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back to article Ebuyer.com runs on a Commodore 64

Online retailing can be a rough sport. The competition is rabid, customer loyalty is fickle, and IT expenses can go through the roof. That's why The Register can appreciate an e-tailer with a unique business model. A hawk-eyed El Reg reader points out that UK online retailer Ebuyer.com appears to be cutting costs by running …

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Workhorse

They have a Cray and you reckon the Speccy's holding it together?

My money is that the backend is on an HP 3000/48, worked on one of those bad boys back in 96/97 - Thing hadn't had more than 5 mins downtime in 5 years

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Silver badge

128k?

128k for a spectrum and 3.5Mhz? Not exactly, all the models that were used for hosting were the original 48k models, running at around 1Mhz. The clue is in the "48k" part of the name...

And as for the Commodore Pet, now that was a classic machine!

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Cripes.

Even my computer is better than these things. Heck, my computer could quite possibly do more than most of those combined.

I am very very impressed with the IT staff there though, I've never heard of Apache running with less than 6 megs of memory (OS included) before.

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No wonder...

No wonder their search is crap....

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Pathetic Search

Rather than spending time doing this frivolous stuff, maybe they can improve their awful search algorithms. Searching for 'Corsair GT' for example finds Corsair OR GT. Also narrowing categories usually is pointless as it just ends up showing all.

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Clearly a victim of the floods

If you look at the address of this organisation as listed - "Ltd, off Ferry Road, Howden, East Yorkshire, DN14 7UW, United Kingdom" - it is perhaps excusable in that they are probably flooded. I do note that they also have a CBM Pet (the first machine I bought in 1983) and a Cray amongst their fleet.

I say fleet advisedly - as they're now all probably floating.

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would not surprise me

I wonder if they run them on those kebo self igniting UPS units they recalled that then turned up on the carboot sale in rufforth........

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Anonymous Coward

If only...

If only the ebuyer.com website didn't respond like it really *was* run on a Commode 64 this would be more amusing.

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Oric Dragon32!?

The Dragon32 wasn't manufactured by Oric! Unsurprisingly it was Dragon Data Limited. This one minor discrepancy leads me to suspect that this server information could be slightly inaccurate.

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128K rubber keyed Spectrum?

I'm not sure which history books you've been reading but the 1982 rubber keyed ZX Spectrum only had 16K or memory on release with a 48K version following.

The 128K model had a plastic keyboard and was released around the same time as the Commodore 128

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Anonymous Coward

Geoff is right about the Dragon

I own two Dragons and an Oric, as well as many other "vintage" machines (yes, I know, I'm a geek), and he's absolutely correct.

The Dragon was manufactured by Dragon Data Limited and the Oric was manufactured by Oric Products International Limited.

(I'm still on the lookout for a Cray. Please quote postage before offering me one...)

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Forgettng something?

How about the TWO Commodore PETs? These predate the C64 by 2 generations (remember the Vic20?) and had a 6502 running at 1Mhz with a built in monitor and tape drive.

Hmmm memories

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Anonymous Coward

128k rubber key spectrum?

Neil's right. I've got several Spectrums (Spectra?) and there was no 128k rubber key version, unless you made one yourself.

I can only assume that the author was extremely young (if at all extant) when these machines came out, because his lack of knowledge on the subject matter is laughable.

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I regret remembering

-----

48k models, running at around 1Mhz. The clue is in the "48k" part of the name...

And as for the Commodore Pet, now that was a classic machine!

-----

Fraid not the speccy was always slightly over 3.5MHz (3.513 I seem to remember) even the 16K ones.

Though being a Commodore person you wouldn't believe in clock speeds over 1MHz ;)

Actually I was very fond of the VIC 20 apart from the 20 column display

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Spectrum 48k speed

To Nick Ryan:

48K Spectrums come with 3.5MHz (and 128K also). Back then the CPU frequency was imposed for strict compatibility reasons. There is no Spectrum at a lower frequency than 3.5MHz actually. Trust me because I counted cycles in the machine code over and over again to be sure that the code can finish until the next interrupt arrives :) (interrupts were generated at 20ms each and in some cases you should be absolutely sure that the processing will finish in less than 20ms).

