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32
votes
2answers
1k views

What BBC Microcomputer features were requested specifically by BBC engineers?

When requirements for the BBC Microcomputer were developed as part of the BBC Computer Literacy Project, an outline specification was created by an independent consultant, the late John Coll. This ...
38
votes
1answer
3k views

What computer system is this from 1984 Doctor Who?

In the 1980s, the popular BBC science fiction series Doctor Who used some real computer system(s) to display impressive (for the time, OK, maybe not!) graphics. They actually ran the software real-...
76
votes
9answers
9k views

What key factor led to the sudden commercial success of MS Windows with v3.0?

Microsoft Windows was originally introduced in 1985, ostensibly to compete with the Apple Macintosh, and other computers shipping with graphical shells by that time. However, early versions of Windows ...
10
votes
1answer
676 views

Can the IBM PCjr be upgraded to support the better features of the Tandy 1000?

It is well known that the IBM PCjr was a commercial failure and that the Tandy 1000 series of computers not only matched the features of the PCjr (other than maybe the wireless keyboard), it also ...
20
votes
2answers
5k views

Which original retrocomputer OS's are still maintained and updated today, for original hardware?

I would like to know which original Operating Systems that run on retrocomputers are still being actively maintained and updated. This only applies to retrocomputer OS's that may still be used on ...
13
votes
2answers
1k views

How did Ceefax work?

Ceefax was a service that provided a series of pages of coloured text in a format similar to a 40-column display to a compatible television set. Each page was numbered, and you could address each page ...
23
votes
4answers
3k views

What conventions and language extensions did people use to program the 8086 and 80286?

The 8086 is a 16 bit processor with a 20 bit segmented address space, famous for being used in the IBM PC. It is also infamous for being tricky to program for. I am currently writing what is ...
30
votes
5answers
3k views

Why does the Commodore C128 perform poorly when running CP/M?

I have seen several claims of poor performance of the C128 when running CP/M, and would like to better understand these claims, especially in comparison to other CP/M machines of the early to mid-...
8
votes
1answer
474 views

Boot Macintosh Quadra 800 from System 7.6.1 CD

I dug out an old Macintosh Quadra 800 that I've had on my shelf for a long while. I'm not even sure where I got it anymore... After a quick look in my VGA adapter bucket, I found I had the needed ...
14
votes
4answers
887 views

Were there VLB cards other than video cards and SuperIO controllers?

VESA local bus was an expansion bus used to overcome speed limitations imposed by ISA bus. In theory VLB could reach 1280 Mbit/s (with 40 MHz CPU) which was way more than ISA's 66.7 Mbit/s. The speed ...
9
votes
3answers
709 views

What is the first computer architecture that knew code from data?

The CPU being able to tell code and data apart to prevent inadvertent or malicious execution of data as instructions by trapping (even if the bit pattern of the data can be interpreted as a valid ...
2
votes
1answer
374 views

PS2 slim disk won't spin [closed]

So I've been wanting to get into modding consoles. Today I put in some 3mm leds. I put them under the usb ports and controller ports. So I get done with it and put in a game to make sure it works. ...
9
votes
2answers
511 views

Can I use my IBM P/N 93F0502 (circa 1992) monitor in a dual monitor setup with my modern Mac Mini or Thinkpad?

I have an old IBM monitor here and I'd like to use it as a second screen to my computer (Mac mini running Fedora or Thinkpad running Archlinux). I plugged it into the electricity socket without a ...
6
votes
2answers
99 views

Will this Acculite laptop boot without HDD?

First I'd like to ask: Does anybody even know of this laptop? I was surprised to find 0 information about it online. I've was asked to see if I could get this thing to boot, but it was in rough shape. ...
13
votes
4answers
1k views

Was the Apple II ever sold in kit form?

In the June 1977 issue of BYTE magazine I saw an advertisement stating you could order an Apple II and it had a price list. One of the columns was titled "Apple II Board-only". The price for that ...
9
votes
2answers
629 views

Did the ZX Spectrum have more original titles than C64?

