I was there for the birth of home computing. My first was the Commodore Vic20. It had 3.5 kb of main memory. Yep, 3.5 kb. Within a week, I’d learned enough CBM Basic to write my first ‘project’, a telephone directory to hold all our friends and family phone numbers, indexed by surname. I didn’t consider the practicalities of having to turn on the computer and TV and loading up the programme from cassette tape every time you wanted to make a phone call. That’s one of those annoying details the mind of an 8 year old doesn’t even consider. It was moot anyway, as I’d used up the 3.5 kb within the first couple of hours, and the massive 16 kb RAM Pak was Yet to be released.

But, I was hooked. From there, via the masterful C64, (bypassing the laughable C16 without a sideways glance), I finally arrived, just as I hit university, at the true modern age of PCs, the x86’s… I’ve worked as a Windows developer ever since – I was never going to be anything else.

But, I’m also interested in astronomy, or more accurately, astrophotography. This hobby pretty much requires a mild interest in electronics, and 12V electrical widgets. It’s too expensive otherwise. I’ve made motor-based focusers (simple DC motors with buttons to move it one way or another), dew heaters, serial-controlled shutter controls for a modified DSLR camera. These were all about as basic as you could get though – no sign of a ‘processor’ unit anywhere.

With Arduino, I’m hoping things will get a bit more sophisticated. So, with a basic knowledge of which electronic bits do what, and the one bit of ‘theory’ I know, V=IxR, and a strong programming background, I’m going to try to get really, really good at this stuff.

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