Questions tagged [hardware]

Retro hardware generally: boards, extension cards, power supplies, peripherals. Use more specific tags as appropriate; use [case] instead for enclosures.

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6 votes
1 answer
798 views

When were other inexpensive computers able to recreate "The Amiga Juggler"?

The Amiga Juggler was the 2nd very popular demo to appear for the Amiga Computer early in its lifespan. The demo was created by Eric Graham (who went on to develop Sculpt3D) using raytracing to both ...
5 votes
2 answers
418 views

How many 6SN7 tubes did it take to store a bit?

One of the most important components of a computer is a circuit called a flip-flop, which has two stable states (that it can flip-flop between, hence the name); it is used for temporary storage of a ...
21 votes
12 answers
6k views

640x480 color display in 1980

I'm working on an alternate history story in which the protagonists, Silicon Valley computer entrepreneurs, are trying to release a graphical workstation in 1980, with the capability of displaying ...
6 votes
3 answers
498 views

Could monochrome systems produce better output for monitors than TV sets?

Many classic computers could optionally use a TV set as the display. At least in the early (pre-SCART) days, the TV would typically only have RF input, but if you were using a monitor, you could get a ...
7 votes
1 answer
345 views

Was the Ram Turbo the only 3rd party Interface 2 ROM cartridge interface for the ZX Spectrum or were there others?

One of the original Sinclair peripherals for the ZX Spectrum was the Interface 2 which provided joystick ports and also a slot for ROM cartridges: The cartridges did not catch on though and only ...
12 votes
0 answers
229 views

Was there a hard disk type that had a SMART overflow crash/bug?

A data center employee told me a story about 25 years ago, explaining why that data center took some time to assemble a RAID array. Recently, I wasn't able to verify the facts by googling, and I may ...
42 votes
3 answers
5k views

Was AGP only ever used for graphics cards?

Reading on the AGP spec, the little bits I've found on sites like https://old.pinouts.ru/Slots/agp_pinout.shtml, say: The Accelerated Graphics Port (also called Advanced Graphics Port) is a high-...
10 votes
2 answers
795 views

Information about the Hollywood Hardware Graphics Card for Apple II+

I still have a Hollywood Hardware graphics card that I used in my Apple II+ back-in-the-day. It was my understanding that this was the graphics card used for the special effects in the first three ...
1 vote
4 answers
178 views

I found an apple IIe without a power supply where can i find one [closed]

I found an apple IIe without a power supply where can i find one also any tips on where i can find other parts for it. Btw i know nothing about Retrocomputers.
5 votes
2 answers
360 views

What would it take for a 6502 system to use an 8 bit ISA bus

I've built 6502 computer on an ISA card: To access the bus it decodes the following 6502address ranges $0200-$03FF mapped at I/O address $00200-003ff (IOR; IOW) $4000-$BFFF mapped at ISA address $...
15 votes
3 answers
2k views

What is the history and development of memory caching?

I have tried to research the history and development of memory caching online, but I find it hard to find good information. Many resources online would have you believe caching was introduced with ...
6 votes
2 answers
466 views

Why did the Vic-20 need special chips for I/O?

The Vic-20 used two 6522 VIA chips for I/O. I asked why it had two of them but thanks to a comment from Bruce Abbott, I now think that wasn't quite the question I needed to ask. What I really need to ...
8 votes
4 answers
611 views

Could the 6502 have worked with an Altair-style front panel?

I have fond memories of programming the 6502, though I never did any hardware hacking with it. I notice that the Altair, with its iconic front panel, was based on the Intel 8080, and from then on, ...
1 vote
1 answer
376 views

Why audio of Prince of Persia (1989) produce in CPU rather than audio speaker? [closed]

I used to play this Prince of Persia (1989) in Pentinum III computer. But audio of Prince of Persia (1989) produce in CPU rather than audio speakers. Why?
9 votes
1 answer
1k views

What was the first computer board to be wave-soldered?

The Wikipedia article on wave soldering does not give any information on its history. What was the first computer circuit board to use this process? I am specifically looking for computers that were ...
8 votes
1 answer
584 views

Did the Timex Sinclair 2068 and the Sinclair ZX Interface 2 use totally different hardware and software techniques?

