But can it run Crysis?
I'd get my coat but it's currently trying to kill me for this post...
Readers' tales of very old computers keep rolling in, so we'll keep rolling them out at you. We even gave ourselves a name for this silliness: Runtime. The last week's most interesting inbox insertion was news of a Tandy 102 that's still alive and kicking and helping reader “Ed” to stay alive and kicking too. The 102 is a …
WALDORF: That was wonderful!
WALDORF: I loved that!
STATLER: Ah, that was great!
WALDORF: Neh–it was pretty good.
STATLER: Well, it wasn’t bad…
WALDORF: There were parts of it that weren’t very good, though.
STATLER: It could’ve been a lot better.
WALDORF: I didn’t really like it.
STATLER: It was pretty terrible.
WALDORF: It was bad.
STATLER: It was awful!
STATLER & WALDORF: Terrible! Take ‘em away! BOO!!!
An 80386 based "beige" laptop, with the socket for the i387 maths co-processor.
This beastie had NiCads and a whopping 1.3 hours of runtime on a full charge.
Monochrome screen, integrated 24K modem and a power connector which though bulky
had the advantage of being nearly indestructible.
It also had floppy drive and a stock 80MB (!) Connor Peripherals hard disk which got recycled into
another laptop until that finally gave up.
Sad to say its dead now, I saved a few parts but it finally succumbed to entropy.
"An 80386 based "beige" laptop, with the socket for the i387 maths co-processor"
I have one of those, 387 socket is populated IIRC but I never had a set of working NiCads for it. I'll have to dig it out and test it. Very handy for debugging serial comms problems as it has two real COM ports. By real I mean not via USB. Such a PITA when you seek out a machine with physical COM port to avoid using USB dongles and it turns out the ports are through an onboard USB hub.
I've still got a Brunsviga mechanical calculator that my dad brought home from work in the 1970s.
Next to my desk there's still my grandfather Olivetti M-24 Tetractys (still working). It's at least from the late sixties, I believe, I really don't know when it was bought.
iI's an electromechanical calculator, and it's not programmable, so it doesn't count as "modern" computer, yet it started to have a "modern" keyboard.
Looking at it churning out a long division is marvellous - you have a glimpse of what would have been Babbage engines...
That reminds me that I had a Toshiba T1000 - and it's possible that I do still have it, somewhere (probably in the loft).
The last time I remember hitting the power button on it was probably a decade ago - and it appeared to power up, though I didn't have a DOS boot disc for it. Since then, various old tat has been skipped, but I don't know if I included that computer. Next time I venture into the loft, I'll make a point of looking for it - just to satisfy my own curiosity.
(For any RISC OS commentards reading this, back in the early 1990s I used it to write the documentation for Trellis while travelling to/from places of work on the bus - using the DOS version of Pipedream.)
I have a Model 100 in the kitchen, since last October or so I've used it to pseudo-randomly generate side items for the kids' school lunches. The RNG is horrid, but it looks scientific and thus cuts down on complaints from the kiddos.
I'd considered submitting it, but since it was powered down in my bookshelf for 15 years it seemed unfair. I originally had two, but the other one stopped booting some years back and was discarded.
The RNG is horrid, but it looks scientific and thus cuts down on complaints from the kiddos.
This post deserves a dozen upvotes for this sentence alone.
I eagerly await the day that one of your kids starts doing statistical tests on the PRNG. "I knew carrot sticks were coming up too frequently. Look at the cycle on this thing!"
Mine is currently running a program that turns on and off my pool motors. I hooked up a relay board and that turns on and off the nice BIG relays that switch the one HP motors. I added a few features to control the various valves as well, so that a simple press of the 'H' key flips everything so that the hot tub comes up, and engages the heater. Thirty minutes later the nice hot tub part of the pool is at an ideal temperature.
The difficult part was to get its printer port to work. It isn't like the normal PC port when the data is valid when you write to the port, but rather it is only valid when the strobe happens. I had to write a special subroutine to do the dirty work and not have the response line active. Thankfully the Basic (the last program actually written by Bill Gates personally) has a call routine. The task next month is to reset the time so that the motors will start an hour earlier. The Basic doesn't know about Daylight
wasting saving time.
This combination has been doing its job since the mid 80's and works quite well. I first used the relay combination to control sprinklers, but the controllers commercially available were easier for my mom & dad to understand.
