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Questions tagged [software]

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

2
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4answers
341 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
368 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 ...
7
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1answer
160 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 ...
5
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0answers
113 views

Do you have a non-paging ITS for PDP-6 or PDP-10?

In the early days (late 60s), the Incompatible Timesharing System ran on a PDP-6 without any paging hardware (i.e. an MMU in modern terminology). (See "The Big BLT".) It was later moved onto a PDP-...
9
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1answer
174 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 ...
5
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4answers
578 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 ...
16
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2answers
3k 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.
0
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1answer
259 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
174 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
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3answers
350 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. ...
6
votes
1answer
326 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
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1answer
720 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 ...
10
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2answers
636 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 ...
9
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3answers
453 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
433 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
809 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 ...
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0answers
254 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 ...
18
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2answers
1k 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 ...
-9
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1answer
429 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
250 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 ...
59
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11answers
15k 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 ...
22
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4answers
3k 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 ...
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0answers
358 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 ...
82
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15answers
21k 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
405 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, ...
20
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2answers
997 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
220 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 ...
62
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2answers
12k 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 ...
14
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1answer
778 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 ...
16
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1answer
546 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 ...
32
votes
1answer
5k 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, ...
9
votes
2answers
798 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 ...
18
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3answers
2k views

Why did Pokémon Red have so many overflow bugs?

(This question also applies to other Game Boy games, but Pokémon seems to be one of the best-documented.) Pokémon Red & Blue (Red & Green in Japan) is a pair of Game Boy games about capturing ...
18
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3answers
2k views

How did Elite (BBC Micro) compress resources?

Elite, an Acornsoft game for the BBC Micro, is a game in space. Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is.     -- Douglas Adams ...
9
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3answers
388 views

How can I copy software which is too large for one Atari ST floppy disk?

I have downloaded the STOS game creator from the STOS download page. I'm trying to copy the software from my computer to a floppy disk formatted on an Atari ST, but I get an error message saying the ...
5
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2answers
490 views

How were analytics gathered on software built for retrocomputing platforms?

In modern software development, it is a common practice to include some kind of analytics tracking software to see how customers are using your software, what a typical user flow of the application is,...
11
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2answers
681 views

How can I build Gameboy Development Kit 2.1.5 on a modern Unix/Mac platform?

Continuing with my quest to build the Infinity Game Boy Color source code, I am trying to build the Unix source of GBDK 2.1.5 on my macOS El Capitan machine. Trying to make the files in the lib ...
5
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0answers
166 views

Where can be found “Nemesis II”, the sequel to “Nemesis”, an old CP/M game?

In the 1981, "Nemesis" was released for CP/M based machines by Super Soft Inc., with the author attribution of Michael A. Pagels and Michael Q Hiller, and artist attribution of Diana J. Bush. ...
46
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3answers
4k views

What was Nintendo's Software Development Environment for NES Games?

(This question was inspired by my previous question What kind of software was used to develop Nintendo 64 titles?) The NES used a modified 6502 processor and most games were written in Assembly. ...
10
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0answers
549 views

In search of… SeaWar — NOT Battleship!

Hopefully, sufficient background Many years ago (40-45), I used to play "Sea War" on a good sized time-share system. It was a text/adventure war game between a couple remote players, played over a ...
7
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1answer
262 views

TI-83 Series Graphing Calculator Emulator

Back in middle school I set up a Windows/DOS TI-83 calculator emulator for some of my teachers. I can't for the life of me remember the name, but I'm looking for a Mac TI-83 emulator (or any TI-8x ...
19
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1answer
2k views

What kind of software was used to develop Nintendo 64 titles?

There seems to be a lot of discussion online about the development hardware used to create Nintendo 64 titles: SGI Indy "pizza box" workstations, SGI's custom Ultra 64 development boards (aka "...
5
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5answers
547 views

Does a market/shop with fully legal 8-bit software/games exist? [closed]

Currently about all of "8-bit micro" games that I know is either abandonware (which is a gray area) or free fan works. But is there some kind of shop, market, some place where you can purchase these ...
10
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2answers
281 views

What did disk-validator do?

...besides relabelling the disk to 'Lazarus' and helping the Saddam virus spread? I know it was supposed to 'fix' corrupted disks that were ejected during a write operation. I don't think I've seen a ...
11
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1answer
442 views

What does Personal Paint documentation actually refer to by “unmaskable interrupt” for its “crash protection feature”?

Personal Paint was a gfx program for Amiga that introduced many novel concepts, some quite ingenious, some... controversial. Among all, it had a "crash protection" feature, that was meant to enable ...
10
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1answer
356 views

How does one convert Atari assembly to A=USR(ADR(“[garble]”)) style BASIC wrapper?

Some small utilities, tools etc for Atari were distributed as BASIC programs that would consist of just one line, that looked something like this: 10 A=USR(ADR("p$PHHLéúÿÿÇEéúÿÿ@éüÿÿ2A$éòùÿÿE°U´è§...
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3answers
889 views

How did Atari cassette “turbo without hardware mods” work?

There were some cassette copying programs for 8-bit Atari, that boasted saving the games in a way that would load it at up to 1800baud - versus the standard 600baud, which was a significant ...
25
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3answers
1k views

What are the differences between a PAL and NTSC C64?

A lot of programs released for the Commodore 64 contained different software for the PAL or NTSC computer. Why did they have different versions of the hardware? Did the software have to be different ...
18
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3answers
983 views

How did “full memory” Spectrum tape copiers work?

There are some tape copiers, such as LERM that claim to be able to copy tapes which contain software that takes the full 48kbyte of RAM. However, this seems impossible on a Spectrum, when the whole ...
18
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3answers
419 views

Where can I find software for the PDP-6?

We are planning to build a reconstruction of the PDP-6. The project is making a lot of progress, but currently we have a critical lack of software. Does anybody know where we can find software to run ...