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Blast from the past

Discussion in 'Computers' started by zuben el genub, Oct 1, 2014.

  1. zuben el genub

    zuben el genub Extreme Android User
    Thread Starter

    Video of first Atlas rocket launch. Check out the computer, and the desk consoles, including dial phones. Movie cameras have reels.

    Only thing usable today would be the refracting telescope.

    Retrotechtacular: The First Atlas Launch

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  2. nickdalzell

    nickdalzell Extreme Android User

  3. mikedt

    mikedt 你好

    Perhaps he wanted to do some programming in DEC Focal?

    FYI the PDP8 wasn't a mainframe it was a mini-computer

    London Science Museum built an analytical engine based on a 1837 design by Charles Babbage.

    For what practical purpose? Because it can be done. :tongue:
  4. nickdalzell

    nickdalzell Extreme Android User

    Perhaps 'because it can be done' isn't a sufficient reason to restore archaic technology...

    Similar to climbing a mountain 'because it is there'

    Teaching about history of tech, the history of computers, sure. but i cringe at anyone attempting to do something as drastic as getting a Commodore Amiga on the internet. it's not like you're going to be able to do much with it.

    While it makes sense to restore things such as old cars, which still have practical use (driving around, going to car shows, etc) in the fact they still work as cars, a computer such as a Kaypro XT being on the internet isn't worth that much. you can't use Flash, can't use YouTube, and it takes ten minutes to do a Google search. unlike restoring antique automobiles, an antique computer is more a paperweight in today's world, similar to analog cellular phones.
  5. mikedt

    mikedt 你好

    So we can see how things used to be, and to preserve them for future generations is enough I think. Which is the purpose of most museums.

    You can play games and use the original software with the Amiga though. Some peeps have even connected Commodore 64s to the internet, but again just because it can be done rather than for any practical purposes

    Didn't you know there's old computer shows as well. And is restoring old cars any different to restoring old computers? Sure you can restore a Ford Model T and it will go, but you ain't going to be driving it at 70MPH on a highway though are you? Not much different to trying to use an Amiga on the modern internet. Most computers like the Amiga, Atari ST, etc, weren't networked anyway, most things people could manage was dial-up BBS usage.

    Old analogue cellular telephones in the absence of any supporting network won't do anything of course, except turn on.
  6. nickdalzell

    nickdalzell Extreme Android User

    Most computers weren't designed for a lifecycle beyond five or so years if that. a car hasn't truly changed in the original principal that much (of course modern cars do have tons of techy gobbledygook on them these dayss).

    Computers were around long before there was an 'Internet' (and probably when it was still referred to as ArpaNet) and most people who used them were business folk (as in the kind who BlackBerry once targeted as consumers) and used database, spreadsheet and word processing applications. most apps were on floppy disk. my first PC was an IBM Personal Computer XT with 256 KILObytes of RAM, a 20MB full-height hard drive (Miniscribe stepper motor drive, imagine sitting next to a small jet engine for hours) and one 5.25" low-density floppy drive, and a monitor capable of only one color. amber. they got it for me originally as a means of completing homework via the word processor, Professional Write, which was a super-expensive yet popular program at the time. it didn't take long before i disassembled it piece by piece much to my parents chagrin, yet when i actually reassembled it to working status, they saw my future in computers. eventually it got replaced with a Trinity (local computer builder) 386DX/33 that i experienced Windows 3.0 and later 3.1 with, then a PS/1 and my intro to America Online, and eventually the full-blown Internet.

    I still miss that old XT but i couldn't imagine using one today. the internet would be a lesson in patience and most websites wouldn't load anyway. useless by today's standards, unlike a '69 Chevy Camaro that, while dated and gas guzzling, still turns heads and goes quite fast. the XT would in contrast be an ugly paperweight that crawls and runs out of memory often, and good luck finding the floppy disk to get the BIOS working in the event the CMOS battery dies, much less finding any working software for it.

    I never knew what they used for a power supply but i do remember it dimming the fluorescent lights in my room when i flipped the big orange power button on the back.

