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Notice anything unusual about this hard drive? I'll tell you: no moving head assembly, because it's a fixed-head drive with just 16 data tracks, and all the tracks are on the lower side. See the heads in this photo, with the platter removed:
It's from 1968 AFAICT, for Digital's best-selling PDP-8 computer series, which was first sold in 1964 and first delivered in 1965.[1]
"The DF32 Disk File and Control is a fixed head hard drive with a total capacity of 32K 12 bit words. It can have up to 3 DS32 Extender Disks slaved off of it for a total system capacity of 131,072 words"
It weighed 50 pounds, burns 500 Watts, and if your mains is 50Hz then it runs slower.
Digital described it as "a fast, random or sequential access, bulk storage device."
"Since the heads land on the disk when the power is removed it was recommended to not power down the drive motor any more than absolutely necessary."
Also interesting, the DF32 "had no sector structure. The DF32 allowed DMA transfers to begin with any word within the 32K words on the disk, with a single transfer addressing anywhere from one word to 4K words."

[1] Looks like they took orders for six months, then managed to deliver 9 the next month, taking a further 160 orders. By the 12th month, they'd delivered 520 and still had a backlog of 1170. These figures, and a brochure for the PDP-8, at

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The world's first programmable calculator! Weighing in at 80 pounds... "When introduced in late 1963, the Mathatron was the first solid-state, desktop, printing, floating point, algebraic entry, programmable, stored-program electronic calculator." Was the brainchild of William Kahn, who was later called “The Father of Floating Point,” since he was instrumental in creating the original IEEE 754 specification, and who won a Turing Award.
The output here is printed on a paper tape - there's a video within. It's quite noisy for a calculator.
Various models were made with programs in magnetic ROM, but the programmability was 'learn mode' and had some 24 steps of capacity. (Was there branching though? Was this Turing complete? I have my doubts.)
In 1966 you could buy a 480-step and 88-register memory expansion unit, which took the form of a desk to go under the calculator.
More technical info at
Via the photos on the site of York University's computer museum in Toronto:
which +Fabrice Lété has today added to his world map of computer museums at:

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LOL. In Walking Dead, Rick could use a Trash-80 to smash Winslow's head. Funny! Wondering if there is a humorous retro computing aficionado among the writers :) A Trash-80 in a zombie apocalypse landfill, really?! So funny!! 

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A great picture.

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Acorn's BBC Micro was always a bit expensive, but this gold-plated one was valued at £5000 when made in 1985. It was first prize in Micro User magazine's second birthday competition - the winner being Ron Self, from Norfolk. It's now safe in London's Science Museum. You can read a bit more here:
The people behind "Oak" brand customised Beebs made the casings in soft steel, polished them, then sent them to specialists to be copper plated, nickel plated and finally gold plated.
(Info from April 1985 issue of Micro User, found here:

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(Mostly) Forgotton Computers – The Pied Piper

Introduced at COMDEX in fall 1982 (the same year, the Commodore 64 was introduced) by Canadian manufacturer Semi-Tech Microelectronics Corporation (STM) the Pied Piper Communicator 1 was, at least in specs, a remarklable computer: Z80A at 4 MHz, 64K of RAM, 24 lines of 80 characters text display, an integrated floppy drive of a capacity of a whopping 784K of data (which could also read some floppies written by other disk drives), and CPM 2.2. Priced at US $1,299, it came with the same bundle of "Perfect Software" of alleged $1.700 worth that came with the Kaypro. Best of all, it was (somewhat) portable.
(In comparison, the C64 was introduced at $595 and the 1541 floppy drive at about $400, but soon you could get both of them at about $900. While the 1541 didn't had much to offer in terms of capacity as compared to the Piper, you got all those color graphics and games.)

While the Pied Piper, advertised as the "the least expensive, truly portable, fully featured, expandable computer with integral disk drive" didn't really find a niche market, eventually disappeared, and even lacks a Wikipedia entry, its integrated design was rather innovative. It wasn't before the Amstrad CPC computers and the last iterations of the Spectrum that similar designs were found in the market. But then, it was cost effective plastics and not a sturdy metal (-coated) case at 12.5 lbs, including a hood for the keyboard and a dedicated cable compartment.

