1508: “Operating Systems”

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Re: 1508: “beehives”

Postby jezzaaaa » Mon Apr 06, 2015 9:40 pm UTC

Typo in title text: "singed" should be "signed".

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Re: 1508: “beehives”

Postby San Fran Sam » Mon Apr 06, 2015 10:07 pm UTC

2017 - Skynet....

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Re: 1508: “beehives”

Postby BlitzGirl » Mon Apr 06, 2015 10:32 pm UTC

You mean Skynet still hasn't been implemented yet?
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Re: 1508: “beehives”

Postby Qaanol » Mon Apr 06, 2015 10:58 pm UTC

jezzaaaa wrote:Typo in title text: "singed" should be "signed".

Are you sure about that?
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Re: 1508: “beehives”

Postby Flumble » Mon Apr 06, 2015 11:20 pm UTC

BlitzGirl wrote:You mean Skynet still hasn't been implemented yet?

Well, errr, the good news is we haven't finished implementing it.


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Re: 1508: “beehives”

Postby Plutarch » Mon Apr 06, 2015 11:44 pm UTC

CP/M-Plus, 1997, Amstrad PCW. (Did Amstrads exist anywhere else except Britain?)
And after that, whatever Apple were using.

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Re: 1508: “beehives”

Postby DanAxtell » Mon Apr 06, 2015 11:51 pm UTC

Am I the only one with AppleSOS in the house, 1981-1985? [silence] OK, I'm the only one who admits it. I bought an Apple /// after college because of computer withdrawal symptoms. It was magic, besides being Steve Jobs's biggest mistake. Woz called SOS "the finest operating system on any microcomputer ever" according to the AppleSOS Wikipedia entry. XyWrite was a great word processor that let you easily write drivers, so I convinced the daisy wheel printer to backspace and roll back to print foreign accents. (My wife was teaching French and Spanish at Vermont Academy.) I bought an add-on spell-checker for $169 to supplement the magic. I even did some freelance work for Mary Meyer Toys in Townshend, Vermont. They were using the Apple III for business, the way it was intended. The Apple 3 was much more modern than the IBM 360 that I was programming in Brattleboro (before it was literally scrapped as 370's got cheaper because they had less gold and platinum). Yes, IBM 360's were in use as late as 1983.

The Apple /// is still boxed in the basement. My daughter and I will pull it out and test it after 30 years, before she heads out to her computer science grad program at the U of Toronto. Even if it doesn't boot, I'll always remember it as magic. As I write this, the XKCD Forums site is being hacked with whimsical text substitutions (e.g., the first person plural pronoun was not used in this post). Note to hacker: you can't make Apple /// stories any weirder than they already are.

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Re: 1508: “beehives”

Postby Copper Bezel » Tue Apr 07, 2015 3:09 am UTC

Oldest machine I've used in a home environment was Mom and Dad's Amiga. Mom had a Commodore 64 before then, but I never used it. Various Windowsen until 2009, Ubuntu and Replicant since.
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Re: 1508: “beehives”

Postby RogueCynic » Tue Apr 07, 2015 3:21 am UTC

Is the reason Gentoo not on Randall's timeline because it has not finished compiling yet?

Whizbang wrote:we constantly (very rarely) amaze our co-workers for knowing MS-DOS commands. There have been a few times that we've had to open a command line window and perform some function. They are amazed that we know/remember how to move around and list contents and the like. we have one other friend who can do that (though not a co-worker), and everyone else our age or younger stares blankly when we do it (those couple of times we've had the chance to show off our extinct skills).


I lost a network drive at work tonight. I tried manually mapping to it from the command prompt in Windows to no avail. So I called the help desk. They tried using the gui to map but forgot the leading \\. I didn't.
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Re: 1508: “beehives”

Postby Neil_Boekend » Tue Apr 07, 2015 8:42 am UTC

A good command line interface is often amazingly fast if you are experienced in it. The learning curve however, sucks.
At work we recently had a change in some software package from black/green with text commands to point and click. The old keyboard commands still work though, they chose the best of both worlds. Point and click for learning fast, text commands for working fast.
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Re: 1508: “beehives”

Postby cellocgw » Tue Apr 07, 2015 11:37 am UTC

Neil_Boekend wrote:A good command line interface is often amazingly fast if you are experienced in it. The learning curve however, sucks.
At work we recently had a change in some software package from black/green with text commands to point and click. The old keyboard commands still work though, they chose the best of both worlds. Point and click for learning fast, text commands for working fast.


