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My Fingers Remembered What?

I am a child of the 70s and 80s. It was an exciting time for a techni-geek like me. Calculator watches, home video game consoles, Teddy Ruxpin (was I the only one who found that dude creepy?), the Radio Shack “Armatron”, Merlin, Dark Tower, Pong, Pac-Man, and, of course, the home computer revolution of the early 80s.

We did not have a lot of money, but I DID want to get into this whole computer thing. My first computer was a TI99/4A that my parents bought me as the model was failing in the market to the likes of Commodore and they were practically giving them away below cost…It was my first taste into programming. Mysetup was the computer itself hooked up to the “house TV” and a tape cord that I purchased from Radio Shack to use on my own cassette recorder. Eventually upgraded to my own small TV as to not take up the family tube. No disk drives, no printers, no modems. Just the computer, my imagination, and a painfully slow storage system of rust on sticky tape. And you know what; the time in front of that keyboard was some of the absolute best memories I have of my childhood. The seemingly endless possibilities that can come from your imagination and translate through some clever programming to the screen and speakers to share with others.

The TI99/4A eventually gave way to a Commodore-64 that my grandmother bought me. That setup had the standard 1541 disk drive and a screaming fast 300 baud modem. And again, the experience was magical all over again giving way to access to BBS systems and a whole community of like minded folks.

So I hear you saying “all right, old dude, who cares? You had a fun toy, I get it, now get on with it!”.  Toy? We will take that offline for another time ;-) I do still have a passion for classic games and technology. I was going to start to collect classic tech, but decided I did not want to dedicate the space & time and could appreciate other people’s collections online.  Side note, if you are a retro techni-geek and have not seen “8-Bit Guy” or “8-Bit Keys” on YouTube, go there now. You may also then fall into a rabbit hole taking you on a journey through retro-tech. Stay hydrated! What I do enjoy doing is finding emulators online and taking some downtime to play some classic games on my modern computers. I get the nostalgia without taking up the extra space.

This past weekend I came upon an emulator for my old TI99/4A. Looked interesting so I fired up the web version of the emulator to see how it looked. When I first heard that beep, I got goosebumps of familiarity and happiness. I chose to boot it in “TI Basic” mode and started typing. Now, if you would have given me pen and paper and told me to write some simple program in TI Basic, I would have struggled to do so. But our bodies and mind have some very strange muscle memory. My brain did not seem to remember how to program in TI Basic, but my fingers did, and the code started pouring into the emulator. Within a few minutes, that thing was singing all kinds of crazy songs to me from randomizing parameters of the “CALL SOUND” command. It was like I had just invented fire (again). Before too long there was a dancing Christmas tree on the screen which you could move around with the arrow keys. Why? Because I do not have a joystick for this thing…Oh THAT “why”…Who cares! For a few hoursI was lost in my childhood where anything seemed possible. For me, this is a space that I find is wonderful for finding inspiration for current projects that I am working on.

This is my challenge for you. What was a childhood passion that made you feel like a wizard, or rockstar, or princess. Visit this place frequently and find your inspiration to share with the world. I would love to hear where you draw inspiration from. Leave a comment!

-David

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