What times - what amazing speeds... :) Anyone doing a lot of stuff in under 20ms nowadays?

Ovi

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What about the web server software?

Good to see one of their server admins had a sense of humour! :-)

Though if they're going to fake the platform they're running on, why not also fake the server software response as well! Maybe they should report themselves as running an early version of NetSite. Of course maybe they already have faked it, and their servers are actually running IIS!

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But no QL...

Did anyone actually own one of these? And has Alan Sugar actually done anything worthwhile since buying Sinclair all those years ago?

Fun spoof though.

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Nice site

I used it to test my webserver - says I'm running Server 2003 - which is highly accurate seeing how it's a fiesty fawn version of Ubuntu Server.

Oh hum - and what's with old tec anyway? We have had a 286 and 386 in daily operation at my company for years now - runs our DOS based call centre software better than the PII's and PIII's that are doing the same job. They never go down, never fail, just keep on running - the old adage is true - they just don't make them like they used to.

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Oric was another 8-bit

The Oric was another 6502 based home computer, though it looked like a grey Spectrum with flimsy keys and doorstop type case.

I myself started with a VIC-20. Now that was a real computer. If you can't do it in 3.5K then it's not worth doing :p

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Anonymous Coward

Pathetic Search...er

Even before I read the search help page I figured out that 'corsair AND gt' would do the trick. '+corsair +gt' works too. For some reason trying it as a quoted phrase doesn't work.

You, sir, lack search skills.

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Anonymous Coward

Stolen!

i'm going to steal that machine from there suite in the Datacentre.. *grins*

seriously.. I haven't seen there commodore there.. must be hidden away, the eBuyer guys seem to have a sence of humour, faking it ftw.. maybe they will stop copy and pasting from other sites too ;)

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Keith

"Of course maybe they already have faked it, and their servers are actually running IIS!"

IIS on a spectrum? It'd take nearly 72 hours to boot on one of those old audio tape drives. And then it wouldn't work.

So just like normal really.

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Nostalgiatastic

Aah the memories. The first two machines mentioned, the MSX HX-10 and

the C64, happened to be my first two machines. I'm posting this from

my Amiga 1200 for a laugh. See for yourself!

http://www.aura-online.co.uk/~chewi/amireg.gif

Maybe I'll host a site off here sometime. It's got 128MB RAM so it's

more than adequate. (-;

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Checked

Just went to eBuyer.com with FF2, HeaderSpy and LiveHTTPHeaders

According to these the server software is Apache 2.0.59 running on 'ZX Spectrum 48k (Rubber Keys)'

Awesome

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Anonymous Coward

What no Amstrad CPC 464 ?

Alan Sugar would be mad to be left out. Oh that's right neither he nor I give a shit. I forgot.

Now if eBuyer could just make sure that when I order I actually receive everything that I ordered I might be a happier customer.

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big commercial/spam on the register?

Even the so called geeks who are also commenting on this article before me seem to fall for it.

It's a big publicity stunt. They hacked the apache source files.

Now how much is the register getting for all this or was the article poster that ignorant that he did not see it that it was a hoax?

Any way, the register, please don't lend yourself for this kind of the register abuse. Posting an article what actually is a big commercial is spam. My advise: Don't spam your own readers ;-)

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old ??

If i read all the comments, they sound like that it was only yesterday, but 1 look at the calender suddenly made me feel amazingly old ..

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Sinclair available

Well, if they're flooded out, I have my dad's Sinclair ZX81 downstairs. That's about a 1MHz Z80 CPU and 1K of RAM built in, but it includes the boffo 64K RAM expander, and a data acquisition and relay control setup. He used them as PLCs for settling tanks at a mine in the Sierra Nevada; he could buy them for $30 in 1983, and even a ZX81 was fast enough to control filling and draining a swimming pool.

