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Marcin Sochacki (Wanted) Blog, Internet, Technology

» My firsts

There is a new trend in Polish blogosphere – one writes five personal, previously unknown things about oneself and then nominates five other victims to do the same. Basically a kind of chain mail, but sent on the web. I was shot by Piotr so without further ado let's go to the main stuff.

I wanted to present my five facts in “my firsts” fashion.

  1. The first lesson of reading was given to me when I was four years old, thanks to my Grandpa and plastic letters, similar to these:
    Plastic letters

    Plastic letters

    As a result, I never had problems with reading in primary school and I devoured books like crazy (except for the obligatory ones, yuck…).
  2. The first computer I worked on was the Unipolbrit 2086, an interesting contraption based on Timex 2068 and put together in Unimor company based in Gdańsk, Poland. The one and only machine was bought by one of the local state companies for my primary school in Kurzętnik ca 1987, when I was in the fifth grade. About twenty enthusiasts gathered and tormented the poor box on Saturdays when the computer circle meetings were held. Most of the time we played games but we also did some programming in BASIC. Big thanks to Mr. Ronkiewicz for having the will to drive that.
    Unipolbrit 2086 [1]

    Unipolbrit 2086 [1]

  3. The first holiday camp I had happened quite late, I think it was in the fifth grade. It lasted three weeks in the capital; we lived in a school in Saska Kępa. It was a nice neighbourhood thanks to many foreign embassies located there, which was an exciting thing in the People's Republic of Poland as a piece of foreign, forbidden world.
  4. The first serious program I wrote was running on Commodore 64, my second computer (I had a ZX Spectrum+ earlier, but for a relatively short time). I called the program “RIPLEY” and it was a music player, mostly for the tunes ripped out of games and demos. One should note that in the eight bit world there was really no standard for music format; several incompatible programs existed for composers. The music data was usually stored along with a short program to play it. The problem was that to use the player one had to write a couple of lines in assembler and remember several numerical values to initialize it. I collected a few pages of those numbers in my notebook. It was extremely frustrating, so I decided to write a more comfortable player which would remember those values for me. Additional metadata, e.g. the tune title were attached at the end of the music file in an ad hoc invented format. I wrote it in MOS 6510 assembler, though the prototype menu was first created in BASIC (it was too slow obviously). Of course the player had to be as small as possible to leave the memory free for the music files, so I optimized the code pretty heavily, e.g. using built-in ROM procedures. The whole thing used 4KB of memory only, even though it had pretty good functionality, for instance floppy disk drive support. I was programming using the fantastic Turbo Assembler. I even wanted to release the program to wider audience, but living in a small town made that rather difficult. Anyway, the C64 era was about to end, unfortunately… My favourite tune was the music from the first map of The Last Ninja by Ben Daglish and Anthony Lees, which you can listen to and watch on YouTube and later compare with the performance of Malmö Symphony orchestra.
    C64C [2]

    C64C [2]

  5. My first Usenet post was, according to Google archive, this piece of text from the 4th of December, 1996 (how many of you were using Internet back then?): msgid:199612041245.NAA21604@polonez.man.lodz.pl. Basically a guy asked about “interesing Internet addresses”, which was kind of stupid, so I gave an equally stupid answer to visit my homepage, which I used to have then :)

I don't have five other candidates to nominate for the next round, so let me just give this one: Tomasz Rychlicki.

[1] Unipolbrit 2086, Wikipedia,
[2] C64C, Wikipedia.

2007/03/05 23:40 | info/

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