I'm just a hobbyist and a lurker. I subscribed to the PCC newsletter and Dr. Dobb's Journal. ("Running light without overbite.") I have most of the original articles Don Lancaster wrote and most of his books. I have the Popular Electronics issues which introduced the 8008 microcomputer (Micro-8) and the Altair. I may have written a letter to the editor once upon a time. I also subscribed to the Cabrillo High newsletter (have all issues), BYTE from Issue #1, etc.
I was present at the creation of the Chicago Area Computer Hobbyists' Exchange (CACHE). I was an early member of the Central Florida Computer Users' Group when SWTP made their first hardware and software (SWTP's BASIC was written in Tampa). I went to club meetings in Chicago (two groups), Orlando, Tampa, Baton Rouge, one CPM users' group in Copenhagen and two groups in Houston.
I learned the 8008 and 8080 instruction sets and assembly language (also the Z-80, 6800, 68000, 6502 and 65816, and PDP-11). I remember following the bugs in the microcode of the 8086 and how the code would run different when it got hot or was overclocked (i.e., run at spec clock rate!). It still amazes me that anyone can write robust code for any Intel chips. I owned (still own) Digital Research's DR-DOS. I remember when Seattle Computer Products had ads in the paper to sell CPM-86. It became MS-DOS. I also own various versions of OS-2. And Forth. I had a long love affair with Forth. Visual Basic is better now for my purposes, but I haven't learned much of it yet.
I still own a SOL 20 (in the original box) with the ALS and LOGO, and several 8-bit Ataris.
When I was a very young kid, I built a simple digital computer out of the step relays out of an old pinball machine. I think that was the last project I finished and got working. I was an electronics tech in the Army when the Micro-8 came out. At an engineering open-house at college, I saw a programmable floating-point calculator consisting of a calculator chip which used shift registers for program storage and switches to enter the program. (That was when I found PCC. Also the Sexual Freedom League, but that is another--but very short--story.) I was becomming an engineer (chemical, not electrical--my mistake) and was blown away with the computational possibilities. Ay, caramba! Now we have Beowulf. At last the software is catching up with the hardware. I found the internet before Bill Gates did. (No big achievement there.)
So, I am just a simple hobbyist. There were and are thousands of us. It has been great fun watching the parade. Now it is big business (none bigger), but the creativity still comes from the individual code hackers (in the old sense, before it became a criminal activity). Now I'm daydreaming about early retirement from my dying profession and becoming a web host/webmaster in Panama--my version of the old cartoon of the cubicle resident dreaming of his tropical island.
Honk if you had Altair Thumb!
Ed The Gypsy