I tried to recreate the 1980s with a Commodore USA C64x "barebone" with a MiniITX motherboard a few years ago.
It looks like a Commodore 64, and the keys are proper clicky chiclets, not the Speccy-like modern keyboards.
Unfortunately it stopped being recognised by the USB controller, and CUSA went out of business. So I'm stuck with a non working C64 replica that I'm not sure what to do with but don't have the heart to chuck (especially as it cost a small amount in the first place).
I've spent the last 6 weeks resurrecting my Commodore PET 2001-32N from silicon heaven and the weeks running up to xmas bringing life to a PET 8096SK I bought bust back in 2001 for a tenner.
I encountered a Tandy 100 when I went to work for a journalist in 1984. Complete with acoustic coupler to phone in pieces.
Nine years later I began working for the newspaper at the other end of the phone line, complete with rack of 300 baud modems.
In '84 it seemed a technological marvel. But as better options turned up it was strangely hard to persuade the journalists to give up their Tandy's. Robust, simple and functional they were trusted far more than the new-fangled laptop things.
The modems finally went in 2003 — with the mournful howls of the dozen news-hounds still using them — after 20 years of service.
My original ($884 in 1984) Model 100 was still working as of some time last year, and a 102; I have a Model 200 as well, and that one I actually used while I was being laid off in 2001. I'm not saying I use it now, and I only used it then to poke fun at another engineer in our layoff group, whose clamshell Apple laptop was only good for a couple of hours on its battery.
The Model 100's, 102's, and 200's could typically get 40 hours on one set of penlight batteries.
I also have an expanded Model 100 with 96 kB of available memory. Using it is like having three different Model 100s with 32 kB each.
'85, my boss wanted me to use one of those Trash 80s to test page printers I was repairing.
It was so slow it wouldn't fill the buffer, yes, so slow it couldn't outrun an ancient dot matrix printer.
I ended up bringing in my PC-XT clone, but even that wouldn't go fast enough running basic.
That's when I discovered Forth - fast and flexible, did the job with ease.
I still have the Sinclair Z88 (and spare) that my wife used to write her PhD thesis back in the 19-somethings. However, I don't think she would recommend using an eight line display and memory that would evaporate when the batteries died for such a purpose.
But, they still power up and seem to run...
Got Autocad 14 on 5 1/2 inch floppies with the tablet and the transparent overlay, complete with the optical drive from a 386.Original box. Also Autocad 12 with two tablets and a few other accessories. Have any number of 386s and 486s including a DataGeneral One, have a CoCo2 with the Assembler pack. Somewhere is my Certificate of Competence for the IBM 026 Duplicating Keypunch.
Memories, memories...still got a DIY manual for assembling and testing the 8080A, complete with hardware and programming. Still got some 8255s around somewhere for IO and RAM. How about Microcomputer Programming and Interfacing for the 8080A in two volumes by Titus, Rony and Larsen. Never could get the damn thing to work.
I reckon when Skynet goes live, it won't be the latest hot server boxes and such, but all the ancient tat festering in Reg readers attics, sheds, garages, and old office cupboards that will be struck by lightening a creak into life.
But they won't be trying to kill mankind off with flash military hardware, instead they will just bore us to death by going on about how nobody writes assembler any more, let alone proper machine code.
My coat is the one with the Psion II in the pocket.
I've got a Tandy 102, in full working order. Lovely keyboard. I use it occasionally for taking notes on a trip, because the battery life is so much better than my laptop. I even hacked the hard coded '19' in the ROM so that it displays the year correctly.
More obscure, I have a "Radio Shack TRS-80 Pocket Computer", otherwise known as a Sharp CE-122, complete with printer docking station. It's also in working order, though the one-line LCD has started to go black along the top edge.
My Model 100 still works fine, thank you.
What I miss is my TRS-80, Model 1, Level 1. Serial number was 98. Likely to have been the first day's production. The only documentation with it was photocopy of a marked-up galley proof of a reference card. Unfortunately it was stolen while I was in school one day.
Real men only need monochrome 16 lines of 64 upper case characters
I did my first university degree (English literature) on one of these. Great keyboard and persistent memory, but backing up documents to cassette tape : oh noes!
Eventually I learned to connect it to the university physics department through an acoustic modem and got my first email account. Also the first time I accessed a Unix system. University of Toronto, maybe 1990.
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