When I was a high school student, in 1975, I participated
in an experimental class and studied BASIC programming language. We used
to write our programs on rectangular cards, one instruction per card,
marking each letter with a dark pencil. Then we gave the cards to the
teacher, and a week later got the printed error output (always with
In 1979, things were a lot smoother. I studied Fortran at the
university. I used punch cards. The cards were punched by a
typewriter-like machine. The first home microcomputers were available
for some rich people, but I did not know any of them. I used to punch
the cards, give them to the computer technician, and collect the
computer output after 4 hours (always with errors, still).
Than came 1984, and I purchased an 800XL with 1050 disk drive and DOS
3. A dream machine. Writing programs and running them immediately was a
paradise-like experience. I read everything I could find about my dream
machine, and found myself impatient for the monthly magazines to hit the
When the Atari ST appeared, I was in shock. The new machine was not
backward-compatible with old 8-bit machines. I did not buy it. The Atari
world started to shrink: Compute! magazine decided to stop publishing
type-in programs. Antic magazine stopped appearing and so did Page 6
(which was never available in Israel but I subscribed to it by mail).
In an effort to save a dying community I started my own magazine on
disk. I encouraged people to subscribe to the remaining Atari magazines,
including New Atari User that just started. I published articles and
programs on my disk and sent them free to people, and wrote a program
that navigated within the articles on the disk (today we would call such
a program a browser).
I sent two programs to New Atari User: "EasyDOS" (issue
45), and "DOS 2.5 Customiser" (issue 51). I was excited that
they were published but realized that we lost the Atari 8-bit battle.
Nowadays I still work with computers. I build websites, I run a
debate forum on the internet and sometimes involve in specific projects
(recently I helped making two web sites accessible to the blind). People
regard me as an expert, but I do not understand my computers anymore. I
cannot POKE any value to any memory location, I cannot write any
application that circumvent the operating system, and I have no idea how
the operating system really works. My powerful machine does not have a
customizable A/D converter (that is what these joystick ports really
were) and the list goes on.
My work has nothing to do with computers. I am a physician, and I
practice internal medicine and family medicine. If anyone ever needs
some useless information, I can still lecture on 6502 instruction codes!
Yuval Rabinovich, July 2003