Steve Fernandes
 
 
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In my humble opinion (or IMHO - I should say), I have lived through the most exciting technological advances the world has ever seen. I am constantly filled with wonderment at the breakthroughs in science and technology and have come to realise that any apparent existing boundaries are only waiting to be broken.


I remember the  first time I saw a digital calculator, I was young and still in school. It would have been a Texas Instruments device with a 7-segment LED display; the type with thick lenses in front of each character. I’m not sure but I think it belonged to my brother who was older and had more need for such a thing. My first thought was, “How does it work?”. I’ve always had an inquisitive mind with the idea that the best way to find out how something ‘ticks’ is to get my hands on it and take it apart. Luckily for my bro I didn’t get my hands on the calculator - putting it back together would not have been my priority.


A family friend who worked for the MOD could see I would be interested in electronics and gave me a plastic case from a magnetic computer-tape spool (the kind you’d see whizzing around whenever they showed a “typical” computer in a old movie), full of old electronic components. There were transistors, diodes, LEDs, resistors and capacitors. They were all of random size and condition but there was enough in that container to teach me a bit about the various basic components and what they did.


I think Sinclair Electronics launched a digital calculator as well. It didn’t seem long after that that Sir Clive launched his ZX80 and ZX81 computers. £50 in kit form or £60 assembled - but not nearly as much fun.


My best friend received his first, so I went over to give him a hand assembling it. I put one of the compound resistors the wrong way round and cost him an extra £10 to have it sent back to Sinclair to be fixed. Needless to say, I didn’t make that mistake when mine arrived!

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