I Didn’t Have a Disk Drive

When I was 13, my mom got me an electric typewriter for Christmas. Luckily, it was broken, so we went back to Radio Shack to return it. When we got there, they were trying to move TRS-80 Color Computers for about $50 (the same price as the typewriter).

So my mom got me a 4k, chiclet keyboard version that hooked up to a TV. There was no storage included, but supposedly you could hook them up to ordinary tape recorders (I never figured this out).

The next Christmas, I got a Commodore 64, again with no disk drive. I finally got a disk drive for my birthday a few months later.

For a while, my home computer could literally do nothing except be programmed.

All of my personal programs lived on paper. I typed them in, played with them a bit, and then re-transcribed them back to paper. My most ambitious program in this time period was a very light Defender clone made from ASCII art.

It was like learning a musical instrument.

If I were learning piano, I would play songs over and over until I got them right. If I could compose music, I’d do it on paper and retranscribe often.

And doing this did at least accomplish the goal my mom had with her original gift. I learned how to type pretty fast.