Questions tagged [software]

For questions about the applications and programs that can be run on retro devices (computers, etc.)

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6
votes
4answers
418 views

Were there any games/software that used a resolution or resolution-mode higher than what was advertised available on the machine?

Were there any games/software that used a resolution or resolution-mode higher than what was advertised available on the machine ? On home / personal computers between anytime - 1984 . Without ...
1
vote
3answers
296 views

Were there any games/software that used memory beyond what was advertised available to BASIC on the machine?

Were there any games/software that used memory beyond what was advertised as available to BASIC on the machine ? On home / personal computers any time before 1984 . Without needing to plug in any ...
4
votes
1answer
140 views

Can't install El-Fish on MS-DOS 6.22

El-Fish is a fish tank "game", where you have virtual fish on your screen. The game has no goal, it's more like an interactive screen saver. I got my version from a number of different sources, one ...
28
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20answers
7k views

Was self-modifying code possible using BASIC?

Was self-modifying-code possible using BASIC? Parameters: On commonly affordable home-computers before 1984 Code that changes its own instructions while it is executing Using BASIC only Not using ...
2
votes
1answer
242 views

Historical speed of linear programming solvers

A few years ago, I remember seeing a video of Ray Kurzweil discussing how linear programming was an example of how software (algorithms) - independent of hardware - is also getting faster (...
8
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5answers
348 views

Build automation tools before make?

I realized that make was "only" invented in 1976 and seems to be one of the first build automation tools (at least it's probably the oldest still in use). Make with its shell focus seems like a total ...
2
votes
2answers
450 views

What is a .95END file?

While cleaning out some old computers owned by my grandfather I came across some files marked with the file format .95END that had creation dates in early 1995 (though they could be from much earlier, ...
5
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2answers
252 views

In what way could the Sperry Univac BC-7 computer “speak and understand” English?

Researching for this question I ran across this 1978 advertisement for Sperry: Sperry Computer Ad 1978: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I74sVdw7gkc The computer is nicknamed "B.C." and the actor ...
82
votes
20answers
17k views

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 ...
1
vote
1answer
190 views

How was the modem MNP protocol implemented in software?

When first modems for PCs started to appear in the USSR in late 1980s, they usually were in the form of an ISA card, and supported a bare minimum of the Hayes AT commands. Given the quality of Soviet ...
3
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3answers
441 views

Pirated spreadsheet software introducing intentional errors?

Was there ever a case of a spreadsheet application introducing intentional floating-point errors when it detected that it had been pirated? Particularly errors that were small enough to go unnoticed ...
3
votes
1answer
178 views

Ways To Test iMac G3 Before Buying

I am going to buy an old iMac G3 Over the next couple of days/weeks, and I want to make sure that I am buying a system with no problems. I usually ask for the serial number and good pictures before ...
3
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4answers
612 views

Combination of processor and Windows version

Have an old(ish) laptop with a Pentium T4400 @ 2.20 GHz processor, and some old software1 that requires Windows 95 or NT. With a view to running this software on that hardware, I tried installing ...
7
votes
1answer
411 views

Colorful print ad in ca. 1990 magazine

I'm trying to find a software ad in a comic book style that I remember from one of my father's computer magazines in the early 1990s. I know this is a long shot, but somebody might recall it or even ...
45
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11answers
17k views

Why not use fractions instead of floating point?

Considering all those early home computers, the ZX Spectrum, the Galaksija, the VIC-20, the Apple I/II/III, and all of those, they all have some 8-bit CPU which does integer arithmetic and no floating ...
5
votes
1answer
886 views

Microsoft Flight Simulator 1.0 “DIVIDE BY ZERO” command

I was reading an Wikipedia article named "History Of Microsoft Flight Simulator" and I noticed something weird about Microsoft Flight Simulator 1.0: November 1982 sometime during 1981-82 ...
14
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5answers
4k views

Security Issues with Bootable Games

I'm not sure if this is the correct place to ask this question or Information Security, but here it goes. Certain storage mediums can also be bootable, for example USB drives or CD/DVDs. These ...
3
votes
1answer
674 views

How did PC boot games handle saving?

