Questions tagged [hardware]

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

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Why did Western Digital name their drives “Caviar”? [closed]

I'm asking in Retrocomputing because the Caviar line of HDDs was released in the most recent era of retrocomputing. Does anyone know why they named the line "Caviar"? Why do they associate Sturgeons ...
16
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4answers
5k views

Why are old computers so vulnerable to temperature changes and moisture?

Interesting discussion by someone thinking of procuring a PDP-11/34, though having difficulty finding suitable space for it: https://www.reddit.com/r/retrobattlestations/comments/dztvci/...
3
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3answers
415 views

What was stored in memory that was “unavailable to BASIC”?

On home / personal computers (such as before 1984), a machine might be described as having 24k RAM, but only 18k of that available to BASIC. If the machine had BASIC and the OS (or BIOS) stored in ROM,...
8
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2answers
1k views

Did any 360-compatible machine implement registers in core?

In the early days of transistors, when they cost on the order of a dollar each, it was possible to implement CPU registers with magnetic cores (the technology used for main memory at the time) instead ...
6
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4answers
413 views

Were there any games/software that used a resolution or resolution-mode higher than what was advertised available on the machine?

Were there any games/software that used a resolution or resolution-mode higher than what was advertised available on the machine ? On home / personal computers between anytime - 1984 . Without ...
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3answers
294 views

Were there any games/software that used memory beyond what was advertised available to BASIC on the machine?

Were there any games/software that used memory beyond what was advertised as available to BASIC on the machine ? On home / personal computers any time before 1984 . Without needing to plug in any ...
12
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3answers
1k views

Getting data from Seagate ST-238R drive

Hello: I have an old Seagate ST-238R drive. I'm the original owner and it stopped working in the early-90s when I foolishly deleted system files to make room for a football game. (I was 12 at the time)...
8
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3answers
922 views

How to implement bus sharing / DMA on a 6502 system

Was it possible for NMOS based 6502 system operate in the following fashion: while 6502 is not touching the bus one custom chip sets up memory read op, then two chips read the data off the bus at the ...
3
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0answers
277 views

What is the cause of Trent's circuit board strategy? [closed]

For those of you who are unaware, professional speedrunner Trent Hall discovered a now banned strategy in Goldeneye 007. This strategy (called Trent's Circuit Board Strategy) consisted of plugging a ...
1
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1answer
222 views

Estimating contents of old printed circuit boards

I am sorry, if this is not a good place to ask, but is there any general rule of thumb about how much precious metals could you expect to get out from 197x(?) printed circuit boards, especially Soviet ...
20
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3answers
2k views

What does it take to recreate microchips like 68000 and 6502 in their original process nodes nowadays?

I am trying to figure out what type of machines could be used to reconstruct these chips nowadays. It doesn't need to use exactly the same machines used to build them, it's just that the product ...
5
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0answers
86 views

IBM terminal schematics

I'm searching for the electronics schematics for IBM terminals 3477 and 3486. I've already googled for it without success. I've to mend this hw and the power side seems ok but doesn't function, so I ...
3
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1answer
138 views

Did the IBM Game Control Adapter have I/O port aliases?

I was taking a look at the logic diagram in the manual for the original IBM game port adapter card: In the upper-left corner of the schematic, there is the circuitry responsible for decoding the I/O ...
5
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1answer
166 views

How did this coordinate capture peripheral work? [duplicate]

From an 80s Royal Air Force recruitment video, a peripheral is shown and it is used to capture coordinates off a map, onto a computer, for the flight plan to be written on a casette, for loading on ...
11
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4answers
2k views

Amiga 500 OCS/ECS vs Mega Drive VDP

Superficially the Amiga 500 and Mega Drive are similar. Both run a Motorola 68000 CPU at similar clocks and both have dedicated hardware for sprite and other graphics operations. Comparing the arcade ...
39
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4answers
7k views

When did computers stop checking memory on boot?

I remember my old 8088 used to do this (640K OK) but can't remember seeing anything like this since. Does this still happen and it's just not visible? If not, when did it stop, and why? (Imagining ...
4
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4answers
262 views

Are there standard DIN pinouts for cassette and video ports on early Japanese 8-bit computers?

I have several different Japanese 8-bit computers, and they use similar DIN connectors for video and cassette I/O: Composite video: 180° 5-pin DIN: Fujitsu FM-7, NEC PC-8001mkII Color TTL (digital) ...
33
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3answers
3k views

Why did the VIC-II and SID use 6 µm technology in the era of 3 µm and 1.5 µm?

In short, 3 µm looks like it was the "standard" process size at the time, and it was available to Commodore before the chips were designed. Therefore it looks like using the larger 5 to 7 µm process ...
10
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2answers
1k views

Small RAM 4 KB on the early Apple II?

Most of the reference material for the Apple II that I have seen refers to the 4116 RAM chip which held 16x1 kbit. This provided 16, 32 or 48 KB in banks of 8 chips. The Apple II motherboard layout ...
6
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1answer
220 views

Digital PCB Plans for Retro Computers

I use software like Fritzing or Autodesk EAGLE to draw my Raspberry Pi or Arduino projects and was wondering if there is a source for PCB plans of for example an Amiga 500 in a format readable for ...
10
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3answers
457 views

What are the Ultra-Highres registers in ECS and AGA for?

The Amiga custom chip set, in its ECS and AGA versions, seems to contain some registers for what is called an "Ultra-HighRes/DUAL" mode: DFF078 SPRHDAT W Ext. logic UHRES sprite pointer and ...
1
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3answers
252 views

When was Tantalum first used in computing?

I know that nowadays Tantalum is very common in computer components, specifically capacitors, due to its desirable electrical properties. I'm curious when it was first used specifically in the ...
4
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2answers
297 views

Reference material for building a DIY Stack Computer from Logic Gates

I've been following Ben Eater's series of videos about designing a small computer from discrete logic gates, I'm curious if there is a similar tutorial/book/reference for building a stack computer. I ...
12
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1answer
335 views

How did restarts resolve parity errors triggered by broken core-rope wires?

In his account of the history of the Apollo Guidance Computer, Don Eyles describes the role of a parity bit as follows (p. 80): ... if one of those hair thin wires in our woven core-rope memory ...
7
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3answers
640 views

What were the first chips with hardware support for SPI?

The SPI four-wire serial bus is a very common interface between chips and other small devices these days, but was originally developed by Motorola in the mid-1980s. What were the first Motorola and ...
9
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7answers
945 views

Low-cost sound chip

I want to make a homebrew 8-bit computer and I want to include a sound chip in it. It needs to be as cheap as possible (under 5$) and I also want it to be possibly controlled by an Arduino or ATmega-...
4
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1answer
146 views

Was there any VIC-20 expansion to bring memory beyond the default maximum of 40 KiB?

The Commodore 64 was very flexible in terms of how RAM could be controlled. ROMs and I/O devices could easily be swapped out by setting bits in the first two addresses of memory. The VIC-20's ROMs and ...
22
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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
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1answer
94 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 ...
7
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2answers
476 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
111 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
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1answer
101 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
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1answer
257 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
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1answer
136 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
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3answers
441 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
869 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
515 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?
5
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4answers
271 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
885 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
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2answers
276 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
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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
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1answer
118 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
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1answer
386 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
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0answers
147 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-...
28
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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 ...
47
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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?
10
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4answers
293 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
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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
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0answers
81 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
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2answers
1k 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 ...