Sinclair released an add-on for the Spectrum called the ZX Interface 2 that provided joystick ports and a cartridge slot. It wasn't successful and only a few cartridges were ever produced. In the US, ...
-4 votes
1 answer
319 views

If I build a new CPU architecture, how would an OS like Linux know how to run it? [closed]

I am trying to build a CPU from scratch (from NOR gates) in an emulator first, then on breadboard. (Inspired by nand2tetris and Ben Eater) Just trying to understand how things work. Now, as my CPU ...
9 votes
1 answer
794 views

On Amiga, what happens when I write to $DFC5A0 by mistake?

I'm fixing a game (TV Sports Basketball) that tries to write in audio data (using the range $DFF0A0 to $DFF0D0) but for some reason (bad programming), the index is sometimes (not always) bogus MOVEA.L ...
138 votes
4 answers
43k views

It's now safe to turn off your computer

One thing I remember very well from my childhood is the screen you got at the end of a shutdown process on old computers: I don't know if this was a Windows 95/98/2000/ME only thing but I wonder why ...
-3 votes
3 answers
573 views

Were there ever plans published, or kits, or a machine made, for a noughts-and-crosses computer game which did not use electronics? [closed]

Were there ever plans published, or kits, or a machine made, for a noughts-and-crosses computer game which did not use electronics – using only wire, an electricity source, and light bulbs ? . A ...
27 votes
3 answers
7k views

In what ways was the Soviet Strela computer "designed to function during a nuclear winter"? Or at least parts of it?

From Strela computer: Strela computer (Russian: ЭВМ Стрела, arrow) was the first mainframe computer manufactured serially in the Soviet Union, beginning in 1953. This first-generation computer had ...
16 votes
2 answers
2k views

Were there any enhancement chips that vastly outperformed the main CPU?

Were there any enhancement chips in officially-released games that were CPUs themselves and which ran the game code itself, relegating the role of the main CPU to that of a thin client? To elaborate, ...
7 votes
3 answers
694 views

How can I tell if my old PC supports > 137 GB hard drives?

I have an old PC from 1999 that has an ASUS P5A motherboard. When I power it on, it says ASUS P5A ACPI BIOS Revision 1011 Beta 005 and 05/02/2002-ALADDIN5-<<P5A>>: I recently read that up ...
10 votes
0 answers
476 views

How would toggling a bit in the POWCNT1 register cause hardware damage on the Nintendo DS?

From GBATEK, writes to a certain I/O port for power management may damage hardware: 4000304h - NDS9 - POWCNT1 - Graphics Power Control Register (R/W) 0 Enable Flag for both LCDs (0=Disable) (...
6 votes
1 answer
349 views

Were vertical monitor arcade games programmed differently from those with horizontal monitors?

Many classic arcade games like Pac Man (Namco 1980), Assault (Namco 1988), Mercs (Capcom 1990), etc, use a monitor oriented vertically. I assume that they used the same physical hardware, with the ...
7 votes
3 answers
1k views

Why 18 expansion slots on the Altair 8800?

The Altair 8800 had a backplane with 18 connectors for S-100 cards. Why was the number 18 particularly chosen? It is fairly common for a computer to have the number of expansion cards be a power of 2,...
4 votes
2 answers
441 views

Why do computer rooms no longer have raised floors? [closed]

As I understand it, computer rooms in the days of mainframes and minicomputers, commonly had raised floors, so that the space under the floor could be used for power cables and cool air. I'm not clear ...
90 votes
20 answers
19k views

Have programming languages driven hardware development?

Programming language development has been influenced by hardware design. One example from this answer mentions how C pointers were, at least in part, influenced by the design of the PDP-11. Has the ...
32 votes
17 answers
12k views

Was there a retro computer susceptible of being damaged only by issuing instructions at it?

The question 'Can a USR command damage a ZX Spectrum?' has led me to wonder if there was once a microcomputer that could actually be damaged by software. More specifically: Is there a case that a ...
12 votes
2 answers
2k views

Did the PDP-8 designers consider a stack?

The PDP-8 was a remarkable exercise in minimalist computer design; some of the aspects of its design are discussed in detail at PDP-8 transistor count One feature it did not have was a stack. Instead, ...
8 votes
2 answers
252 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 ...
15 votes
1 answer
754 views

Which computers used the Intel 82786 graphics chips, and what sort of commercial success did that chip attain?

In the late 1980's, Intel offered the 82786 graphics chip, with specific support for windowed environments. I remember it being covered in Byte magazine, but don't remember seeing any applications of ...
8 votes
0 answers
415 views

What did the Big Red Button actually do on the IBM 4341?

