Oh to begin again! Why not at Harvard?

The closer I get to retirement, the more I wish I could begin again . . . but today, not back in the 1970s! OK, I saw the beginnings of computers, but I find robotics much more exciting. I was the proud owner of one of the first computer games – Pong, a graphically simplified game of tennis which ran on my black and white TV, was actually quite exciting at the time!

In the early 1980s, I bought a Sinclair ZX81, and began to learn the BASIC programming language, diligently copying programs from magazines and spending many hours searching for that one typing error that stopped the program running properly.

The ZX81 had just 1K of on board memory (programs were stored on cassette tapes), which I later expanded to 16K by adding an expansion pack which was precariously balanced from the back of the computer. My favourite game was one of the first 3D games written. 3D Monster Maze, released in 1982, for which you needed the massive 16K memory pack. Even today, people find this game fun to play.

If the YouTube video manages to give you an impression of the excitement of trying to avoid the blocky dinosaur jerking along at one frame per second, just imagine what the game would be like today (with slightly better graphics, colour and sound) whilst wearing the Oculus Rift headset!

If I was beginning today, I would have to try to get into robotics in some form or other. Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences robotics faculty released a new video on 26th November in which they discuss their research, and the opportunities they have for students. I am green with envy!

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