Peter Wittlin, Basel



Peter's Home Page

Programmable Pocket Calculator TI 59

In case of amateur radio it is necessary to do a lot of calculating. A simple standard calculator equipped with no more but the usual basic operation facilities was of only restricted use. That was the reason why I decided to buy a scientific calculator. For about half a year or so this was pretty good. But soon afterwards it was replaced by Texas Instrument's programmable TI-59. A little bit later I was able to write my first few small programs. At that time, it was in 1974, I was a short wave listener with my former call sign HE9ABZ.
   For further information you may click on some of the pictures.

PET 2001

One day a friend of mine dropped in - together with a PET 2001. He suggested to translate a few lessons of BASIC he had on cassettes from English into German. I tried to make clear that I didn't have the necessary knowledge. After all I never before had to do with BASIC. "Sure you can do that!" was all he said. Four weeks later that work was done. It was by far not as difficult as I thought first. Actually I had to correct quite a few programming errors without getting into troubles.

TRS 80

For about half a year or so I could use Radio Shack's TRS 80 - as a kind of thank you for the above mentioned translation. That was when I became familiar with BASIC, the programming language used by most computers of that time.

Sharp PC 1211
PC 1211

My first own computer was a PC-1211 from Sharp . A small pocket computer - the first of its kind on the market as far as I know - with largely restricted possibilities. Anyway, it's still in use as an especially comfortable pocket calculator, and I don't want to miss it.


The next computer having at home was a C64. This was really far more than everything else I had before - when you compare with the equipment mentioned above. In addition to that I could now also use a printer and a floppy drive. To make one thing clear - all this didn't belong to me! It was again the above mentioned friend who thought I might have it for a while. And once again I was very busy for a certain time. One thing is clear, I could never complain about not knowing what to do with my time.

Atari 800XL
Atari 800XL

One day another friend of mine, later he became an amateur radio operator himself, came along with an Atari 800XL. He wanted me to write a certain program for the owner of that computer.

Commodore 128D
Commodore 128D

At another occasion a nephew of mine brought me again a Commodore 64. It belonged to his aunt who never became familiar with this - as in many cases that computer was just there - doing nothing. Somewhat later it was replaced by a C128D. Because of a lack of proper software it was mostly used in the C64 mode. Anyway, once again I was able to explore another computer.


The Sinclair ZX81 was a funny little thing. No doubt, for someone with a mostly empty purse just the perfect solution. Unfortunately I didn't have that much time to have a closer look at it.


For a relatively short time I had Texas Instrument's TI99/4A at home. It was quite a bit of computer - but pretty slow. That was at least my personal impression. It was the above mentioned friend who once again dropped in with this computer.

Schneider CPC464
CPC 464

The CPC 464 (Schneider/Amstrad) with its Locomotive-Basic was no doubt my favorite at that time. This machine was a pretty good piece of equipment and came very near to what I thought to be a real good computer. I was already taking into consideration to buy it. No need to mention who made it possible to play around with that computer for a while.

Commodore Amiga 2000
Amiga 2000

One day my nephew brought me an Amiga 2000. This meant a completely new world as far as computing is concerned. There were little similarities compared with all the preceding basic-computers. Working with a hard disk was a comfort that made me forget the old floppies - not to mention the even older cassettes. I was already playing with the idea of having my own Amiga. With respect to that I bought already a DAT-Streamer still being in use together with my present PC. However, the end of Commodore made all plans and intentions in this direction impossible.

My old Big Tower, an AT-Case at that time

But finally I also got my own personal computer, a home-built machine, assembled in a way that could best meet my demands. It has the advantage that you know what's in there and you can easily upgrade to your own desires.

First it was a big-tower with a 386-mainboard - not very fast. There were also a floppy drive and two hard disk drives of 120 and 40 megabytes. Windows 3.1 being used in those days wasn't very impressive - not after you have been used to the workbench of the Amiga. This was the computer of my younger nephew who had hardly any real interests in computers - in contrast to his older brother.

The first thing I bought myself was an additional hard drive of 840 megs - for there was never enough disk space available. A Quadro-CD-ROM- and floppy drive were the next items. After that everything was built into a newly bought big-tower (picture). And then, of course, I had to add a proper sound card. Finally, with the exchange of the main board (Pentium I 120Mhz) and the graphics card there was nothing left from the original equipment. So I could reassemble the original computer and return it to my nephew.

Quite a bit later the processor has been replaced - it was then an AMD Athlon XP 2800+. With three hard drives I could store a total of 72 gigabytes. A newer and better CD-ROM-Drive and an additional CD-Recorder made the equipment complete. The operating systems used at that time were Windows XP and Linux Suse 7.1.

As far as computers are concerned the development goes on with the speed of a rocket. This means that you frequently have to change some parts of your machine. Somewhat later it was already an Athlon XP 3400+. And the hard drives (1 SATA, 2 IDE) had altogether a capacity of approximately 750 Gigabyte.

Asus M3A32-MVP Deluxe
Asus M3A32-MVP Deluxe

It appears to become kind of an everlasting story! Because of a hardware failure I had to replace my mainboard (now a new Asus M3A32-MVP Deluxe with heat pipes). All right, nothing lasts forever. This time I decided to replace the old processor with an AMD Phenom 9600+ (2300MHz, Quad-Core). Additional four Gigabyte DDR2-RAM (PC8500, 1066Mhz) and a new Nvidia graphic board (PCI-Express) made everything complete. AGP couldn't be used any more, it appears to be history now. The hard drives also have been replaced being all SATA now. For the operating system (Windows XP64) a 150G Drive is running (Raptor, Western Digital). A one-terabyte drive together with a 250-megabyte hard disk make the whole system complete. And I'm sure, this will hardly be the end of the story.