Mark
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Why weren't 80s arcade games programmed in C?
8 votes

Part of the reason is timing. Early- and mid-80s arcade machines didn't have anywhere near the hardware capabilities of modern systems. You couldn't just load an MP3 of background music into RAM and ...

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How can I connect this 3-pin Slot 1 CPU fan to my system that uses a 2-pin connector?
8 votes

Just plug it in, making sure the red and black wires are the ones on the pins. The connector should be keyed to enforce this. The yellow wire is for monitoring the fan's speed, and isn't required ...

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How do I allocate more memory to an app on Sheepshaver running Mac OS 9?
Accepted answer
15 votes

Click on the application icon, select "Get info" from the "File" menu, and adjust the memory allocation in the window that pops up.

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How are File Timestamps recorded in classic Mac OS?
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16 votes

The HFS filesystem stores file metadata in a single large file called the "catalog file", with one record for each file or directory. Creation and modification times are stored as 32-bit unsigned ...

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Are MS-DOS and Windows 9x vulnerable to Meltdown?
Accepted answer
40 votes

The Meltdown attack is about figuring out what's in protected memory (typically, kernel memory) by arranging for it to be speculatively read, and then looking for residual side effects after the ...

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Are old versions of Windows at risk of modern malware attacks?
12 votes

Mostly no. Pre-XP versions of Windows are certainly vulnerable to targeted attacks, such as you'd see from Metasploit -- if you're the sort of high-value target that attracts such attacks, don't run ...

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Retrieving text documents from a 2.0 MB/2.0 HD floppy disk?
6 votes

That's the ubiquitous 1.44MB 3.5" floppy. Any modern floppy drive should be able to read it; the hard part is finding software that understands the format -- Mac-formatted disks aren't readable by ...

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Mind-Controller User Input from the late 90s
3 votes

The MindDrive and other "mind-reading" input devices that don't include an EEG headset work by reading your stress levels in the form of skin conductivity. The program initializes its state by ...

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

If you went with VirtualBox's default settings for an MS-DOS system, you've got both: an Intel 440FX northbridge providing a PCI bus, and an Intel PIIX3 southbridge connected to that bus, providing an ...

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Why does MP3 audio decoding overwhelm retro CPU's?
Accepted answer
34 votes

What's lacking is mostly raw number-crunching ability. The MP3 format is relatively lightweight, and can be implemented using only fixed-point math (no FPU required), but it still takes a fair amount ...

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Boot Macintosh Quadra 800 from System 7.6.1 CD
Accepted answer
7 votes

Macs of the Quadra 800 era store the default boot drive in a section of battery-backed RAM called "PRAM" (you'll occasionally see "clear the PRAM" as a troubleshooting tip). By default (eg. if the ...

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

It's not particularly "retro", but many x86 computers in the early Pentium IV era could be permanently damaged in a matter of weeks by setting the operating voltage and frequency too high. This would ...

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Limiting factor on early color palettes
28 votes

What you're missing is that early computers didn't generate their video signals the way that modern computers do. You're probably picturing a C64 working in much the same way that a VGA adapter does: ...

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Which Linux or BSD distributions do still support i386, i486 or i586 CPUs?
26 votes

Linux still supports the 80486 SX: the SX was simply a DX without the FPU, and the FPU emulation code is still present (Processor type and features->Math emulation). Finding a distro is a bit ...

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What computer first facilitated multi-precision arithmetic
14 votes

Babbage's analytic engine was designed to do arbitrary-precision aritmetic. For multiplication, two 50-digit inputs produced a 100-digit output, with the lower 50 digits on the Egress Axis and the ...

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Did any computers use automatically-operated mechanical storage as electronically-read-addressable memory
3 votes

There are a number of possibilities, though most of them involve stretching the definition of "computer" somewhat: The Zuse Z1, Z2, and Z4 computers used slotted metal strips as memory. Of these, ...

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Atari 2600 high voltage output
16 votes

The Atari 2600 has an unregulated transformer. Transformers of this type only produce their design voltage under load; if you're just connecting a voltmeter between the output wires, it's going to ...

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Creating an System Extension (INIT) for classic Mac OS
3 votes

The usual way to debug a program is with a debugger. The usual low-level debugger for classic MacOS was MacsBug. I've never tried using it to debug an extension during startup, but I see no reason ...

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How can tilting a N64 cartridge cause such subtle glitches?
29 votes

This is the pinout of a Nintendo 64 cartridge (from here). The Nintendo 64 used a multiplexed address/data bus with a three-stage access protocol: write the high word of the address you want to ...

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Power cycling old hardware
6 votes

For older hardware, leave it on. Moving parts can be fixed or replaced. The problem comes from wear to non-moving parts: the circuits inside the microchips. This wear takes two forms: thermal ...

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What register size did early computers use?
12 votes

Typical register sizes varied wildly among the early computers. For example, ENIAC's early design had nothing but registers, and these were ten decimal digits wide. The Harvard Mark I was also ...

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A good method for formatting a modern device in HFS (Not HFS+)
8 votes

The HFS Utilities package looks like it will let you format the disk from a Linux system; modern Windows may also be supported (it says "95/NT", which means you may run into permissions errors on ...

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Checking if RAM is functional
Accepted answer
7 votes

Those look like 144-pin SO-DIMM memory modules. It's a very old memory technology. If the computer you pulled them from isn't working, your best bet is to find a known-working laptop of about the ...

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External power supply for 16.5V portable computer (Zenith SupersPort 286e)
4 votes

Any power supply within about 5% of the rated voltage should work, so a 16V supply (or a 17V one) should work. If you're getting a modern switch-mode supply, you want the amperage rating to be at ...

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What is a use case for the JAM instruction on the MOS Technology 650x family of processors?
Accepted answer
31 votes

It's a bit misleading to call them "undocumented opcodes". "Accidental opcodes" would be more accurate. Instead of using microcode, the 6502 family used a programmable logic array as a lookup table ...

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Why are the PPU registers on the NES mirrored?
15 votes

"Incomplete decoding" means that the address decoder only pays attention to a few of the address lines: the high bits indicating the PPU chip and the three low bits selecting a register on that chip. ...

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Powering up old desktop games
Accepted answer
16 votes

Old games like these don't have much that can go wrong with them just from powering them up. The biggest problem with old electronics in general is that any electrolytic capacitors will dry out in ...

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Modern USB devices on Windows 98 SE
7 votes

Your best option is probably to skip Windows entirely. A Linux livecd will be able to read your filesystem, and has the drivers to use your USB ports built-in. My personal preference would be for ...

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Install Commodore 64 on VirtualBox
Accepted answer
30 votes

It's not possible. VirtualBox only supports emulating IBM-compatible x86 and x86-64 systems. The Commodore 64 uses a 6510 CPU and a wildly different architecture. In order to run Commodore 64 ...

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How can MS-DOS be installed on VirtualBox?
Accepted answer
23 votes

C:\msdos\DISKS\144UPG1.IMG C:\msdos\DISKS\144UPG2.IMG C:\msdos\DISKS\144UPG3.IMG From your listing, I believe these are 1.44 MB images of the installation floppies. In that case, installation is ...

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