Computers have been around for quite a while, but they certainly haven't always been as capable or ubiquitous as they are now. The computers of the 1980s were quite a bit different than what we all use today, but you might be surprised by all of the things people were actually able to do with them.

Reddit user Jolly-Idea-5079 asked:

"People that had a personal computer in 1984, what did you actually use it for?"

Games, Of Course

"Games, using bulletin boards"



"Games mostly. But I also wrote a bowling league software package my dad used for around 8 years! Trs-80, Coco 3, Commodore 64."


"Learning to code in good ole BASIC. Playing games that you typed in from the back page of a magazine."


"Spending hours typing them in, only to have it crash, then spending another hour going through line-by-line and finally finding one misplaced comma."

"Of course, that's assuming the programs worked in the first place. More than a few had typos, and those were the worst. Especially since the code normally wasn't commented, which is a terrible practice to teach kids."


"Learned to program in Basic, assembly and machine language. Controlled machines at work. Programmed database apps at work to monitor production. On and on."


Message Boards

"Got my first computer in 1983. A Commodore 64 with a 1541 disk drive and a dot matrix printer. I used it for homework (writing papers), but mostly for games. First game I ever played was Zork and the second was a game called Blue Max. (flying/shooting game)"

"By 1984, I also had a 300 baud modem and went online, calling BBSs and joining Q-Link in 1985. Q-Link would, in 1989, become America Online. But, it was mostly BBSs, because Q-Link cost money and the BBSs were free."


Word Processing

"I had a commodore 64. I used it to print basic word documents that looked like a typed page and spent hours typing in program code from a book so I could see 3 balloons float across the screen in different directions."


"I used to do that! Would change a line of code here and the balloons would be faster or bigger, change a number there, and the computer would crash. Good times."


"A glorified typewriter."


Good Ol' Dot Matrix Printing

"Printing cheesy banners"


"I think it was 86 if that distinction matters, but using Print Shop to make cards for family, banners for airport arrivals etc. Gaming (Thexder, Arkanoid, Aaargh, Gauntlet,) and learning the rudimentary skills that would later become Photoshop skillz (Paintworks plus) and typing up papers for school that didn't require whiteout to correct. Some dabbling in programming in AppleSoft basic and machine code. And making SmoothTalker (speech synthesis) say things out loud that I'd have gotten in trouble for saying out loud, lol. Apple ][GS with all the peripherals."


Oregon Trail

"Oregon Trail."


"God damn dysentery."


"It's a killer."


Making Life Easier

"I was in college and set up a Radio Shack TRS80 with a dial-up modem that connected to the University mainframe. While other kids were stuck in the computer lab (think rows of dumb terminals) late into the night, I sat in my apartment and did assignments any time I wanted. Game changer."


A Little Bit Of Everything

"By 1984 I was already into my third home computer. I still have it and it still works, an Apple IIe. I did a lot of writing, a lot of 6502 assembly language programming, a bit of hardware hacking on my custom A/D/A board for a college course in digital logic circuits, and I had dialup network connectivity to a university site that wasn't quite, but sorta was, on the internet. I kept using that thing for a while because of my custom experimental gadgets but I got my first PC compatible machine very soon after '84."



"Xerox that ran CP-M. Had a really primitive spreadsheet program we used to keep track of union membership, dues, and print mailing labels. Still have it. Still works. Including the printer."


Technology might have improved a heck of a lot from the 80s, but it's surprising the things you could do with tech even back then. Word processing, spreadsheets, BASIC programs (pun entirely intended), and even games were all possible with a personal computer.

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