Cue the vi vs. emacs wars...
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Re: 1508: “beehives”

Postby Lazy Tommy » Tue Apr 07, 2015 11:44 am UTC

speising wrote:1985-present: whatever the C64 runs on.


Which nowadays means "pretty much anything except a C64", because those all died in the previous century.
Cool machines, but dayum were they fragile.

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Re: 1508: “beehives”

Postby Neil_Boekend » Tue Apr 07, 2015 12:35 pm UTC

Such as: an arduino, an S60 Nokia phone, probably a printer, probably a screen (they have sufficiently advanced chips nowadays)
Mikeski wrote:A "What If" update is never late. Nor is it early. It is posted precisely when it should be.

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Re: 1508: “beehives”

Postby orthogon » Tue Apr 07, 2015 12:57 pm UTC

cellocgw wrote:
Neil_Boekend wrote:A good command line interface is often amazingly fast if you are experienced in it. The learning curve however, sucks.
At work we recently had a change in some software package from black/green with text commands to point and click. The old keyboard commands still work though, they chose the best of both worlds. Point and click for learning fast, text commands for working fast.


Cue the vi vs. emacs wars...

There's a place for that.
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.

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Re: 1508: “beehives”

Postby speising » Tue Apr 07, 2015 1:10 pm UTC

Lazy Tommy wrote:
speising wrote:1985-present: whatever the C64 runs on.


Which nowadays means "pretty much anything except a C64", because those all died in the previous century.
Cool machines, but dayum were they fragile.

nonono, mine is still up and running (theoretically, not that i switch it on much). multiple cocoa, apple juice or coffee showers didn't stop it.
only the 1541 makes funny noises.

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Re: 1508: “beehives”

Postby commodorejohn » Tue Apr 07, 2015 1:31 pm UTC

The first C64 I owned had been through a fire. The plastic was warped and bubbled in several places. It worked without so much as a glitch. Of the subsequent dozen or so I've picked up, cleaned up, and passed on, I've had all of one unit that didn't come right back up with a little TLC (press those chips into their sockets, chip creep is 90% of anything that's wrong with your average unit.) Barring the need for a recap every thirty years or so, they're built like tanks. I'd kill for a laptop that durable.
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Re: 1508: “beehives”

Postby Shamino » Tue Apr 07, 2015 2:38 pm UTC

cryptoengineer wrote:we'd have to add:

AppleDos: 1980-1998
VMS: 1988-1990 (yes, at home)
AmigaOS: 1985-1999

Any other graybeards out there?


The 80's is hardly graybeard. And my beard is salt-and-pepper, thank you.

For what's been in my home...

Timex-Sinclair ROM BASIC (October 1982, then it broke and I returned it to the store)
TRS-80 CoCo ROM BASIC (November 1982-1984)
Apple DOS and ProDOS (1984-1987, and occasionally still used when I want to play old games)
MS-DOS (1987-2000, and occasionally still used when I want to play old games)
OS/2 (1991-1998, and may someday get reinstalled in a VM on my Mac....)
Windows (1989-present)
Mac OS (1997-2002, and occasionally still used to run old games)
Linux (1999-present)
Mac OS X (2002-present)
Android (2009-present)
iOS (2010-present)

Comparing this against the comic, either Randall is omitting some stuff, or he is much younger than I thought, or he got his computer very late into the game.

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Re: 1508: “beehives”

Postby Kit. » Tue Apr 07, 2015 3:07 pm UTC

cryptoengineer wrote:Again? It never really went away. When we worked for Process Software http://www.process.com, back in the mid-90s, we thought was the last VMS shop in the country. It's still in business, 20 years later. VSI is the new kid on the block.

As far as I know, there is a difference. Process develops for VMS. VSI develops VMS.

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Re: 1508: “beehives”

Postby Shamino » Tue Apr 07, 2015 4:28 pm UTC

DanAxtell wrote:are we the only one with AppleSOS in the house, 1981-1985? ...
XyWrite was a great word processor that let you easily write drivers, so we convinced the daisy wheel printer to backspace and roll back to print foreign accents. ...
As we write thith, the XKCD Forums site is being hacked with whimsical text substitutions (e.g., the first person plural pronoun was not used in thith post). Note to hacker: you can't make Apple /// stories any weirder than they already are.

I never had an Apple ///, so I never used SOS, but I did spend a lot of time working with ProDOS (which is based on SOS) on my //c. It's a nice system, but Jobs killed the entire Apple II architecture (to promote Macs) soon after ProDOS started to gain momentum in the market. Which is just sad.

