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I play around with emulators, and would love to go back to my roots, with physical ZX81, BBC Micro, Amiga, etc.

Unfortunately, those all require a TV as output. I suppose that I could buy a cheap one on AliExpress (would that work, any recommendations?).

I am curious as to which, if any PC from "the golden age of retro" (the '80s, for me) could be used with a VGA monitor, or even HDMI.

If none, is anyone aware of an adapter?

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    There are a number of questions which discuss adapters: Atari ST and C64, scaler with customisable horizontal sampling, Amiga, pre-VGA PCs. Many of the adapters mentioned there will work with other computers of the time. – Stephen Kitt Oct 31 '19 at 8:33
  • Wow! Thanks *very much! I also asked for a cheap PAL input TV/monitor on Hardware Recommendations. – Mawg says reinstate Monica Oct 31 '19 at 8:37
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    If we are talking 'suitable adapter' then the answer is - all of them! – Bruce Abbott Oct 31 '19 at 9:22
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    At best, this is a list question. At worst, the answer is "all of them". – Chenmunka Oct 31 '19 at 11:59
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    @Mawg because all mainstream computers produced in the 80s can be connected to a modern screen (there is sufficient interest for adapters to be available for all of them). That’s why this is a list question: an answer would list all mainstream 80s computers, with their variants, and for each of them, explain how to connect them to a modern screen. – Stephen Kitt Oct 31 '19 at 13:46
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A few 'home' computers from the '80s could output a VGA signal, including:-

But for the vast majority that didn't produce a VGA signal you need an upscaler. Computers that only had RF output, such as the ZX81, ZX Spectrum, Tandy Color Computer etc. will need modifications to get composite or RGB output.

Cheap composite to VGA upscalers are available on eBay (eg.AV to VGA HD Converter). Alternatively you could just use a small LCD TV (which often also have VGA input).

For RGB to VGA the cheapest solution is the Gonbes GBS8200. Like most upscalers it has some artifacting and frame lag, but this can be reduced by overriding the onboard controller with a custom programmed MCU.

  • I've had great luck using modern TV's that accept YPbPr component input. I was able to take the Composite video from my Laser 128 and connect it directly to the Y (Luma) and display black and white without any problem. I suspect this is a function of how good the TV is, and you sacrifice color... but it does seem to work. – Geo... Nov 1 '19 at 15:59
  • @Geo... I also use component input (YPbPr) on modern displays for retro machines. It's automatically 15.7kHz compatible. You just need a (relatively) simple converter to go from RGB to component, vice needing to upscale to higher scan rates. – Brian H Nov 1 '19 at 21:07
  • My LED TV has component inputs but they only work in interlace. So I bought a component to HDMI converter - same problem. – Bruce Abbott Nov 2 '19 at 1:00
  • “a small LCD TV” which is practically the same as “a small LCD monitor”, besides having some adapters and a TV tuner included. The TVs I encountered all had VGA and RGB Scart, I have the suspicion that most TV vendors use the same supplier for the adapter technology, so that’s the simplest solution. Especially for the Amiga, I’d use a device with RGB Scart input rather than a Flicker Fixer + VGA… – Holger Dec 12 '19 at 10:37
  • @Holger You must live in Europe. Unfortunately in other parts of the world SCART is virtually non-existent. I was lucky enough to find a Samsung Syncmaster 940mw at a charity shop here in New Zealand. Unfortunately the upscaler in it is not very good - it appears to convert the RGB to YUV with low resolution, and even after tweaking the hidden upscalar parameters it still has too much edge 'enhancement' (partially solved by putting capacitors across the RGB inputs to reduce bandwidth). – Bruce Abbott Dec 12 '19 at 17:58

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