James Haslam's Atari Pages Golden Web Award 


My Computing History

Profile Picture

I've been into computers since 1981, when I bought my first computer, a Sinclair ZX81, shortly followed by a Sinclair Spectrum 48K. I used it solely for games, as the Spectrum wasn't really useful for anything serious. When I got my first job in 1986 I soon decided to buy a 16bit computer. At the time there were basically two options: the Commodore Amiga A1000, a machine with only 256K of RAM for around 1000 pounds, or an Atari STFM with 512K of RAM which was 450 pounds. I chose the latter, and I've never regretted the decision.

The Atari STFM is a machine running the Motorola 68000 processor clocked at 8Mhz. It came with 512K of RAM and TOS (The Operating System) in ROM. The Amiga had to load its OS from disk, which was another point against it. Games were the main use of the computer, followed by word processing, for which I soon bought a printer, a Canon BJ10ex bubblejet, which I still use today. I also got into Demos by some of the famous crews like The Lost Boys and The Carebears, an interest which has carried on until today. Later as games became bigger, I purchased an external floppy drive, and later still my first hard drive, a Minis drive with 127Mb of space and also 2.5Mb, then 4Mb of RAM. With the hard drive I began to use the computer for more serious applications including databases. I upgraded my word processor from Compo's Write On, to That's Write 3 as it supports Bitstream Speedo fonts (better quality than TrueType, which incidentally I can also use on an Atari!), thus producing exceptional output.

In 1994 (or thereabouts) due to the STFM being a bit long in the tooth, I upgraded to an Atari STE which boasted an enhanced colour pallette of 4096 colours (the STFM has 512) like the Amiga's, DMA stereo sound (for which I bought some external speakers), and a blitter chip which speeds up the screen display. My 4Mb of RAM was transferred from the STFM to the STE, and my setup was complete for the moment.

In 1996 I decided to buy a modem, and started corresponding on the BBS networks, including the NeST, FidoNet, plus some of the Usenet newsgroups. I used two BBS systems, the Fortress BBS for the networks and Atari files, and the Ooh! BBS for online games such as Legend Of the Red Dragon (LORD) and Planets: The Exploration of Space, also occasionally for PC files and chat. There I made a very good friend, Sarah Williams who was one of the co-sysops.

Unfortunately, the BBS scene has suffered over the last few years, due to the growth of the Internet, with many great BBSes closing. If you are a former BBS user, why not go back and give them a call. The BBSes still have a lot to offer, even if you're on the Net too.

In 1998 I saw an advert on Usenet's Comp.Sys.Atari.ST, from Domnhall Dodds, a past writer for some of the Atari Magazines, such as ST Format. He was selling his 4Mb Atari Falcon for a very good price. I quickly snapped it up and soon upgraded it to 14Mb of RAM, as by then I was a user of the MagiC operating system, which gives Ataris pre-emptive multitasking, thus I needed the extra RAM. The Atari Falcon is a 32bit machine, running a 68030 processor, so I could still run (most) of my ST software, including many games. At the time I was still using my SCART socketed TV as a display, which had served me very well, but now was the time for a proper monitor to be able to display the Falcon's 16bit colour mode in all its glory. The machine is capable of Internet access in full colour, so I decided to get myself an Internet connection.

At that time there were only a few ISPs around that directly support Atari machines, and (in the UK at least) most Atari users were going with either CIX or Zetnet. CIX was too pricey in my opinion, so I plumped for Zetnet.

In November 1999 I went to the AMS/ACC'99 Show, in Stafford, where I bought my latest bit of kit, a 10.2Gb IDE hard drive. This replaces my two external hard drives, which are getting a bit long in the tooth (though I'm keeping my Zip and CD-Rom drives). This means I've got virtually unlimited space for Atari files, where the biggest applications are seldom more than a couple of megabytes in size with the same functionality as PC programs many times the size.

In 2003, I walked past my block of flats' bin room, and I saw a PC in there. It looked undamaged so I picked it up and took it upstairs. Apart from it being very dirty, it was fully functional, albeit with a very small harddrive. So, now I am using the PC to access websites that my Falcon can't access. :-/

Some people have asked to see a screenshot of my Desktop (now Jinnee) of my Falcon. Well here it is: My Desktop. Incidentally, I'm using a Theme, which replaces the background image, provides new resource files for Start-Me-Up! and Appline, and changes the look of the window gadgets (see my aICQ screenshots also, here) this is one I like tailored especially for MagiC!

Please direct any comments to James Haslam at:

jfhaslam@zetnet.co.uk or ICQ 37135025 (my Nickname is JazHaz)

Copyright © James Haslam - This page last updated on: 4/1/2004