remember why GOTO statements were necessary.

You don't have a degree in Computer Science because when you graduated the closest thing was Mathemetics (I used to have a CS professor who fell into this category).

Comment 22 by Raymond Camden posted on 8/11/2006 at 12:02 AM

re: Infocom: I still say "A Mind Forever Voyaging" is one of the coolest games ever created.

Comment 23 by JesusWept posted on 8/11/2006 at 12:03 AM

real programmers (At least in the bbc basic world) used GOSUB

Comment 24 by Ray Buechler posted on 8/11/2006 at 12:18 AM

....the Commodore SX64( was was a laptop and the Geoworks OS was going to kick Window's butt.

I still have my old SX64 btw.

Comment 25 by Jonathan posted on 8/11/2006 at 12:32 AM

"You somehow think better when your desktop computer is exposed on top of your desk."

Comment 26 by Jen posted on 8/11/2006 at 12:37 AM

You created DOS prompts using "ascii art".

Your first "portable" computer was the size of a large sewing machine case

Forget code on tape and vinyl... I remember code on keypunch cards!

You used resedit on your Mac Classic to change the mouse pointer to point with a -err- different finger.

Comment 27 by Craig M. Rosenblum posted on 8/11/2006 at 12:38 AM

I still remember 64k and 300 baud for my Apple 2+

Back in 1980, seeing my first personal computer.

I kind of miss the idea of home based innovation and exploration on the hardware side, and some of the software side.

Woz and Jobs were such an inspiration..

And yes i am getting old too, and i'll be 44 next month...

Oy vey, i'll be middle aged.

Comment 28 by Mikey posted on 8/11/2006 at 12:47 AM

You actually once wrote something in FORTRAN.
You have spent time stacking up punch cards.
You remember those big "Turnaround time is now ____ hrs" signs.

You remember cutting out of Physics 101 to stand in line to see Star Wars......

Comment 29 by James Edmunds posted on 8/11/2006 at 12:48 AM

Two floppy drives: The Program, and The Data

Also, I still kind of miss WordStar

Comment 30 by RobW posted on 8/11/2006 at 12:49 AM

Ah, my first computer was a Timex Sinclair 1000, 2nd was a Commodore 64, and 3rd a IBM PCjr. I spent many an hour typing basic in only to have the program fail with a syntax error that I couldn't find. So much so that Turbo Pascal on my IBM Portable was a joy to use.

Comment 31 by Jen posted on 8/11/2006 at 12:55 AM

Almost forgot this one:

You still remember the lotus 1-2-3 "slash" commands :)

Comment 32 by J.J. Merrick posted on 8/11/2006 at 1:10 AM

...Finally logging in to your favorite local BBS after 2 hours of busy signals.

...Networking the 5 DECmate's and Rainbow 100's that your dad brought home... then getting the 400 lbs laserjet to print something other then an internal font.

...Getting excited when you found a program that allowed you to play actual sounds though the PC speaker because you couldn't afford a sound card.

Comment 33 by ShawnPO posted on 8/11/2006 at 1:13 AM

You know the difference between High Memory and Extended Memory, and how to setup your Boot Disk to use the correct one!


You were thrilled when modems went up to 9600 kbps, because you could run Legend of the Red Dragon SOOOO much faster!!!


You taught yourself BASIC on the C64 with COMPUTE! Gazette instead of Family Computing. :-)

Comment 34 by Mike Rankin posted on 8/11/2006 at 1:14 AM

... the bugs in your code were caused by a hanging/dimpled/pregnant chad problem.

Comment 35 by Craig M. Rosenblum posted on 8/11/2006 at 1:19 AM

I loved the bbs days, dialing up the Captain's Log, was even into bbs modding back in the early 1990's.

Btw for bbs historical buff's there is a website dedicate to bbs history.

Created by the same guy who does

Anywho, I remember keypunch cards as well..

My newest job is 1 block from my old Control Data Institute that I learned Computer Programming and Operations from in MPLS, MN.

Fortran, RPG, Cobol, Assembler...

I used to be able to think in hexadecimal and convert it to binary or octal or back and forth...

And I remmeber huge keypunch machines, and enjoyed and hated them massively...

I also remember wargames movie etc..

