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Jamel Tayeb

Curiosities  - 
 
In preacher: Odin Quincannon used a C64 ;-)
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Tim Cook's profile photo
 
And he likes playing games on it. Great series so far.
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Norbert Landsteiner

Rebuild Projects  - 
 
Xerox Alto Restore, Pt. 2: The Monitor

And here is the next part of the Alto restore story, and as it is about the monitor appropriately in video format (by Marc Verdiell):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MDKxOmVDapQ

Mixed results, includes a call for a replacement tube (Clinton Electronics Corp. CE687M15P40TE CEULL118¼A1TE, in case you happen to have one in your parts box).

Part 1 of the video format is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPyqQXFC2yw (also embedded in Ken Shirriff's blog, see below).
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David Anders (prpplague)'s profile photoEd S's profile photoMartín Calveira's profile photojuan manuel gomez casal's profile photo
2 comments
 
Possibly for handling the high-voltage parts. (or wiping the black dust off that gets drawn to them)
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Ed S
moderator

Home Computers  - 
 
The best-selling UK computer - until this year(*) - a CP/M machine with Basic and Logo bundled. Oh, and LocoScript! Sold as a user-friendly dedicated word processor, with built in floppy drive and bundled printer, booting straight into the word processor with a straightforward file manager. Eight million or so sold, we present Amstrad's Joyce - the PCW - for less than a quarter the price of a PC compatible, and less than a diskless printerless BBC Micro.

"Locomotive’s Chris Hall and Richard Clayton had worked on Z80 BBC BASIC for the Acorn Tube second processor for the BBC Micro, and this became Mallard BASIC for the PCW. It opened up a programming route for the machine, as did the publication of technical manuals for developers. While it was not really a games machine, quite a lot of Spectrum hits were ported..."
- http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/09/09/joyce_turns_30/

Via Jimmy's Maher's latest and excellent history piece at
http://www.filfre.net/2016/06/acorn-and-amstrad/
where we get lots of backstory, and the PCW's tagline:
"more than a word processor for less than most typewriters"
and a review:
"a grown-up computer that does something people want, packaged and sold in a way they can understand, at a price they’ll accept"

(*) Raspberry Pi now having sold more than eight million. I recommend booting with RiscOS Pico and running BBC Basic on it.
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Peter Walker's profile photoJohn Boxall's profile photo
26 comments
 
+Jan Bruun Andersen the story is in Lord Sugar's autobiography
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Ed S
moderator

Home Computers  - 
 
The thrilling story of Tandy's big move into computers - a look back at 1977 from 1987. They'd never designed or sold computers, or even carried such a high cost item. They had a policy of not stocking up at scale until they could judge volume. Many good quotes within - here are a few:
"""
“It was a terrible time,” Pennington says of the year he used TRSDOS. “It was dreadful trying to do a backup with one drive. The backup and format software had terrible bugs in them.”

As important as the hardware itself in the success of the computer was the ready-made distribution system through the thousands of Radio Shack outlets. They were more common than McDonald’s, and they were located in areas where the California-oriented Apple had yet to penetrate.

Not long after the team began working in earnest, Roach made a trip that for the first time convinced him they might be on to something. In April, he went to California to attend the West Coast Computer Faire, a convention of computer hobbyists and what few manufacturers existed at the time.

“I saw 12-14,000 people, most of them paying $9 a head and waiting in long lines to get in,” he says, “I thought maybe I really was looking at the rudiments of an industry.”

Some of the work was farmed out. At first none of the big video companies was interested in supplying monitors, possibly because Tandy, ever conservative, was asking them to supply only a few thousand. Finally RCA agreed to provide a 12- inch TV receiver stripped of its tuner, speaker, and assorted other circuitry. RCA also threw in a silver-gray cabinet that established the aesthetic design for the rest of the computer.

Pennington wasn’t the only one who saw the possibilities of the TRS-80. At the time of the Aug. 3 debut, only 25 TRS-80s existed. Within weeks of the introduction. Radio Shack stores had taken thousands of orders for it.

“We were almost immediately deluged”, says Ed Juge, today the company’s director of market planning. He joined the company in the spring of 1978 while Tandy was trying to cope with the demand for TRS- 80s. “At one point we were nine months behind on delivering Level II ROMs, six months behind on disk drives.”

Roach would go down to the factory on Saturdays to help assemble computers. But no real assembly line yet existed. Each computer was crafted by hand, and output was only one a day. It wasn’t until March 1978 when the manufacturing staff had grown to 385 and the space taken up by computer operations had grown from 15.000 square feet to 85,000 that the company felt it had the situation under control.

