All Questions

0
votes
3answers
47 views

When and why did “Public Domain” become “Open Source” software?

Free software, including the source, has been a common feature of computing for as long as I can remember, and probably longer. But the terminology and "legalese" changed at some point. In the 1980s ...
3
votes
1answer
96 views

Identify Windows DirectX game about building a manufacturing business

I'm trying to find the name of a game that I played in the mid-to-late 1990's. Here's what I remember about it: What I played was a demo version, that came on a CD along a bunch of other demos. They ...
25
votes
8answers
3k views

What makes accurate emulation of old systems a difficult task?

Thanks to a lot of passionate and skilled people, we can emulate pretty much any retro platform today. For most people they perform well enough, but in fact, a substantial amount of these emulators ...
17
votes
3answers
5k views

Was Dennis Ritchie being too modest in this quote about C and Pascal?

In his 1993 conference proceeding The Development of the C Language, Dennis Ritchie stated Successors C and even B have several direct descendants, though they do not rival Pascal in ...
1
vote
1answer
116 views

Refactoring Old Printer Driver for Current Linux Kernel

I have an old Lexmark 1100 printer (parallel port LPT1) that is currently working fine on Windows 98. I've tried to make it work on several current distros of Linux but, so far, none worked. Basically,...
46
votes
5answers
8k views

Why did C use the -> operator instead of reusing the . operator?

In the C programming language, the syntax to access the member of a structure is structure.member However, a member of a structure referenced by a pointer is written as pointer->member ...
11
votes
5answers
930 views

Are all CP/M-80 implementations binary compatible?

I never was into CP/M, but I knew it was very popular and the amount of software out there was significant. That being said, when you looked beyond the Kaypros, the IMSAIs, the SOLs and the like which ...
4
votes
1answer
163 views

How to add an “int” to a “float” in the B programming language?

C has data types, so if you add an int to a float, for example: int i = 1; float f = 2.5; float r = i + f; The C compiler will know that it should generate machine instructions that adds an int to a ...
4
votes
1answer
65 views

How do I connect an IDE hard drive to an Amiga 4000 tower?

I would like to know how to connect a hard drive to the Amiga 4000 tower. I have an IDE cable from the top right m/b to the IDE CD-drive. I also have what looks like a SCSI cable from the CPU board. ...
-1
votes
0answers
76 views

Windows Millennium Retail Edition [on hold]

Hello I have windows Millennium Edition and my pc runs 2gb ram. What I need to learn is whats the proper values for the system configuration files including their names to run it as efficient as ...
20
votes
10answers
4k views

Was Objective-C really a hindrance to Apple software development? [on hold]

I have heard stories from some of the greybeards I have met on the Internet that Objective-C was by all accounts a nightmare to work with. Was that just a thing about all the low-level languages of ...
27
votes
2answers
4k views

How did Elite on the NES work?

Elite was one of the earliest 3D games, wireframe only of course but still a remarkable accomplishment on 8-bit computers. Originating on the BBC micro, it was ported to many home computers, as well ...
18
votes
4answers
4k views

What were wait-states, and why was it only an issue for PCs?

PC compatibles in the 1980s were often advertised as having zero, one, two, or sometimes more "wait states". Zero wait states was the best. Basically, the wait-states I am asking about are due to the ...
4
votes
1answer
199 views

What is the difference between CTSS and ITS?

I learned from the history of Multics in early days if Computers, Time Sharing System had used at MIT and later on Compatible Time Sharing System (CTSS) had developed in 1961 and used at MIT. In July ...
2
votes
1answer
86 views

Is it possible to write IIgs floppies from a Powermac 7100?

I haven't gotten around to making/sourcing a cable for ADTPro, but I was thinking perhaps I can just write a few disks with a 7100 I have sitting around since those drives can read/write GS and PC ...
3
votes
3answers
121 views

Is the IBM 5153 color display compatible with the Tandy 1000 16 color modes?

