My First Computer
My first computer was called Orao (not Oreo), which translates to “Eagle” and it featured a whopping 16K of RAM. According to Wikipedia, this 8-bit computer was a superior version to its predecessor Galeb (Seagull) and was released in 1984 as a standard school computer in Yugoslavia.
How I got one
It wasn’t until 1992, however, that I got my hands on one of these. I returned to my home town after a violent and destructive war which left everything in ruins, including my local school. I toured this ghostly, half-demolished building decorated by millions of bullet holes and grenade craters. It smelled of of gun powder and charcoal.
In the basement of the building I found one room which wasn’t yet pillaged and to my surprise I found chalk. Boxes and boxes of chalk. I took as many as I could carry and as I was walking out saw what looked like a keyboard. I dropped everything and went to investigate, forgetting myself and not really watching for “pasteta” micro mines which were commonly dispersed around the town at that time. To my delight and awe, there it was, in front of me – a real computer! I took it home.
The power comes back
It was 6 months after, that we got running water and another 6 until power grid was re-established. First thing I did was flick the light switch in my room and the second thing was to plug the Orao computer into the TV.
For all the kids reading this, back then things were analogue and so was my TV. The computer video output had to be plugged into the aerial slot and channels tuned until you get a clear signal. And when I did… oh boy. I used ASCII to draw a house, proudly demonstrated it to my parents and got the standard “attaboy” response.
A few weeks later a kid from another suburb (we were the only remaining family in my block) hears that I have… a COMPUTER! So I started receiving offers which graduated from “I’ll give you a microphone” to “I’ll give you a motorbike”. The final offer was more than I expected… one day he comes to my house and points at this:
Yes, he actually somehow dismounted a heavy anti-airicraft gun (P.A.M.) and dragged it into my backyard. This is with the explosive (black & red) bullets and all.
“Nikola, and what exactly am I going to do with a PAM?”, I said to him. I already had an AK which was much lighter and more practical.
“I don’t know, keep it as a souvenir.”, he replied.
When I said I still wanted to keep my computer he was a bit upset but said to me:
“I’ll just leave the gun here and you think about it OK?”, “OK” I said.
I am not sure what happened to this piece of military equipment, but I think my grandpa eventually sold it as scrap iron.
Later on I got a Commodore 128D and finally my first PC once I migrated to Australia. The Orao computer is still somewhere in my old house in Croatia, waiting for me to turn it on and have fun with ASCII art.