Computers caught my interest at age 16. I wanted to build the RCA Cosmac ELF single board computer I saw featured in Popular Electronics, but I did not have all the test equipment I needed. Then in the late 1970s Radio Shack came out with the TRS-80 computer. My best friend Ritchie and I each bought one as soon as they came out, but there was not too much you could do with it. It only had 64K of RAM and no built in hard drive. You had to load lots of floppy disks to run one program.
The PC did not start to gain traction as useful tool until the late 1980's when IBM came out with the PC XT a computer with a built in hard drive. Also the Lotus Development Corp. had come out with the software suite Lotus 123. Now I had access to a PC with large amounts RAM and drive capacity. When I combined this with the capabilities of Lotus, I could start doing some serious data management with the PC. I went right into it using Lotus for Word Processing and Spread Sheets, and MS DOS for file management. However, IBM PCs were still very expensive at around $3000.00 each. I could only use the ones at work to learn with. Fortunately I had a position that required me to use a computer.
Prices started to drop with the advent of the clones. (IBM PC copies) Compaq and Dell are both famous brands that started out as IBM PC clone builders. IBM also started to upgrade the models. The first PCs were based on the Intel 8086 Microprocessor. Then IBM came out with the PC AT based on the 80286 processor. This was a much better machine, but by then the clones were really starting to eat into IBMs market share. So IBM came out with a new PC called the PC Jr. which was more affordable but there were not many takers. Then to regain control of the market IBM came out with a new style PC called the PS 2 with a microchannel bus architecture that was not compatible with the clones. IBM shot themselves in the head when they did that. Everybody stuck with the PC clones. Compaq started to become very big as their market share increased and Dell was right behind them. As for IBM they were essentially out of the market fielding a product nobody wanted.
In the meantime Intel continued to upgrade the processors as well. They came out with the 80386. Then the 80486, and by then no one was using the first 2 digits anymore. The processors were called 486, then 486DX, then 486DX2, etc. AMD had jumped into the processor game also with a workalike chip. I stayed on the side lines because the market was saturated with too many players and it was hard to tell who would last. For example I liked the PC clones from AST research, but it's a good thing I didn't buy one because AST went out of business. Then as good fortune would have it in 1992 I found an IBM PC XT in the garbage. I took it home and checked it out with my oscilloscope. There was no video output. So I bought a new video card for it and began using it. It ran MS DOS but I also installed Norton Commander which created a 2 pane window like interface for managing files. I put some software on it called Enable. Enable was very similar in features to Lotus, and this is what I had to use at work. So now I had my own PC from which I could do my work at home if I needed to. I used it to do a big project with lots of word proccessing. Afterwards other things caught my interest and I drifted away from computing.