Hot answers tagged

140

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 ...


110

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 ...


96

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 ...


92

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. For CP/M machines, having the BIOS source was near ...


84

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. ...


82

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 ...


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, ...


73

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 ...


65

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 ...


64

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 ...


62

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 ...


62

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 ...


61

That answer is somewhat trivial: Hard disks and optical drives are contact-less technologies - Nothing touches (or is even allowed to touch) the media while it spins. On a hard disk or CD-ROM, the heads touching the media would end up with catastrophic effects. Floppies and tape drives are different. The heads are constantly touching the media directly ...


61

In the embryonic form of C described in the 1974 C Reference Manual, there was no requirement that the left operand of . actually be a structure, nor that the left operand of -> actually be a pointer. The -> operator meant "interpret the value of the left operand as a pointer, add the offset associated with the indicated structure member name, and ...


61

The answer to the question as written is no. However, I can see where it came from. When Microsoft developed Windows NT, they decided they needed a "secure attention key" (SAK). This was a key, or key combination, that was guaranteed to bring up the genuine log in screen. The reason they wanted this is because, any sequence that could be intercepted by a ...


60

The socket (or rather inlet) is most definitely standard, it’s a IEC 60320 C14 inlet. The standard was published in 1970. C6 and C8 are commonly used for laptop power supplies and smaller audio equipment. There are a number of reasons to use this arrangement on computer power supplies, monitors, audio equipment etc., including: using a standard inlet with ...


60

As so often with basic measurements like this, the roots have been laid out way before today's computers, even before computers (non human that is) at all. From what I read, most line printers have 132 columns. Also, the VT-220 and presumably other terminals may be switched between 80 columns (that's a usual width) and 132 columns. The number is a result ...


59

Why did trackballs disappear? To start with, they didn't. They are still around and can be bought in many variations. For example, Kensington sells six kinds of trackball, and Logitech sells three. Only their time attempting to work as a general pointing device is gone. Nub. Low-tech, cheap, compact and reliable, but miserably imprecise. Did they ever ...


59

Short answer: in the 1960s, NASA was buying and testing large numbers of integrated circuits (most of which would never be used) to make the technology mature. According to FastCompany: The MIT Instrumentation Lab tried to design the Apollo computer using transistors, which in the early 1960s were well-settled technology—reliable, understandable, ...


58

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. ...


57

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 in CP/M emulated under a VAX for (re)using the original binary (cross)toolchain. At Sinclair, a £60,...


57

TL;DR; I'm asking if there is any information on why they chose to make kilobyte = 1000, Because kilo means 1000. It simply doesn't stand for 1024. The same way 13 inches aren't a foot. So I'm interested in the arguments used and the decision making process that lead the IEC to decide that kilobytes would be redefined as 1000 bytes, There was no ...


57

No, CTRL-ALT-DELETE was a thing before there were tasks to manage. The original IBM PC used this key sequence to reboot the computer, in case the computer crashed or the user just wanted to boot some other operating system or application. This was implemented by the BIOS, so any operating system, like MS-DOS, that used the BIOS services would get this ...


55

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 ...


52

This is quite a wide-ranging question. There are some resources online which help: Jonathan Cauldwell, author of various Spectrum hits, has a How to write games for the Spectrum" guide, which seems to mainly cover modern Speccy development. The Oliver Twins (authors of many Codemasters-published titles back in the day) detail some of their development ...


52

Old COBOL standards were based around 80-column punched cards, and columns beyond 71 (or 72) were reserved for line numbers. They were little used, but a numbered deck, if dropped, could be sorted by a collator. Because of this, some compilers would not parse beyond a certain column (which could be 70, 71, or 72). So, in the interests of compatibility, it ...


52

As far as I’m aware, the last FPU-less x86-compatible CPU which could still be considered general-purpose is the Vortex86SX, released in 2007 and still available now. This is a Pentium-class CPU, capable of running any Pentium code which doesn’t require an FPU. It is targeted at embedded applications, with up to 512 MiB of RAM, and includes a PCI bus, USB, ...


51

I would say one of the versions of the Menabrea paper, written in 1842 by Luigi F. Menabrea. Ada Lovelace became involved in computing when she was asked to translate this paper from Italian to French. She did so, and unlike many translators, was knowledgeable enough about the subject matter that rather than introducing errors into the translation, she ...


51

While general purpose function keys are something that had already been introduced in the 60s by manufacturers like Friden (Flexowriter, 1965) or HP (9810A, 1971), it wasn't until IBM's 3270 that function keys were widely available. 3270 terminals are block-orientated, which means all keystrokes, thus all editing, are local. Only the whole screen can be sent ...


50

Which OS was the first to use Ctrl-S and Ctrl-Q on the console for pause and continue? TL;DR; It's been developed independently of anything one might call an OS (*1). It's (nowadays) called Software Flow Control and has been around since the early days of computers using ASCII I/O, as the Model 33 Teletype used the device control codes DC1/DC3 (CTRL-Q/CTRL-...


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