Is it possible to view games made for Tandy Graphics (TGA, etc) on an IBM 5153 color display connected to an original Tandy 1000 (or 1000/A) in 16 colors?
34
votes
5answers
4k views

Did any compiler fully use Intel x87 80-bit floating point?

There is a paradox about floating point that I'm trying to understand. Floating point is an eternal struggle with the problem that real numbers are both essential and incomputable. It's the best ...
12
votes
3answers
908 views

What order were files/directories output in dir?

In the version of command.com included with MS-DOS, DIR seems to print files in a random order, but if one runs multiple DIR commands, they all print the files in the same order. This order does not ...
4
votes
4answers
338 views

What was the first time a programmer was able to use the well know block structure for conditional code?

The easily readable structure of having an if keyword which controls execution of a following block of code is so prevalent in programming that it seems to just be part of it. However, programming ...
25
votes
6answers
5k views

Why weren't discrete x86 CPUs ever used in game hardware?

Please don't point out APUs with x86_64 cores used in current generation game consoles, these are not part of the question I cannot recall a single arcade system or game console that ever used x86 ...
2
votes
3answers
206 views

What was the first language to offer “full” structured programming support?

In the same vein as this question about conditionals, I am interested in the first time a language provided functionality we assume as a given for modern programming languages. The question is when a ...
9
votes
4answers
2k views

What was the first language to use conditional keywords?

The if keyword is so prevalent in programming that it seems to just be part of it. However, with an integer value and a goto statement, one cansimulate the functionality of an if. Which means it's ...
3
votes
1answer
132 views

How can I input a string in ZX Spectrum BASIC using INPUT and not show the quotation marks?

How can I input a string in ZX Spectrum BASIC and not show the quotation marks on input? I've written a program for my 3-year old daughter to type in some letters, but she keeps deleting the ...
13
votes
2answers
3k views

Did MS DOS itself ever use blinking text?

I know that it was possible to create blinking text, but did the operating system itself (I mean, in output from functions of command.com and similar executables) ever make use of blink formatting? ...
0
votes
2answers
174 views

What was the first language compiler to support subtype polymorphism? [closed]

I'm trying to understand the history of Dependency Injection in compiled languages, as an intentional feature of the language. The Wikipedia article on the subject is decidedly Java focused, but I ...
23
votes
3answers
4k views

Why wasn't DOSKEY integrated with COMMAND.COM?

Why did Microsoft make DOSKEY a separate command, instead of integrating it with COMMAND.COM? I don't think DOSKEY uses a lot of RAM or was useless in the '80s... Maybe there was another reason not ...
6
votes
5answers
306 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 ...
15
votes
4answers
2k views

What was the first console to have temporary backward compatibility?

The first five generations of game consoles typically had no backward compatibility. New console, new hardware design, new games. (An exception was the Atari 7800, which as far as I know was the first ...
6
votes
1answer
235 views

When did MS Windows get Dual Monitor support?

I remember one of the features I admired on the Macintosh in the late 80s was support for multiple displays. First time I saw this was on an SE/30, using the internal display along with a big external ...
3
votes
2answers
224 views

Is there a program I can run on the C64 to speed up booting of a game?

Though I had several friends back in the day with a Commodore 64, I only recently acquired one after a friend gave me his old one before he moved house. As such, I'm diving in to learning about the ...
3
votes
0answers
123 views

Name this Macintosh music application

There's an application that's been on my mind on and off for months now, I want to find clarity. Once upon a time, when MacOS was in black and white, there was a neat music composer/player ...
3
votes
1answer
107 views

What is the maximum voltage of high voltage differential SCSI?

Is the maximum voltage of high voltage differential SCSI documented somewhere? All I can find in various source like Wikipedia is that it is "greater than 5 volts" ... but how high can it actually be? ...
2
votes
1answer
146 views

IBM 650 - how many logic gates?

How many logic gates did the IBM 650 have? I'm used to measuring the complexity of a CPU by transistor count, but the 650 was a vacuum tube machine; the number of tubes would also be an interesting ...
19
votes
7answers
16k views

What does the “x” in “x86” represent?

