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Dec VT180 and the Little Professor

Pete Brown - 28 September 2005

I first learned BASIC on a DEC VT back in 7th grade at Mary E. Wells Jr High School in Southbridge, MA. Mr Dragon ran the (usually empty) computer room there at the time. While I quickly tired of the monochrome display when I first discovered sprite graphics on the Commodore VIC-20 and C=64, the DEC terminal still holds a place in my heart for being the first computer I ever programmed.

I recall I wrote a BASIC program on the VT that simply printed out lines of text that looked like a rocket. The slow scrolling speed on those machines when in smooth scrolling mode made it look like the rocket was taking off on the screen. I had to put in lots of prints to ensure it scrolled off the top of the screen ("GOTO" would come later)

All these years I assumed it was a VT 100 or a VT 101, because that's what it looked like. However, I just realized today that it was actually a DEC VT-180 Robin computer. I knew it was running CP/M, had several floppy drives, and had (IIRC) MBASIC and Multiplan, and I do recall it being called a Robin.

Oh, and while we're on a nostalgia trip, the Little Professor was my favorite toy for a while when I was a kid. You could play hangman and math games on it. I recall going through two of these, and finally ending the last one's life when it suffered the fate of many of my more interesting toys: being dismantled. :-)

posted by Pete Brown on Wednesday, September 28, 2005
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1 comment for “Dec VT180 and the Little Professor”

  1. Grantsays:
    Funny how things connect. I remember the first time I saw a VT180 robin. My friend Mark had one and I was sooo jealous. I'm guessing this was 1981. We were both DEC field service engineers and I wanted to move into software development, but there weren't that many systems around to work on. I thought the VT180 would be perfect solution. Alas, I had to wait and ended up buying a Rainbow as my first home system.

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