By 1979 Tandy had sold more than 200,000 computer systems, topping $500 million in sales. The company was shipping hundreds more each day. There were more than 1,600 employees in six factories turning out TRS-80s alone.
"""
 
This article was first published on 80 Micro magazine, issue August 1987 and reproduced here with the “blessing” of its author, Ron White. The article was revised and illustrated to off…
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duane attaway's profile photoFrédéric SOSSON's profile photoAndreas Herr's profile photoJames Glaser's profile photo
7 comments
 
Ha, I got a "System-80" from Dick Smith's the year after. Maybe I SHOULD have got a TRS-80 instead. They had the best video games, though the graphics was primitive.
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Lewin Edwards

Discussion  - 
 
Folks - this is sort of a random request, but I have a bunch of TRS-80 Model II hardware (several computers, at least a couple of the expansion units, a couple of printers, and the special Model II desk), and some software as well. Is there anyone in central FL - or who can travel to central FL - who would like to take this? I've been evaluating what I want to keep for my personal collection, and the TRS-80 just doesn't make the grade for me - I'm primarily a Commodore and Sinclair guy.

(oh - obviously I mean "take for free to a good home")
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Lewin Edwards's profile photojuan manuel gomez casal's profile photo
9 comments
 
oh god! ANY (i mean any!) bit of junk would make me absolutely happy (and making my wife a bit more fed up with "that shit" hahaha)
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Emmanuel Florac

Curiosities  - 
 
SORD M68K. Sorry for the french, but this machine is such a rarity :)
 
1er volet "pilote" d'une petite série de vidéos sur la rétro informatique et les ordinosaures... Vous aimez, ou pas, dites-le moi !
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Chris Blackmore (The Walrus)'s profile photoNorbert Landsteiner's profile photo
11 comments
 
I've to assist: ordinosaure is just great. It even helps to convert me into a computer-creationist: Ordinosaures and man lived together! :-)
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Ran Levi

Discussion  - 
 
Hi, all! Here's something I hope you'll find interesting:
The Challenges of Digital Information Preservation.
Podcast version available as well!

Cheers,
Ran

http://www.cmpod.net/digital-information-preservation/
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Ran Levi's profile photoFabrice Lété's profile photo
3 comments
 
I really enjoyed this podcast, thanks for sharing +Ran Levi and congratulations on making such high quality material.
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+Laura Ess +Ed S : Your links to: http://ethw.org/Main_Page
Is a gold mine!
http://ethw.org/Category:Computing_and_electronics
I don't even know where to start making posts to retro computing!.
Thanks!
Yvonne Brill Oral History. An interview with Yvonne Brill, recipient of the 2011 National Medal of Technology and Innovation. Create content. Submit a new article to the Engineering and Technology History Wiki. Innovation Map. The innovation map tracks Landmarks, Milestones and other important ...
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Greg A. Woods's profile photoMaurici Carbo (nummolt)'s profile photojuan manuel gomez casal's profile photo
8 comments
 
+Greg A. Woods  Thanks!. Reviewing Multicians.org: "The design team's intention was that Multics would develop into a prototype information utility, as described in Martin Greenberger's 1964 Atlantic Monthly article: "The computers of tomorrow" http://www.theatlantic.com/past/docs/unbound/flashbks/computer/greenbf.htm
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Today, for 65 years ago, the first UNIVAC I started operating.
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Ed S's profile photoÁlvaro Jurado's profile photo
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Ed S
moderator

Software  - 
 
What a combination: one of the oldest languages, one of the oldest and most complex text editors, and one of the largest and most popular 8-bit games. Elite - on EMACS. The original's trading algorithm converted to Lisp from Ian Bell's C version[1]. And, it's useful! A commenter says: "... was incredibly useful when I started to create a multiplayer server in Common Lisp"

[1] www.iancgbell.clara.net/elite/text
A recent discovery from old backups revealed something long forgotten: I really developed a version of Elite for.... that's right... Emacs text editor. It...
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Christian Katsch's profile photoBruno Voigt's profile photo
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Norbert Landsteiner

Home Computers  - 
 
Retro Computerphile – The Nascom 2

Computerphile, the well known channel by the University of Nottingham, engaging once more in retro computing – and for this purpose giving another guest (or rather host?) appearance to the Centre for Computing History. This time featuring the Nascom 2, an early Z80-based home computer from 1979 (its predecessor, the Nascom 1, was introduced in 1977).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUFTioLaKcA

(Bonus: If you look carefully, there's another Z80 machine from the 1970s, just to be seen at the lower right corner, which is my personal favorite from that era. Also very British, while not built in the UK. Can you guess it?)

