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27
votes
1answer
3k views

Why did keygens play music?

When running some keygens (i.e. applications that generate working license keys for possibly pirated software), low-quality background music is played while the user waits. See this sample YouTube ...
9
votes
1answer
733 views

Looking for a specific BASIC music program from the 80s

When I was a kid, we had a PC-XT with a lot of GW-Basic programs on it. I am trying to track down one in particular -- it was a music player of sorts. A menu (all monochrome text as I recall) and you ...
16
votes
3answers
2k views

How did DoubleDOS work?

Back in the MS-DOS days, there was a program DoubleDOS that you could run that would split your machine in half and multitask two separate DOS programs. While it didn't particularly work well for ...
5
votes
1answer
186 views

Insert a row, but only across some columns?

Yes, I still use Lotus 1-2-3 Release 2.4 on my HP 200LX. Anybody know of a good way to do something like insert row (/wir), but only across a subset of columns? In other words, kind of like inserting ...
11
votes
2answers
522 views

Amiga Video Toaster support

What features of the Amiga chipset architecture and/or Amiga OS made it possible to design the Video Toaster for the Amiga? Why weren't there similar (cost-effective) video products for the PC or Mac?...
14
votes
1answer
765 views

What is the relationship between Amiga audio and the MOD music file format?

What is the the MOD music file format? Exactly how does it relate to the Amiga 1000 audio hardware? Did the MOD format become popular on non-Amiga computers? If so, why?
15
votes
1answer
3k views

What was the first C compiler for the Mac?

When did a C compiler first become commercially available for the Apple Macintosh? And what was its name? The only programming languages that I recall were available for the Mac at launch (January ...
21
votes
1answer
1k views

When does the VIC-II read the sprite data?

This question is about the Commodore 64 and its graphics chip, the VIC-II. Imagine that on a particular scanline, the VIC-II needs to fetch 40 bytes (the background tiles) and since it's a badline ...
27
votes
10answers
15k views

How to get started writing C for the IBM PC in 1980-81

Suppose it's late 1980 to early 1981, you've got some software you want to write for the IBM PC which will be released later in 1981, want to get started ASAP, and believe C is the right language for ...
17
votes
2answers
2k views

What was the first C compiler for the IBM PC?

When did a C compiler first become available for the IBM PC? I have fond memories of Turbo C, but that didn't become available until the mid to late eighties; it definitely wasn't the first one. ...
11
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the origin of different styles of assembly language mnemonics?

As exemplified in answers to this question (I hope that closed questions that are linked to, don't get purged), the instruction mnemonics in early assembly languages had a 1-to-1 correspondence to the ...
17
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the difference between DriveSpace and DoubleSpace?

DriveSpace is the successor to DoubleSpace. Both are DOS systems that mount a Compressed Volume File as a drive, allowing ordinary programs to interface with a compressed drive without an intermediate ...
8
votes
2answers
498 views

Do any Atari 8-bit emulators produce the disk / tape I/O sound?

I asked this question several months ago about why did the Atari produce beeping sounds when loading a disk or tape and it seems that it was by design. However, as I've played with a few emulators ...
10
votes
3answers
906 views

Transferring files between Commodore PET and IBM PC

Suppose you have two early eighties computers, a Commodore PET with 8050 disk drive and an IBM PC with its 5.25" disk drive. Is there a way to transfer files between them? Not machine code programs, ...
15
votes
1answer
3k views

Why are the | and ¦ keys labelled the wrong way around?

Note to close-voters: There is a meta question concerning the on-topicness of this question. Please provide an answer or comment. A comment from downvoters wouldn't hurt either. The UK QWERTY ...
11
votes
6answers
2k views

Do any mainframe emulators exist with a functional FORTRAN compiler?

Similar to this question, but generalized to any mainframe computer from before the microprocessor era, does there exist an emulator and OS for a vintage mainframe computer that will run the output ...
11
votes
3answers
477 views

ZX80 BASIC checking free memory

Did ZX80 BASIC have a way to check how much memory you were using and how much was left? Or otherwise: if you were writing a program on a machine with the RAM expansion, was there a way to tell ...
25
votes
2answers
3k views

Was the first ARM “processor” a BBC BASIC program?