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Everyone knows

Ebuyer is like dealing with a trade only store but you are Joe Public, simple as.

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server farm

hi,

they host their site on a nice server farm - each one responds with a different

server 'identity' - i've just talked to their Dragon 32 , their C64 and their MSX.

its a nice/neat/geeky way of ID'ing each machine in such a setup

SP nice to see the Amiga going strongly in this thread. mine's hardly a classic - 240MHz PowerPC 603e with voodoo3... not what most people recall as Amigas

(those A500 with sensi soccer or monkey Island 2 - aka 12 diskettes of doom)

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Power station

If you could run a power station on a ZX81 then these workhorses should have little trouble runing a mere online shoppe

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Title

I still have a working 1982 Brown Case Commodore 64 with a 256k memory expansion cartridge , 1541 Floppy Drive ... even came across a color Commodore monitor a few months ago for it, had always run it on a TV before

Lords of Conquest still rocks !

But at 300 BAUD (maybe could rig up 1200 BAUD), I don't think it would make a good internet machine .. I'm kind of attached to my 3Mbits/s DSL

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Anonymous Coward

Spectrum

Hihi

I think you'll find the original spectrum 48K was still 3.5MHz, even the ZX81 came in at a muscular 1.8 or so...

The rubber keyed one was however 48K as you say

And hey Lez, fancy seeing you here -.o

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Re: SPAM comment, and the finer points of Orics

Calm down, Jack - who's it an advert for? This kind of thing gets posted on The Reg because people think it's funny (like all the others who've commented so far, and countless more who didn't).

And to David Jones: only the Oric 1 looked like a grey doorstopesque Spectrum with flimsy keys; they followed it up with the Atmos, which had a lovely keyboard (not seen the likes of it since, though I do like this Microsoft gull-wing job - and yes, Jack, I'm on commission, heh). The Oric 1 and Atmos were otherwise quite similar internally - at least the later release of the Oric 1 without the nasty ROM bugs. The Atmos got a disk system based around 3" disks like the type used by Amstrad PCWs which made it a real machine - particularly as the controller also supported 5.25" and 3.5" drives. The only thing it really lacked was an 80-column display.

What really killed the Oric was lack of software support. The Spectrum had all the good games, in other words. Game developers didn't like the Oric's serial attribute display, but with only 48K of RAM this was a good move since it gave you colour and (for the time, reasonably) high-res graphics in just a few K of RAM (unlike the BBC B, which had 32K and used 20K for its 80-column mode or higher colour depth graphics modes).

Oric's Stratos and Telestrat (Europe only; a Stratos with a modem) were 'real machines' and could've been actual business micros if things had worked out differently...but ain't that always the way. All of the Orics - even the 1 - kicked seven shades out of the Spec in terms of being nice, finished products. If I remember correctly the Spec didn't even have a Centronics parallel port, which was a hell of a thing to miss out in those days. Also, its motherboard jutted out the back like it had pushed too hard on the can in an ugly edge connector, where the Oric had real ports.

Anyway ... that's more than enough retro geeking out now. I do apologise. (I currently own a BBC B, Acorn Electron and Psion 3, having sold up most of my retro collection a few years ago...bah, I had an HP71B, amongst other Gems... having said that I'm a poor junior software developer so most of my machines probably seem pretty retro to an average person; my all singing all dancing PDA is a Psion 5 and to me that's bleeding edge!)

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Anonymous Coward

Standard Security

Someone there has a sense of humour. It is standard when Hardening a Server for security purposes to make it report as a different type of server when queried over the web, someone at ebuyer obviously has a sense of humour.

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Anonymous Coward

Web Site not that hard to run...

Web sites in general are really not that computer extensive in power needs. That is unless you're trying to feed 1,000,000 hits an hour on a single machine. Under mostly DHTML encoding just about any machine could handle this type of traffic need. It ain't rocket science folks!

