Questions tagged [software]

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

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14 votes
2 answers
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What was the first software company to go public?

I'm trying to determine which was the first purely software company to launch an IPO on a major stock exchange. By this I mean a company whose revenue comes directly from software unit sales, rather ...
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12 votes
1 answer
970 views

What is a Hollerith file on a GE/Honeywell computer?

In his description of the QED editor, Dennis Ritchie writes READ9 and READ6 return the next character from the ASCII or Hollerith file currently being read (if any). I know about ASCII, of course, ...
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  • 223
11 votes
1 answer
439 views

Why was Paperback Writer renamed to Pocket Writer?

I was a big fan of Digital Solutions Inc.'s Paperback Software, a Commodore 64/128 productivity suite that featured an interoperable word processor (Paperback Writer), spreadsheet (Paperback Planner), ...
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  • 5,694
2 votes
6 answers
1k views

Home-computers of early 80's, capable of saving Basic-programs, as machine-code, or assembly-code, with a little extra code or other modification? [closed]

Could many/most home-computers of early 80's, have been capable of saving BASIC-Language-Programs to cassette/disk, as machine-code, or possibly even as assembly-code, with a little extra code (or ...
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  • 117
32 votes
7 answers
4k views

Did any PC software floating point use non-IEEE format?

During the 1980s, prior to the 486 (well, strictly speaking, prior to the discontinuing of the 486SX in the nineties), IBM PCs and compatibles had hardware floating point only in the form of an ...
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17 votes
1 answer
359 views

Was any commercial end-user software written in PROMAL?

PROMAL is a procedural programming language from the 1980s. Its designer, Systems Management Associates, released compilers for the Commodore 64, Apple II, and IBM PC. The language and development ...
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  • 5,694
5 votes
1 answer
646 views

Who were the market for those "speed up your computer" shareware applications back in the day? [closed]

In the Swedish computer magazine PC Hemma ("Home PC") from February 1997 (p. 68), they included a floppy disk with shareware programs related to "trimming your PC", as well as a ...
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2 votes
1 answer
206 views

Were any form-based applications designed for more than 80 columns?

The traditional standard display for business computers was 80 column text (with either 24 or 25 rows). Business software, roughly speaking, falls into two categories: Horizontal applications like ...
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10 votes
0 answers
187 views

Which versions of StuffIt introduced backwards-incompatible changes to the file format?

In order to help people who want to integration-test tools which shell out to The Unarchiver's lsar and unar utilities, I'm trying to build a legally clean repository of test archives in StuffIt SIT ...
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  • 4,018
8 votes
2 answers
2k views

What are the "other crontabs" that /etc/crontab refer to? [closed]

The /etc/crontab file on ubuntu has a header that reads: # /etc/crontab: system-wide crontab # Unlike any other crontab you don't have to run the `crontab' # command to install the new version when ...
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10 votes
0 answers
238 views

What happened to the Speakeasy computational environment?

After reading his interview with the Computer History Museum , Cleve Moler (creator of MATLAB), mentioned that the Speakeasy Computational Environment was a precursor to MATLAB, and served as some ...
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2 votes
1 answer
194 views

Where can I find the software for "DESIGN: a program to create data entry programs" by J. Michael Wuerth?

I have a copy of the book, DESIGN: a program to create data entry programs by J. Michael Wuerth. Does anyone know where I can obtain a copy of the accompanying software for the book?
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1 vote
0 answers
226 views

What was this early 2000s software subscription that had a billboard theme and was about music and bands? [closed]

I cannot remember the name of this music software CDs I used to have. We would get it in the mail every month and it had interviews and song samples in a game style UI with a city/billboard theme. ...
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5 votes
1 answer
394 views

How can I run OpenSSH under AmigaDOS?

I want to use OpenSSH for Amiga, copied ssh and other files to OS:Utilities from extracted archive, but I'm unable to run the binary. Tried to set protection but it didn't help either. How to make it ...
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38 votes
1 answer
4k views

How did voice dialing work in old Nokia phones?

For example on S40 or the 3310, users were able to set voice tags (also known as voice commands) for contacts. The phone could then recognize the command later and dial the right number. With neural ...
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26 votes
1 answer
2k views

Why was IBM's Scientific Subroutine Package superseded?

It is a familiar fact that scientific software tends to do a lot of vector arithmetic and similar, that one does not want to keep rewriting the low-level code for such, so the usual practice is to use ...
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6 votes
3 answers
432 views

New chess engines on retro hardware

Does anyone know of any efforts to write modern chess engines for old hardware? (e.g. C64, A2e?) I'd love to see how a pared-down Stockfish or Leela that could fit in RAM could do rating wise etc. ...
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  • 1,090
4 votes
1 answer
276 views

Identifying and recovering programs from tapes

A couple of days ago, I was given some old tapes with programs written on them. However, I am having some trouble with them. I do not know what computer they were programed for. After recognising the ...
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5 votes
2 answers
225 views

How to get Terminate running in DOSEMU on recent machines? [duplicate]

When trying to run http://www.terminate.com/ under http://www.dosemu.org/, I get Runtime Error 200. I know that this is a well known issue with software compiled with Turbo / Borland Pascal and using ...
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3 votes
0 answers
161 views

Is there any way to obtain the abandonware 1994 original release of Klik & Play in non-English, non-"For Schools" versions?

