Questions tagged [software]

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

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41 votes
2 answers
7k 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 ...
12 votes
7 answers
4k views

Did any games or other programs combine disk formats on one side of a disk?

On a typical floppy-based system, the act of reading a sector consists of the following steps: Moving the head to the appropriate track. Waiting until a certain "start of sector header" ...
4 votes
2 answers
528 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 (...
9 votes
2 answers
1k views

Did BBC Micro business software stick to 40 columns?

The iconic personal computer sponsored by the British Broadcasting Corporation, was most famous for its use in UK schools, so I was surprised to read in The Legacy of the BBC Micro: By October 1983, ...
7 votes
1 answer
812 views

What is the oldest UNIX available for modern systems?

What is the oldest UNIX(-like) system that can be legally downloaded and run in a VM or emulator on a modern PC running Linux?
21 votes
1 answer
2k 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 ...
28 votes
4 answers
3k views

What was the legal arrangement between author, publisher and end user for 'type-in programs' in old computer magazines?

Today we live in a world where the idea of open-source is well understood and protected by legal gobbledygook like the MIT, GPL, LGPL, Apache, and EI-EI-O licenses. (Ok, I made up that last one). It ...
103 votes
18 answers
25k 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, ...
9 votes
1 answer
735 views

Which generations of PowerPC did Windows NT 4 run on?

In a blog entry at The Old New Thing, Raymond Chen states that Windows NT first started supporting the 603 and 604 series of PowerPC processors. Was there a specific firmware version which was needed ...
43 votes
1 answer
8k 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
1 answer
614 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 ...
4 votes
0 answers
362 views

Snack shipped with computer products [closed]

I remember that there was a company in the US that packed candy or snacks as a bonus in the shipping box with their products. They were well-known for this practice. I'm pretty sure the snack was ...
18 votes
0 answers
438 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 ...
9 votes
1 answer
724 views

VIP Technologies Professional for Amiga, a Lotus 1-2-3 clone

I accidentally stumbled upon a programme named Professional by a company named VIP Technologies for the Amiga computer. It seems to be a clone (a quite accurate one) of Lotus 1-2-3. I cannot locate ...
18 votes
1 answer
2k 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 ...
29 votes
2 answers
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 ...
9 votes
2 answers
1k views

What was the second platform supported by SAP?

SAP, the well-known ERP software company, started out in the 1970s, with the first version of their software running on IBM mainframes, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SAP_R/2 What was unique about R/2 ...
13 votes
2 answers
1k views

What was the first commercial route planning software for home computers?

Nowadays route planning applications are ubiquitous on smart phones, on embedded or dedicated devices, and on the web. With these applications, you input a destination and a starting point (or the ...
15 votes
6 answers
2k views

Video playback software/formats for a 386?

Wanting to have my 386DX @ 20MHz play a video (any video), just as a demo. I'd prefer it to be watchable (eg 10fps and not a tiny 10x10 pixel) as opposed to a slideshow. What player software could I ...
2 votes
0 answers
193 views

How can software including drivers be moved from one windows (2000) installation to another?

I have a Windows 2000 system which no longer boots. We've narrowed it down to disk corruption of some Windows components, and a clean install of Windows should fix that. But there's some specialist ...
8 votes
1 answer
367 views

Are there any homebrew games (or demos) for the Timex/Sinclair 2068?

I know there has long been a thriving homebrew scene for games and demos for the original Sinclair Spectrum range and also for the Russian and Eastern Bloc Spectrum clones. But I expected some old ...
26 votes
6 answers
8k 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 &...
3 votes
1 answer
383 views

Which system had the first desk accessories?

Many early operating systems were single-tasking. However, sometimes small programs were developed that could share the system and user interface with a main program. Examples include Borland ...
21 votes
2 answers
10k views

What is the best way to obtain old versions of MS-DOS and 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 ...
14 votes
2 answers
4k views

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 ...
32 votes
7 answers
5k 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 ...
12 votes
1 answer
1k 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, ...
11 votes
1 answer
521 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), ...
18 votes
1 answer
933 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 ...
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 ...
7 votes
2 answers
905 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,...
17 votes
1 answer
467 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 ...
90 votes
20 answers
20k 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 ...
23 votes
5 answers
1k 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 ...
5 votes
1 answer
671 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 ...
5 votes
1 answer
403 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 ...
10 votes
3 answers
703 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 ...
58 votes
16 answers
13k 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 ...
2 votes
1 answer
270 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 ...
83 votes
3 answers
21k 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 ...
15 votes
1 answer
1k 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 ...
10 votes
0 answers
230 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 ...
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 ...
10 votes
0 answers
280 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 ...
2 votes
1 answer
219 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?
1 vote
0 answers
240 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. ...
5 votes
1 answer
555 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 ...
39 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 ...
7 votes
3 answers
606 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. ...
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 ...