CNET asked a number of computer professionals what their first computer was. Jean Bartik’s was an ENIAC—now that’s cool. As I recall my parents got mine—a Texas Instruments TI-99/4A—for me when I was in grade school, after I had pestered them to get a computer (my dad had let me play with the new Macintoshes at work).
With 3MHz and 16K RAM, it had less processing power than some of my current kitchen appliances. But it came with a cartridge for the BASIC programming language, which changed my life. I used an accompanying book to learn BASIC, even following complicated instructions for creating a crude video game.
I remember two peripheral devices: one was a “drive”; basically a modified tape player that would record files to an ordinary audio cassette. The other was a voice synthesizer, which as I recall didn’t do much worse than the Festival speech synthesizer on my current Linux box. TI was ahead of its time in many ways.
What computer was your first?