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I've had my hands in the guts of technology since I was very young. The first computer component I remember dealing with was a control panel (wiring panel) from an IBM Accounting Machine (punch card tabulator) that was given to me in the early 1970s. It may have been from an IBM 407. Our family had a Digi-Comp II mechanical (using marbles!) digital computer and I had a "Logix 0-600 Electronic Computer" I bought on clearance from Montgomery Ward with my allowance money about 1975.

The first "modern" personal computer I touched was a TRS-80 Model 100 on display in Fort Worth in 1977. It was running a lunar lander program, which I immediately crashed, setting a pattern which held for a long number of years.

The first personal computer I owned was a Ohio Scientific Challenger 1P ("C1P MF"), which I bought already upgraded with a (giantic!) 8K of RAM and a 5.25" floppy drive (a massive storage capacity of 88K). I saved all the cassette tapes of software that came with it onto a single floppy disk. A friend helped me build a parallel port printer interface so I could use the Dwo Kwong Fok Lok Sow word processor and my Epson MX-80 Printer (dot matrix, with "Graphtrax"!!!). I followed the C1PMF with a Kaypro II because I aspired to be a professional technical writer, and my idol, Peter McWilliams, recommended it his books and articles.

I married, got on the internet AND bought my first Mac the same year -- in 1986, when I became a graduate student at Rensselaer. (The practically-new Kaypro wasn't sufficient because the technical communications program had just gone all-out for Macs.) The Mac was a 512Ke, and it had an external floppy drive. Back then, in order to download Mac software from the Internet, you would send an email to the repository in Michigan, get an email back with the list of available files, and then send an email requesting the file, which would generate a bazillion small email messages that you would save to disk then combine and assemble into a working executable program using Binhex. I can't remember now how you got Binhex... probably the only way was to share it on diskette. In order to get the emails I had an account on the IBM mainframe, Red Ryder (terminal emulator software) and I must have used my 300 or 1200bps modem and/or I could possibly also connect from the Macintosh lab at school.