The best background I have found so far on the early development of the ARM processor at Acorn comes from this interview with Steve Furber. The interview does not mention the development of the first ...
8
votes
1answer
386 views

Was there ever a division instruction with sign of the remainder following the sign of the quotient?

A document about the precursor to ANDF (Architecture Neutral Distribution Format) mentions that two of its integer division/remainder primitives "are those generally implemented directly by processor ...
9
votes
4answers
674 views

How to alpha-sort MS-DOS 7.x directories

I maintain a Windows 98SE machine for lots of reasons (Star Commander, SIO-2-PC, ADTPro, 3.5" and 5.25" PC Floppies, RS-232 port, Zip, Jazz, CD-ROM, Ethernet, etc). It is a very useful box. I also ...
31
votes
3answers
11k views

Where does this esoteric Pascal operator come from?

In the documentation for an implementation of Pascal for a Soviet computer, I've encountered a very weird language extension. I'll try to translate it: Branching operator (branch) Syntax &...
2
votes
2answers
1k views

Timeline of progressive scan CRT resolutions

In chronological order of roughly1 increasing total pixel count (world record style), please list progressive scan raster CRT monitors (not vector monitors) that were in production (not prototypes). ...
13
votes
1answer
1k views

Did the PAL version of the Apple II use a different clock frequency?

The Apple II used a 6502 CPU clocked at 1.023 MHz which was tightly tied to the NTSC frequency (1/14 of crystal, 3.5 color clocks per CPU cycle). It is well known that the Disk ][ was primarily ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

Using the swap space of Windows 3.1 as a MS-DOS 6.22 temporary directory

I currently have a working installation of MS-DOS 6.22 with Windows 3.1. I can only use Windows or DOS individually so I don't see the point of having a swap-file for Windows taking up space that can'...
6
votes
2answers
839 views

Are floppy disks used for MS-DOS setup still needed after you install the operating system?

I currently only have 11 disks available. One of the disks is a reserve, so I will not use it unless I have to. That brings us down to 10 disks. Disk 0 - Blank, I will use this for the installation ...
8
votes
3answers
910 views

Connecting an Atari 130XE to SM124 monitor

I've got an Atari 130XE 8bit computer that has Composite Video Output. Also, I've got an Atari SM124 monitor designed for the Atari ST 16-bit line of computers. If you look at an Atari 130XE packing ...
20
votes
7answers
3k views

Was Amiga the last of the home retrocomputers sold?

The Commodore-Amiga was offered for sale to home users from 1985 (original A1000 in North America) until 1996, when Escom stopped selling the A1200. By 1996, Apple was selling PowerPC-based Macs for ...
9
votes
3answers
227 views

Format of “Pound” domains in RFC 821

This is a bit of an archaeological question, but RFC 821, page 31, paragraph 3 describes a syntax for mailbox addresses that is of the form local_path@#123, where the pound and the following number is ...
7
votes
2answers
351 views

Is it safe to provide 5V to CMOS RAM from PSU instead of CR2032 battery?

I have a motherboard which stores BIOS settings in a DS12887 chip with internal battery. The battery is long dead, and the pin of chip's socket is not connected to any power supply so the chip doesn't ...
11
votes
2answers
527 views

What's the meaning of __saveds in Amiga C code?

What's the meaning of __saveds in Amiga C code? It's applied to function prototypes, and is required for functions that are to be called by assembler code, if I understand correctly.
9
votes
3answers
685 views

Can the BBC Master 128 work fine with no battery?

The BBC Master 128 has a CMOS NVRAM and battery system for storing configuration information. I assume that a dead or removed battery just leads to the NVRAM reverting to defaults or other non-harmful ...
9
votes
3answers
3k views

What “Write your own RPG/Adventure game” books were available for 8-bit computers? [closed]

During the 70s and 80s there were a number of books about how to write your own games for 8-bit computers, usually in BASIC. Three examples of these books are How to Create Adventure Games by ...
20
votes
11answers
6k views

640x480 color display in 1980

I'm working on an alternate history story in which the protagonists, Silicon Valley computer entrepreneurs, are trying to release a graphical workstation in 1980, with the capability of displaying ...
11
votes
3answers
557 views

What kinds of expansion ROMs and cartridges are available for the BBC Micro?

The BBC Master 128 has 3 empty expansion ROM sockets and 2 cartridge slots, which seems like a lot of potential. I have already discovered that it is common to add an expansion ROM to support a filing ...
10
votes
1answer
679 views

What is the history of data compression tools on personal computers?

