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Questions tagged [hardware]

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

16
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6answers
3k 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
137 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 ...
42
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2answers
4k 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 ...
13
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3answers
2k views

Is it possible to expand Amiga 500 rev 8 to 1.5 MB with a 1MB trapdoor expansion?

Is it possible to expand an Amiga 500 rev 8 (not an Amiga 500 plus) to 1.5 MB of Chip RAM using an A501+ expansion? It is plug and play or are modifications required? This is the board: Source: ...
4
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2answers
213 views

Do all Econet devices need the same clock speed?

Econet was a network used by the BBC Micro, conceptually similar to Ethernet, two orders of magnitude slower and correspondingly cheaper. According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Econet it ...
12
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3answers
2k views

What is the benefit of increasing Amiga chip memory?

For example, an Amiga 500+ has 1MiB of chip memory, but it can be expanded to 2MiB. What would be the advantage?
26
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1answer
2k views

How do Amiga 600 CPU accelerators work?

The Amiga 1200 has a trapdoor expansion for CPU accelerators. The Amiga 500 has a side expansion port and its CPU is socketed. But Amiga 600's expansion port is only useful for memory expansion ...
26
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1answer
2k views

What are the Amiga 1200 timing fixes?

I have read that the Amiga 1200 may need certain "timing fixes" to be applied to the motherboard in order to use CPU accelerators. What are these timing fixes and why are they needed? Is there one ...
4
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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 ...
14
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1answer
631 views

What is the Kelly chip?

The Amiga 3000+ DevCon 1991 notes says: On the A3000+, these resources include the Amiga "Pandora" chip set (Alice, Lisa, Kelly, and Paula), However, a Kelly chip is not part of the official ...
2
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2answers
264 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, ...
12
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2answers
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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
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4answers
206 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 ...
3
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3answers
275 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
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1answer
240 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
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3answers
3k 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 ...
23
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3answers
2k views

Main board of the original Game & Watch (Ball)

The Game and Watch was a series of single-title games consoles created by Nintendo from 1980 until 1991. Each machine contained a custom LCD screen (containing images related to the software), some ...
0
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3answers
222 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 ...
2
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1answer
215 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 ...
17
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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 ...
8
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4answers
728 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
288 views

Is there a comparative analysis of the evolution paths of chips inheriting from TMS9918?

This is primarily about VDP from the Sega Master System game console and video chip from the MSX 2 series computers. Specifically about Yamaha YM2602 (aka Sega 315‑5124) and Yamaha V9938 respectively. ...
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20answers
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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 ...
2
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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
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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). ...
14
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4answers
5k views

Why plastic cases?

Early computers of the 'all in one' form factors, such as the Commodore PET, the early IBM microcomputers and later models of the TRS-80, as well as the 'box' form factors such as the Altair, used a ...
13
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5answers
565 views

What computer first facilitated multi-precision arithmetic

While early microcomputers were often 4- or 8-bit designs, with larger word sizes coming later, that pattern did not hold for their predecessors. None of the earliest computers used a word size that ...
18
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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 ...
5
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2answers
306 views

Method for adding firmware to a Commodore 64 expansion card?

The C64 expansion port can and does support multiple IO devices without conflicts. There is 0.5 KiB that is decoded for $DE00-$DFFF, using /IO1 and /IO2 on the expansion port. As long as the devices ...
9
votes
1answer
280 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 -...
15
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1answer
416 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 ...
3
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3answers
254 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
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1answer
97 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 ...
2
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5answers
516 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
219 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 ...
26
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9answers
8k 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 ...
14
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3answers
593 views

Can the CSG 65CE02 CPU be used to accelerate an Apple //e or //c?

The CSG 65CE02 is an improved 6502 microprocessor that was shipped in small quantities by Commodore around 1988. It is used in the Amiga A2232 multi-port serial controller card, and that would be the ...
4
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3answers
485 views

What was the first integrated PC compatible computer?

When IBM developed the PC, they famously chose a bunch of off-the-shelf components. Besides making the machine relatively easy to clone, another effect of this was it used a lot of chips and board ...
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4answers
257 views

Operating systems which have non-x86 instruction set architecture [closed]

What are the most famous operating systems for non-x86 computers? I mean, most famous OS which have different instruction set architecture. Background (to better understand my task): I ask this ...
23
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9answers
5k views

Graphics chips in 1980

Suppose you were trying to build a computer with a color graphics display in 1980, you have limited engineering resources and time to market is critical, so you want to get as many of the parts off ...
2
votes
3answers
329 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 ...
13
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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 ...
11
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2answers
678 views

What was the A1200 Flash ROM support meant for?

Question inspired by this answer's last paragraph: https://retrocomputing.stackexchange.com/a/1307/2155 The Revision 1 A1200 schematics show that the system originally had support for a two internal ...
4
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2answers
156 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 ...
50
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12answers
10k views

How big is a mainframe?

If you read about the history of computing, you'll hear how the first computers were "huge". You will often come across assertions that in the early days of commercial computing, a single computer ...
11
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8answers
2k views

Why did common floppies never advance past 1.4 MB in size?

The chronology of some early floppy standards was: 80 kB, 160 kB, 360 kB, 720 kB, 1.2 MB, finally 1.44 MB. (There were less common sizes such as 250 kB, 800 kB, ...
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7answers
3k views

Why not constant linear velocity floppies?

The outer tracks of a disk are longer than the inner tracks, and could therefore potentially hold more data. Constant angular velocity puts the same number of bits on every track, which wastes much of ...
7
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4answers
588 views

Amiga floppy disks and GCR vs MFM

According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Group_coded_recording 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 ...
4
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3answers
841 views

Parallel to serial conversion

Two very common connectors used in the eighties were the Centronics parallel port (particularly used for printers) and the RS-232 serial port (particularly used for mice and modems). Suppose you have ...