Questions tagged [hardware]

For questions about the components of retro devices (computers, etc.)

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22
votes
10answers
4k views

Why was hardware diversification an asset for the IBM PC ecosystem?

The IBM PC was cloned very early on, and many third parties made hardware peripherals. This required users to run an OS, install drivers, manage IRQs and hardware bus addresses, etc. Why was this a ...
2
votes
1answer
89 views

What's the required battery voltage within a DALLAS DS12C887+ RTC? [closed]

I am having some difficulty getting a board that has a Dallas Real Time Clock DS12C887+ to behave. Not sure if the problem is the RTC or not but am in the investigative stage and got the cross hairs ...
3
votes
1answer
301 views

First computer to have interactive text on a CRT?

What was the first computer to have interactive text on a CRT ? That the text on screen responded to key-presses without significant delay . I remember seeing some very early radar-installation CRT'...
3
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1answer
109 views

how can I connect a scanner with Centronics 50 output to USB?

How can I connect a Legacy scanner with a Centronics 50 output to a laptop with USB ?
1
vote
1answer
91 views

Atari 1040STFM PSU Hissing, high pitch sound when on

I have an Atari, which is working correctly, but the power supply makes this hissing noise as soon as it is turned on. What may cause it?
8
votes
1answer
221 views

Anyone have more information on the “Hammerstein TV Games” 1st gen console?

I have what appears to be an early games console (supported games are variations on the theme of "pong", or ball and paddle games) manufactured in South Africa. Does anyone have more information or ...
2
votes
1answer
117 views

Software Failure after RAM upgrade Amitek Hawk

I have Amitek Hawk for my A1200, the board came with wrong RAM and apps were crashing with 8003 Guru error. After contacting the seller I was told by mistake wrong SIMM was shipped and I received a ...
8
votes
3answers
378 views

Why do Early DRAMs (e.g. 4116) have a negative Column Address Set-up Time?

Early DRAMs have a multiplexed address bus. Briefly speaking, to access a word, one needs to... Put the row address on the bus, and latch it using the falling edge of /RAS signal. Put the column ...
7
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1answer
778 views

What is this Amiga 2000 mod?

I got an Amiga 2000, board Rev. 6 Does anyone know what is is? (click to enlarge)
11
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1answer
488 views

What is this Amiga 1200 mod?

I got an Amiga 1200 off ebay and it works great, board looks perfect, no leakage, no bad traces, nothing, and yet I have this mysterious mod I've never seen before. Does anyone know what it is?
4
votes
3answers
170 views

How did console flexowriters connect to their computers?

Several early computers (e.g., KDF9, LGP30) used Friden Flexowriters for console functions. What was the nature of the connection between the Flexowriter and the computer? Was this something we ...
10
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3answers
831 views

Did Apple bundle a specific monitor with the Apple II+ for schools?

Sometime in 1980 (or maybe 1981) my school district purchased its first batch of Apple II+ computers. I remember vividly they had absolutely no idea what to do with them, and so the machines were ...
2
votes
2answers
203 views

How exactly do all control signals in 6502 work?

I'm trying to make a 6502 replica in Logisim. I want to know what exactly each control signal in 6502, how the clock cycles work and additionally I would like to see an example of these control ...
20
votes
1answer
2k views

Why was it possible to cause an Apple //e to shut down with SHIFT and paddle button 2?

Looking at the MAME driver for the Apple //e, I noticed an interesting comment: NOTE: On real IIe and IIe enhanced h/w, pressing SHIFT and paddle button 2 will short out the power supply and cause ...
2
votes
1answer
113 views

can i build a colecovision ac adapter

Can I use multiple small AC adaptors to make a working Colecovision AC adaptor? For example, two 5V, one 12V and the ground. Colecovision AC adaptors are too expensive.
9
votes
1answer
270 views

How did the Zip Chip and RocketChip accelerators work for the Apple II?

Though there is already a similar question on the site, this one is more specific to these chips and their technical implementation. There were two accelerators for the Apple II series that were drop-...
2
votes
0answers
138 views

Would anyone have made a mechanical, or electronic camera for their computer or robot? [duplicate]

Would anyone have made a mechanical, or electronic camera for their computer or robot ? Parameters Of The Question As a home-project [ Although, any example of a mechanical-tv-camera or mechanical-...
29
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9answers
9k views

How did early x86 BIOS programmers manage to program full blown TUIs given very few bytes of ROM/EPROM?