Apple II fans (and anyone interested in computer history) may also enjoy the episode before, dedicated to the low level format of the Apple II's disk drives:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3VZFhNQRmU

For more info on the Nascom computers see: http://www.nascomhomepage.com
While the site mentions to be looking for a JavaScript emulator to be run in the browser, there's one (currently in version 0.2): http://thorn.ws/jsnascom/jsnascom.html

(As the interface is rather cryptic and the jsnascom-page features a call for help, the implementation of a proper JS emulator may still provide an interesting summer project.)
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Norbert Landsteiner's profile photoEd S's profile photo
3 comments
Ed S
 
Interesting! I hadn't realised.

About the AppleII disk coding [haven't yet watched the video] - I very much recommend reading one or two of the 4am cracks. The Apple II disk hardware is so minimal that the software is free to do some remarkable things with the disk format - sector lengths, sector markers, the encoding of data into clock transitions, stepping the head by half or quarter tracks, all were freely defined in software, and therefore used for copy protection.

As a starting point:
http://www.metafilter.com/160275/TALES-of-APPLE-GAME-CRACKING
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About this community

Here we share stories and information about vintage computers, from cogwheels or relays through transistors and chips, from experimental machines through mainframes to 8-bit and 16-bit home computers. We're interested in software and hardware (but not especially interested in the home computer gaming experience because there are other communities for that.)

Manuel Viet

Curiosities  - 
 
Considering the relative success as well as the shortcomings of my first video about the Sord M68, I've filmed a second part. It showcases heavily the hardware, is (a bit) better edited, and tries to address the most common remarks I had after the first one. I hope you will enjoy it, but let me know either way.
 
2è partie de la présentation de mon Sord M68. Devant le "succès" de la première partie, j'ai rassemblé dans une vidéo plus courte et (un peu) mieux montée les corrections aux remarques qui m'ont été faites, dans la mesure du possible. Enjoy !
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Norbert Landsteiner

Rebuild Projects  - 
 
Xerox Alto Restore, Pt. 1: Disassembly, Power Supplies, Diablo Disk Drive & Interface (by Ken Shirriff)

As promised, the story of the Xerox Alto Restore (the one loaned by Alan Kay to Y Combinator) continues: Navigate your esteemed browser to the first part of the actual restore...

http://www.righto.com/2016/06/restoring-y-combinators-xerox-alto-day.html
A few days ago, I wrote about how I'm helping restore a Xerox Alto for Y Combinator. This new post describes the first day of restoration: how we disassembled the computer and disk drive and fixed a power supply problem, but ...
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Petr Kočmíd's profile photoOleksij Rempel's profile photoMartín Calveira's profile photojuan manuel gomez casal's profile photo
4 comments
 
+Daryl Tester My favorite: The article on qui-binary arithmetic on the 1401 – http://www.righto.com/2015/10/qui-binary-arithmetic-how-1960s-ibm.html
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Jon Bailey

Curiosities  - 
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Heritage of Technology's profile photojuan manuel gomez casal's profile photoGiovanni Panozzo's profile photoCarla Sella's profile photo
7 comments
 
This is the coolest thing I've seen in a long time. ... Awesome!
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Norbert Landsteiner

Rebuild Projects  - 
 
Xerox Alto Restoration Series

The restoration of a Xerox Alto on loan from Alan Kay to Y Combinator's Sam Altman. A first article of what promises to become an entire series starts with an introduction of the machine and its GUI. (And, yes, there's an emulator for the Alto, as well. See: http://toastytech.com/guis/salto.html and https://github.com/brainsqueezer/salto_simulator)

http://www.righto.com/2016/06/y-combinators-xerox-alto-restoring.html
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Andre Amorim's profile photoDavid Anders (prpplague)'s profile photoErik Pusch's profile photoMartín Calveira's profile photo
9 comments
 
+Bunny Evans in 1974 Interlisp was ported to the Alto and this AltoLisp became the starting point for Interlisp-D, which ran on the Dolphin and Dorado machines. These led to the commercial Xerox Lisp Machines which were the main alternative to the MIT Lisp Machine designs.
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Chris Osborn

Software  - 
 
Now that I've fixed tcpser to support connecting to real telnet servers, several people have asked me how they can ssh from their retro computers. It's not too hard to do and I wrote up a quick guide on setting it up.
You decided to "work" from home and you're having a blast killing aliens, rescuing princesses, and finding buried treasure. And of course right while you're in the middle of solving the world's hardest puzzle an urgent call comes in from the office. Of course that means you’re going have to get up and go sit at another computer to ssh in and see what's going on. Wouldn’t it be nice if you didn’t have to do that? Using a combination of tcpser and...
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Marek Karcz's profile photoEdward Kent's profile photojuan manuel gomez casal's profile photoNicolás Wolovick's profile photo
4 comments
 
You can do the same thing with the c64 and a true serial interface.
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Ed S
moderator

Servers  - 
 
Several Crays in the machine room of the National Energy Research Supercomputer Center - more large wallpaper-ready photos from the 70s and 80s within. There are lots more details of compute and storage in this lab at
http://www.nersc.gov/assets/NERSC40/Timeline/1992-NERSC-LLNL-machine-room-guide.pdf
including the six tape library silos, each of 2 Terabytes on 6000 mag tape cartridges, with random access time under a minute.