I was reading on this RCSE page about old PC games that you had to boot into to play. Obviously the machine that the game would run on would at least have enough RAM and necessary graphics ...
3
votes
4answers
563 views

How was corporate training done before PowerPoint?

The usual thing today is a laptop (maybe desktop) PC (or Mac) connected to a video projector to display content from PowerPoint (or Keynote) slides. How was it done, in general, before this hardware ...
4
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0answers
406 views

Rainbow Technologies Ltd DRM system for DOS

A number of games from the early 1990s appear to be protected with a DRM system developed by Rainbow Technologies Ltd. The system allows content in the games to be unlocked by sending the manufacturer ...
8
votes
1answer
301 views

How did Drive Overlay programs break BIOS disk barriers on older PCs?

I was just reading a thread on Vogons about OnTrack and EZ-Drive setup, and it occurred to me that I have no idea how they work. Please explain why the barrier existed and then how the overlay ...
6
votes
1answer
323 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
368 views

Can 6502 programs be transliterated to the SPC700?

The SPC700's instruction set is derived from the 6502's, but moves the instructions around and adds a few. But is it fully backwards compatible? Assuming that the program fully separates data and ...
6
votes
4answers
1k views

What is the (usually lower quality) “software rendering” mode visible in so many “second-generation” FPS games?

During a conversation, a friend of mine sent me this picture: It's the first Thief (I guess), with so-called software rendering. I already experienced this effect in Quake 1-2 and to an extent, in ...
18
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2answers
4k views

First commercial DOS game?

What was the first commercial game sold for use on IBM/MS/PC DOS after the IBM August 12, 1981 release.
1
vote
1answer
336 views

What was the name and origin of this security software?

I am trying to find a free software for security, that I downloaded for tracing someone attached to my computer. I remember using this on my Windows 98 system. You could see on a map where the ...
5
votes
1answer
237 views

Did Radio Shack initially attempt to get a monopoly on commercial software for the TRS-80 Model I?

This question is about the era of the TRS-80 Model I, ca. 1977-1979. Originally there was no software you could buy, other than BASIC itself, which was in ROM. You would write your own, or type in ...
6
votes
3answers
520 views

Identification of old text-to-speech voice/engine

I have heard it many times before, but I can't recognize where the TTS file/engine comes from. But what in do know is that it sounds very old, so it seemed appropriate to post this question here. ...
5
votes
1answer
418 views

Need help identifying math game where equations let you move from room to room?

Can anyone help me find an old math game where equations let you move from room to room? I played the game on an Apple II back in middle school and I want to use it with my daughter to teach her math. ...
10
votes
1answer
996 views

Where do command line switches originate from?

In Linux we have command line switches traditionally started with minus ls -al. In Windows those start with slash dir /b. I remember that on RSX-11M that I used to deal with and later on RT-11 the ...
11
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2answers
1k views

Where did Fast InvSqrt() come from?

The fast inverse square root algorithm is probably best known for its use in Quake III Arena, the source code of which was released to the public a few years after its release. However, the algorithm ...
12
votes
4answers
734 views

Old school backup systems: what are they?

So being a sysadmin for several years, I learned that "Jesus saves, but God makes tape backups," several times over. Watching Season 2 of Halt and Catch Fire, there is some data loss. Being that ...
9
votes
1answer
797 views

Was there a 'git' in the 1990s?

I seem to remember using a source code control system back in the early- to mid-1990s called git. Am I nuts? I used to work at IBM way back then. We didn't use it for a big project, but I distinctly ...
8
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2answers
3k views

What is the best way to obtain old versions of Windows?

