Timex Computer

Steven writes in the comments to the subway chord post:

OMG, you had a Timex Sinclair? It had a tape deck? I guess I didn’t know those things had any accessories.

Okay, I remembered wrong. Looking at the pictures, I most clearly had a Timex ZX81.

I actually inherited it from some friends of my parents, probably in about 1986. They had bought it, they didn’t use it, and I wanted a computer for my room where I could practice doing simple programming. (Very simple, it turned out–the thing was way more limited than the Apples, Commodores and IBMs that I was using at that point.) If you look at the picture, it came with this wild printer. I still remember the sound and smell of that thing. Warm and toasty and synthetic ink all at once. But you’ll also notice an RCA cable. That’s because the Timex didn’t come with a disk drive or anything else. You plugged it into a tape deck and used a tape. Like a modem, it used sound to store its data. And my teenage self thought it was very funny to convert it back into sound by playing the tapes in my stereo. I think the manual said not to do that.

Now, I need to say that this was never my main computer. My friends had Commodores and in 1984 (give or take), my family dropped close to $3000 on a Leading Edge Model “D” computer. Let me tell you, I loved that computer. It was the family computer but I was the only one who figured it out and started using it. Especially the modem–I knew about BBSes and got online right away. It also came with a very good (for the time) word processor for the time and I wrote all my papers on that for high school and even college. My undergrad thesis on Muzak was writeen on that computer. Unfortunately, I decided to use footnotes, which was a real hassle given that there was no footnote option in the word processor program. I did it all manually. Carrie even wrote a few papers on it. They keyboard was amazing. I still miss it. It used springs in the keys and was incredibly noisy but you could just beat on it. It was so sturdy. Unfortunately, this was before the days of standard keyboard interfaces, and so it was not possible to plug into the Blue Star 486/33 that my parents bought me for grad school.