Questions tagged [history]

For questions concerning the history of computers, digital electronics, hardware manufacturers and software developers.

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
-2
votes
2answers
160 views

What’s the last x86 CPU that didn’t place a limit on the size of a single instruction?

Although useless, it’s widely known the first Intel and derivative CPUs like the Z80 didn’t set a limit on the instruction size. This means that it was possible to fill the whole RAM/ROM with a single ...
27
votes
14answers
6k views

History of non-American software/hardware/CS theory development, 1940s-1980s?

I am curious to learn about any developments in computer theory, hardware, and software that took place outside of the United States, in the middle of last century (~1940s-1980s). I have read 'Where ...
9
votes
2answers
1k views

What was the first preprocessor for a programming language?

A preprocessor is a tool that takes source code as input and outputs a modified version of it for input to a downstream tool, such as a compiler or interpreter. Preprocessors can be used to implement ...
1
vote
1answer
152 views

Is the 1920 CTR Printer-Lister a Ticketograph?

In an answer about screen formats Raffzahn wrote: "In 1920 the Tabulating Machine Company (originally The Hollerith Electric Tabulating System, now part of CTR Holding) introduced a new printer-...
5
votes
3answers
359 views

What were the Major Public Access Unix Systems Available in the 1980s-90s?

Back in the 1980s-90s, using a UNIX system required running expensive servers or paying for timesharing service, so they were beyond the reach of most individuals, and only available to members in ...
6
votes
0answers
237 views

Did Nintendo pay WDC for their use of the 65816 core?

When Nintendo used the 6502 core in the NES (as part of the Ricoh 2A03/2A07 microprocessor and sound generator), they circumvented the 6502's patent protection by disabling the BCD arithmetic. As a ...
18
votes
3answers
3k views

What happened to the 65832?

In his June 1985 foreword to Programming the 65816 by David Eyes and Ron Lichty, Bill Mensch expresses his hopes for a 6502-derived 32-bit microprocessor: the 65832. WDC is still thriving, but the ‘...
12
votes
4answers
3k views

Which are the earliest real-time text editors?

A real-time text editor is a program which facilitates editing text. In the process, the text is displayed on a screen, and the displayed text is updated after each key press. A commonly cited ...
0
votes
2answers
205 views

What is the brand and model of this AT chassis case from the early 90s?

A friend is trying find the original brand and model of this old 1990’s generic case. An ad from computershopper would help.
39
votes
4answers
3k views

What was the design rationale behind multi-port and multiple connections (and back-connections) designs of the early protocols like NFS or FTP?

Originally, the FTP protocol connected back from the server to a client to actually transfer files through that new connections. 14 years later after the introduction of the FTP, the 'passive mode' ...
0
votes
0answers
25 views

When did Apple deprecate or stop publishing the APIs for using HFS file forks other than the data and resource fork? [migrated]

Back in the day, one of the Quirks of the Macintosh OS was that files had two "forks", a "resource fork" which held resources used by software through dedicated resource APIs, and a "data fork", which ...
31
votes
7answers
10k views

How exactly did Windows become the OS of the home PC?

As far as I understand it, the whole personal computing revolution that Microsoft Windows did was not entirely by its own design. Is it true that the Windows OS at its core was originally designed to ...
22
votes
10answers
5k views

Why did the original design of COM on Windows rely on the registry?

In the early 1990s Microsoft introduced COM (Component Object Model) which was widely used in various programming environments including Visual Basic 5 & 6. Also known as ActiveX (or at least if ...
8
votes
1answer
342 views

How much time and how many people were required to develop Delphi version 1?

I would guess the compiler was primarily a modification of Borland's Turbo Pascal, while the Integrated Development Environment and Visual Component Library required a lot more development from ...
7
votes
1answer
132 views

Did the Samsung SPC-650 have any hardware or firmware differences to the genuine Sinclair Spectrum+?

There was a clone of the Sinclair Spectrum+ in South Korea called the Samsung SPC-650 that looks identical to original British version with just an extra model number/logo. It even retains the ...
8
votes
0answers
129 views

What proprietary AT&T code/features were removed in BSD Net1 (/2), and BSD 4.4 Lite (/2) from the original 4.3BSD codebase?

