back to article Museum readies touch-tastic retro comms gear hands-on

According to my Wiltshire-born partner, Swindon is a grim place to spend your weekend, but this month sees an event that may nonetheless tickle a tech-head's taste-buds. As part of National Science and Engineering week, the Museum of Computing will hold two days of workshops that reminisce about tech, with an emphasis on the …


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  1. Buzzword

    Warning next time

    An NSFW warning wouldn't go amiss here.... (yes I work with prudes)

    1. Naughtyhorse

      you work with...

      yeah? well tell jaqi smith from me to go get... censored :D

  2. EddieD

    Mmm, very nice

    Looks like iambic paddles.

    Much nicer than straight keys.

  3. Anonymous Coward


    Is this like car shows? I'm not sure how it works but I think it's something like this:

    Car sales bod: "Apparently some people don't find cars very interesting."

    Nervous chuckles from others.

    Sales bod: "No, really."

    Chief car sales bod: "Well, if you're sure. What can we do to attract people who don't find cars interesting?"

    Marketing bod: "Naked women! Everyone likes naked women, right?"

    Everyone nods.

    1. dogged


      Tin sheds get sweltering in the summer. Even in Swindon.

  4. Mage Silver badge


    No-one can see you when you are on radio.

    Not sure why BBC Radio Announcers had to wear a suit and possibly more formal.

  5. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    I remember

    I could read the paper tape straight off the punch, without printing - five-bit binary code...

    1. Jock in a Frock
      Thumb Up

      Re: Punched Tape

      Used to repair Trend PTA punch tape units for the RAF, I remember being able to read the codes directly (how sad).

      We used to test them with a stream of RYRYRYRY characters, as it produced a good pattern for testing the punch units.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Respect Sir, is due to you!

      You're not by any chance also The Stig are you?


  6. Disco-Legend-Zeke

    I Remember A Column...

    ...of 10 or so TTY-ASR33 machines in a classroom at Columbia B school. Me the vendor's guy, teaching MBAs of the future how to write BASIC.

    "SCREW YOU CALL A COMPUTER!" types a student.*

    "READY>" Replies the GE Datanet 30 Scheduler.

    "Funny," says me, "now type LIST"

    "Where's the program i just wrote?" he askes, somewhat shaken.

    "Dartmouth BASIC** only parses the first three letters of a command line, so SCREW is the same as SCRATCH, which clears your workspace. You DID save you program before that little demonstration, right?"

    *the ASR33 could only print uppercase letters.

    **this is the language that Bill Gates learned to love.

  7. LuMan


    Hey, she looks pretty good! I wouldn't mind 'interfacing' with that! I wonder how much 'RAM' I could fit in. I'd 'double-click her mouse.' Etc....Etc....etc....

    Well, someone had to do it!

  8. Goat Jam

    It's Refreshing To See

    a model who does not look like an anorexic stick insect for a change.

    Or should that be "depressing", given that there is next to no chance of seeing one these days without resorting to 50 year old pictures.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Caleb, my dear boy, how wrong could you be...

    ...Swindon's not only a dump at the weekends. Try spending 6 months commuting back and forth to that hell hole every day for a living. What a horror!

    "Swindon - Only an hour or two away from much better places!"

  10. Anomalous Cowherd Silver badge

    Reminds me of a story from my Dad...

    ... who was working on an IBM mainframe back in the mid 70s. The beast kept resetting, and they eventually traced it to one of the data entry operators who wore nylon underwear and kept sparking the box into a reset.

    Then there was the punch card operator who thought it would be a good idea to "recycle" the punched cards by pushing the punched bits of card back in the holes... bearing in mind the nearest computer was 1400 miles away in a different country (Sydney) with turnaround for a run in the order of weeks, this did not prove to be cost-effective.

    Comedy gold, I know.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Casting my mind back,...

    to recall a female operator who didn't have thighs the size of tree trunks. Nope, 0 rows returned.

    (They were all lovely to talk to and very switched on BTW).

  12. Wile E. Veteran
    Thumb Up

    Ah "73 Magazine," how much you are missed

    Back in the 70's and early 80's, the major Amateur Radio press was trying to gain respectability with articles filled with calculus to find the absolute noise floor of the input stage and the mixer/intermediate frequency chain behind it. The belief was if you had enough equations to look like a scientific journal, you must be a scientific journal.

    Then along came "73" with the attitude that radio was supposed to be fun, dammit. If you wanted to do all that fancy stuff you got a job at Rockwell-Collins designing commercial aircraft HF radio and military boxes that we still haven't figured out what they do,

    Circuits published in "73" stood about a 50/50 chance of working if you built a copy since the author's version actually depended on the distributed capacitance of the wiring, something an MSEE could figure out, but not the average ham. Still, if you persevered, you probably ended up with something that accomplished the desired end, but looked very little like the simple device in the article.

    As far as editorial policy, you'd have a hard time distinguishing it from el Reg. Supposed to be fun, remember? Every April was one big April Fool's joke with my favorite being the April 1966 edition which turned "73" into a parody of Playboy. The famous rabbit symbol morphed into a pig, there were the usual columns such as "73 After Dark" and, as in the original, the last two pages were a cartoon about a big-boobed airhead named (here) Little Annie Hammy.

    Wayne Green, the publisher, eventually ended up in jail for tax evasion, having taken his Libertarian views much too seriously. W2NSD ("Never Say Die") took a long break from the stress of contacting operators like the one in the picture. Did I mention the whole operation was headquartered in New Hampshire?

    73 de K8QN

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