Like many during this pandemic I am cherishing the time I’m spending with my immediate family, refocusing on my hobbies of exercising, guitar playing, and pizza making, and trying to organize areas of my house I was putting off for years. Recently, while rummaging through storage crates in my basement, I came across a very old cassette tape. The label on the tape intrigued me and I decided to take a closer look and try to resurrect what was on it. When I discovered the content, I felt like I had found an old, lost friend.
Before sharing the content of the tape, let me bring you back in time to the early 1980s for context especially since many readers may not be familiar with the state of personal computers back then. In 1981, I was 13 years old and a 7th grader in junior high school in Brooklyn, New York. One day in math class, my teacher, Mr. Korb, rolled in a personal computer. Yes, rolled in, as in the computer was on an old-school utility push cart. This was the first personal computer I and all of the students in the class had seen. It was a TRS-80 Model I computer:
As shown in the picture above, it had a black and white monitor, a keyboard (which contained the “computer”) and a cassette player for storing and loading software programs. The TRS-80 was made by Radio Shack, a techie store where you could buy all sorts of electronics and, of course, these personal computers. Seeing this machine for the first time was a life-changing experience. Only a few students were allowed to participate in a pilot learning program at the school and, initially, I wasn’t one of them. After begging and pleading and proving myself in my math class, Mr. Korb allowed me into the group. The computer language we learned was BASIC (Level II BASIC Level Language). I engrossed myself in programming from that point on and was lucky enough to have parents that bought me my own personal computer about a year later. And trust me, the $300 price tag of a Commodore VIC-20 was a lot of money back then.