Dinosaur sightings – computers from the past

TechRepublic is a website for IT professionals, but it’s got great content for hobbyists and geeks of all ages. Teachers and students can find some real gold in the thousands of articles, tutorials, forums, blogs, photo collections, and links.

Comodore PET - my second computerThis week’s special feature – Dinosaur Sightings: Computers and software from the 1970s and 80s might bring back some memories (or maybe some of these are still the mainstays of your computer lab!)

SWTPc 6800 - my first computerIn 1977, I built my first computer from a kit – the SWTPC 6800. I think I paid around $500 for it and had to learn how to solder. It ran BASIC, but not very well, so mostly the programming was in machine language. The screen display was very new at the time, and was simply a section of memory. If you put a 1 in the right place, a dot would light up on the screen. It all sounds so primitive now!

Besides a trip down memory lane, TechRepublic has lots of resources that can keep students interested whether your students are involved in tech support at the school site, interested in pursuing a career in a technical field, helping teachers, or just learning to use computers. Much of the content on the site is accessible to high school students, and in some cases, even younger. Keeping students engaged no matter what their level of technology experience is can be time-consuming for a teacher, but with a site like this, there’s something for everyone.

A great feature of the site is being able to personalize it with your own links and selections of interest. A teacher could create a class page with selected resources, and have students add items that enhance the lessons, such as resume tips for technical jobs, or how to teach non-technical computer users to use Excel. Ask students to modify these generic resources so that they work for the school’s specific network and infrastructure. Giving students the responsibility to find good resources and make them even better creates ownership and allows students to become experts, in addition to reinforcing research and documentation skills.


3 Replies to “Dinosaur sightings – computers from the past”

  1. Wow, I remember having many of those models in elementary school! I thought the graphics were so cool back then. We use to race to the bigger computers, the bigger the better we thought. Seems funny now ☺ These pictures are a fun way to reflect on where this industry was only decades ago and how far it has come. TechRepublic has already become a very valuable resource for me. I do not have much experience in coding or the “techy” hardware components of computers, but this site allows me to learn more about the actual hardware in a non-threatening way. I think students and teachers would also value this site for this reason. Taking students to this blog post in particular may make them appreciate the kind of technology that is available in this generation, no numbers and dots! 🙂

    Thanks for posting this resource!

  2. Thanks for posting these photos! I had a PET computer back in the day, one of my very own! I got it for Christmas and used to spend quite a bit of time playing “Hunt the Wumpus” on it. (I think I am really dating myself here.) Thanks for bringing back the memories!

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