Questions tagged [hardware]

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

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14
votes
1answer
569 views

Did the Macintosh Classic series use DMA to display video?

I'm learning more and more on how the original Macintosh series worked. I can't, however, find information in my research on how the Mac's video generator accessed the video RAM. My assumption is ...
13
votes
5answers
598 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 ...
14
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4answers
1k views

How can a computer use the drive's momentum for emergency power?

I remember reading an answer about a computer that, in the event of a power failure, would write the important parts of the memory to disk - using the momentum of the still-spinning drive to do so. ...
17
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2answers
1k views

Power cycling old hardware

For those of us that use an old computer daily, is it safer for the hardware if the machines are turned off every night, or should they be left on? I assume that powering up is more stressful for the ...
24
votes
4answers
3k views

What register size did early computers use?

Prompted by this question querying the prevalence of byte-addressable memory on machines with 32 bit registers: Why is every address in a micro-controller only 8 bits in size? I'm familiar with the ...
22
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3answers
3k 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
250 views

Checking if RAM is functional

I'm trying to revive an old travelMate 518tx and I'm currently in the process of searching for bottlenecks. I want to check if the RAM sticks are still functional or not, but they're both very old, ...
13
votes
1answer
650 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 ...
10
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2answers
770 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 ...
3
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2answers
263 views

External power supply for 16.5V portable computer (Zenith SupersPort 286e)

I have acquired a Zenith SupersPort 286e portable computer without its battery and the external power supply unit seems dead (corrosion and/or leaking capacitors). The problem is that the power suppy ...
3
votes
1answer
137 views

Zenith SupersPort 286e doesn't boot at all

I have acquired a Zenith SupersPort 286e without its battery but with its (seemingly working) power supply. Sadly, the computer doesn't boot at all, nothing happens when I flick the On/Off switch. ...
12
votes
5answers
2k views

Can I run Windows 98 and games from the same era on an AMD Duron CPU?

I have acquired an old motherboard with a socket 462 and a AMD Duron (I think its a "Spitfire" model 3). The copyright on the CPU is from 1999 and it apparently doesn't require a dedicated CPU fan as ...
12
votes
1answer
902 views

Upgrades for the TRS-80 Model 100 portable

The TRS-80 Model 100 portable officially allowed for RAM expansion to 32k and an external acoustic coupler for the model. What other upgrades and peripherals exist for the Model 100? I had one of ...
12
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2answers
3k views

Computer graphics before the modern GPU [closed]

Modern computers use a graphics processing unit in order to provide hardware-accelerated graphical operations. Conceptually, I am used to thinking about graphics as a bidimensional array of ...
7
votes
1answer
436 views

Is there a KiCad library with parts used in retrocomputers?

I ran into this question a few times and couldn't find any acceptable answer: Once I was trying to reverse engineer a card that had chips like Intel's 8255 PPI, 8226 bus drivers and some other ICs. I ...
3
votes
2answers
437 views

Clonezilla SCSI HDD cloning problem

I'm trying to clone or take images of old SCSI hard disks. I use Clonezilla and at the last phase, it's written "no input". This is for 68 pin SCSI HDD. In another case, I can't see the hard disk at ...
13
votes
1answer
336 views

Which FPU for my Mac?

I have an LC III that has been overclocked to 33.3 MHz. I'm not sure what speed FPU I should buy - do I match the clock speed, or the bus speed? What kind of FPU should I put in this one?
4
votes
2answers
479 views

Why do mac LC network cards take an FPU?

I have several LC PDS network cards for my older LC's and they all have a socket which I assume is for an FPU... Given that I might be able to obtain said FPU for a few bucks, does anyone know what ...
29
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2answers
3k views

How does the NES Light Gun work?

Modern motion detection video game systems (Wii/Wii U, Xbox Kinect, PS Move, etc.) need sensors to read for motion and user input. However, when you play Duck Hunt (and some other games) on the NES, ...
6
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2answers
1k views

Why have computers used so many different video connectors? [closed]

Over the years and with the large variety of hardware I've dealt with I've used quite a few of different video inputs and outputs. While I usually have no issue just plugging cables into devices, I ...
4
votes
2answers
133 views

Macintosh LC III Internal Speaker not working

I have an LC III that I had recapped, both the power supply and logic board were recapped and cleaned, on receiving it back everything worked with flying colors, but now (only a week later) the ...
12
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3answers
3k 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?
12
votes
2answers
918 views

How did Mode 3 on the Amstrad CPC work?

The Amstrad CPC had three official screen modes: Mode 0: 160x200, 16 colours, 4 bits per colour, 2 wide pixels per byte, bit-interleaved Mode 1: 320x200, 4 colours, 2 bits per colour, 4 square pixels ...
26
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2answers
2k views

Why did connecting the IBM PC 3.5" FDD backwards cause the problems it did?

