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13
votes
3answers
1k views

What aspect of portable floating point did Java back down on?

Java was released under the slogan 'write once, run anywhere'; while its adoption was probably more about 'now we have a language that provides garbage collection in a familiar workflow and with a ...
4
votes
1answer
188 views

What's wrong with SNES original controller's shoulder buttons?

This is probably a hardware-related question. I have recently bought a total of 7 (seven) different original SNES controllers from different sources, all of them being somewhat used but mostly ...
7
votes
2answers
361 views

Is there something akin to PLATO still available?

From what I've read of PLATO it seems like it was a pretty powerful system, with some features that in retrospect seem way ahead of it's time, especially when compared to BBS which seemed to be far ...
2
votes
3answers
248 views

Where can I find a 26-pin flex flat cable for the floppy drive in a Toshiba T19x0 laptop?

I was trying to take apart a Toshiba T1950ct laptop to replace the slim floppy drive’s belt. Unfortunately, I broke the delicate flat flex cable (ffc), which is a non-standard 26-wire floppy cable. ...
2
votes
1answer
84 views

How 3Dfx Voodoo 1 Emulator works

reading of this question brings up 3Dfx Voodoo 1 Emulator in my memories. I always wandered how did it work so good time as any to ask... My memory is hazy on the details so I might miss remember ...
2
votes
1answer
143 views

Can I build a Colecovision AC adapter from multiple other adapters?

Can I use multiple small AC adaptors to make a working Colecovision AC adaptor? For example, two 5V, one 12V and the ground. Colecovision AC adaptors are too expensive.
1
vote
0answers
142 views

Internet services that are still compatible with devices (phones/pdas from 2000-2007) [closed]

Though I can identify some technologies like following, I would like to know which ones will surely fail and which ones are worth to test on my old Palm, Symbian, WindowsCE,... Web Issues with ...
2
votes
3answers
488 views

What was the distinctive rapid clicking sound in late 1990s desktops?

I am fairly sure that this clicking wasn't just because my computer had issues, although that would be interesting to find out. I distinctly remember that the first computers I owned would make a ...
1
vote
0answers
60 views

Why did ISDN terminals tend to advertise the switches they are compatible with vs the standard protocols?

I've begun hacking on a lot of ISDN equipment that I've purchased (phones, terminal adapters, protocol analyzers, etc.) One thing that's struck me odd is that a lot of the equipment notes it ...
6
votes
2answers
114 views

Why do sprites lag behind a scrolling map in first-generation Pokémon games?

This is something I often notice whenever I see a first-generation Pokémon game being played on a Game Boy emulator. It might be present on real hardware as well, but I don’t have that to test. When ...
3
votes
2answers
116 views

What random number generator was used in the VAX game Empire?

Around the year 1990, I played the game Empire on a VAX/VMS system. It was a turn-based, text-based-map wargame that later inspired Civilization and Xconq. What was particularly memorable about this ...
3
votes
2answers
126 views

Did communication between a PLATO terminal and mainframe use pushes?

I'm trying to learn more about how the PLATO system worked with respect to communications. I've read some of the specs, but coming from a web-background I'm unfamiliar with the underlying way that the ...
6
votes
1answer
202 views

PLATO & JS99'er

Has anyone out there managed to load a PLATO PHM 3122 cartridge by Control Data into the JS99'er emulator? That way a user could place all of the PLATO Lesson Disks on a cloud location (e.g., ...
7
votes
1answer
650 views

How did the Rush 3D engine in Crazy Taxi: Catch a Ride work?

In an interview with the developers of the Crazy Taxi game for the GBA, they mention that they were able to achieve 3D graphics with a pure-software 3D rendering engine that they called Rush: It is a ...
-5
votes
2answers
122 views

Why do PlayStation 1 CD-based video games (nearly?) always have to reload the entire level each time you start over? [closed]

Billy Bob boots up Tomb Raider on his PlayStation. He loads the saved game from his memory card and it loads up the level he is on. Then Billy controls Lara in a sloppily manner, so that she dies. Now ...
0
votes
1answer
121 views

When did cross-platform C start assuming function prototypes?

The most important difference between the original 'K&R' C, and ANSI/ISO C89/90, was function prototypes. These started being supported by some compilers in the mid-eighties, were formally ...
6
votes
3answers
359 views

Why does PDP-6 Fortran need JSA and JRA?