Comment 36 by Raymond Camden posted on 8/11/2006 at 1:29 AM

Craig, a few jobs ago I worked for Creative Internet Solutions. They were bought out by Control Data. Who were then bought out by Syntegra.

When I worked for CD, I had the coolest business trip ever. I spent two weeks in Paris (hotel was 2 blocks from the Eiffel Tower), Brussels, and London while training folks at the CD offices. I _loved_ it.

Comment 37 by Gary Funk posted on 8/11/2006 at 1:44 AM

How about pulling the floppy drives from your TRS 80 MOdel III and adding two 360K half-hieghtdrives in the top bay and two 720K half-height drives in the bottom bay.

Or remember when you maxed your PC to 640K of memory and put in yoru first 30 Meg RRL drive?

Comment 38 by Jeff Coughlin posted on 8/11/2006 at 2:45 AM

@J.J. Merrick

My parents bought my first PC (Digital Rainbow 100) in 1984 for $4000 US (retailed for $6k, but a friend of the family worked at Digital) and my modem was a 300 baud (the one with the cups where you placed the receiver on it... old school "War Games" style :) ).

The OS was CP/M and I wrote in MBasic

Comment 39 by Jeff Coughlin posted on 8/11/2006 at 2:46 AM

I fondly remember running a WILDCAT BBS back in 1989-1995. Started with v1.x. I recently moved and while cleaning my basement I found old 3.5" floppies of WILDCAT 4.x.

My BBS was called the Death Star and had cool uber ASCII art I made (including the splash screen). Luckily Lucas Films never sent me a "cease & desist" for using their copyrighted names :).

Comment 40 by cfJeff posted on 8/11/2006 at 5:39 AM

ASCII art on the BBS! Those were the days.
Nothing sweeter than the sound of your modem connecting.


Comment 41 by JesusWept posted on 8/11/2006 at 5:52 AM

Compuserv was my first ISP, and that sound of the modem connecting sounded like expensive money being wasted down the drain.

British Telecom (the phone company) would charge you 3p a minute (5 cents) and then compuserv would charge you per hour (I really can't remember how much) and they'd charge you a monthly subscription fee.

But an addendum to the winsock problem, you had to try and find the init strings to play Doom or duke over the phone

AT&Z0 etc

oh Hayes!

Comment 42 by tim strickland posted on 8/11/2006 at 6:49 AM

Saving up $60 to upgrade my TRS-80 from 4k RAM to 8K RAM in order to enter by hand the newest boss code from CoCo magazine.

Comment 43 by Raymond Camden posted on 8/11/2006 at 6:53 AM

Wow, 4k to 8k? And I thought I was showing off with me 64 to 128k comment.

Comment 44 by dave posted on 8/11/2006 at 7:59 AM

damn u guys are old!!!

Comment 45 by barry.b posted on 8/11/2006 at 9:29 AM

You know you're an old techie when...

you pick a duff picture of a mountain for your blog's theme, claiming to get around to changing it and in the end you forget because in all honesty you really couldn't be arsed making the effort....

Comment 46 by Jeff Coughlin posted on 8/11/2006 at 10:57 AM


Comment 47 by barry.b posted on 8/11/2006 at 11:24 AM

just joking

You know you're an old techie when...

you come to the realising that how your blog looks doesn't _really_ matter in the bigger scheme of things because what _is_ important is the content, personality and humour....

'av a goo' wee'end ppls...

Comment 48 by Doug Cain posted on 8/11/2006 at 1:01 PM

Getting your trs-80 model 1 to go beep.... Still my favourite computer ever.

You thought there were alot of Linux distros, any one remember the gazillion OS's for the trs-80?

Comment 49 by Mike Fosker posted on 8/11/2006 at 2:06 PM

Knowing when the games on your BBC/Spectrum where nearly finished loading, because you'd listened to the sound from the tape player so often that you know the 'tune'.

Comment 50 by Jeff Self posted on 8/11/2006 at 4:37 PM

Spending $300 to upgrade memory from 256K to 640K

Drooling over a Seagate 20MB hard drive for $299.

Upgrading from a 1200 baud modem to a 2400 baud modem.

Comment 51 by Raymond Camden posted on 8/11/2006 at 5:24 PM

Hey, leave my mountain alone. ;) Seriously - the guy who made my last header is working on a new one for me. I love nature pics, but mountains aren't really my thang.

