Skip to main content

Questions tagged [history]

History of computers, digital electronics, hardware manufacturers, and software developers.

46 questions with no upvoted or accepted answers
Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
19 votes
0 answers
477 views

Is an X Window System older than release 10 available online?

I'm looking for any copy of the X Window System older than release 10. The oldest on x.org is X10R3. Bob Scheifler doesn't have anything. Jim Gettys may have something, but has yet to retrieve it ...
Lars Brinkhoff's user avatar
17 votes
1 answer
593 views

When was an image of an apple first used to promote the APL language

The APL community is contemplating the adoption of a common logo but some are worried about trouble from Apple lawyers. Now, IBM and others have been using apple motifs in promoting APL for a long ...
Adám's user avatar
  • 668
13 votes
0 answers
577 views

Who owns the intellectual property of Thinking Machines today?

Who owns the intellectual property regarding the Connection Machine and other products from Thinking Machines? I believe the remnants were bought by Sun, so possibly Oracle, but does anyone know?
Jan Mattsson's user avatar
12 votes
1 answer
1k views

1990s BBS game featuring mining elements from a planet

Sometime in the 90s (sorry, can't be more specific) I used to dial in to a BBS and play a multi-player game that involved manually mining elements from a planet. It was very detailed, you got employed ...
timbitsaregood's user avatar
11 votes
0 answers
385 views

When was the asterisk first used for "unsaved changes" and why?

The asterisk itself has been around as a symbol since literally (pun intended) before the earliest writing systems. Among its many uses, in some user interfaces it denotes unsaved changes to a file or ...
TypeIA's user avatar
  • 211
11 votes
0 answers
238 views

Anyone know of older mentions of the word "trap" for software interrupts than the IBM 704 manual from 1955?

I've dug into the origin of the word "trap" in computer engineering. The older documented mentions of the term I can find, is the "trapping mode" in the IBM 704, specifically in ...
BipedalJoe's user avatar
10 votes
0 answers
226 views

What was IBM's internal Specification Language of the 1980s?

Within IBM's internal Development community, there was a move in the 1980s to bring our skills up to date. As part of this, we were introduced to a specification language, independent of the ...
iainH's user avatar
  • 201
10 votes
0 answers
356 views

How much did Atari pay for GEM?

Atari licensed Digital Research's GEM graphic user interface for the ST. As https://www.filfre.net/2015/04/the-68000-wars-part-2-jack-is-back/ puts it: And of course in the wake of the Macintosh the ...
rwallace's user avatar
  • 63.1k
10 votes
0 answers
426 views

What is the timeline of NASA ground control computers?

In the movie "Hidden Figures", NASA receives an IBM 7090 in 1961. What is the subsequent timeline of the primary computing means for flight planning and orbit calculation? Specifically, what was the ...
Leo B.'s user avatar
  • 19.4k
9 votes
0 answers
560 views

When did Kay Nishi offer a million dollars for a competing DOS?

The development of Digital Research's fully-compatible MS-DOS competitor, DR DOS, was encouraged when, according to https://retrotechnology.com/dri/dri_wein.html After DOS Plus for Philips we did a ...
rwallace's user avatar
  • 63.1k
9 votes
0 answers
760 views

How many Amiga 3000's were produced?

While revisiting this question: Seeking details relating to Amiga 3000 serial numbers I began to wonder how many actual Amiga 3000's were produced by Commodore. I suspect (like most production ...
Geo...'s user avatar
  • 10.2k
9 votes
1 answer
534 views

Why was the Altair numbered "8800" even though the processor was an 8080?

The Altair 8800 was a computer using the Intel 8080 processor. Why the difference in numbers?
DrSheldon's user avatar
  • 16.4k
8 votes
0 answers
506 views

How was the Amiga console supposed to work with only 32KB of RAM?

During the development of the Amiga, one of the targets was a game console with 32KB of RAM. How was it supposed to work? by blitting ahead of the beam with the Copper to avoid double buffering? was ...
Valentino Miazzo's user avatar
7 votes
0 answers
227 views

The works of Frontier Manufacturing

Having spent the last however many decades believing Commodore Semiconductor Group was a simple rename of MOS Technology, I just watched a video – quite interesting in its own right – which casually ...
rwallace's user avatar
  • 63.1k
7 votes
0 answers
276 views

What was this book about floating-point system design/construction?

A comment on the question Why did 8-bit Basic use 40-bit floating point? says the following (emphasis added): Re, "Nowadays, floating point is usually either 32 or 64 bits." More ...
texdr.aft's user avatar
  • 3,627
7 votes
0 answers
301 views

When did Multics begin using '>' as a pathname separator?