According to pdp10.nocrew.org, the JSA and JRA instructions were invented for PDP-6 Fortran. It's a strange claim; now I don't know anything about Fortran, but I find it hard to convince myself that ...
7
votes
2answers
596 views

The NexGen's x86 internal RISC architecture

NexGen was best known for the unique implementation of the x86 architecture in its processors. NexGen's CPUs were designed very differently from other processors based on the x86 instruction set at ...
12
votes
6answers
2k views

How can extra (digital) data be hidden on VCR/VHS tapes? [closed]

For my new crime-novel I am in need of some more specific info on hiding digital data on analog VCR or VHS cassettes. I have already read a lot online and seen the LCR oddware video on that case (...
6
votes
1answer
243 views

What were the modifications on the Apple 1 board that would have made it 6800 compatible?

The Apple-1 motherboard was designed in such a way as to make it possible for the hobbyist to remove the 6502 processor and use a Motorola 6800 as the CPU instead. This was not a trivial operation, as ...
20
votes
7answers
5k views

What was the last non-monolithic CPU to come to market?

This answer to the question "What was the rationale behind 36 bit computer architectures?" makes the point that early computers were assembled by hand, rather than having central processing ...
2
votes
1answer
257 views

Clear description of MS BASIC number → string conversions?

I'm failing to find a concise document that describes the formatting used by (6502) MS BASIC when converting internal floating-point numbers to text for display in PRINT, STR$, etc. I know it has a ...
13
votes
3answers
2k views

What were the differences between Xenix and Unix?

According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xenix by the beginning of the nineties, SCO was selling 32-bit 386 versions of both Xenix and Unix. According to https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=...
12
votes
12answers
2k views

Which pointing devices were used by early laptop computers?

I've started reading this article on the history of the ThinkPad. In it, the TrackPoint (pointing stick/"nipple" mouse) is heralded as an important innovation in the design of portable computers at ...
37
votes
3answers
6k views

How did Woz write the Apple 1 BASIC before building the computer?

According to his 1984 interview with Byte magazine, Steve Wozniak created the BASIC for the Apple 1 computer before he actually built the computer: I sat down and wrote the BASIC first, and that took ...
21
votes
1answer
2k views

Why do Amiga Libraries have negative entry points?

As described in these answers, the jump table offsets to functions contained in an AmigaOS library are always negative values. The reason for this is not intuitive to me, but I suspect Carl Sassenrath ...
4
votes
1answer
70 views

How do I detect if AmigaDOS dos.library/CurrentDir() fails?

It seems that the primary system call to change a new directory within an Amiga process is dos.library/CurrentDir(lock) but the documentation does not tell me how to detect if it succeeded. Quoting ...
37
votes
3answers
6k views

What did AOL use for pre-web GUI client?

AOL was a big early Internet service provider, and of course by the late nineties, the most popular Internet protocol was the web; most users spent most of their Internet time in a web browser. But if ...
3
votes
1answer
112 views

Besides the IBM 709 and its descendents, did any other machine have “slightly longer” registers?

This question occurred to me while I was formulating this answer about arithmetic versus logical shifts. The IBM 709, and its descendant the 7090, etc., is a 36-bit mainframe with a classical single-...
34
votes
8answers
11k views

Why did some early computer designers eschew integers?

Several early computer designs regarded a 'word' as representing not an integer, with the bits having values 2^0, 2^1, 2^2, ..., but as representing a fixed-point fraction 2^-1, 2^-2, 2^-3, ... (For ...
13
votes
3answers
3k views

What was the first CPU with exposed pipeline?

Quoting from Programming for Performance exercise: early versions of the MIPS processor had an "exposed pipeline" (that is, the assembly language programmer needed to know the latencies of ...
2
votes
2answers
294 views

How to implement a 'write' function in pdp-11 / MACRO-11 / ODT using simh?

So, I'm working on a project where I'm aiming to get the first winner of the IOCCC (obfuscated c code contest) dissected down to the last detail... The program is mullender.c which you can find by ...
14
votes
1answer
2k views

Which computers did Donald Knuth “mix” together to get MIX?