"By the mid-1970s,Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s time-sharing system, Octopus, was the world’s most powerful research computer facility. It included four CDC 7600s (each with the power of 5,000 UNIVACs, about 10 million operations per second) and two CDC STARs. The computers were time-shared by users at more than 1,000 remote workstations around the Laboratory, many connected to television monitor display systems."

via +Wolfgang Stief who notes "Besides some midrange systems (VAX and HP9000), they had two Cray Y-MP, two Cray-2 and one Cray X-MP back then"
The National Magnetic Fusion Energy Computer Center was formed in 1974 under the name Controlled Thermonuclear Research Center to meet the significant computational demands national magnetic fusion research being done at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. In 1983 the center's role was ...
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Ed S's profile photoChris Gallaty's profile photojuan manuel gomez casal's profile photo
7 comments
 
+Greg A. Woods I had a prof that I believe had worked for Cray at one point. He had brought in a sample of the hollow motherboard mounts that they ran the coolant through. Was rather trippy seeing cooling that integrated into the system.
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Following: ethw.org:
Past programming languages and their influences on today's languages and programming paradigms
http://ethw.org/Past_programming_languages_and_their_influences_on_today%27s_languages_and_programming_paradigms
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juan manuel gomez casal's profile photoAdrian Warman's profile photoEmmanuel Florac's profile photoOrdinatous SeeYou's profile photo
35 comments
 
+Peter Walker I would tend to agree on the elegant code side of things. Elegance IMHO is a byproduct of understanding. The caveat being that we don't always (especially the first time through) understand a problem, nor do we have the luxury of waiting around to build something until we've solved everything. Hence the pragmatics coming in, to remind us there is a level where we are just trying to pander to our our aesthetic needs. I think hardware and software are the 'living embodiment' of that as a student of their design can see the history of our understanding of computing unfold in the lines of code, and in turn the very languages we write in. As we 'grok' a concept, it becomes more 'organic' and part of the whole, but until then, it can 'feel' quite clumsy.
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Chris Osborn

Software  - 
 
Spent yesterday making a LASM compatible 8080 cross assembler. I'm not sure how much 8080 code is still out there that was meant to assemble with LASM, but now if you want to cross assemble it without having to convert all the mnemonics to Z80 you can.
With the TRS-80 Model II working one of the first things I did with it was to send the world’s first tweet from a TRS-80 Model II. To do that I used Kermit for CP/M. World's first tweet from a @RadioShack #TRS80 Model II made in 1979! https://t.co/5trIKlhBqW pic.twitter.com/2vJffAAhGb — Chris Osborn (@FozzTexx) June 2, 2016 The TRS-80 Model II support in Kermit is missing hardware flow control support however which means that it’s very pron...
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Petr Kočmíd's profile photoJim Donegan's profile photoJürgen Geinitz's profile photoNicolás Wolovick's profile photo
9 comments
 
+George Phillips Wow, bizarre. No problems compiling on two other Debian 7 64-bit boxes. And if I pull down 10aug2013 on this one, it compiles fine too. But this one box hates 3dec2014.
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Ed S
moderator

Curiosities  - 
 
Here's a rare thing in several ways:- a "mainframe-class" machine from Commodore, a Unix machine with no TCP/IP stack, a Z8000 machine, a Unix graphical workstation without X Windows, and supplied with a Basic compiler (and of course a C compiler, but COBOL and Pascal are optional extras.)
More detail and photos at
http://www.zimmers.net/cbmpics/c900.html
and backstory at
http://www.floodgap.com/retrobits/ckb/secret/900.html

Better stick with NetBSD on your Amiga!

More on the Z8000 at
http://www.kranenborg.org/z8000/

via the multi-part Amiga history series at
http://arstechnica.com/series/history-of-the-amiga/
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Youngmen boy's profile photoÁlvaro Jurado's profile photoKristian Köhntopp's profile photoJeroen Wiert Pluimers's profile photo
6 comments
Ed S
 
Hee hee, I try not to buy much retro gear, although somehow I did buy an Atari 400 and a C64 recently.
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