tofro
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What's this computer in the 1988 movie "Vampire's Kiss"?
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79 votes

That's a Minolta PCW1 Word processor of Minolta Camera Co. Ltd The "computer part" is in fact a PC with 512kBytes memory and a 80186 CPU running DOS 2.11 and proprietary word processing (or, ...

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Was there a specific benefit to inverted (XOR) mouse cursors other than aesthetics?
67 votes

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 ...

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Why were floppy drives not any faster?
63 votes

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 ...

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Why do C to Z80 compilers produce poor code?
55 votes

The main downside of "historic" CPU's (non?)-suitability for C programs is the lack of capability to form more than one register into an address without using the ALU. Most more modern CPUs can use ...

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Is it safe to turn on a 40-year old TRS-80?
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54 votes

It definitely does not hurt to open the case and have a look at the PCB. When opening, be especially careful with the keyboard ribbon cables - They are apparently known to become very brittle with age ...

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Did computers come with circuit diagrams?
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41 votes

Back until the late 80ies, it was actually pretty commonplace to get a circuit diagram with a lot of electronics devices when you bought them - Even TVs and radio sets often came with them. In cases ...

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What was the typical thickness of fanfold printer paper?
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37 votes

The paper I used in my dot-matrix printers (and still buy and use today) has 60g/m2 for the cheaper green-lined type and 70g/m2 for the pure white version. There is a rough guideline in the paper ...

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How can I recover the contents from an Amiga HDD using modern Linux?
34 votes

You should be able to use the Amiga hard drive directly on your Linux computer (provided it still has IDE support). Linux also understands AFFS (Amiga Fast File systems), at least once AFFS support ...

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Does an ISA card have a fixed memory address?
34 votes

In general, yes, ISA cards have fixed memory and I/O addresses. ISA inherently has the card decide to what memory and I/O addresses it reacts because address decoders are located on the cards. How ...

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Why was segment register value scaled by such a small factor of 16 on i8086?
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33 votes

Wikipedia says: According to Morse et al.,.[5] the designers actually contemplated using an 8-bit shift (instead of 4-bit), in order to create a 16 MB physical address space. However, as this would ...

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How did the ZX80 store both a useful program and screen memory?
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32 votes

Both the ZX80 and the ZX81 had a variable-size display file (DFILE). They didn't store the complete screen contents, but rather only the characters per line up to a terminating newline. This ...

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Can the two CPUs in a Commodore 128 run at the same time?
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31 votes

No, they cannot. They share both the data and the address bus of the C128, so they can only run exclusively at any one point in time. The address bus is apparently directly connected, the data bus ...

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Did 5.25" floppies undergo a change in magnetic coating?
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30 votes

The main technical parameter for a floppy disk's coating is its coercivity, i.e. the resistance of ferromagnetic matter to withstand demagnetization. Coercivity is measured in Oersted, after Hans ...

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Magnetic exposure to floppy disk damages file system and requires complete reformat?
30 votes

The main thing is that there is no such thing as a "quick format" - That term is entirely misleading terminology invented by Microsoft. Quick Format doesn't "format" anything. What MS calls a "Quick ...

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Why the "jmp" instruction is not working?
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30 votes

Your code runs through the data ("Hello World" string) interpreting it as (nonsense) machine code - and very probably crashes before it even reaches the jmp instruction. You need to move the jmp ...

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How was early randomness generated?
29 votes

Interesting question. After all, it's the main job of a computer to come up with deterministic results, which is pretty much the opposite of pure randomness. In reality, coming up with a series of ...

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What prevents faster versions of old architectures from being created?
28 votes

If you look into real hardware (like a Motorola/Freescale/Rochester 68060, which is long out of mass production): Modern CPUs (mainly Intel) boosted to several GHz clock frequency have one main ...

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Proportional fonts on 8-bit computers
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28 votes

Digital Research produced as one of their early attempts into graphical desktops (on their way to GEM) a basic portable graphics library - GSX. GSX did actually support proportional fonts, both in ...

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Why are old CPUs like MOS Technology 6502 and Motorola 68000 considered better for real time systems applications than modern x86 based CPUs?
27 votes

This paragraph in Wikipedia really is no candidate for the best entry-of-the-year award. It seems to be comparing Apples with Oranges. (Or rather starts talking about CPUs, then commences on PCs vs. &...

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Uses for the halt instruction?
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26 votes

The HALT condition does not (at least on retro CPUs) consume considerably less power than normal execution does. One very obvious use case is synchronizing program flow with external (hardware) events....

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Blue and yellow stripes on the screen when loading from tape on ZX Spectrum
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25 votes

Actually, the screen stripes while loading from tape first occurred on the ZX-81 - Where they were a result of Sinclair's typical savvy nature - the display and the "EAR IN/MIC OUT" had to share a pin ...

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How did the original Apple Macintosh and Atari ST use protected mode?
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25 votes

The (plain) 68k never had anything directly comparable to the Intel x86 range's Protected Mode. When Intel introduced the Protected mode (PM) to its x86 range of CPUs, this lifted a number of ...

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When IPv6 was designed were there any specific considerations for other planets?
24 votes

The address space is only one (maybe the easiest to solve) problem you'd have when extending Internet protocols beyond earth, especially with a supposed pretty low number of projected extraterrestrial ...

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Why is the Amiga ROM at a high memory location, and RAM in low memory?
24 votes

All of the 68k-based computers (Amiga, Atari ST and Sinclair QL, as well as the classic Macintosh) went to market in a rush. And all of them went to market before the OS (and, thus, the ROMs) were ...

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What was the effect of the Video Game Crash of 1983 outside of North America?
24 votes

The very same article you link says in German Wikipedia (rough translation): At the time of the North American crash the European market was strongly dominated by games for home computers, thus the ...

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What was the first computer to support Arabic writing?
24 votes

It was most probably not the first computer to support Arabic, but the Sinclair ZX Spectrum apparently was sold in an extremely rare Arabic version. That ROM is available for download and use in a ...

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Did any notable product use Intel's first RAM?
22 votes

The 3101 was not a product that came out of thin air. According to Intel's own sources, Honeywell Inc. had anounced they would buy 64-bit memory chips from any vendor that could supply them (so even ...

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Did CP/M support custom hardware using device drivers?
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22 votes

The answer depends on the version. CP/M 2.2 did not support any loadable device drivers. There simply was no provisioning to do that. Originally, the in-built device drivers were limited to storage, ...

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Was there a special drive, that saved much more than 1.44MB on an HD floppy disk?
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21 votes

Note that beyond SD, DD, and HD formats for 3.5" disks there was ED (extra density) with double the capacity of a HD disk (2.88 MBytes formatted, 3.5MBytes raw capacity and double the data transfer ...

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Does 10BASE-T need more sophisticated electronics than 10BASE5/10BASE2?
20 votes

Your question seems to ignore the topology of a network completely: If you want to connect, say 20 computers via Thickwire or BNC, you need: A length of the chosen cabling 20 MAUs if you want ...

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