Leftovers

Daily Post
7 July 2014

Is that what that stuff is called? Leftovers? If so, I have some – varying lengths of coaxial cable, RF fittings, wires, connectors, heat sinks, tubes, transistors, resistors, capacitors, and an idle Commodore 64 computer “leftover” from yesteryear.

The computer was purchased in 1982. It was the last word at the time. With word processoring software called Easy Script, I wrote a monthly column for Ag-Pilot, International, a crop duster’s journal. In addition, I kept a continual stream of stuff going to several magazines that actually paid money for what I had to report.

Commodore advertisements boasted 64 kilobites of RAM. They neglected to tell us that after the operating system was loaded only 35k remained. Planning became the name of the game which resulted in my becoming a half-decent outliner. Longer stories were saved on a floppy in a special way so they would link in daisy-chain fashion. Fun-filled days, they were.
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Later, I pressed mine into service sending and receiving radio data in digital mode, RTTY, while serving in the Oregon Military Affiliate Radio Service (MARS) during the Gulf War.

My Commodore was a workhorse, first at 300 baud, then 1200 baud. But the baud rate didn’t become a serious issue until we connected a modem between the the computer and the phone line.

Then came the telephone BBSs and Fido, a worldwide messaging network, the first of its kind. I communicated with a friend In Australia by way of Fido. It took two weeks and 35 cents to exchange a lengthy message with him.

What fun the BBSs came to be. My favorite was called Dr. Rom. Users of Dr. Rom were lead to believe this fellow was a living and breathing individual who often went off his meds. I was one of the few who had his password. One evening a power substation malfunctioned, leaving several thousand people in darkness. Someone logged in to report Dr. Rom was sighted returning to his loft with singed facial hair and scorched clothing. Need I say more? It all happened inside my beloved Commodore 64.

Indeed, I have leftovers. Without a doubt, it could dump the lot and not miss a thing, except for the Commodore. Some say it’s a lowly, 8-bite circuit board, no longer worth the shelf space it occupies. Perhaps. Mine, however, contains more than a slow-motion circuit board. Mine is overflowing with vivid memories.

I shall gladly give mine the shelf space it requires.

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