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167

TL;DR: it took a long time (on PCs) because the industry wasn’t ready to push it. Scroll down to “Why did it take so long?” for details. Shutdown screens That screen comes from Windows 95 and its successors, 98 and Me. Windows NT showed a plain dialog box with a “Restart” button. Other operating systems which cared about managing the shutdown process had ...


137

I wrote a short python script that extracted the icons, matched them with entries from APPS.INF and generated an HTML file. Some entries were missing, so I entered them manually, except for the generic MS-DOS icons which I marked as "(no entry)". One icon was blank. You can find my moricons.py script on GitHub.


111

When CD-ROM games were first introduced, game developers didn’t take any measures to prevent users from copying them, for two main reasons: CD-ROMs could contain more data than most hard drives at the time; CD writers were rare, and extremely expensive. The Wikipedia page on CD-R gives some idea of the expense involved: in 1990, CD recording systems cost ...


108

Up to 9,600 baud it's just iterative application of fairly straightforward analogue-domain ideas as and when standards emerge. Then there's a significant improvement on the digital side that bumps to 14,400 baud. Incremental phone line improvements lead from there to 33,600 baud. Finally, a digital back end for the phone network provides 56k as a downward ...


103

In the late '70s and very early 80s it was not unusual to make BIOS source code available. Apple did indeed do so; the full source listing starts at page 76 of the Apple II Reference Manual. Atari did the same in their Operating System Source Listing section of their Atari 400/800 Technical Reference Notes.¹ For CP/M machines, having the BIOS source was near ...


102

Since the few document trails on this topic quickly run cold, I contacted Ken Thompson. He confirmed that if there was anything he would have been influenced by at the time, it would have been BCPL and SMALGOL. But given that these don't use ! for negation, he "might have made it up". I don't suspect there is anything more to it that can be ...


101

'User' and 'customer' aren't the same. The user is the person (always a person) who uses a computer system to do something. The customer is the person or organization who pays for the hardware and software used by the user. The customer can be identical to the user (private or freelance personal computer user). The customer can be the user's boss (...


99

Short Answer: BCD rules over a single byte integer. The claim that programs stored dates as two ASCII or similar characters because computers were limited in resources seems wrong to me The point wasn't about using ASCII or 'similar', using only two decimal digits. That can be two characters (not necessary ASCII) or two BCD digits in a single byte. ...


95

The basic issue that paper tape is hard to edit. In theory you can cut the existing tape and splice in a new section, but in practice there is no easy way to find the correct location except by printing the contents of the tape (at 10 characters per second) and searching by hand. People did learn to read the tape hole patterns (they were no harder to learn ...


90

There were a number of factors involved. Windows 3.0 introduced a more refined user interface than available in Windows 2.0: more colours, proportional fonts everywhere, smaller icons, and MDI windows (multiple document windows inside an application window)... This made it "obviously" better than plain DOS to many users. Reviewers back in the day ...


89

FORTRAN made all variables starting with I, J, K, L, M and N integer by default. So just I by itself could be conveniently used as a loop variable. I imagine that choice was made because I, J, K, M and N are very commonly used as indices in mathematics. e.g., a sum of a series will typically be expressed as summing the terms A(i) for i going from 1 to n. ...


87

It varied. There was no single method. Some people used assemblers on the target machine, others used cross-development tools. As an example of a large product for an 8-bit machine, I worked on the BitStik CAD software for Apple II and BBC Micro systems from 1984 to 1986. That used Apple II machines with Z80 CP/M cards for coding (with WordStar) and ...


86

Stephen Kitt covers the bases well, but I think the majority of the reason relates to fact that Windows 3.0 finally brought 286 protected mode execution to the masses. Even though the 80286 was first released in 1984, Windows 3.0 was the first mainstream platform that actually ran it in protected mode. That made it the first mainstream platform that could ...


85

Because it's not important to ... anything. The compilers don't care. The editors don't care. Back in the day, some operating systems didn't even HAVE "file extensions". DOS mandated them, DEC system mandated them. Unix didn't. What's the standard extension for Fortran? For Pascal? For BASIC? Lots of convention, many system specific. But no ...


81

Why did early CLIs seemingly so predominantly use light on dark color schemes, and what drove the shift to GUIs using dark on light color schemes instead? Simple: CRT technology (and, as so often, missing the need to do otherwise) Early CRT technology was not able to deliver black on white. Further it was more important to make a readable display early on, ...