Wiktionary explains the origin of the term molly guard: Originally a Plexiglas cover improvised for the Big Red Switch on an IBM 4341 mainframe after a programmer's toddler daughter (named Molly) ...
16 votes
5 answers
1k views

What is known about the Wang VS series CPUs?

I'm trying to do research about the Wang VS series, and there's very little on these computers on the internet (as the company was effectively dead before the internet era, this is hardly shocking). ...
26 votes
4 answers
3k views

When you type on a computer terminal, how are the characters displayed on the screen?

Assume that the following computer terminal is connected to a large computer: When I type something on the keyboard (for example: pwd), is it the computer terminal the one that receives the ...
3 votes
2 answers
422 views

Did any 8-bit disk drive screen off the hardware? [closed]

The Commodore 1541 floppy drive was a separate computer in its own right, with its own 6502 CPU. It was designed that way because they were basically copying the design from the Vic, partly due to a ...
17 votes
4 answers
2k views

Mind-Controller User Input from the late 90s

In the late 1990's, I recall that there was a piece of hardware being demonstrated in Best Buy that supposedly allowed you to control your computer via signals sent from your brain. The way it worked ...
31 votes
10 answers
11k views

Should 486s have a heatsink?

I'm building a 486 computer. I plan on using a 100 MHz 486-DX4 that I have which I believe is about as fast as 486's went. The motherboard I will use (Socket 3) appears to support putting a heatsink ...
10 votes
2 answers
552 views

Simulating a 8085 using a Z80?

I am studying the replacement of a 8085 with a Z80 (I am aware that they are not pin-compatible, the solution is to be made in a board of new design rather than on the old board). The sole reason is ...
18 votes
1 answer
2k views

How long did plasma displays persist?

I'm reading a book called The Friendly Orange Glow, about the PLATO multiuser computer system developed by the University of Illinois in the late sixties, which is fascinating at several levels as a ...
38 votes
4 answers
6k views

Why did so many early microcomputers use the MOS 6502 and variants?

Quite a few successful early microcomputers used the MOS 6502 CPU. This included, but was not limited to, systems like the Apple I, Apple II, Commodore PET, and Ataris. A followup known as the MOS ...
8 votes
7 answers
2k views

Why are symmetric bi-directional communication port cables not always crossover cables?

There are a number of bi-directional communication port standards in which cables are used to connect two identical ports, and usually those connect each pin of one port to the same pin of the other ...
15 votes
7 answers
2k views

Amiga floppy disks and GCR vs MFM

According to the Wikipedia article on GCR, the Commodore 1541 disk drive used a particularly efficient GCR encoding scheme to cram 170K onto the same 5.25" disks that in an Apple drive only ...
5 votes
1 answer
653 views

Who were the market for those "speed up your computer" shareware applications back in the day? [closed]

In the Swedish computer magazine PC Hemma ("Home PC") from February 1997 (p. 68), they included a floppy disk with shareware programs related to "trimming your PC", as well as a ...
2 votes
1 answer
298 views

When was fixed page size, flexible assignment bank switching patented?

The 8-bit microprocessors invented in the seventies, had a 16-bit address space. It didn't take long for memory demand to exceed this, with the result that bank switching was a fact of life for the ...
24 votes
1 answer
1k views

What is the difference between the "Return" and "Enter" keys in the VT100 terminal?

What is the difference between the "Return" and "Enter" keys in the VT100 terminal:
23 votes
8 answers
7k views

Why was computer memory so expensive and scarce?

Computer memory used to be a limited and expensive asset for a long while (for example, in computers with 16KiB RAM or less, compared to the 2 MiB of my first PC (an Intel 486) in 1995 and current day'...
28 votes
3 answers
21k views

Why do Game Boy Colors not want nickel-cadmium batteries?

This is a page from the manual for the Game Boy Color: There is no explanation as to why this is, or how this can be, but it claims that one must not use rechargeable nickel-cadmium batteries. Why is ...
28 votes
25 answers
4k views

Which computers had redefinable character sets?

My first computer was an Exidy Sorcerer, bought in the late '70s. It featured a full keyboard including lower case, on screen text of 64 B&W characters by 30 rows, 2 MHz z-80 processor, up to 48 ...
18 votes
1 answer
1k views

Does anyone know the specific differences between the NES-001 (NTSC) motherboard revisions?

On each Motherboard of an NES-001 (NTSC) there is a code: NES-CPU-xx These range from 04 to 11 (I think) I would like to know if these are all of the revisions of the NES and what major differences ...

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