I have read the following in the x86 Wikipedia page: The term "x86" came into being because the names of several successors to Intel's 8086 processor end in "86", including the 80186, 80286, 80386 ...
12
votes
2answers
2k views

Did Xerox really develop the first LAN? [closed]

Did the computer scientist at Xerox really develop the first LAN, but had no backing from the company to further develop these technologies, later showing this to both Steve Jobs and Bill Gates? Just ...
3
votes
1answer
302 views

Did Xerox engineers really develop the first graphical user interface? [closed]

Did the computer scientist at Xerox really develop the first graphical user interface, later showing this to both Steve Jobs and Bill Gates? Just for reference, it is in reference to this story.
15
votes
1answer
571 views

How does a biquinary adder work?

I whipped together a quick answer to this question and then realised, that I have no idea how these tubes manipulate the numbers. A binary adder is easy to understand to the modern mind; for each bit ...
42
votes
2answers
5k views

Why did the IBM 650 use bi-quinary?

The IBM 650, announced in 1953, was the world's first mass-produced computer. It represented numbers in decimal, which is understandable, both because it needed to work with exact money amounts, and ...
10
votes
1answer
216 views

How were Zuse Z22 Instructions Encoded?

The title says it all: How to En-/Decode Z22/Z23 Instructions? (History and Linkage: The question was raised by Wilson in a comment on my answer to his question "Why are PDP-7-style microprogrammed ...
9
votes
2answers
1k views

Why are PDP-7-style microprogrammed instructions out of vogue?

DEC, and at least some of their computers, especially those in the 18-bit family and 12-bit family, had these opr instructions, which contained many bitfields which encoded something like "...
8
votes
2answers
275 views

Protected/virtual memory support in classic AmigaOS

It is a well-known fact that AmigaOS is a single address space, totally unprotected memory operating system. The original implementation ran on a Motorola 68000, that did not support virtual memory if ...
20
votes
2answers
5k views

What was the last x86 CPU that did not have the x87 floating-point unit built in?

This Wikipedia page says the following: Most x86 processors since the Intel 80486 have had these x87 instructions implemented in the main CPU So the above quote implies that some CPUs that were ...
4
votes
1answer
259 views

What can an 8086 CPU do if an x87 floating-point coprocessor is attached to it? [duplicate]

As far as I know, old x86 CPUs (for example: the 8086 CPU) couldn't do floating point arithmetic, and in order to be able to do floating-point arithmetic, an x87 floating-point coprocessor should be ...
13
votes
4answers
4k views

Did any laptop computers have a built-in 5 1/4 inch floppy drive?

In the early era of "portable" or luggable computers, such as the mains powered Osborne 1 and the Compaq Portable, 5 1/4 inch floppy drives were the standard storage medium. When battery-powered ...
2
votes
2answers
415 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, ...
7
votes
0answers
229 views

What role did the BBC have in the development and marketing of Acorn Archimedes computers?

The BBC's Computer Literacy Project was launched in 1982, and saw the public service broadcaster seek to raise awareness and educate the general public about the growing field of computing. They ...
11
votes
1answer
2k views

Why did Acorn's A3000 have red function keys?

Acorn's line of ARM-based Archimedes computers was common in UK schools in the 1990s, and many classrooms had an A3000, A4000, or A5000 computer. The function keys of the A3000 were a distinctive red ...
8
votes
2answers
719 views

Why could you hear an Amstrad CPC working?

I had my first programming experience in the late 80s / early 90s on a Schneider (Amstrad) CPC 464 in Basic. I remember that when a program was running, depending on the current workload of the ...
4
votes
2answers
261 views

Was Apple's Developer Release DR1 of Copland ever distributed?

From 1994 to 1996 Apple developed a complete new Mac OS, codenamed Copland, intended to be published as System 8. A first public demo was made at the May 1996 WWDC. Shortly before it was canceled, a ...
6
votes
1answer
207 views

How were arcade games developed?

For some systems, such as the Super NES (SNES), there existed a development kit, which consisted of specialized hardware. I believe this kit allowed the developer to present recently assembled machine ...

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