I've always wondered how so much functionality and relative luxuries(CMOS Configuration Utilities. See: https://geekprank.com/bios/ for an example) included with most popular x86 BIOSes could be ...
43
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5answers
15k views

What did the 'turbo' button actually do?

I remember the computer I played Commander Keen on as a child had a turbo button that I was forbidden to touch, what did this button actually do?
11
votes
4answers
274 views

Preventing socketed chip corrosion?

I spent a couple hours repairing an Amiga A3000 that wouldn't boot yesterday. The fix was to remove Kickstart ROMs, clean the DIP leads and sockets with contact cleaner, and re-insert. Apparently a ...
12
votes
3answers
4k views

When did game consoles begin including FPUs?

Floating-point coprocessors (FPUs) were an expensive, niche, add-on product for early desktop and home computers. but became commonplace by the mid-1990s, as they began to be included within the most ...
4
votes
0answers
80 views

Backlight inverter failure on TI Travelmate

I picked up a TI Travelmate 4000E for free and it worked perfectly using my AC adapter(genuine TI one from another 4000E). The backlight fires up full brightness for about a second, then dies. ...
13
votes
2answers
976 views

What was the design of the Macintosh II's MMU replacement?

I am in the process of repairing a Macintosh II and trying to understand the design rationale behind Apple's MMU replacement part installed in this machine. As you can see in the picture, there is a ...
1
vote
1answer
254 views

Refactoring Old Printer Driver for Current Linux Kernel [closed]

I have an old Lexmark 1100 printer (parallel port LPT1) that is currently working fine on Windows 98. I've tried to make it work on several current distros of Linux but, so far, none worked. Basically,...
26
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6answers
5k views

Why weren't discrete x86 CPUs ever used in game hardware?

Please don't point out APUs with x86_64 cores used in current generation game consoles, these are not part of the question I cannot recall a single arcade system or game console that ever used x86 ...
3
votes
1answer
168 views

IBM 650 - how many logic gates?

How many logic gates did the IBM 650 have? I'm used to measuring the complexity of a CPU by transistor count, but the 650 was a vacuum tube machine; the number of tubes would also be an interesting ...
44
votes
2answers
5k views

Why did the IBM 650 use bi-quinary?

The IBM 650, announced in 1953, was the world's first mass-produced computer. It represented numbers in decimal, which is understandable, both because it needed to work with exact money amounts, and ...
3
votes
2answers
345 views

How did 2-chip CPUs work?

The 1970s saw a big transition from CPUs built from thousands of discrete components, to CPUs implemented on a single chip, with the occasional use of bit-slice components along the way. There were, ...
4
votes
6answers
3k views

Were any external disk drives stacked vertically?

There was a time when floppy disk drives were big, expensive devices that in many cases, instead of being components of a computer, would be separate machines connected by a cable, in some cases with ...
4
votes
4answers
263 views

Did the PC/AT-bus use its expanded address space?

The system bus of the IBM PC had 8 data lines and 20 address lines, in a logical correspondence to the 8088 CPU. The AT added a second inline edge connector to expand this to 16 data lines and 24 ...
5
votes
3answers
298 views

Were there computers whose text touched( or came close to ) the overscan border? [closed]

QUESTION - . Were there computers whose text in text-mode, touched( or came close to ) the overscan border, and could this sometimes result in some of the computer-generated-display not being ...
4
votes
1answer
265 views

Did the 286 go out of its way to follow the 8088 bus protocol?

In general, different CPUs don't use the same bus protocol. A 16-bit CPU would not in general be expected to use the same protocol as an 8-bit CPU. For example, the 68000 would not be expected to use ...
20
votes
3answers
4k views

Did arcade monitors have same pixel aspect ratio as TV sets?