From casual reading, it seems as though many C64 titles were ported from the ZX Spectrum. Why was this the case? Was the ZX Spectrum more popular? Or easier to develop for?
7
votes
5answers
570 views

How did a punchcard-based test-taking system work?

A punchcard (in 3 fragments) has been found in a copy of Computer Programming: A Mixed Language Approach by Marvin L. Stein and William D. Munro (1965). If my guess is right, a test-taker would write ...
11
votes
4answers
539 views

How was parity used with modems?

On the back of this question which talks about 5 and 6 bit communications, I remember back in the BBS days that it was common to set your terminal to 8N1, (a.k.a. 8 bits, no parity, 1 stop bit) to ...
1
vote
0answers
414 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
132 views

Connecting to a Digital DSSI disc drive

I heard it is possible to "telnet to the hard disk" on VAX systems where the HD is connected with a DSSI interface. What commands are available once one establishes a connection to the disk?
11
votes
1answer
835 views

What did the Super FX co-processor do?

The Super FX co-processor was built into games cartridges such as Star Fox, Yoshi's Island and Doom. It was used for sprite transformations in Yoshi's Island and 3D effects in Star Fox and Doom, as ...
26
votes
10answers
2k views

What were the applications of 5/6-bit serial port formats?

Traditional PC serial ports, based on members of the 8250/16550 UART families (or their clones within SuperIO chips) support some unusual serial data formats, specifically 5- and 6-bit data, and 1.5 ...
9
votes
2answers
1k views

How do NES/famicon games produce additional sound channels?

The NES/famicon has always used the Ricoh 2A03, a modified MOS 6502 processor to generate the memorable music and sound effects of classic Nintendo games and continues to define the newer 8-bit / ...
11
votes
2answers
840 views

How was Prince of Persia “better/faster” with RWTS18?

I was reading about Prince of Persia over at POP Code Review. In that article, the writer printed an interview with Roland Gustafsson, the inventor of RWTS18 copy protection for the Apple II series. ...
5
votes
1answer
403 views

What libraries do I need in order to compile for Windows 98?

I am attempting to compile John Burger's StdTel for Windows 98. I am using Pelles C, because it has Windows 98 support, but it appears that I don't have the necessary libraries. This is the compiler's ...
11
votes
2answers
759 views

Why was Brøderbund's RWTS18 incompatible with the Laser 128?

The V-Tech Laser 128 is an Apple II clone. This machine uses a clean-room copy of the Apple II BIOS and was intended to be compatible with Apple software. However, Brøderbund's games stored with the ...
8
votes
2answers
2k views

How to get a dump of a particular ROM?

How do I create a dump of a Game Boy game so that I can have it for backup as a ROM? I know that I can download the ROM (though slightly illegal) if I really wanted to, but I want to know "how" ROM ...
13
votes
1answer
719 views

Why did POKEing ROM addresses mask port writes?

After reading mcleod_ideafix's answer about the Inves Spectrum+'s "randomize of death", specifically his article on the subject, one thing struck me as odd. From César Hernández Bañó's research: ......
7
votes
1answer
1k views

What is the Famicom “Pulse Line” of games? How many games are part of this line?

(This question was inspired by Did all NES "Black Box" games come in carts with five screws?) I've heard of the Famicom "Pulse Line" of games released in Japan shortly after the launch of ...
11
votes
3answers
1k views

Why did the ZX Spectrum use edges for its tape storage routines?

Why did the Sinclair ZX-Spectrum use edges for its standard tape storage routines? I can see that frequency modulation was likely necessary in order to account for the inaccurate timings when running ...
14
votes
12answers
2k views

Was there a retro computer susceptible of being damaged only by issuing instructions at it?

This question... Can a USR command damage a ZX Spectrum? ... has leaded me to wonder if there was once a microcomputer that could actually be damaged by software. More specifically: Is there a case ...
18
votes
2answers
1k views

Can a USR command damage a ZX Spectrum?

I recently came across this magazine snippet; specifically this section: Aprovechamos para avisar a los usuarios del Inves, que nos ha Ilegado el rumor de que haciendo: BORDER 5 RANDOMIZE USR 4665 ...
4
votes
0answers
246 views

Using a modern microcontroller to explore early home computing concepts [closed]

I'm working on a project to write a small OS based loosely on the functionality of CP/M. I want to better understand a few things about the early home computing market, as well as to understand ...
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, ...
15
votes
2answers
4k views

How and why did the ZX Spectrum use so many voltages?