As described in this question, Multics used > as the separator between components in pathnames, and < as a parent directory indicator in relative paths. However, an early paper describing the ...
Jules's user avatar
  • 13k
6 votes
0 answers
462 views

Why did only the TRS-80 see complaints about the screen?

Of the 1977 trinity, the PET and TRS-80 came with monitors built around black-and-white TV tubes, and the Apple II was commonly used with a black-and-white TV set. According to https://en.wikipedia....
rwallace's user avatar
  • 63.1k
6 votes
0 answers
393 views

The first micromouse competition in 1977 had 6000 initial entries, what would the majority of them have been (e.g. wall followers)?

The first micromouse competition in 1977, had 6000 initial entries, what would the majority of them have been (e.g. wall followers)? Note - In the link above, first micromouse competition in 1977, it ...
infomtn's user avatar
  • 287
6 votes
0 answers
221 views

Was there another dialect of Pascal with this range checking feature?

I've decompiled yet another Pascal compiler for the BESM-6. While it does not implement the full language (for example, packed records and arrays are not implemented, helper routines SEL and INS are ...
Leo B.'s user avatar
  • 19.4k
6 votes
0 answers
356 views

What was a DEC PDP-11/85 intended to be, and why might it be able to use DECsystem-10 software?

In this DEC PDP-11 Strategy Memo from Sept 1974, there is this curious question. HOW MUCH OF THE DEC SYSTEM 10 SOFTWARE CAN THE 11/85 USE, OR DOES THE 11/85 HAVE TO START FROM SCRATCH? CONFLICTING ...
dave's user avatar
  • 36.3k
6 votes
0 answers
356 views

What percentage of DVD Forum royalties did Sony get?

A slightly arcane question that I think is relevant to a chapter of the history of game consoles whose dynamics I'm trying to understand. In the mid-nineties, several companies were developing optical ...
rwallace's user avatar
  • 63.1k
5 votes
0 answers
363 views

Did the Soviets need industrial espionage to get IBM software pre-1970?

Due to lack of the OS-level file system on the BESM-6, and to deficiencies of data visualization tools which could help people decide which blocks of a system disk could be reused (the line of ...
Leo B.'s user avatar
  • 19.4k
5 votes
0 answers
282 views

What was the first device to "beep" in lieu of tactile feedback to button presses?

I'm splitting this question off of When was beeping invented, in a user interface sense? because I think it's more answerable on its own and I suspect likely to still be computing-related. At some ...
natevw's user avatar
  • 2,947
5 votes
0 answers
179 views

Vic-20 total game cartridge sales

The Vic-20, like many home computers of its time, had a cartridge slot that could be used both as a general expansion slot, and for game cartridges like a console. Game cartridges on the Commodore ...
rwallace's user avatar
  • 63.1k
4 votes
0 answers
247 views

Looking for early examples of extended precision by interpretation

The other day I came across a clever way of implementing variable-length extended precision, dated 1967 (on the BESM-6, apparently as part of the system software available at the time of introduction ...
Leo B.'s user avatar
  • 19.4k
4 votes
0 answers
254 views

First machine with dedicated scatter/gather?

I know the Cray-1 had scatter/gather addressing, but I am curious if anyone knows what the first machine with this feature might be? I suspect it is one of the vector machines from this era, perhaps ...
Maury Markowitz's user avatar
4 votes
0 answers
577 views

Was the Game Boy CPU a completely new layout?

As explained on the Wikipedia Game Boy article and Is the Game Boy Sharp LR35902 object-compatible with the 8080/Z-80?, the Game Boy used a custom CPU that was fairly close to being a superset of the ...
rwallace's user avatar
  • 63.1k
4 votes
0 answers
235 views

Why did Gran Trak 10 cost so much?

In 1974, Atari released a driving game called Gran Trak 10. The development prototypes had used real car steering wheels and pedals, but it was realized these were too expensive, so they were changed ...
rwallace's user avatar
  • 63.1k
3 votes
0 answers
156 views

Did Commodore have an alternative chip company acquisition target?

One pf the pivotal historical events of the 8-bit computer industry was the acquisition by Commodore of MOS Technology in 1976. This gave Jack Tramiel the vertical integration he wanted, and led ...
rwallace's user avatar
  • 63.1k
3 votes
0 answers
149 views

Hierarchical/navigational database engine available on RSX-11M

Around 1988-1990 I worked for a company that was using an old RSX-11M system to host an ERP application. The application used a third-party database product of which I am trying to recall the name. ...
Anthony X's user avatar
  • 441
3 votes
0 answers
185 views

What aspects of microprocessor ISAs have been patented?