WRT XyWrite, I used an MS-DOS version of it. Yes, it is infinitely customizable, but so were most word processors of the day if you were willing to dig under the covers. AppleWorks also allowed custom printer configurations. (I recently set it up to generate HTML tags for bold and italics, so I could then print my old documents and capture the results on another computer via a NULL-modem cable and get something usable.)

The original Microsoft Word for DOS included a utility for creating custom print drivers. I used this to get it to print to an Apple Scribe printer (since I didn't have anything better at the time). And since the Scribe didn't support the PC's text-graphics symbols, I developed a driver that would replace each of these characters with a graphic sequence that would produce a 72-dpi version of the 8x8 screen-font characters. It was only with the advent of operating systems with built-in printer support (GS/OS, Mac OS, Windows, etc.) that this nonsense stopped being necessary. Which is a good thing, because that is about the same time that printers stopped including the full specs on their command-language code.

WRT the "hacker", you're seeing the "Madnethth". A big joke that the xkcd moderators do every year. Here's this year's announcement in case you missed it. They promise it will stop by Friday.

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Re: 1508: “beehives”

Postby balthasar_s » Tue Apr 07, 2015 4:34 pm UTC

Somewhere in 2010 I drew I very similar chart of systems I used. It inclued different versions of DOS, Amiga OS, and Windows. It was before I ever used any linuxeen.

Systems I use(d)
AmigaOS 1.3.3, 3.1
MS-DOS 5.0, 6.22
Windows 3.11, 95, 98SE, XP
FreeDOS 1.0
Debian, don't remember which version.
Cubian (port of Debian, on my server)
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Re: 1508: “beehives”

Postby slinches » Tue Apr 07, 2015 8:56 pm UTC

There's one OS family I'll never have in my house: Mac OS X variants. Keyboards make too much of a mess.

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Re: 1508: “beehives”

Postby BakaToTheFuture » Tue Apr 07, 2015 11:08 pm UTC

There's an iMac in my parents' basement running Apple's classic OS (I think it's OS 9). It hasn't worked reliably in well over a decade -- by which I mean that it steadfastly refuses to power on at all.

But, sometimes, it will spontaneously boot (complete with distinctive startup chord) as they go about their business elsewhere. It's the creepiest thing if you happen to be nearby.

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Re: 1508: “beehives”

Postby Lazy Tommy » Wed Apr 08, 2015 5:25 am UTC

speising wrote:
Lazy Tommy wrote:
speising wrote:1985-present: whatever the C64 runs on.


Which nowadays means "pretty much anything except a C64", because those all died in the previous century.
Cool machines, but dayum were they fragile.

nonono, ours is still up and running (theoretically, not that we switch it on much). multiple cocoa, apple juice or coffee showers didn't stop it.
only the 1541 makes inappropriately frivolous noises.


High five! :D
It's been ages since I last used a 1541, but as I recall, those things were always making noises. Not necessarily frivolous ones, though. Formatting a disk always started with a horrible rattle that sounded like the drive was trying to commit suicide... Once I started using a 1581, life became so much less dramatic.

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Re: 1508: “beehives”

Postby slinches » Wed Apr 08, 2015 5:39 am UTC

I had a strange noise in the box for a computer I orders off of ebay. Turns out this is what was inside (instead of Intel):
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Re: 1508: “beehives”

Postby operagost » Wed Apr 08, 2015 5:35 pm UTC

operagost wrote:
cryptoengineer wrote:we'd have to add:

AppleDos: 1980-1998
VMS: 1988-1990 (yes, at home)
AmigaOS: 1985-1999

Any other graybeards out there?

Still running VMS, since 1999, variously on a VAXStation 4000, DEC 3000, Alphaserver DS10L, and now a VM.
Also ran OS/2 for about 8 years.
And does "CBM Basiceros V2" count as an OS?


FWIW, "Basiceros" was the language "B4SIC" before the idiot clown messed with it.

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Re: 1508: “beehives”

Postby danix » Wed Apr 08, 2015 11:50 pm UTC

hahahaha. Noticed that there's a distinct lack of *BSD. :twisted:
Is the GNU/HURD joke along the lines that it's the OS equivalent of Half Life 3?

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Re: 1508: “beehives”

Postby Kit. » Thu Apr 09, 2015 11:51 am UTC

danix wrote:hahahaha. Noticed that there's a distinct lack of *BSD. :twisted:

I wonder how Randall could be so sure that there never were OSes like VxWorks running in his house.

