The first computer I can recall using at 11 was a Research Machine RM-380Z (using the Z80A processor) running the CP/M OS. My school (3D Map View) had a network of these machines. Prior to that the only computers i had seen were on TV, I was surprised that a school actually had computers let alone a network of many computers – most of the time we didn’t even have to share to share machines.
These machines were later changed to newer RM-480Z models and then to full PCs running MS-DOS and then Windows. I learned how to program on the Research Machines, my languages were Basic and a Robot language called Logo.
The first major software applications I used was WordStar and Word (for DOS). WordStar was far more powerful than Word for DOS with many cryptic key sequences (CTRL-KZ) and control options. But at the same time I felt more comfortable using Word because you could just press the ALT key to bring up each drop down menu and select an option with the cursor keys – more key presses, but much nicer on the brain!
Surprising to me now (in retrospect) is that we had access to the very first editions of Windows starting with Windows 1.02. I instinctively disliked the fact that early Windows windows would not overlap the UI felt constrained. There was a rapid succession of Windows versions on some of the schools PCs; going from 1.x version thru Windows 286, 386.
Our school also had one Apple Macintosh computer this was at the time we still had green-screen Research Machines. Interestingly this machine was not in the Computer Lab, but was kept in the Art Department. It was an all-in-one job with a black a white display. What impressed me about the Mac was the graphics, nice fonts which actually displayed the real font in the font selection menu and drawing packages where you could draw wavy lines and circles, you could see how things would look in real-time – WYSIWGY.