My First Computer

I was cleaning out some old files and came across the specifications of my very first computer. That computer was the Kaypro 2.

Image-Kaypro.jpg kayproii.jpg

Photo from Wikipedia.

The Kaypro ran the 8-bit Z80 CPU, at 2.5 MHz, and had 64k of ram.

It was racy! It had two single-sided double density floppy disk drives in the (then) new 5 1/4″ format, each of which held 191k of data. If I recall correctly, CP/M resided on the boot floppy and consumed about 4.5k of space. There was no hard drive. My Mac, on the other hand, has no floppy drive – but it has a 160 GB hard drive, that holds about 439,194 times as much information as the Kaypro’s floppies.

The monitor was a green phosphor 9″ screen that could only handle text – no vector graphics. There was no WYSIWYG.

Let’s see, my Mac is a MacBook Pro with a Core 2 Duo Intel processor running at 2.33 GHz. It’s a 64 bit computer, with two cores. So the data path is eight times wider, and it’s running an astounding 932 times faster, in terms of clock rate alone. If you take into account the 8X wider data path, it’s about 7,456 times faster; and added to that is the fact that the newer processors can handle more instructions per cycle. Plus, two CPU cores. So figure a conservative number of at least 15,000 times faster. I suspect this is simplistic and the difference is more than that. Especially since the Kaypro spent quite a lot of time sitting around waiting on the floppy drives.

The Kaypro had 64k of ram. My Mac has 3 Gigabytes of ram. So my Mac has about 49,152 times as much memory as the Kaypro.

The Kaypro was a graceful 8 1/2″ x 18 3/4″ x 16 3/8″ and weighed 26 pounds. I think my Mac weighs about 5 pounds.

The Kaypro had the best keyboard I have ever used. It had a very light, precise, clicky feel to the typing.

I taught myself programming, first M-Basic, and later Turbo Pascal, on that machine. I also learned Wordstar, and DBase II. It was a lot of fun.

I don’t remember the dates, but the Kaypro was circa 1982 or 1983. Not that long ago, really. There are airplanes and cars built then that are still in service. I’ve bought a new computer every couple of years since then. I’ve lost count.

I loved that Kaypro. And I would be SO frustrated with it if I had to use it today.



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