This photo shows my first attempt to create type on a computer screen. It is from about 1980.
The computer is that tiny white horizontal shape in the lower left, a Sinclair ZX80, which I bought mail order for $200. It had a 1mhz processor, 1k of memory, and built-in BASIC. The display is an old black and white television (not included). Programs and data were stored on a cheap cassette recorder (also not included).
The “a” image on the screen was created by programming the computer to display several lines of space and “block” characters in a certain order (which I worked out beforehand on graph paper). This is about as basic as a BASIC program can get.
Unfortunately, it took a good share of the computer’s memory just to do this. I didn’t investigate it further.
Update: I remember now. The thing on top of the tv is the cheap cassette recorder I used to store data. Yet more details: The “table” is made from a piece of plywood (which I still have) and a Crumar electric piano stand (which was sold with the piano to a guy who is now in prison for murder). Not that it matters.