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I have been using and having fun with computers and technology since my Dad and I explored a few different models at home, starting with a Sinclair ZX80 then ZX81

I initially taught myself to type and enjoyed using a Digital DEC-Mate II word processor at home for typing up my school work in Fifth Form, that my Dad had purchased second-hand from work, and then in the Lower Sixth Form at school I learnt about computers and Information Technology properly using Commodore PET computers, gaining a Certificate of Extended Education in Technology in 1985 that included a computer studies course, and enhanced English Maths and Science learning too.

My Dad and I purchased my first 48K Oric-1 Micro Computer in 1983 (for £300 GBP which is the equivalent of £897.31 today).  While my friends were all busy playing games on their ZX Spectrum, Vic-20, Dragon32 or Mattel Aquarius computers, I was being much more creative typing out programs (and using cassette tapes to store them on) to create visual displays, electronic posters and music from a program that turned the computer’s keyboard into a synthesizer.

I still have my Oric - it still works!

The Oric-1 was made by UK based Tangerine Computers Ltd. (Yes, before “Apple Computers,” there was another fruit!)

It had 48K (Kilobytes) internal memory, it had to be plugged into a TV to work, it was necessary to type or transfer programs written in the B.A.S.I.C. Language into it to make it work.  Programs were available in books that you could buy to type out, and then later on cassette tape.

The Oric-1 appealed to me because of its simple lines and unusual but very functional keyboard.  It also featured a Roland Synthesizer sound chip and the processing chip that was later the backbone of the BBC B Micro Computer that went into all schools.

Although my Oric was allowing me to be very creative, it wasn’t really much use for typing or homework, and so my Dad bought a pre-owned Amstrad PCW8256. This was a vast improvement on the DEC Mate II with a much quieter dot-matrix printer instead of just a daisy-wheel, and much better internals, with smaller 3.5” floppy disks that were more durable than the old 5 inch ones.

In 1991 My father and I shared the cost of our first Windows 3.1 computer and I started using Microsoft Office for the first time in 1995. We upgraded to Windows 95 and began using the Internet, with Windows 98 came MSN Messenger and Skype, Windows Millennium Edition (Me) was great fun but kept crashing. Windows XP sorted out all the niggles and became easier to use.  Windows Vista was great but a bit cumbersome, Windows 7 was one of the best. I bought a Windows 8 Tablet, although never saw the need to upgrade my PC to Windows 8 or 8.1  

I owned two phones running Windows 8 and 8.1 - everyone else seemed to love their iPhones and Androids but their build quality, cameras and user interface were so weird compared to Windows that is so familiar. I upgraded my PC to Windows 10 as soon as the free upgrade was available and I was soon able to #UpgradeMyWorld so that all my devices - computers, tablet and smartphone (which doubles up as my sat-nav) were all running Windows 10. With the help of Cortana by my side life had never been so simple and easy! Unfortunately Microsoft’s Windows 10 Mobile platform wasn’t popular and so now I have to use Google Assistant instead, but that’s progress.

Windows 10 was the easiest upgrade I have ever experienced, and once a device is configured to your liking it is so intuitive and easy to use compared to older versions of Windows or other operating systems from Google and Apple.

It was with some sorrow, following the removal of the excellent Barclays Banking App and because of other inconsistencies as Microsoft reduced their support for mobile phones that in 2017 I gave up my Microsoft Lumia 830 Windows 10 Mobile phone and bought a Lenovo/Motorola G5 Android instead.  It did the job but the design inconsistencies of Android annoy me so much!  Thankfully Microsoft have made Android a much more enjoyable experience with their amazing Launcher app which synchronises so much with Windows 11 and Windows 10, but I really miss Cortana!

Commodore PET computer - link to www.oldcomputers.com

At school I learnt on the green-screen Commodore PET 3032

My first Home Computer was the amazing British-built ORIC 1

Digital DEC Mate II - link to www.oldcomputers.com

The first computer I used was a Digital Equipment Corporation DEC MATE II

Meanwhile, the Amstrad PCW 8256 was the work-horse in our family.


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About Our Proprietor: Graham’s Tech History