When the 3.5" FDD was introduced for the IBM PC and compatibles (or possibly earlier), someone made a decision to make the data cable between the controller and drive unkeyed. This, of course, meant ...
7
votes
3answers
460 views

Advantages to installing a parallel port in a C1541-family drive other than speed

Are there any advantages to installing a parallel port in a C1541-family drive and using a parallel cable to a PC to image disks, other than increased speed (i.e. since the standard IEC protocol is ...
6
votes
1answer
337 views

What is this (seemingly optional) box around my Sun's idprom chip?

I just replaced the idprom (AKA NVRAM + battery; I used an ST M48T08-100PC1) in my Sun SPARCstation 20. The original one was inside a rectangular holder with a tab on each short end; it had ...
4
votes
2answers
269 views

iMac G3 - AirPort Card Port

What kind of port did the iMac G3 use for its wireless AirPort card? What kind of speeds were supported? My G3 has an 802.11b 2.4GHz band card and I am wondering if I can upgrade to a faster card (...
12
votes
1answer
541 views

Why was the audio output of the SID6581 so variable between chips?

Each of the SID6581s I have tested sound different, particularly when it comes to filter cutoffs and distortion. What are the causes of these variances?
8
votes
1answer
801 views

Testing/using a joystick in AppleSoft?

How does one use joysticks in a program on the Apple //? I have three different joysticks here and I would like to visualize their state (pot and button values), maybe similar to the SDL joystick ...
17
votes
3answers
1k views

The smell of a computer while unboxing it

Don't know if this is on-topic, but I will give it a chance to go. If you feel this is off-topic, act accordingly. Recently, a discussion has started about the feelings associated to the unboxing of ...
26
votes
1answer
2k views

How can I take an image of a 50-pin SCSI hard-drive

I have two 50-pin SCSI hard-drives that I need to image. However, after spending quite a while searching across the Internet, I cannot find any adapters to convert the 50-pin connector to something ...
27
votes
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 ...
8
votes
1answer
318 views

What software supported the Mockingboard on the Apple II?

Is there a list somewhere? Might be nice to compile a list here. I'm assuming mostly games but also music and educational software made use of it.
28
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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 ...
20
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4answers
3k views

How did the Amiga 500 left-side expansion port work?

On the Amiga 500 there is an expansion port How did the expansion port work?
12
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3answers
347 views

Pair Am386 with i387

I've got a motherboard with a Am386/DX processor. I've also got an Intel 387 coprocessor. Is it possible to use the Intel 387 that I've got together with the Am386 or do I need a coprocessor from AMD?...
16
votes
1answer
1k views

How did the Epyx Fast Load cart work with a Commdore 64?

Why would adding a cart in your system suddenly speed up the C64 or the 1541 for loading games?
14
votes
1answer
576 views

Any difference between a VIC-1541 and a C64-1541?

I have both a beige VIC-20 styled VIC-1541 disk drive and the later brown C64 1541 drive. Is there a difference between them (besides how they look)?
14
votes
3answers
985 views

How do I connect a modern display, keyboard, and mouse to a Power Macintosh 6100?

I recently got a Apple Power Macintosh 6100 for free. It powers up and seems to work, so I want to try it out and see what it's like. Unfortunately, the important ports and connectors are "non-...
12
votes
1answer
557 views

Dumping and sharing software for old Sharp calculator

I have an old programmable Sharp calculator (Sharp EL-9000 SUPER SCIENTIFIC) which I used extensively back in the day. I would like to dump all the software I wrote, and be able to share it. I ...
22
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5answers
2k views

How do you open an SE/30? (a.k.a. what is a “pull-apart tool”?)

I have been trying to work out how to open a Mac SE/30, in order to have a better look at its internal condition. I have the repair manual, and in the "Take Apart" section it references a "pull-apart ...
27
votes
3answers
2k views

What are the differences between a PAL and NTSC C64?

A lot of programs released for the Commodore 64 contained different software for the PAL or NTSC computer. Why did they have different versions of the hardware? Did the software have to be different ...
24
votes
3answers
3k views

Adapting a “modern” keyboard to a ZX Spectrum

Is there a way, such a specific interface adapter, which would allow me to connect a PS/2 keyboard to an original ZX Spectrum? I expect the keyboard to work similarly to the ZX Spectrum itself -- in ...
20
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3answers
1k views

Documentation for the ZX Spectrum ULA

I am writing a Spectrum emulator, however I am finding it difficult to find official or reliable information about the ULA, its functioning and its pins. Are there official sources documenting its ...