Comment 52 by Seth Bienek posted on 8/11/2006 at 9:08 PM

20 GO TO 10

Comment 53 by Seth Bienek posted on 8/11/2006 at 9:13 PM

LOL... Using a sector editor to "customize" Clover BBS to use your own cleverly worded prompts...

Floppy swapping...

LOGO was the coolest app ever...

Amiga envy...

Comment 54 by Jake posted on 8/11/2006 at 10:14 PM

I remember dating a girl in college because:
1) She had a part-time job as a keypunch operator and didn't make nearly as many mistakes as me,
2) Her father was head of the engineering department, and
3) She was a babe :)

My first program was a 6-card deck submitted to the campus mainframe (IBM 360) via courier who dropped by my high school once every couple days ... fall of 1970.

Comment 55 by tony weeg posted on 8/11/2006 at 10:48 PM

all i can say is alt.binaries and uudecode


Comment 56 by Stephen Moretti posted on 8/13/2006 at 9:29 PM

... upgrading your sinclair zx spectrum ( to a hard keyboard because you've worn out the rubber keys and twiddling (technical term) with the volume on the tape deck to get your games to load.

(adding to Charlie Griefer's first comment) ... cutting the corners off of 3.5" floppy disks to make them into 1.44mb disks from 720KB.

Comment 57 by Larry C. Lyons posted on 8/14/2006 at 6:33 PM

You know you're an old techie when...

You remember programming by patch cords.

No I'm not that old, at college, the psych department had a "computer" based Skinner Box for training rats. It was so old you had to program the reinforcer schedules by moving patch cords around on a panel.


Comment 58 by Carl V posted on 8/15/2006 at 5:42 AM

Flash are at the end of a forest, to your left is a castle, on your right is a path, and straight ahead is a gate....What did you want to do?...

or you thought you were the ants pants when you had a whopping 8mb of ram (and the rest of the office only had 4mb) and trying to run photoshop...and open a whopping 4mb picture..(just make sure you have nothing left open or running in the background, then go make a coffee and come back in a while and it maybe loaded..)

Comment 59 by Carl V posted on 8/16/2006 at 3:13 AM

Or your first email address from CompuServe, and one of our main ISP over here in order to get another email address you had to purchase a whole dial up account. (Not like today where you can get unlimited for next to nothing.)

ummm...yeah...(not sure if you can still do this with CompuServe) plus you could go through their store and buy software and charge it to your credit cards we not accepted way back we purchased a software to convert mac cd to pc, because back then when you put a mac cd into a pc it would show there is nothing on the I once send 10 CD back to Germany and said you sent us the wrong discs..there is nothing on these ones..(this send back cost us many hundreds..oops)

That was when blank CD roms cost AUD$35 each (USD$27..this is todays money, back then it was more like 50c in the dollar) and we had a graphics design firm copy a CD for us and that alone cost us AUD$ we decided after that to purchase our own CD burner...with the price tag of AUD$850...and also purchase a box (that's right no spindols back then) of 100 blank CD's and a box of 100 CD-RW (I think they were about AUD$55 each)..

Comment 60 by DTecMeister posted on 8/18/2006 at 6:51 AM

You remember using the TRS-80 disk editor to cause the whole classes' pascal compiler disks to display bad messages on the screen on startup. (I wasn't happy about my new Programming teacher, I feel bad she had to re-copy the compiler to all the disks because she didn't know how to use the disk editor)

Your next Killer-App was a screen interface to the C-46 sound card.

You thought the programmers for Origin Systems must have been like gods. (Ultima series ruled)

Comment 61 by Sid Wing posted on 3/15/2007 at 10:09 AM

you know you're an old techie when...

you remember what a PET was (and that Commodore made them as a BUSINESS MACHINE!)

you "programmed" your first "computer" using dip switches

you thought that programming with punchcards was god's GIFT to the programmer

you remember thinking that the "transistor" would never be as reliable as that 6LS6 tube

you designed your first "circuit board" on a wooden plank with nails and wire-wrap tools handy

you know what an 8-track is and why it was called that when it seemingly only had 4 tracks.

when you remember saying "I bet I can do that in 3 lines of code"

when you have toooooooo MUCH stuff to list here in this blog entry....