Background Although BSD and its source code was freely available under the original BSD licenses, but it only covered the portion of the code which copyright was owned by Regents of the University of ...
1
vote
0answers
68 views

Do we know any estimate of how many Sinclair ZX Spectrums, clones, and compatibles were made in the world?

The original ZX Spectrum was made by Sinclair and then by Amstrad in the UK. There were official versions also in the US, Europe and even India. There were very many clones and compatibles made in ...
2
votes
1answer
136 views

What 20th-century computers besides KDF9 replicated hardware for each concurrently-running program?

The KDF9 (English Electric, 1963) had a hardware option for timesharing. This provided four instances of most per-program context: the nest (16-deep expression evaluation stack), the subroutine jump ...
5
votes
1answer
273 views

Where did the lookup table in Entombed come from?

Entombed is an Atari 2600 game where you move through an infinite vertically-scrolling maze and try not to die. This maze is procedurally generated, with two bits from a PRNG (underlined) added each ...
31
votes
11answers
7k views

What “unusual” syntax assembly languages are/were there?

This question may have the apparent form of a question soliciting a "list" answer, but I'm expecting the list to be very short, so please bear with me. What "unusual" syntax assembly languages are/...
3
votes
1answer
367 views

What 1970's terminal was black on white and had an orange keyboard?

In high school, I programmed on a terminal that was retro THEN, and I need help remembering make and model. White screen, black text (seemed very unusual to me), no lowercase, 24x80, and I have this ...
53
votes
4answers
12k views

Why were most PC's and electronics beige back in the day?

Back in the day (especially during the 70's and 80's) it seems that most computers and electronics were colored 'beige'. It seems it would be easy to use different colors, so why didn't they? Some ...
0
votes
4answers
280 views

What is the earliest implementation of the stack data structure in C? [closed]

I am trying to find the source code for the earliest implementation of the stack data structure in C, but I can't find anything. I am particularly interested in knowing if the member variables of the ...
4
votes
1answer
317 views

Price of original Apple ][ in 1980?

Apple introduced the "new and improved" Apple ][ Plus in 1979, but continued to sell the original ][ until early 1981. I speculate that some customers must have chosen the original Apple ][ over the ...
80
votes
2answers
30k views

Is there any code in Firefox (as of 2020) that comes from Netscape Navigator?

Inspired by comments on the previous question Is it true that Netscape Navigator eventually became Mozilla Firefox? (Answer: Yes). In 1998, Netscape released a large amount of their existing source ...
33
votes
1answer
8k views

Is it true that Netscape Navigator eventually became Mozilla Firefox?

Is it really the case that Mozilla Firefox is a modern day version of Netscape Navigator?
5
votes
2answers
395 views

How did Microsoft get away with JScript? [closed]

How exactly did Microsoft reverse engineer Brendan Eich's JavaScript, call it something else and not get a massive lawsuit in the aftermath? I understand this was a long time ago but I still wonder ...
6
votes
2answers
389 views

What's the timeline of Commodore diskette drives?

Commodore produced a number of different floppy diskette drive units, both 8" and 5.25", over the course of its history. Can someone provide a chronological list of the drives, their release dates, ...
3
votes
1answer
229 views

What was the history of Nanodata Corporation?

Nanodata was a Buffalo, New York company that was formed in 1971 and seems to have sold its first products in 1973. They filed for bankruptcy in 1982, though they may have carried on business for a ...
5
votes
3answers
297 views

Did the Apollo Guidance Computer or other multi-ROM machines subdivide code between ROM chips/modules to facilitate partial updates?

The Apollo Guidance Computer had its code stored in six modules that held 6 kwords of storage each, and the design of each module was such that changing even a single bit after construction would have ...
3
votes
1answer
168 views

What was the DEC CR11 card reader 'compressed Hollerith code' for?

In this manual for the DEC CR11 card reader controller, the controller can deliver the card content to the PDP11 in either of two forms: Column binary: the 12 rows of hole/no-hole are delivered in ...
5
votes
1answer
696 views

Did this analogue computer from 1960 really have Internet?

If you zoom in this image, to the leftmost, white "cell" in the middle "row" of the machine, it says, in the bottom, "INT NET": https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c6/PACE-TR-...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

Were internet costs ever billed per packet?

