Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2007/03/18

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Subject: [Leica] First computer
From: snasta at (Sanjay Nasta)
Date: Sun Mar 18 14:14:43 2007
References: <>

I came to computers just a couple of years after photography (can't remember 
what the first camera was but I know I got in trouble because I shot a roll 
in about 20' and in India rolls and development were expensive in those 
days; the first subject was the nice Nepalese lady who took care of me and 
her husband who was the night watchman at the apt. we lived).  
The first computer was a SWTPC 6800 (   
My dad taught at Indiana University and I got to program in Basic with a TI 
Silent 700 (thermal printer terminal).  Got a lot of free CPU time.  Then he 
got a job at a "dealer" for the SWTPC--Syscon Internation in South Bend.  We 
didn't buy the fancy case--the thing lived in the top drawer of a file 
cabinet...and we bought the kit so I learned to solder rather well (hundreds 
of connections).  The first 16K cost $1000.  I don't recall what the first 
floppy cost  but I do remember that you had to tune the speed of the darn 
thing with a strobe light.  I was most impressed when my dad figured out 
that rewiring the feedback circuit would fix the speed drift (those IIT 
engineers).  That computer got me started in my present profession.  I still 
use the lessons I learned from Tom Townsend the owner of Syscon when I run 
my business.  In India when my dad ran his business he wouldn't be caught 
dead picking up a broom or getting tea for an employee--in the US I saw Tom 
do that all the time.
What a rambling post.  

-----Mensaje original-----
[] En nombre de
Jim Nichols
Enviado el: domingo, 18 de marzo de 2007 18:19
Para: Leica Users Group
Asunto: Re: [Leica] Re:SD cards in M8


You revive old recollections.  Though I was not computer-oriented, I had
some brilliant techies working for me.  Our first attempt at wind tunnel
control improvements was to provide test environment displays in true
engineering units, rather than as instrument readouts.  We utilized a
surplus DEC PDP-8, loading the programs with punched paper tape. After
proving the concept, we went on to DEC PDP-11s and eventually a VAX. This
led to computerized control of selected plant valves in order to hold
testing conditions within tight tolerances during the data-taking process.

The first computer that I actually utilized personally was made by Xerox and
utilized two 8-INCH floppy drives, one for the operating system and one for
the application and data.  Those were the days!

Jim Nichols
Tullahoma, TN USA
----- Original Message -----
From: "Adam Bridge" <>
To: "Leica Users Group" <>
Sent: Sunday, March 18, 2007 11:57 AM
Subject: Re: [Leica] Re:SD cards in M8

> My first "real" computer was a DEC PDP-11/23. It had 64K(!) of RAM and
> a huge, I say HUGE, as in VAST 5 MB hard drive. Of course the entire
> operating system footprint was 4 KB, 8 KB if I elected to use the
> non-overlayed version. Later we had the PDP-11/70 on a chip (the J11 I
> think it was called) and it address 4MB of RAM that cost at least $4k.
> Today even small drivers take 4k and just the space lost in formatting
> a typical hard drive totals more than the entire disk capacity I owned
> in the first 10, no make it 15, years of computing.
> I wish I had kept the VAXstation I had which was a wonderful machine
> with a rock-solid OS (VAX/VMS). Ah well . . . the good ol' days.
> Adam
> _______________________________________________
> Leica Users Group.
> See for more information

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