80

Keyboards have an asterisk because typewriters did, long before computers existed. Typewriters, particularly mechanical ones, typically made a number of compromises to reduce the number of keys required. For example, many didn‘t have 0 or 1, and people used O and I or l instead. Likewise, × wasn’t needed since x could be used instead, or · (. half-up). The ...


79

A number of components still present in Firefox date back to the first code drop in 1998 and were probably present before that. One of these is nsprpub, the NetScape Portable Runtime library, and it has some code snippets which are still identical to those in the first public CVS commit (as verifiable from the VCS archives). For example, ptthread.c’s ...


75

C did exist when DOS was developed, but it wasn’t used much outside the Unix world, and as mentioned by JdeBP, wouldn’t necessarily have been considered a good language for systems programming on micros anyway — more likely candidates in the late seventies would include Forth and Pascal. SCP developed DOS in assembly for a few very pragmatic reasons: The ...


75

And if you go back further, e.g. to the ENIAC, you'll see a word size of 40 bits. And if you go back even further, to mechanical calculators, you'll see word sizes determined by the number of decimal digits they can represent. And that explains the approach: Computers originally were meant to automate calculations. So you want to represent numbers. With ...


75

I suspect your teacher was referring to the FDIV Pentium bug, which led to a large outcry in the media at the time and for which Intel issued a recall. This bug caused floating-point division to return incorrect results in some cases. It didn’t affect only FDIV, some related instructions were affected: the other division and remainder instructions, and FPTAN ...


74

The short version is that Windows became the de facto operating system thanks to Microsoft’s business acumen (or shenanigans, depending on your point of view), marketing, skilled developers, a strong focus on backwards-compatibility, and the success of MS-DOS. The success of Windows in general can be traced back to the success of Windows 3.0, which has ...


72

The message appears in sudo’s revision control (in its current guise) in June 1993, in the University of Colorado version of sudo, in a slightly shorter form: We trust you have received the usual lecture from the local Systems Administrator. It usually boils down to these two things: #1) Respect the privacy of others. #2) Think before you ...


72

Computer terminal keyboards needed to reproduce the symbols available on punched cards and paper tape. In the US, punched cards dominated the data-processing industry (communications uses tended to paper tape). IBM punched card codes in particular were significant in the industry. The IBM 026 keypunch (and its replacement the 029) had an asterisk. By the ...


71

Interestingly enough, I stumbled in a related article, that hints firstly the (cross)development at Sinclair was made on CP/M machines, (which corroborates the Matthew Smith Manic Miner development in the TRS 80 reference on the OP question), and later on using CP/M emulated under a VAX for (re)using the original binary (cross)toolchain. At Sinclair, a £60,...


70

Dennis Ritchie’s paper on The Development of the C Language gives some idea of the reasoning behind this: namely, the fundamental rule in C that declaration syntax should match expression syntax. For each object of such a composed type, there was already a way to mention the underlying object: index the array, call the function, use the indirection operator ...


70

When other manufacturers attempted to copy the BIOS from the source listings, IBM sued them for copyright violation and won. Besides, even without the listings, anyone would have been able to dump and disassemble the BIOS. Publishing the source code made it harder to argue that the engineers hadn’t seen or used it. What took IBM by surprise was the ...


69

As indicated on IMDb, the books are Green: International UNIX Environments, probably part of POSIX or The X/Open Guide. Orange: Trusted Computer System Evaluation Criteria, part of the Rainbow Series published by the US DoD. Pink: The Peter Norton Programmer's Guide to the IBM PC (Peter Norton wears a pink shirt in the cover photo, as can be seen in this ...


68

Plan 28 is an ongoing effort to do this. However, it is hard. Nobody is actually sure how to build it. Winter 2015: There has been significant archive activity. The major historical source is the Babbage technical archive held by the Science Museum. The Science Museum digitised the archive in 2012 is now preparing to provide open access to the archive. The ...


67

It all dates back to typewriters, but the two layouts aren’t ASCII v. non-ASCII, they’re mechanical v. electric. The !" etc. layout was common on mechanical typewriters, based on the layout used for the Remington No. 2 in 1878. This is the layout that ASCII was based on; that’s why “!”, “"” etc. received consecutive encodings, aligned with the encodings of ...


67

XORing a cursor into a frame buffer (which is what you seem to be calling "inverted cursor") is actually simpler than ORing it in there: when the cursor has to be removed again (to move to another position) you simply draw it a second time, with the same pixels, and it will vanish, courtesy of the XOR logic. If you have ORed the cursor into the ...


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