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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 ...
user3570736's user avatar
  • 1,802
37 votes
6 answers
13k views

Is there a simple way to display ANSI art and animation files in a modern terminal window?

ANSI art and animations were prevalent on BBS systems in the late 80s and early 90s, and the ANSI art scene continues to thrive today. There are thousands of ANSI art files, with usual extension .ans, ...
Brian H's user avatar
  • 60.8k
102 votes
6 answers
11k views

Were there 8086 coprocessors other than the 8087?

The 8087 math coprocessor for the 8086 (and descendants) nominally added floating point and transcendental (trigonometric and logarithmic) instructions to the 8086. Contrary to naive expectations, the ...
Euro Micelli's user avatar
  • 2,805
6 votes
4 answers
2k views

1980's PC educational game where you build robots

I don't remember anything else from this game except it was in the late 1980's in my school and I was playing it on something with a scrollball, and you basically build robots and did science ...
Jus10's user avatar
  • 231
104 votes
16 answers
25k views

Does "Disk Operating System" imply that there was a "non-disk" Operating System?

In the 1980's at primary school we saw MS-DOS and DR DOS competing before Windows 3.1 and subsequent releases took over that space. At home we had Apple II's which booted up to a BASIC prompt. On ...
hawkeye's user avatar
  • 2,575
14 votes
4 answers
6k views

How can a ST-412 MFM hard drive be integrated with a modern PC?

I have a Seagate ST-225 20MB hard drive. It used a ST-412 MFM (Modified Frequency Modulation) controller which unfortunately went to the great bit bucket some time ago. Is it possible to get this ...
Robert Columbia's user avatar
35 votes
2 answers
2k 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 ...
Mick's user avatar
  • 2,829
46 votes
2 answers
6k 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-...
CJ Dennis's user avatar
  • 2,517
96 votes
11 answers
14k 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 ...
Brian H's user avatar
  • 60.8k
10 votes
1 answer
847 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 ...
cbmeeks's user avatar
  • 8,531
18 votes
1 answer
7k 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 ...
Brian H's user avatar
  • 60.8k
12 votes
2 answers
2k 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 ...
wizzwizz4's user avatar
  • 18.7k
23 votes
4 answers
4k 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 ...
fuz's user avatar
  • 1,564
52 votes
7 answers
13k 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-...
Brian H's user avatar
  • 60.8k
9 votes
1 answer
1k 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 ...
Geo...'s user avatar
  • 10.2k
14 votes
4 answers
2k 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 ...
Algimantas's user avatar
  • 1,344
9 votes
3 answers
993 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 ...
Leo B.'s user avatar
  • 19.4k
2 votes
1 answer
519 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. ...
Justin's user avatar
  • 645
9 votes
2 answers
1k 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 ...
Merlin's user avatar
  • 141
6 votes
2 answers
124 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. ...
SimplySerenity's user avatar
15 votes
4 answers
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 ...
cbmeeks's user avatar
  • 8,531
11 votes
2 answers
974 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?
christofr's user avatar
  • 211
8 votes
4 answers
1k 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 ...
Leo B.'s user avatar
  • 19.4k
13 votes
6 answers
1k 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 ...
bjb's user avatar
  • 16.4k
1 vote
0 answers
470 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 ...
wizzwizz4's user avatar
  • 18.7k
5 votes
1 answer
236 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?
0xF2's user avatar
  • 365
14 votes
1 answer
1k 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 ...
wizzwizz4's user avatar
  • 18.7k
27 votes
9 answers
3k 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 ...
user avatar
9 votes
2 answers
2k 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 / ...
nabulator's user avatar
  • 929
14 votes
2 answers
1k 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. ...
cbmeeks's user avatar
  • 8,531
7 votes
1 answer
644 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 ...
wizzwizz4's user avatar
  • 18.7k
12 votes
2 answers
1k 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 ...
wizzwizz4's user avatar
  • 18.7k
9 votes
2 answers
3k 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 ...
Retro Gamer's user avatar
  • 2,435
15 votes
1 answer
1k 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: ......
wizzwizz4's user avatar
  • 18.7k
8 votes
1 answer
3k 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 ...
JAL's user avatar
  • 9,620
13 votes
3 answers
2k 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 ...
user avatar
38 votes
20 answers
14k views

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

The question 'Can a USR command damage a ZX Spectrum?' has led me to wonder if there was once a microcomputer that could actually be damaged by software. More specifically: Is there a case that a ...
mcleod_ideafix's user avatar
39 votes
2 answers
12k 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 ...
wizzwizz4's user avatar
  • 18.7k
4 votes
0 answers
262 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 ...
Michael Stachowsky's user avatar
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, ...
wizzwizz4's user avatar
  • 18.7k
25 votes
2 answers
8k 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 ...
wizzwizz4's user avatar
  • 18.7k
10 votes
4 answers
2k 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 ...
w.brian's user avatar
  • 393
14 votes
2 answers
5k 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 ...
cbmeeks's user avatar
  • 8,531
8 votes
1 answer
1k 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. ...
Justin's user avatar
  • 645
13 votes
2 answers
954 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 ...
user180940's user avatar
  • 3,726
9 votes
1 answer
633 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 ...
rwallace's user avatar
  • 62.4k
14 votes
2 answers
4k 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 ...
rwallace's user avatar
  • 62.4k
11 votes
3 answers
6k 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 ...
Informancien's user avatar
  • 2,657
5 votes
1 answer
623 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 ...
Merlin's user avatar
  • 141
17 votes
3 answers
2k 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 ...
rwallace's user avatar
  • 62.4k

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