I'm wondering what the best way obtain old versions of Windows would be, specifically: DOS Windows 95 Windows 98/SE Windows 2000/ME Windows XP Professional Windows 7 Professional Microsoft Office for ...
3
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0answers
539 views

What are some programs known to take advantage of Intel MMX instructions? [closed]

Although MMX techology, introduced in 1997, is long superseded by SSE series of extensions, it's still included in every modern x86 CPU for backwards compatibility. What are some examples of ...
22
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2answers
3k views

How did Windows ME “cripple” DOS?

Windows ME includes the ability to create a bootable DOS floppy. This floppy contains versions of COMMAND.COM and IO.SYS that are "crippled" to remove real mode. This is done with only one changed ...
-7
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1answer
643 views

How many old computing methods are still with us today? [closed]

Reading some of the questions here got me to thinking... how many of the old methods, software or hardware, are still with us today? My two examples: HTML. It's line oriented, for crying out loud. ...
5
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0answers
274 views

Find the PGP SDK

Starting in 1998 (I think) the PGP company run by Phil Zimmerman released the PGP SDK for Mac, Unix and Windows. This was a big event because it was the first time that comprehensive, high grade ...
61
votes
11answers
16k views

Did Apple not originally allow anyone to develop software for the Macintosh?

This probably nearly belongs on Skeptics.SE but here goes. Within the last few years I've become an Apple convert for the most part, which occasionally brings me into (usually) good natured conflict ...
21
votes
4answers
4k views

What was the first piece of software to be called an engine?

Nowadays I hear a lot about graphics engines, game engines, physics engines etc. but don't remember the term being used much, if at all, back in the 80s and the 8-bit era. I'm not including Charles ...
1
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0answers
419 views

How were 3D effects created before GPUs? [closed]

Games like Super Mario 64 were revolutionary: full, round, hi-definition 3D models moving in real-time and able to be interacted with. This was because they were designed for machines with separate ...
91
votes
16answers
22k views

How was early randomness generated?

Many programs make use of randomness, from BASIC guess-the-number games to encryption key generators. This randomness could have been generated in many, many different ways: hardware, software, ...
11
votes
1answer
501 views

What API did the POKEY module provide?

The POKEY module was used in many, many Atari arcade games, including most that contained the Atari Math Box. It could be used to sample potentiometers, scan matrices of switches and, more famously, ...
19
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2answers
1k views

Actual code written by Ada Lovelace?

I have seen some claims that Ada Lovelace was the first programmer. Is there any actual code to back this up?
5
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1answer
329 views

What are some names of professional music software for the Macintosh Classic / SE?

I'm not asking for opinions, recommendations or reviews. I'm looking for professional, graphical music creation software for the classic line of Macintosh computers. I'm not looking for mod or ...
72
votes
2answers
16k views

Why does the Minus World exist?

In Super Mario Bros. for the NES and Famicom there exists a secret world, accessible by clipping through a wall to the first warp zone and entering the left-most pipe. This pipe will take you to ...
18
votes
1answer
2k views

Why does Ms. Pac-man turn upside down?

Ms. Pac-man is a game where you navigate a small yellow circle around a maze, collecting dots and fruit whilst avoiding brightly-coloured monsters, or ghosts. This time, however, the yellow dot has an ...
18
votes
1answer
1k views

Why can you not move on the last level on Dig Dug?

The objective of Dig Dug is to eliminate underground monsters by inflating them until they pop, or by squashing them with large rocks. Once all of the monsters have escaped or been defeated, the level ...
35
votes
1answer
6k views

Why does the kill-screen glitch occur in Pac-man?

Pac-man is a game where you navigate a small yellow circle around a maze, collecting dots and fruit whilst avoiding brightly-coloured monsters, or ghosts. As long as there was at least one 'man left, ...
10
votes
2answers
2k views

What is the instruction set of the PDP-7?

The PDP-7 was a bookshelf-sized "minicomputer", with keyboard, magnetic and paper tape and printer I/O. According to Wikipedia, the first version of UNIX (then named Unics) was programmed in assembly ...