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23
votes
4answers
5k views

Was Unix ever a single-user OS?

I've been told that Unix started out as a Phone Switch OS and was not a multi-user OS at some time in its infancy. As I'm always willing to learn new things, are there any greybeards around here ...
12
votes
4answers
888 views

Was the ancestor of SCSI, the SASI protocol, nothing more than a draft?

I recently discovered that the SCSI protocol was, in fact, an improvement on the SASI protocol, which apparently predates SCSI by only a couple of years, appearing in 1978 (but only publicly in 1981). ...
4
votes
1answer
163 views

65C816: Inputs TTL-compatible?

New 65C816 datasheets say that Vih (for the data bus in particular) is 0.8Vdd, i.e. not TTL-compaible. Old data sheets (for example, the one published in Apple IIgs Hardware Reference) say that at 5V ...
6
votes
2answers
447 views

Why did the Apple IIc perform badly in the market?

The Apple IIc was a compact version of the Apple II that eschewed internal expansion slots in favor of having the popular expansion options already built in, and saving cost and weight. Apple expected ...
2
votes
0answers
104 views

HP presage of the PDA revolution

I no longer have clear memory of this, but I'm fairly certain I read an article back around 1979 or so published by Hewlett Packard. At the time, they had recently released their 41C calculator. I ...
9
votes
2answers
253 views

What connection exists between Facit AB and Sharp on the MZ-800 computer?

Facit used to be a very successful Swedish company manufacturing mechanical calculators that quickly went down to its final demise by not being able to adapt to the shift towards electronic ...
5
votes
2answers
104 views

Does the Apple IIgs FPI assert /CROMSEL for *write* accesses to the extended ROM space?

The FPI (fast processor interface) ASIC in the Apple IIgs generates the /CROMSEL chip-select signal, which is used to select a ROM in the memory expansion slot. Obviously the /CROMSEL signal must be ...
5
votes
1answer
253 views

Were there actually any games for the IMSAI 8080 computer, used in the movie WarGames?

David, the main character of the 1983 movie WarGames, uses an IMSAI 8080 computer. The plot of the movie is driven by David's desire to find games to play on his computer. He war-dials phone numbers ...
7
votes
3answers
377 views

How to get a plain text file version of a CP/M .BAS (M-BASIC) program?

I have an old game (STRTRK.BAS) from my dad's Kaypro 10 that I would like to convert to a plain text file. Basically, what I'm trying to do is get it onto a modern computer in plain text format so I ...
18
votes
3answers
2k views

Is there a way to get a compiler for the original B programming language?

I am learning about the original B programming language, but I don't have a compiler. Is there an emulator for an old computer that can run an old operating system that have a compiler for the ...
4
votes
1answer
409 views

What was the first Intel x86 processor with “Base + Index * Scale + Displacement” addressing mode?

As the title says, what's the first x86 processor from Intel that supports the following addressing mode? mov %reg, 8(base, index, 4) ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ where the content of %reg will be ...
0
votes
1answer
263 views

What was this computer I remembered? [closed]

When I went to primary school in 1995 I remember the school had a classroom full of old computers. It took the school 2 years but eventually they did replace them with more modern systems. The two ...
6
votes
3answers
218 views

Why is modulo operation an operator for integer types but only a function for floating-point ones?

In C, we have the % operator which finds remainder of division. But it's only applicable to integral types. For floating-point types we have to use fmod function from math.h. This makes an impression ...
6
votes
3answers
425 views

Did the BCPL programming language support floats?

Did the BCPL programming language support floating point? If not, then how did programmers use it to add two floating point numbers?
5
votes
3answers
395 views

C64 cartridge emulation with ATmega

As a personal project I had the idea to create a custom cartridge for my Commodore 64 and use an ATmega 1284p microcontroller to emulate eproms and/or custom chips. Basically my idea is similar to ...
10
votes
7answers
593 views

When and why did “Public Domain” software releases give way to “Open Source”?

Free software, sometimes including source, has been a common feature of computing for as long as I can remember, and probably longer. But the terminology and "legalese" seemed to change at some point. ...
4
votes
1answer
269 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 ...
59
votes
10answers
7k 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 ...
28
votes
3answers
7k 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
266 views

Refactoring Old Printer Driver for Current Linux Kernel [closed]

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,...
58
votes
6answers
12k 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 ...
12
votes
5answers
1k 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
227 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
124 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. ...
21
votes
10answers
5k views

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

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 ...
29
votes
2answers
5k 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 ...
20
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 ...
8
votes
1answer
301 views

What is the difference between CTSS and ITS?

I learned from the history of Multics that in the early days of computers, Time Sharing System (TSS) was used at MIT, and then Compatible Time Sharing System (CTSS) was developed in 1961, also at MIT. ...
3
votes
1answer
102 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
171 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?
35
votes
5answers
5k 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 ...
14
votes
3answers
962 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 ...
5
votes
4answers
398 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 ...
26
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 ...
3
votes
3answers
256 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 ...
10
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 ...
6
votes
1answer
172 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 ...
14
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? ...
1
vote
2answers
239 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 ...
28
votes
4answers
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 ...
8
votes
5answers
341 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 ...
18
votes
4answers
3k 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
314 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
338 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
328 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
130 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? ...
4
votes
1answer
174 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 ...
18
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 ...
14
votes
2answers
2k views

Did Xerox really develop the first LAN?

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
339 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.

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