Re: "there wasn't much pure hobby programming like that going"
just there was no easy internet to publish them
But if you had a modem, there were BBSes. I'm sure many here remember the glory days of BBSes, with their treasure troves of free software and hacking documents ("txtfiles") and forums.
Even without modems we passed around a lot of stuff as listings or on cassette tape.
I wouldn't claim the hobbyist scene was better in, say, the early '80s. The possibilities these days are incredible – just read a site like Hackaday to see what folks are getting up to in basements and garages. But there was plenty to keep us occupied even in the days when 8-bitters roamed Suburbia.