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Anonymous Coward

Coo!

Nice to see there are some old-timers contributing to these comments. There's hope for the zimmer frame manufacturers just around the corner.

I was just starting out in the computer industry when the HP9825 and HP9845 were launched in '78. Serious pieces of kit that pre-dated the IBM PC. At home I bought myself a brand spanking Dragon 32 at the local Carrefours, cost me £175 thank you very much. Anyone who hasn't had it tough won't have experience of the 40 character wide display of uppercase alphanumeric only!

Upgraded to an Amstrad 6128 (colour) when that hit the streets. Now despite what people might think of Amstrad, the 6128 was a very nice piece of kit IMHO.

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Bronze badge

Lighten up Jack!

> Even the so called geeks who are also commenting on this article before me

> seem to fall for it.

> It's a big publicity stunt. They hacked the apache source files.

Well, deary, deary me, Jack, I'm sure NONE OF US knew these headers were spoofed.

Sigh, were you the bloke at school who always needed jokes explained to him ?

This is a light and funny article, and the replies.. All the replies are posted along the same vein.

And where's the advert, or the spam ? Um... *answers on a postcard please...*

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Silver badge

Gah, yes

Gah, yes - was getting confused (but not as confused as the original author)... it was the ZX80 that ran at 1MHz, not the ZX Spectrum. Long, long time ago that I did programming in "machine code" on the Spectrum - about the same time that I did it on the Commodore 64...

As fore requiring hacking of the Apache source, I'm pretty sure that the sever string is just a configuration setting somewhere.

@Murray Pearson - interesting point about using technology like that for industrial purposes - sometimes it's much, much cheaper to use kit like that compared to "industrial" kit that can easily cost 100 times more...

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Errors apart ...

Errors of detail apart, they are pretty good as jokes.

Just wonder how many server identities are spoofed and how many people have been highlighting the stats as 'proof' of their success in some fields of endeavour. Or how many will now disguise what they actually have.

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Hacked the Apache source

Well firstly you can do it with mod_headers no need to go near the Apache source.

And secondly, if you were a long time reader of El Reg you would know this is exactly the kind of article they are known for. And that's why we love them :)

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We run....

6 servers with 600 shops on each, each has 2 X core 2 duo 1.9Ghz, and 4GB RAM.

With 600 shops on that, I don't see how running one shop on that lot should be too hard :)

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J

Cool...

Now I want to make my server report that it's running IIS on my Palm VIIx. I know, hardly classic, vintage material. But you've gotta do with what you have... :-)

Cheers

J

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Six of one, half a terahertz of the other

There is also a CRAY in the list. Fair and balanced computing?

Seriously, though, are you having a laugh? Or, is it that ebuyer.com is having a laugh by fiddling with the I.D. strings?

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What? No Gibson?

You know, supercomputers they use to like, do physics, and look for oil and stuff?

So not 1eet...

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Oracle

I hope these guys can help me out: I need to install Oracle 10g on my Apple II...

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Gibson

Hey! They left out the Gibson!!

Though with Windows being a resource hog and such, I wonder if these computers would run any kind of software faster, as long as it is specifically designed for them ;)

If someone was able to make a web server on a microchip, why not a C-64?

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Dom

No BBC B - I'm disgusted!

Far more robust (once a couple of heatsinks were sorted out) & more expandable than those other 8-bit toys, especially the Torch Z80 2nd processor (added over the 1Mhz bus, IIRC), which would enable relatively easy porting of PC-specific code ..

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Anonymous Coward

C64 Executive

Ha knock them if you will but I sold my C64 "Executive" for almost $1,400 USD on eBay about 18 months ago. Anyone remember those? They were about the size of a modern full size PC case with an incredible 4" (monochrome)monitor that folded out of the front and a REAL floppy drive.

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Anonymous Coward

Luxury

1Mhz ? ... Rubber Keyboard ? ... 1200 baud ? ... East Yorkshire ? ...

You were LUCKY !!

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