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Re: 1508: “Operating Systems”

Postby Neil_Boekend » Thu Apr 09, 2015 12:04 pm UTC

He apparently does not have an internet modem/router/switch/accespoint/fileserver/kitchen sink combo device. It's never noted on the box but those things usually run a modified version of *BSD. The *BSD licenses apparently allow that.
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Re: 1508: “beehives”

Postby Xenomortis » Thu Apr 09, 2015 12:18 pm UTC

danix wrote:Is the GNU/HURD joke along the lines that it's the OS equivalent of Half Life 3?

More along the lines of Duke Nukem Forever.

Ok, that was a little mean.
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Re: 1508: “beehives”

Postby commodorejohn » Thu Apr 09, 2015 4:43 pm UTC

Xenomortis wrote:Ok, that was a little mean.

Yes it was.

Duke Nukem Forever actually showed promise at a couple points.
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Re: 1508: “beehives”

Postby david.windsor » Thu Apr 09, 2015 7:06 pm UTC

cryptoengineer wrote:I'd have to add:

AppleDos: 1980-1998
VMS: 1988-1990 (yes, at home)
AmigaOS: 1985-1999

Any other graybeards out there?


That would be me,
lets add,
Sinclair BASIC: TS100 1982
Atari BASIC: Atari 400 198?
SunOS: SPARCstation 5 (yes at home)
MINIX: M68K version
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Re: 1508: “beehives”

Postby Quercus » Thu Apr 09, 2015 7:15 pm UTC

Whizbang wrote:I constantly (very rarely) amaze my co-workers for knowing MS-DOS commands. There have been a few times that I've had to open a command line window and perform some function. They are amazed that I know/remember how to move around and list contents and the like. I have one other friend who can do that (though not a co-worker), and everyone else my age or younger stares blankly when I do it (those couple of times I've had the chance to show off my extinct skills).


Yeh, I don't. I'm more likely to be shouting at the thing saying "why is it dir not ls, and what is this backslash nonsense". I will admit to liking PowerShell though (partly because they've made some of the basic UNIX commands aliases for their equivalents in PowerShell).

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Re: 1508: “Operating Systems”

Postby orthogon » Fri Apr 10, 2015 8:03 am UTC

The DOS prompt is OK as an interactive shell, though obviously has nothing like the power of a Unix shell, but in fairness the latter is down to a combination of the shell itself, the large number of tools that you can expect to have available (grep, cut, sed etc) and the underlying OS (pipes, devices etc). But as a scripting language, DOS batch files are a disaster. The rules for variable interpolation are utterly arcane: sometimes you have to write %var, sometimes %%var, and sometimes %var%. Then there's some strange case, in a loop I think, where it interpolation only happens once, before the loop starts; to get round that you have to use !var! instead, and that only works if you set some setting at the start of the batch file. Oh, and you have to use a "FOR" statement for some reason: not for the loop itself, but as a workaround to get the value into some special kind of variable. Variable interpolation can get tricky in most shells if you're trying really advanced stuff, but for the love of %DEITY%, it shouldn't be that hard just to do something for each file in a directory...
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.

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Re: 1508: “Operating Systems”

Postby ps.02 » Fri Apr 10, 2015 2:47 pm UTC

orthogon wrote:The DOS prompt is OK as an interactive shell [...] But as a scripting language, DOS batch files are a disaster.

Huh. I think it's weird to make this distinction between interactive use and scripting. To me they are the same thing. Every day I type one-liners with complex pipelines, loops, and redirections into my interactive shell. When it gets too out of hand, I create aliases or shell functions, often defined interactively as well. I mean, how can you get real work done if your interactive shell isn't also a decent scripting language?

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Re: 1508: “Operating Systems”

Postby shieldforyoureyes » Fri Apr 10, 2015 3:15 pm UTC

orthogon wrote:The DOS prompt is OK as an interactive shell,


I've always thought of DOS's COMMAND.COM as a parody of a CLI.

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Re: 1508: “Operating Systems”

Postby Kit. » Fri Apr 10, 2015 3:19 pm UTC

ps.02 wrote:I mean, how can you get real work done if your interactive shell isn't also a decent scripting language?

"See figure 1."

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Re: 1508: “Operating Systems”

Postby shieldforyoureyes » Fri Apr 10, 2015 4:19 pm UTC

ps.02 wrote:
orthogon wrote:The DOS prompt is OK as an interactive shell [...] But as a scripting language, DOS batch files are a disaster.

Huh. I think it's weird to make this distinction between interactive use and scripting. To me they are the same thing. Every day I type one-liners with complex pipelines, loops, and redirections into my interactive shell. When it gets too out of hand, I create aliases or shell functions, often defined interactively as well. I mean, how can you get real work done if your interactive shell isn't also a decent scripting language?