In the mid-1990s, I purchased a Swedish boxed copy of v1.0 (I believe) of Klik & Play in a computer store. Since that, the floppies have died and I stupidly even threw away the entire big box and ...
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  • 31
4 votes
3 answers
290 views

Was imported software for computers as common as it was for consoles?

In the 90s and in Western countries, you were able to buy import software for pretty much every video game system, for instance, Super Nintendo, Mega Drive, PC Engine, PlayStation and so on. To run ...
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2 votes
1 answer
203 views

How did VisiCalc decide how many decimal places to display?

VisiCalc represented numbers in BCD to be able to handle decimals precisely. But how did it decide how many decimal places to display? In some screenshots like https://www.researchgate.net/figure/A-...
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  • 49.3k
3 votes
1 answer
506 views

What were the most common applications of the 8087?

The original IBM PC had a slot for the 8087 floating-point coprocessor. This was a somewhat esoteric feature at the time – previous microcomputers had done all their floating-point in software – but ...
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5 votes
1 answer
369 views

What was the reason for AmiPro's limitation in displaying two pages together when scrolling?

I have fond memories of using Lotus AmiPro word processor. If it would run on 64-bit Windows, I'd probably still use it today. One of the most infamous bugs in the program was its inability to show ...
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1 vote
0 answers
33 views

Where can I find EVOC20 package for Emagic Logic 2.5?

I know the vocoder was firstly developed by the company Emagic, which then bought by Apple. Now it is part of Logic Pro X and impossible to find the original version, that can work in Windows. Does ...
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7 votes
1 answer
1k views

What is the point in interpreting an integer literal differently depending on the machine?

I was reading the user manual for an old program "UNRAVEL": http://www.ml1.org.uk/pdf/Unravel_User_Manual_1971.pdf. On page 9, it describes the syntax for integer constants: Unsigned ...
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4 votes
1 answer
138 views

Are there any CHIP-8 games that break if `SAVE` / `RESTORE` *doesn't* change the pointer register?

The CHIP-8 instructions SAVE Vx (Fx55) and RESTORE Vx (Fx65) are originally specified to increment the pointer register I as each register is saved/loaded, so by the end of the instruction, the value ...
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  • 2,533
2 votes
0 answers
138 views

Where can I find software for the Imlac computers?

There is an emulator for the Imlac PDS-1 and PDS-4 computers, but not a lot of software to run on it. I know about this collection: http://www.ubanproductions.com/imlac_sw.html Is there anything else ...
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58 votes
16 answers
12k views

Did many programs really store years as two characters (Y2K bug)?

The claim that programs stored dates as two ASCII or similar characters because computers were limited in resources seems wrong to me because it takes more memory than one 8-bit integer would. Also in ...
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11 votes
1 answer
554 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 ...
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  • 111
9 votes
1 answer
896 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 ...
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23 votes
6 answers
2k views

Does the "Amiga Client for Novell NetWare" exist?

On page 139 of Brian Bagnall's book "Commodore: The Final Years", there is the statement that at CeBIT Hannover in March 1989, Commodore announced (amongst other things) "Novell Netware for Amiga". I ...
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3 votes
3 answers
384 views

Understanding the meaning of the term "Modifying a software program" in a book

In his book The Silicon Jungle David Rothman mentions several times the term "modifying" or "customizing" a software program. e.g. Chapter 8: And then the consultant didn’t even supply instructions ...
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27 votes
4 answers
6k views

Unix Haters Handbook - guaranteeing synchronous, atomic operations

I've come across Filesystems with versioning and have been reading through the Unix Haters Handbook, linked there. I came across page 85: On the other hand, techniques for guaranteeing synchronous, ...
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4 votes
1 answer
650 views

SID to WAV converter that exports per channel separately

For a C64 SID project of mine (https://soundcloud.com/c64er) I was using an converter almost 10 years ago, but it is missing now with its name... I researched many sites, but no lucky. Is there any ...
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  • 291
6 votes
4 answers
577 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 ...
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5 votes
9 answers
690 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 up to 1984 . Without needing to plug in any ...
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5 votes
1 answer
256 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 ...
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  • 151
32 votes
22 answers
8k 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 ...
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2 votes
1 answer
286 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 (...
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  • 1,090
8 votes
5 answers
402 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 ...
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2 votes
2 answers
497 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, ...
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  • 121
12 votes
4 answers
595 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: The computer is nicknamed "B.C." and the actor says (in part): What I really like about BC is he speaks and ...
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  • 2,159
90 votes
20 answers
19k 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 ...
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  • 863
1 vote
1 answer
289 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 ...
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  • 15.8k
3 votes
3 answers
479 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 ...
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3 votes
1 answer
210 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 ...
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3 votes
4 answers
681 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 ...
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  • 1,811
10 votes
1 answer
506 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 ...
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  • 203
49 votes
11 answers
21k 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 ...
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