    Here's the hard disk sound. that 'whirr whiir BEEP!' was something i'll never forget

  7. mikedt

    mikedt 你好

    Thing is I never used an XT on the internet, and I wouldn't I even attempt to. However can still use WordPerfect on it or play MS Flight Sim.
    FreeDOS | The FreeDOS Project And I'm sure you can find copies of WordPerfect, Flight Sim, Multiplan, etc, out there somewhere. You can still get the DEC PDP8 operating system and software libraries.... http://www.pdp8online.com/images/index.shtml

    A car from '69 is still quite modern by automobile standards and will easily keep up with any modern car on public roads. An XT or 286 is more like the equivalent of 1920 Tin Lizzy IMO.
    You're just not going to drive it fast or keeping up with anything much. Be a massive tailback, everyone behind honking, "Get out the way!".
  8. nickdalzell

    nickdalzell Extreme Android User

    While it was merely an experiment the software i used was NetTamer (which featured its own PPP Stack and so on, a hell to configure, but doable) as well as Arachne (supposedly a graphical browser with mouse support, although i never could get it working). a Google search took literally 10 minutes. i think most of that waiting for the CPU to catch up to the data flowing over the hacked together 14,400 modem. the computer wasn't meant to support such an ISA modem beyond 9600 baud but i managed to get a faster one to work, but the data flowed so fast the computer kept going into 'pause' waiting to catch up, loading some, pausing again, loading again, and so on.

    At least some hotrodders can put a small block Chevy into that car you posted, and make use of it and customize it (similar to Android) but there wasn't any chance in hell you could replace anything in the XT to make it any faster. you could possibly find an old AT motherboard from a Pentium I and make it fit inside the case but all you'd have then is a very ugly Pentium.

    a DEC PdP-8 is useless today. i can't imagine any purpose in having such a huge computer set up in your home making all that racket. nostalgia just isn't worth the fire hazard and use you'd get. playing music through an FM radio (which is actually just produced through unshielded electronics) just ain't enough. sure, cool, but no practical use at all. i doubt you could even use that system for word processing and even if you could, that's one huge and power-hungry word processor. going by the video i found it funny the system has a CRT right inside it but it uses the Telex printer for a monitor. what purpose is the CRT then?

    If they could be repurposed into a practical use, and weren't maintenance headaches, it might make sense to bring one back to life. but other than history museum art, i doubt there is any real gain to be had by restoring one and having that monstrosity sitting in your living room.

    it's similar to my old Multiplex unit. it was a neat idea and made sense even today. why have some huge TV entertainment cabinet with glass doors taking up so much space, when i could have this 'coffee table' that doubled not only as a TV, but also a stereo, and 8-track player as well? it even had a push-button input selector so i could use my PlayStation 3 with it (analog only of course). another input for a PC going through a VGA-to-Composite converter. it was neat to do. it made sense, and was usable.


    The fact it was over 30 years old meant it had many major drawbacks. it had this bad habit of blowing vacuum tubes (especially the TV part) and with it a puff of ozone smell. i worried it'd burn my home down. it was a maintenance nightmare. i might think 'hey how about some Call of Duty: Black Ops?' but nope. the TV wouldn't work. or i might feel like playing one of my old but good 8-Track carts? uh oh it just ate the darned thing and the tape ripped apart. now it's useless.

    Even when it did work, trying to play a game designed for high definition on that TV was hard to look at, and forget reading any on-screen dialogue. while hooking up a PC to double as a smart TV (i actually took a motherboard and made it integrated into the guts of it, so it'd work just like a smart TV and all i did was hit 'Pay' which was an input desigined originally for Pay Cable back then) the eye strain from attempting to make out what was on Facebook was horrible. It also ran very hot, and used a ton of power. it was inefficient, unreliable, and while it was cool to look at and and out of the way when not being used, i just couldn't see any use anymore out of it. sometimes it's just too old to be useful anymore.

    One of the worst parts of it was the fact it had vacuum tubes. all kinds of them all different shapes and sizes. some for the radio/amp portion and larger ones for the TV. a few inside the TV itself. the flyback tube (this large bulb right next to the transformer that powered the CRT) was the one that loved to blow up. the tube didn't really die but it did melt its socket requiring resoldering at every other turn.

    Worse yet, let's say i just got home at 6PM. yay, MASH is on. one of my favorite shows. i think i will hit ANTENNA and tune it to MeTV via the converter box. wait! i forgot! TUBES! now i hear Hawkeye cursing Frank Burns and so on for ten minutes staring at a blank screen. if i wait, it *might* eventually display a picture, or worse, i might get large blobs of red, green and blue. so much for my show!

    How on earth did people live like that?
  9. zuben el genub

    zuben el genub Extreme Android User
    Thread Starter

    If it runs your software, and you can keep it going, why not?
    I've got 2 OFFLINE XP boxes for special software which is too expensive to upgrade and I don't need the upgrades. I'll keep that going as long as possible. One computer is dual boot with Kubuntu, and I can download and shove stuff on the XP desktop from there.

    Like Mikedt, I still use WordPerfect. In fact, it's version 9. If stuff is for my use that's ok. If I have to share it - it does write the older version of DOC, but the Vulcan is still using Office 97. I have Libre Office if I need more current.

    One ex son-in-law had a collection of games on 5 1/4 floppies. Some of those DOS games were a lot more impressive than what's out now.