Some nice images (as always) at VINTAGECOMPUTER.CA:

The Pied Piper at The Old Computer Museum:

Photos and screenshots of the running machine at binary dinosaurs (thanks +Ed S):

The following question may seem rather ridiculous, at first, so allow me to frame it with some context. I have a Compaq Armada 1570, 133Mhz Pentium, 80 Mb RAM, 40 Gb HDD, dual boot DSL/Windows 98SE and I would like to get it back online for fun and for Telnet. So, I have been searching the internet for dialup access numbers and found a few ISPs that offer free dial up access, but it seems too good to be true. Does anyone have experience with any of these free ISPs (i.e. Juno/NetZero)? I would like to sign up, but I feel like it may be a scam or riddled with malware. Also, if anyone has used one of these free ISPs, do I need to use their software or can I just use my OS's dial up networking?

Thank you all for the help!

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What's this? A beige box? Not at all! It's HP's 32-bit workstation, so powerful it was export controlled and the Navy kept buying them to run their carrier groups. It was a little under $30k (or more) and a little over 55kg (or more), but for a top-end machine at $65k you do get a built-in thermal printer, 512M RAM, 10M hard drive, Basic, Fortran and Pascal. Click through for ads from 1982.
The CPU was a 450,000 transistor monster, called FOCUS and running at 18MHz and a million instructions per second, with a special integrated copper heatspreader to deal with 7 Watts of heat dissipation.
"The 9020A was the first of the 500 Series computers. When compared to its contemporaries of the time, the 9020 was probably the most advanced workstation ever introduced by HP." The first machines to run HP-UX.

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Bull GAMMA 3 – The Notable Accounting Machine that Forced IBM into Mass Computing

In 1957 IBM was facing a Sputnik shock of its own: With it's own project for a computerized accounting machine, the Worldwide Accounting Machine (or WWAM for short), terminated, IBM was haunted by a machine by Compagnie des Machines Bull that "trumped B[ig] Blue's fledgling computer tech — not to mention its European sales — and the company lacked even the blueprint for a response. In the fall of 1957, the International Business Machines Corporation had no major business machine in development." [1]

Introduced in 1952 and first delivered in 1953, the GAMMA 3 was a general purpose calculator that was attached to an accounting machine and could be directly connected to several punchcard devices. While still based on vacuum tubes and not a general purpose von Neumann machine, as it was to be programmed by a plug board, it was way ahead of anything IBM had to show, and could do all IBM's own 604 had to offer. — "Big Blue had dominated the accounting machine market for decades, but (…) its technology had suddenly fallen behind. (…) Here it was, late third, early fourth quarter 1957, and IBM's largest revenue base had no machine in development." (Charles Branscomb in [1])
Enter Big Blue's answer that was to change computing as we knew it, the IBM 1401, which became the most popular computer of the 1960s.

Hadn't it been for a nowadays mostly obscure French calculating accounting machine, the GAMMA 3, who knows what had become of computers …

Linksbe sure to not to miss the first article!

[1] "Sputnik, spaghetti and the IBM SPACE machine. The 50th anniversary of the 1401" by Cade Metz

[2] The Bull GAMMA 3 at the technikum29 Living Museum (including images):
"A first generation tube calculator: BULL GAMMA 3"

[3] Gamma 3 at "FEB-patrimoine – Le site de la Fédération des Equipes Bull":

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The DAI, a fourth machine from the magic year of 1977 - from Belgium. Designed for the UK part of TI by Data Application International but then sold under their own name. When DAI went under, Indata took over the production. Optional FPU for an 8x speedup! Based on 8080 with an in-house 12k Basic, and 8k of RAM expandable to 48k. 16-colour graphics up to 260x352, a memory-efficient text mode, mixed text and graphics, and a 4-colour with 16-colour palette to save memory.
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