Whilst researching the Zilog Z80, I had found that it accepts a 5V power supply.[2] When looking for information on the ZX Spectrum, I found that its power adaptor produces 9V.[1] Confused, I did some ...
9
votes
4answers
865 views

Trying to understand what an “address latch” is while emulating the NES PPU

I'm attempting to emulate the NES PPU and I'm implementing its registers. In particular, reading from the PPU status register has the following effects: Reading the status register will clear D7 ...
13
votes
2answers
3k views

Is it possible to play Famicom games on the NES and utilize the extra sound channels?

I've seen there are adapters to convert Japanese Famicom games to work on the NES. You may have to remove the lockout chip, I can't remember. Anyway, many Famicom games included extra sound hardware ...
7
votes
1answer
479 views

Used PS1 “slim” (PSone) freezes on boot

I got a PSone ("PS1 slim") for $5 off Facebook. Real dirty, didn't have any of the cables. So I take it apart, clean it real good. I take my universal power pack and my PS2 AV cables and plug it in. ...
12
votes
2answers
498 views

What are all the fixed addresses of AmigaOS?

I was reading Richard Downer's excellent response about how Amiga libraries work and one sentence in particular got my attention: Yes, a pointer to exec.library is always at $4, and this is (in ...
8
votes
1answer
388 views

Selling computers via dealers and the mass market

As discussed in Origin of dealer networks, the two main ways to sell computers are, and particularly were in the old days, Three digit price tag sold to individuals => mass market, department stores ...
13
votes
2answers
2k views

Square pixels and TV output

Another question about color computers in the days of CRT televisions! There is a consensus that pixels should be square, and so they typically are on purpose-designed monitors. However, looking at a ...
9
votes
3answers
3k views

Restore corroded AT motherboard with dead CMOS battery

I have acquired a nice MS-DOS PC from EET Computer (I couldn't find any information about them). It actually works, but I have two errors on boot: Floppy disk drive controller failure; CMOS Battery ...
5
votes
1answer
260 views

IBM Model M2 stuck on Scroll and Caps Lock, no keys reacting

Today I tried out an old M2 for the first time with an USB/P2 adapter. For the first 10 minutes it worked fine. Then I set it aside on my desk, left the room for a second, came back and suddenly the ...
12
votes
2answers
732 views

Ideal resolution for color computer on NTSC

Suppose you were, in the early eighties, designing a color computer to run on an NTSC TV with a free hand to choose the specifications within the limits of the technology of the time. What would be ...
6
votes
2answers
186 views

DECNet physical connector

DECNet was a network system for DEC computers, introduced in the mid to late seventies. What physical connector did it use? Was it possible to connect to such a network using just an RS-232 serial ...
29
votes
1answer
1k views

How did the Amiga DCTV work

This is an unusual question since I'll answer it right away because it was a truly unique device and there is absolutely nothing about the technology it used on the internet. I spoke with the hardware ...
27
votes
10answers
2k views

Limiting factor on early color palettes

Early color computers typically had a limit of X colors used simultaneously from a palette of Y, a classic example being the Commodore 64 which could do 320x200 monochrome or 160x200 four colors, ...
7
votes
4answers
445 views

Cost of expansion slots

Among other early computers, the Apple II and IBM PC made the consequential decision to provide internal expansion slots. How much did this add to manufacturing cost? Intuitively, it seems like it ...
4
votes
3answers
434 views

Identify an early 90s optical mouse

Apologies if this is not the right place to ask this. When I was in high school in the early 90s (maybe 1992 or so), they took us on a field trip to what I think was a government R&D center of ...
6
votes
2answers
203 views

Zenith SupersPort 286e 24 pin ribbon cable keyboard to modern computer

I have an old dead Zenith SupersPort 286e and it an a really high quality mechanical keyboard. The keyboard is connected to the motherboard with a 24 pin ribbon cable of approximately 3.15 cm of ...

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