It is well known that when emulating classic games on modern displays, you need to be careful not to distort the aspect ratio. Generally speaking, CRT screens were 4:3, and specific pixel aspect ...
0
votes
3answers
239 views

How were early computer monitor signals used to breach security? [duplicate]

In the mid 80's, several national news outlets showed people able to reproduce a computer's monitor's screen at least 100ft away. 1) How were early computers compromised like this? 2) Were there ...
18
votes
3answers
4k views

When did hardware antialiasing start being available?

An important step towards 3D gaming was the ability to scale sprites or tiles by nonintegral factors. Examples of the former from the eighties were the arcade games Pole Position, Outrun, Space ...
2
votes
1answer
245 views

SNES PPU die photo

The heart of many classic home computers and game consoles was the graphics chip, yet these tend to be less well-documented than the corresponding CPUs. Still, there are die photos of two of the most ...
2
votes
0answers
104 views

How to reset/recover password on Ascend/Lucent “SuperPipe 155” ISDN router

I am trying to set up a second-hand 1990s era Ascend/Lucent "SuperPipe 155" ISDN router for use with some of my 90s era computers, but I don't know the router's password and the instructions I found ...
16
votes
3answers
4k views

Why did the Cray-1 have 8 parity bits per word?

According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cray-1 The Cray-1 was built as a 64-bit system, a departure from the 7600/6600, which were 60-bit machines (a change was also planned for the 8600). ...
18
votes
1answer
3k views

Did 5.25" floppies undergo a change in magnetic coating?

3.5" floppy disks, in the transition from 720K to 1.44M, changed the actual coating to a different compound that was magnetically 'stiffer'. This was necessary to support the higher density, but meant ...
8
votes
4answers
782 views

How much data could a home computer store on an audio cassette?

The use of audio cassettes for storing data for home computers was a great example of repurposing an existing invention. Cassettes were sold in a variety of capacities, and labelled with their audio ...
9
votes
1answer
310 views

Why can't special controllers or accessories be used with Super FX games?

SNES games with the Super FX processor generally do not support special controllers or accessories such as the Multi Player 5 multitap, SNES Mouse, or Super Scope. Yoshi's Island, for example, ...
13
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1answer
2k views

What are Holorydmachines?

While going through the memoirs of a witness of the Holocaust in Germany, I stumbled upon the passage: there in Rudolfstadt we had a new holorydmachine from the Americans - in the barn of a farmer -...
13
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2answers
2k views

Why did some CPUs use two Read/Write lines, and others just one?

Many 8-bit processors, such as Motorola's 6800 and MOS Technology's 6502 make use of a single pin to indicate to the rest of the system whether the CPU wishes to read from or write to a memory ...
3
votes
3answers
264 views

3 decimal digits per 10 bits

Early computers often had hardware support for decimal arithmetic. This was usually in the form of BCD, 1 decimal digit per 4 bits, e.g. the 6502 and Z80, tightly constrained by transistor count as ...
3
votes
1answer
107 views

Sam Coupé power supply heat

I have a Sam Coupé and the last time I turn it on, i noticed a smell of components overheating. After opening the power supply I came to the conclusion that is the resistance R1 (50ºc with IR ...
4
votes
6answers
729 views

Was it possible to send data over the phone-line without a modem?

Was it possible to send data over the phone-line without a modem? Clarification Was it possible to send data over the phone-line without a modem, either by connecting computers directly to the ...
2
votes
1answer
238 views

How to repair an old motherboard

I recently got some old motherboards. I was able to fix a damage caused by a leaked battery on a 486 board by soldering a bypass (to fix not working keyboard plug). Another board is in a good shape ...
12
votes
3answers
2k views

What was the first microprocessor to support full virtualization?

Virtual memory, which allows an operating system to run several machine code programs isolated from each other, came to the desktop during the eighties. But full virtualization, which lets the ...
4
votes
2answers
201 views

Single-stepping the Altair 8800

I've just been watching a rather interesting series of videos about the MITS Altair 8800. It has a button on the front panel to single-step the CPU one instruction at a time... Except that, on closer ...
2
votes
3answers
387 views

History of advanced hardware [closed]

Like most people, I grew up in the 1980s, and bore whitness to the great 8-bit home computer revolution. From where I'm sitting, "computers" started with slow 8-bit machines just powerful enough to ...