Questions tagged [software]

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

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24
votes
17answers
6k 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
2answers
418 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
237 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
votes
5answers
340 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
444 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, ...
19
votes
4answers
609 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 ...
22
votes
4answers
4k 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
311 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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
6
votes
3answers
500 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
2answers
240 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 ...
3
votes
4answers
556 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
183 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
votes
3answers
436 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
165 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 ...
90
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, ...
6
votes
0answers
252 views

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

In 1981, the "Nemesis" game 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. ...
71
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 ...
7
votes
1answer
408 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 ...
11
votes
4answers
717 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
2answers
337 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 ...
45
votes
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 ...
14
votes
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 ...
5
votes
1answer
840 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
633 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 ...
4
votes
0answers
403 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 ...
11
votes
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 ...
8
votes
1answer
276 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
326 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
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
votes
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.
5
votes
1answer
225 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 ...
18
votes
3answers
1k 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 ...
12
votes
3answers
1k 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
412 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. ...
5
votes
0answers
269 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
963 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
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
777 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
votes
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 ...
22
votes
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 ...
3
votes
0answers
484 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 ...
-7
votes
1answer
621 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. ...
13
votes
2answers
819 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 ...
27
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
11
votes
1answer
494 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, ...
59
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 ...