Questions tagged [history]

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

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2
votes
4answers
62 views

Why did post-8008 CPUs not keep the on-chip stack idea?

According to http://www.righto.com/2016/12/die-photos-and-analysis-of_24.html The 8008's seven registers are in the upper right. In the lower right is the address stack, which consists of eight 14-...
12
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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
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2answers
185 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 ...
3
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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 ...
27
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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 ...
1
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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-...
16
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1answer
848 views

Why is the 8254's default rate 18.2 Hz?

The Intel 8253/8254 timer, in its default configuration, triggers IRQ0 18.2 times per second. Why this strange rate, and not something like 60 Hz (to match the most common video refresh rate) or 100 ...
118
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4answers
30k 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 ond old computers: I don't know if this was a Windows 95/98/2000/ME only thing but I wonder why ...
9
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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 ...
9
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4answers
1k views

What's the relationship between the Nascom computers and the company Lucas Electrical?

Researching the Nascom 2 computer, I found these schematics for the system. Interestingly, after the schematics for the computer itself, there is an added schematic for a disk controller to use with ...
5
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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 ...
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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 ‘...
10
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1answer
415 views

Grid Compass - why such a small display?

The Grid Compass, released in 1982, was arguably the world's first full-fledged laptop, whose only glaring deficiency to modern eyes is the small display, 320x240 with physical size to match, ...
6
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0answers
238 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 ...
22
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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 ...
17
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2answers
438 views

Why were TECO variables called Q-registers?

The TECO editor, (originally Tape Editor and COrrector, later Text Editor...) found in some form on just about every computer and operating system DEC ever made, provides variables in which you can ...
0
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2answers
206 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
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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' ...
4
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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 ...
0
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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 ...
8
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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 ...
31
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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 ...
1
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2answers
470 views

Why did Steve Jobs say that Darwin is a kernel? [closed]

In this video, Steve Jobs introduces Mac OS X (in the year 2000), this is a snapshot from the video: He says that Darwin is the kernel for Mac OS X. Now the following is a diagram of the Mac OS X ...
86
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9answers
11k views

What key factor led to the sudden commercial success of MS Windows with v3.0?

Microsoft Windows was originally introduced in 1985, ostensibly to compete with the Apple Macintosh, and other computers shipping with graphical shells by that time. However, early versions of Windows ...
11
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6answers
4k views

Did any RISC CPU ever take more than one clock cycle per instruction?

Classic RISC CPUs like ARM and MIPS basically offer the trade-off: simple instruction set, but instructions execute in one cycle for good overall performance. (It gets more complicated in later times, ...
1
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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 ...
20
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5answers
3k views

Did Xerox really develop the first LAN?

Did the computer scientist at Xerox really develop the first LAN, but had no backing from the company to further develop these technologies, later showing this to both Steve Jobs and Bill Gates? Just ...
6
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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, ...
4
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1answer
318 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 ...
8
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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 ...
8
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4answers
423 views

What was the first personal computer to use surface mount components?

Title pretty much says it all. To qualify, the computer must have been manufactured and released. No prototypes or computers that never shipped. Also, I'm looking for computers used at a home or ...
31
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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/...
2
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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 ...
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 ...
8
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3answers
401 views

Was the TRS-80 Model 1 ever actually sold new with that name?

When Tandy introduced the TRS-80, the computer we know now as the "Model 1" or Model I" was simply called the TRS-80. No "Model" designation was necessary. The early releases were as follows: TRS-80, ...
53
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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 ...
27
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6answers
5k views

How did the IEC decide to create kibibytes?

What was the decision making process that lead to the IEC to create "kibibytes", "mebibytes" and so forth? To me it seems like kilobytes were well established as 1024 bytes, both by programmers using ...
0
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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 ...
34
votes
6answers
3k views

What was the purpose and history of the C64's special keys?

I never had a Commodore 64 but I've always been curious what the purpose and history of some of the special keys were. In particular: C= Run/Stop Clr/Home Restore I'm mostly used to the standard ...
26
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10answers
6k 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 ...
80
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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 ...
5
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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 ...
33
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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?
3
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1answer
544 views

What's the reason for the the Lagonda Series II dashboard to use a mixture of metric and imperial? [closed]

The title says it all. I'm puzzled if there is a technical (Hardware/Software) reason behind the weird mixture of metric (Celsius for temperature) and non metric (like psi for pressure) in the Aston ...
8
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3answers
408 views

Is there a non-paging ITS for the PDP-6 or PDP-10?

In the late 60s, the Incompatible Timesharing System ran on a PDP-6 without any paging hardware (i.e. an MMU in modern terminology). See the Jargon entry for BLT, for example, which states (my ...
5
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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 ...
18
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9answers
2k views

How were bugs reported for compilers that were shipped on floppy disks?

Take the Microsoft C 1.0 compiler for example. It shipped on multiple 5.25" 360K disks, and when it ran on machines without internal hard disk, so users had to switch floppies between the editor, ...

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