    I don't game beyond Solitaire, and most entertainment bores me. I can tell where a conversation or action is going before the actors have the words out of their mouths or by the music. Let's move it people, I can read faster than that. I don't like violence so that leaves out quite a few of the new games.

    I'm not greedy enough for most games. Daughter never could get me to play Animal Crossing right. Never anything in the store I wanted. My idea of Monopoly is barter.

    We still have a Commodore 64 around somewhere.

    Before anyone defends Office - WP5 for DOS had a real good GUI. In fact, there are manuals for desktop publishing written for WP. You simply could not do those in Word at the time. If you wanted a decent Newsletter, it was WP. I still have the manuals.
    WP is still excellent for pleadings and other legal documents.
  10. mikedt

    mikedt 你好

    Thing is it's modified and no longer original, it's effectively modern. Like having something that looks like a Kaypro XT but boots into Windows 8.1. What's the point?
    It's useless as a modern computer. But it's the education value of it, preserved for future generations. If someone wants to keep old computers going as a hobby, I see nothing wrong with that myself. Like keeping an old Ford Model T going as a hobby, not going to be driving it very far or very fast.

    Why do some people preserve and keep steam locomotives going? Making all that racket, filthy, polluting, fire hazard, surely no practical use at all?
    Because there was not much else, except listening to the radio, reading books and playing card games perhaps? :D

    It would happen and I can remember it, rush home from school to watch Magpie or something, just to be informed by parents that the TV had broken again. In fact the first colour TV we had, think around 1970, we rented but then sent it back in exchange for a more reliable black & white set. And family didn't get another colour set for another couple of years.
  11. nickdalzell

    nickdalzell Extreme Android User

    Well perhaps TV was a mere luxury at the time and i would bet the console i had was super expensive when new. but the presence of Vacuum Tubes in a piece of high-tech state-of-the-art High Def equipment makes me cringe. they were horribly unreliable, extremely failure-prone and very power-hungry. i just fail to see the point of them having any place in technology these days.

    It'd be a lot like buying a brand new top-of-the-line laptop, and witnessing it boot straight into MS-DOS 3.3. why? why go technologically backwards?

    It's bad enough UI design is going back to a 2-D flat interface that made sense during the era of the PS/2 given its limited processing power, hard disk capacity restraints, and so on, but to see that coming back and then seeing things like NEW VCRs, and now vacuum tubes, what's next?

    We're seeing the era of tubes return. first it was a soundbar. ok, fair enough i'm sure they won't catch on or replace surround sound in the near-future, niche item, ok. but a QHD Samsung Smart TV? why would anyone these days pay over a few grand on a TV that will get into the habit of not only taking a few minutes to 'warm up' but worse, will fail every week or so? tubes fail often. they did in the 70s, and i don't see that changing today. they had their time and place, but their time has long since come and gone.

    The TV in question has the boasting of 'vacuum tube equipped'. is this meant to be a good thing? will we see laptops catering to the DOS game market boasting a spec of 640K of conventional RAM?

    OOPS, i forgot about LG bringing the dead Palm WebOS back to life. didn't we all write that failure of an OS off in like 2010?
  12. mikedt

    mikedt 你好

    WebOS was indeed a failure as a mobile OS in 2010. But it's now open source, LG have decided to use it as an embedded OS in their TVs, see no problem with that, they could have used Android or they could have developed their completely own proprietary embedded OS.

    The 'vacuum tube equipped' TV is just like the Samsung soundbar and the PC mainboard, it's a diddy little tube/valve in the audio signal path. it's just a way of boasting it's got "toob" sound and is for show, that's it.

    What I find particularly tacky is this kind of thing....
    CD and MP3 player with USB.
  13. nickdalzell

    nickdalzell Extreme Android User

    WebOS faces the problem of lack of development. it's an OS that has faced numerous acquisitions and each one a failure. as such, it's unlikely to get any support these days, and this acquisition might fail too, so we'd have a TV that is unsupported soon after, and a sad loss at that. WebOS is facing 'BlackBerry Syndrome' and i wouldn't give it a chance given its history. then comes the issue it had of RAM management, and anyone who had been around during the heyday of the Palm Pre knows all too well about the 'too many cards' error.

    LG's version fails in many regards as well. the large 'ribbon' of apps/cards is similar to Vizio's Smart TV apps list, but unlike Vizio it takes up a good half of the screen so it interrupts what you're currently watching. Vizio has a much smaller ribbon that is far less intrusive. They might have been better off at least using an embedded variant of chromecast or Android. at least Android has support development wise.

    Had BlackBerry/RIM faced the facts and adopted Android, they, too might have survived. WebOS is dead. time to move on.

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