A key objective of RISC-V was that every aspect of the ISA must be based on an expired patent. It was felt that this is the only truly reliable defense against patent lawsuits. It is surprising that ...
rwallace's user avatar
  • 63.1k
3 votes
0 answers
252 views

Were the Apple II patents, obstacles to cloning?

The Apple II was a simple design relative to its retail price, so attractive to cloners. This naturally led to many lawsuits, at least one of which actually established new copyright law. https://en....
rwallace's user avatar
  • 63.1k
3 votes
0 answers
218 views

Why was the IBM 7070 unsuccessful?

In a talk on the IBM 360 and the computers it replaced the speaker at 39:35 describes the 7070 as 'a dog', and elsewhere contrasts it unfavorably with the 1401 (which considerably exceeded ...
rwallace's user avatar
  • 63.1k
3 votes
0 answers
148 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 ...
hippietrail's user avatar
  • 6,774
3 votes
0 answers
2k 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?
rwallace's user avatar
  • 63.1k
3 votes
0 answers
140 views

Which Nobel prize winners names besides Townes were used as code names for Fujitsu computers?

Fujitsu named its late 80s/90s personal computer FM Towns after physics Nobel prize winner Charles Townes. According to the sources (1, 2) I could find, using Nobel prize winners as code names was ...
v-joe's user avatar
  • 1,278
2 votes
0 answers
157 views

Apple II sales by sector

Of the American 8-bit personal computers, the Apple II was arguably the most general, in that it sold well to home enthusiasts (Woz's original intended target market), schools (thanks in part to the ...
rwallace's user avatar
  • 63.1k
2 votes
0 answers
186 views

Commodore 64 software sales peak year

Sales of the Commodore 64 itself appear to have peaked (along with sales of 8-bit home computers in general) around 1984, though continued for another decade after that. I'm curious about sales of ...
rwallace's user avatar
  • 63.1k
2 votes
0 answers
221 views

Did other Acorn keyboards use two-shot molding?

The BBC Micro hardware specification includes the clause: The legend on the keys will be achieved by two-shot moulding This is a process by which the glyphs are made to run all the way through the ...
rwallace's user avatar
  • 63.1k
2 votes
0 answers
147 views

How many people were employed in the UK making Sinclair computers?

According to Wikipedia Sinclair Research had only 140 employees at its peak in the 1980s. I was surprised the number was so small for a company that sold something like five million computers, then I ...
rwallace's user avatar
  • 63.1k
2 votes
0 answers
190 views

Has anyone heard of SCHEMA page layout tool?

I've found a text formatting tool, under the name of SCHEMA, which would accept an input language like *RED *0STA*NN*RG*1RL*0MCS1 20 *3/ *MDLorem ipsum dolor sit amet, *MDconsectetur adipiscing elit, *...
Leo B.'s user avatar
  • 19.4k
2 votes
0 answers
421 views

What was the cost of the PS2 chip in the last PS3 to have it?

The PlayStation 2 provided backward compatibility with the PS1 by essentially incorporating an entire PS1 on a separate chip. It kept this arrangement permanently. The PS3 started off providing ...
rwallace's user avatar
  • 63.1k
2 votes
0 answers
123 views

HP presage of the PDA revolution

I no longer have clear memory of this, but I'm fairly certain I read an article back around 1979 or so published by Hewlett Packard. At the time, they had recently released their 41C calculator. I ...
Anthony X's user avatar
  • 441
2 votes
0 answers
145 views

How many units did TI Invaders sell?

I'm trying to get a feel for the scale and dynamics of the early home computer game industry. Statistics for arcade games and console cartridges are relatively easy to come by, e.g. that Pac-Man on ...
rwallace's user avatar
  • 63.1k
1 vote
0 answers
331 views

Was hardware scrolling patented?

One of the most valuable graphical features on early computers that had it, was hardware scrolling, that allowed the horizontal position of the screen to be adjusted by one or more pixels, thereby ...
rwallace's user avatar
  • 63.1k
1 vote
0 answers
142 views

Record definitions with IBM COBOL and IMS

A common technology stack for line of business applications in the sixties and seventies was IBM COBOL with the IMS database. I'm curious about how the combination handled record definitions. COBOL ...
rwallace's user avatar
  • 63.1k