On UNIX, the progression of the most widespread data compression programs was as follows: (AFAIR: Pre System V) compact (suffix .C), dynamic Huffman coding (AFAIR: introduced in System V) pack (...
13
votes
2answers
710 views

Were 1541s upgraded with more RAM?

Since the Commodore 64 was often used with one or more 1541 drive, and these had CPUs which could run user code, it makes sense to me that these would have been expanded in the day, to have roomier ...
6
votes
1answer
371 views

What are all the known file extensions for Atari 8-bit disk/tape/cartridge images?

I have a few collections of Atari 8-bit images that I've downloaded over the years, but only cherry picked into them. I'm at the point that I'd like to clean things up a bit and get rid of files that ...
12
votes
0answers
459 views

Who owns the intellectual property of Thinking Machines today?

Who owns the intellectual property regarding the Connection Machine and other products from Thinking Machines? I believe the remnants were bought by Sun, so possibly Oracle, but does anyone know?
5
votes
2answers
249 views

What was the first system to use flash or beep codes as a diagnostic?

It has long been the case that computer systems can signal serious faults using a series of beeps or flashes, where such faults occur too early in the boot process for them to be communicated in more ...
20
votes
3answers
888 views

What software stack could I use to get X10 (the version of X before X11) up and running on a modern system?

"What's the story behind the name "X11"?" showed up in the sidebar while I was browsing stackoverflow earlier and I noticed the question getting some high-signal answers, so I added a ...
5
votes
1answer
616 views

I have installed MS-DOS 6.22 on Virtual Box, do I have an ISA bus or a PCI bus?

I have installed MS-DOS 6.22 (released in 1994) on Virtual Box, and I want to know if Virtual Box is emulating an ISA bus or a PCI bus. The settings for my virtual machine don't show any information ...
14
votes
1answer
1k views

Using a 360k (DD 5.25") floppy with Windows XP?

My PC XT clone went up in smoke (literally) the other day. I salvaged the half height 5.25" double density floppy drive though and dropped it into an old 1.8 ghz AMD tower I had laying around. Plan ...
15
votes
3answers
2k views

Who decides what is the memory address that the CGA video buffer will be mapped to?

In DOS, the memory mapped IO base address for the CGA video buffer is 0xB8000. So when you write to 0xB8000, you are actually writing to a buffer in the CGA card itself and not to RAM. What I want to ...
5
votes
2answers
2k views

Why the “jmp” instruction is not working?

I have written the following program in debug.exe: 1165:0100 mov ah, 09 1165:0102 mov dx, 107 1165:0105 int 21 1165:0107 db 'Hello World', 0A, 0D, '$' 1165:0115 jmp 1165:0100 However, when I ...
61
votes
1answer
9k views

What's the story behind the name “X11”?

To this day on Linux configs and startup scripts for the GUI system are stored in /etc/X11. I remember this name appearing alone, or alongside others - XFree86, X.org, X - for as long as I had contact ...
15
votes
1answer
3k views

How to write directly to video memory in MS-DOS?

The base address for the video memory in MS-DOS is 0xB8000. I am trying to write to this address using debug.exe, but I am getting an error: 1165:0103 mov [b8000],ax ^ Error
-6
votes
4answers
1k views

What is the starting address pointed by Stack Pointer in PDP 11?

To which memory location does the stack pointer point at the beginning of the program in PDP 11? And what can be the end address the SP can point to before overflow occurs?
34
votes
6answers
4k views

What was the purpose and history of the C64's special keys?

I never had a Commodore 64 but I've always been curious what the purpose and history of some of the special keys were. In particular: C= Run/Stop Clr/Home Restore I'm mostly used to the standard ...
21
votes
9answers
3k views

Why did CP/M and MS-DOS use the BIOS instead of their own drivers to access hardware?

Modern versions of Windows (and other modern operating systems I suppose) have their own drivers to access hardware. But as I have read, in the old days, if CP/M or MS-DOS wanted to access hardware, ...
16
votes
2answers
1k views

How old-computer emulators work?

I'm wondering how old-computer emulators work. I can think of two possible approaches: "hardware" approach - like a set of components that exactly act as low-level hardware elements. I mean a bus ...

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