I'm currently studying the TCP layer, one of the main references is the 1981 Internet Engineering Task Force's RFC. One of the paper it cites is a paper published by the Internet Electric and ...
7
votes
1answer
271 views

What is a “stunt box”?

According to the Free Dictionary, citing the McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, a "stunt box" is "A device to control the nonprinting functions of a teletypewriter terminal." ...
13
votes
1answer
447 views

Did Babbage's Analytical Engine lack indirect addressing?

As I understand it the analytical engine could only refer to memory by variable cards that had the explicit address printed on them, see https://www.fourmilab.ch/babbage/cards.html. For instance the ...
6
votes
2answers
376 views

What happened to the S1 operating system?

(Computerworld, Vol. 17, No. 41, 1983, p. 49) Additions: Robert Knight, formerly of Princeton's computer laboratories, is [...] the creator of S1, which he had running on an IBM Instruments ...
4
votes
1answer
173 views

Why did the CDC 6600 expand the word size to 60 bits?

According to http://www.quadibloc.com/comp/cp0201.htm The CDC 1604 used 48-bit floating point with 11 bits exponent and 36 bits mantissa. There was also a double precision format (which I believe was ...
33
votes
2answers
9k views

On what computer did “JUMP” mean “don't jump?”

This question triggered a brain cell. I remember a computer architecture, possibly one that was known for its beautifully symmetric instruction set, with an assortment of distinct mnemonics for ...
5
votes
1answer
332 views

How many hours of labor did it take to assemble a minicomputer?

A minicomputer like the PDP-8 contained several thousand discrete transistors and other components, all of which had to be soldered by hand, and that was among the simplest computers on the market; ...
4
votes
4answers
361 views

What was the DEC Type 30 vector graphics display used for?

The DEC PDP-1 had, unusually for its time, a vector graphics display. According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Digital_Equipment_Corporation Most systems were purchased with two ...
1
vote
0answers
599 views

How many Amiga 590 units were sold?

The A590 was an external hard disk for the Amiga 500, in 'sidecar' form factor, that could also hold an extra megabyte of RAM. How many 590s were sold, throughout its life?
38
votes
5answers
9k views

Apocryphal (?) tale of hard drive platter propelled through a wall?

In the mid-1990s while a student at a US university during a computer science lecture, my professor (not a TA or grad student) told us a story of "witnessing" a large, then old-fashioned metal hard ...
7
votes
1answer
329 views

What are some early network file systems?

I know it's always hard to define an exact first, so I'll just ask about early network file systems. To be more specific, I'm wondering about file systems that transparently present directories and ...
38
votes
5answers
10k views

How did Atari lose money on home computers?

The answer recently posted to Did Atari make more money from arcade games or consoles? quotes a New York Times article from 1982 https://www.nytimes.com/1982/12/19/business/the-game-turns-serious-at-...
11
votes
4answers
1k views

Is it a Directory, a List, or a Catalogue?

There are three common CLI commands on microcomputers that all mean the same thing: "Show me the contents of a volume, disk, or sub-directory". I will mention that the noun "Catalogue", and the ...
3
votes
2answers
376 views

Why did extracodes fall out of favour?

Once you have an operating system that provides services callable from programs, you need to provide a way for programs to request those services. These days the general approach only requires a ...
8
votes
1answer
289 views

Did Atari make more money from arcade games or consoles?

Atari was originally an arcade game company, starting at the beginning of the seventies with Computer Space and Pong. In 1977, they entered the console business with the VCS a.k.a. 2600; in 1979, they ...
12
votes
3answers
2k views

What hardware did advanced programming languages run on? [closed]

Some years ago, I discovered an obscure programming language called Haskell. This language is mind-blowingly powerful; I can barely believe it even exists. But what's even more shocking is, it was ...
13
votes
2answers
1k views

Who were the Atari ST designers pilfered from Commodore?

After Jack Tramiel was fired from Commodore and became the owner of Atari, I believe he offered jobs to a number of key technical people who followed him from Commodore. Who were the key people (if ...
30
votes
2answers
5k views

Zilog Z80 freezes while binary counting up to 65 536 (2^16)

A few days ago, I got Z80A CPU from eBay. So I tried to run it with classic 555 timer as a clock signal generator. I connected the 8-bit data bus of the CPU to the ground to "simulate ROM" (00 for NOP)...

1
2 3 4 5
10