Pipelines, redirects, conditionals are esential. When you get to looping, I always switch to sh, so I don't really care if other shells can do "real scripting"...

This is probably because I learnt Unix in the mid-80s, when csh was a good choice for interactive, but very incompatible with sh, and the "#!" script header wasn't universal yet. My script-in-sh reflexes are deeply ingrained.

Anyways, my shell doesn't do "real scripting", and I have no plans to change that.

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Re: 1508: “Operating Systems”

Postby Shamino » Fri Apr 10, 2015 6:58 pm UTC

Neil_Boekend wrote:He apparently does not have an internet modem/router/switch/accespoint/fileserver/kitchen sink combo device. It's never noted on the box but those things usually run a modified version of *BSD. The *BSD licenses apparently allow that.
Nothing "apparently" about it. Quite a lot of open source licenses (not counting anything related to GPL, of course) allow redistribution for commercial purposes without payment or redistribution of the source code. Some make you give credit to the original author, most say the upstream source can't be held liable for damage resulting from use or misuse, some require you link to the upstream source without requiring distributions of your modifications, and there are a bunch of other variants variations.

This is one of the reasons that BSD is so popular for embedded devices. You can hack it to bits and use the result commercially and generally only have to include some boilerplate text in your documentation. As compared with Linux, which will make you redistribute the sources, including any customizations which, depending on your product, might involve distributing corporate secrets.

FWIW, my employer ships devices that run Linux, but we are expressly forbidden from making any changes to the kernel. If we find bugs or need other changes, we outsource that to our Linux provider (Wind River) who will implement them and include them in their next release. Our code runs entirely in the application space. This way we can comply with GPL by giving our customers access to the sources we get from Wind River and don't have to worry about some lawyer demanding the sources for everything else we ship.

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Postby Shamino » Fri Apr 10, 2015 7:06 pm UTC

danix wrote:hahahaha. Noticed that there's a distinct lack of *BSD. :twisted:
Is the GNU/HURD joke along the lines that it's the OS equivalent of Half Life 3?


GNU Hurd has supposedly been the goal of the Free Software Foundation, since its inception. The idea was to ship a complete operating system along with all of the necessary software for a robust development environment, entirely licensed according to the GPL. They released a lot of really great software and tools (gcc, emacs, tons of utilities, etc.) but it always ran on someone else's operating system (SunOS, Solaris, HP/UX, many others, later Linux). For some reason, the OS kernel itself got delayed and delayed and delayed, and underwent many radical architecture changes.

Today, most people would consider free Linux distributions (like Debian) to be the realization of the FSF's goal, but work on the Hurd (started in 1990) continues, nonetheless, with periodic experimental releases, the last of which being in September 2013 (according to Wikipedia.)

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Re: 1508: “Operating Systems”

Postby pault151 » Sat Apr 11, 2015 7:21 am UTC

Huh. Late to the discussion as usual, but I'll $.02 with my rememories:

No operating systems IN MY HOUSE prior to AmigaOS, which did everything I could desire from 1986-nearly 2000. Need something from *nix, or later X terminal? Someone had already ported it over. That OS and hardware is SO efficient, and with a 24bit graphics card still browsed smoothly. But C= shot themselves too many times, hardware development died, I had to pick up a Windows machine finally. Had the software for browsing advanced quicker, I might never have gone Windows. At home.

Have a SX-64 Commodore for playing a couple of necessary games such as M.U.L.E. but actual use of the OS, not really, nothing beyond Load,*, whatever and the fastload cartridge obviated even that shortly thereafter.

Elsewhere than home? Gosh, BASIC on a terminal /in my high school/ in 1974, does that count? CP/M word processing at a friend's circa 1976, a few game consoles, some C64's, at work a firebreathing Apple // with 2MB(!) RAM for an image processor workstation about 1987 so ProDOS, plus PC's with MSDOS starting 1985, then Windows. None of that in MY house, thank you until 2000. I still dazzle the young'uns with things like DOS and BIOS knowledge, the latter needed just this week in fact.

Used one of the Amigas as my alternate site browsing (g.f.'s) machine until 2005, it'd almost still work except nobody wrote an up to date Javascript browser much less Java, I got tired of trying to parse webpage source to figure out what they had broken so I couldn't bank, and the 256 color mode was finally just too slow. So THAT site runs on a Mac Mini PPC and Firefox (properly the TenFourFox PPC branch, those guys rule!) or Safari if I need to use Citrix. It ain't broken yet. 8-)


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