The MIX was a computer design that Donald Knuth used to illustrate computer instruction sets in his magnum opus The Art of Computer Programming. MIX's model number is 1009, which was derived by ...
2
votes
1answer
224 views

Was the ProDOS beep part of the kernel or just a commonly duplicated piece of code?

On the Apple II, system beeps were typically just the 'Control-G' beep noise. However, many ProDOS-based applications from Apple Computer abandoned the firmware-based beep routine and instead used a ...
0
votes
2answers
114 views

How to decode hexadecimal number in IBM/360 column binary format

I have a message: x2400\x1100\x2001\x1020\x2100\x0900\x2008\x2012\x0900\x1001\x2001\x1010\x2001\x0900\x0802\x0812\x1200\x2010\x0802\x1004\x0820\x1010\x2100\x2002\x1012 It's in IBM column binary ...
13
votes
1answer
2k views

Intel processor transistor type evolution

The Intel 4004 used MOS (metal–oxide–semiconductor) transistors. What has been the transistor types used in Intel processors onwards from the 4004 to 8085 to the x86 family of instruction set ...
11
votes
1answer
457 views

What was the very first device to have an RS-232 serial port

I find the RS-232 standard fascinating as it's one of the standards in computing that's survived--and is still used--for well over 50 years. The only major development has been a change in voltage ...
7
votes
1answer
539 views

What was the intended use for the character symbols for control codes in codepage 437?

Is there a well documented or well understood explanation for what was the intended purpose for the more haphazard glyph choices in the control code range of the original IBM PC character set? Maybe a ...
16
votes
3answers
2k views

Which was the first magazine presented in electronic form, on a data medium, to be read on a computer?

In this question a magazine is meant to be a periodical publication containing news, information and other content like software for example. By electronic magazine I mean a magazine presented in ...
2
votes
2answers
103 views

PDP-1 skip group invert bit functionality

I'm confused on the behavior of setting the invert bit on the PDP-1's SKP group. The manual states: The intent of any skip instruction can be reversed by making Bit 5 (normally the Indirect Address ...
18
votes
2answers
6k 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 ...
31
votes
6answers
3k views

How did Elite (BBC Micro) compress resources?

Elite, an Acornsoft game for the BBC Micro, is a game set in space. Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is.     — Douglas Adams There are a ...
11
votes
1answer
1k views

What did Prodigy use for pre-web GUI client?

Prodigy was a big early Internet service provider, and of course by the late nineties, the most popular Internet protocol was the web; most users spent most of their Internet time in a web browser. ...
19
votes
9answers
6k views

What was the equivalent of “America Online” (AOL) outside America?

The rise in popularity of home PCs with modems in the U.S. coincided with the rise of America Online. Of course, many of us in America were online for years before this - using Compuserve, GEnie, and ...
25
votes
9answers
2k views

What implementations of BASIC had a robust flood fill operator?

When I learned BASIC on Elektronika BK, I got fascinated with the flood fill (PAINT) operator: how does it know to get to all nooks and crannies of the shape to fill? I've devised an algorithm, tried ...
2
votes
1answer
132 views

“Restoring” a 1986 Compaq Portable II (Cabling question)

I am in possession of a working 1986 Compaq Portable II. However, I couldn't find a 5.25" floppy with the proper version of DOS on it to actually make the computer, ya know, work. I've since ...
2
votes
2answers
110 views

How to use IBM SaveDskF floppy format on modern machine

Is there a way to write IBM SaveDskF disk images to a floppy on a modern machine? The floppy drive is connected via USB. Some comment somewhere said to use WinImage, but I tried that and it said the ...
13
votes
2answers
1k views

Origin of “arithmetic” and “logical” for signed and unsigned shifts

The assembly language for many processors use the phrase "arithmetic shift" to represent the bitwise shift of a signed value, and "logical shift" for an unsigned value. The two ...
6
votes
1answer
1k views

What programming languages were most commonly used on the AS/400 in the 90s?

The IBM AS/400, formerly known as System/38, subsequently known as i (sic), is remarkable in being essentially the most future-proof of all the minicomputers, thanks among other things to the use of ...
28
votes
7answers
30k views

How can you connect an Amiga 500/600/1000/2000 to a modern monitor?

I have an Amiga 500 that I'd like to get up and running again, but the 1084 monitor with which I used to use it has flyback transformer issues. What options are available to hook it up to a modern ...

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