Thursday, February 15, 2007

NCR Decision Mate V

The first Personal Computer I ever had the chance to use was a bit odd. I expect the vast majority of folk from that era, the late 70s, were exposed to the IBM PC. But I worked at a company who, quite unusually, had all NCR computer kit. And so when the first personal computers came along it was natural that we should get the NCR version of this new and exciting toy. (Back then NCR were quite big, I guess a lot of you would only know them for cash tills. IBM were the BIG cheeses of those times.)
    Here it is. 8-bit. Black and White. CP/M operating system. Huge great floppy disk drive, which held next to nothing on them. No graphics, just text.

I loved it.

It weighed about half a ton, being very solidly made of metal. It was a neat and tidy design. Things were (cliche alert) simpler back then.

The truly great bit of design was the way you extended the machine. Unlike PCs then (we called 'em "Micros", actually), and now come that, you didn't need to take the case off to add expansion cards. Oh no, nothing as crude as we are now used to.
No. Around the back of the machine were slots. Expansion cards were metal boxes, maybe the size of the fingers of your hand, which slid into the slots and engaged with the socket deep in the machine. Simple and effective. You could add memory, network adapters, all the usual stuff. How the system we have now won out I don't understand. Oh, yeah I do... these cartridges must have cost a fortune!

Does anyone have a working version of this beauty? I hope so, somewhere. Let me know, please.

And there was not a huge amount of software available. Especially games. But I was addicted to a text based platform game. Across the screen were various levels with ladders between, made up of ___ and H and | symbols. You were an O (I think) and using the cursor keys you climbed an jumped to the top of the screen. Simple, addictive. Anyone know what this game was called, and can I get a copy anywhere?

ahhhh... I'm so happy... recalling this game made me go and look on t'Internet, and eventually I found what I was looking for... the game was called Ladders, and some fine chap has ported it into Java, so experience my first PC gaming experience here.

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