Tag Archives: retro

Elliott 405 – a simplified representation

There’s something about  this brochure that just screams 1950s. The graphics on the cover, for instance, are straight out of Mad Men. ‘A simplified representation of the National-Elliott Electronics Data Processing System’ is the kind of brochure you wouldn’t think was necessary – or appropriate – for this kind of machine. The Elliott 405 wasn’t something you bought on a… Read more »

Zolatron 64 – mein gott, it werkz!

Sorry about the headline. When I get excited, my German heritage sneaks out. But godammit, it’s justifed. Okay, so the first attempt at creating PCBs for the Zolatron 64 6502-based homebrew computer was not an unalloyed success. I never got as far as testing the backplane, serial board and VIA board because of a monumental screw-up on the main processor… Read more »

Elliott 405 – a fascinating glimpse into vintage computing

History isn’t just about dates and the events that get memorialised in statues. Far more fascinating is the personal and the quotidian. A thumbprint left in an ordinary ceramic bowl is a more direct connection to the lived experiences of people the past than any number of crowns and sceptres. And I think there’s an aspect of even recent history… Read more »

Fun with chips: #1 MC1441 bit rate generator

I’m easily pleased. Leave me alone with a breadboard, multimeter, oscilloscope and a previously unencountered IC, and I can amuse myself for hours. Well, minutes anyway. It’s fun to fire up a chip and watch it do its stuff. And even more fun if it’s an old chip. But before we get to the IC itself, let’s fill in some… Read more »

DIY joystick for the BBC Micro – part 6 – completed (definitely)

Just when you thought it was over… When we last saw this project it was complete except for stuffing the joystick into some kind of box. As that kind of mechanical stuff doesn’t interest me greatly (and I’m crap at it), I wasn’t going to bother with a post about this final step. But hey, I’m nothing if not a… Read more »

DIY joystick for the BBC Micro – part 5 – completed (pretty much)

Having got impatient waiting for my PCBs to arrive from China, I went ahead and cobbled together some interim solutions for this project. And what happens? The PCBs arrive the next day. These are the ‘fixed’ PCBs with the proper footprint for the DB15 connector. And what can I tell you? They work. There is one slight issue that I… Read more »

DIY joystick for the BBC Micro – part 4 – a quick lash-up

While waiting for revised PCBs to arrive from China, I figured the time would be well spent learning a little more about the BBC Micro’s analogue port. And I have taken delivery of a couple of DB15 breakout boards, which meant I could try wiring up the joystick, albeit in a crude and temporary way. One joystick needs to send… Read more »

DIY joystick for the BBC Micro – part 3

Ah well, another valuable lesson learned. The PCBs for my homemade joystick, designed to work with the BBC Micro and Master, should have been very simple. They are very simple. And yet I still managed to screw up. The PCBs for both the main adapter, which plugs directly into the computer, and the connector for the joystick arrived the same… Read more »

DIY joystick for the BBC Micro – part 2

In the first part I described the interface between two RJ45 Ethernet sockets and the BBC Micro’s analogue port. The idea behind using RJ45 connectors is that you can use any old Ethernet cable to connect the joysticks. But as these are homemade joysticks, they’ll need RJ45 sockets of their own into which one can plug the other end of… Read more »

Looking back: reliving the age when computing wasn’t yet retro

Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be – it’s a lot better. Once upon a time, examining the past relied heavily on memory – an unreliable witness at best. Maybe you could dredge up a few old magazines and books, some dusty photos and a few other artefacts. But you were mostly dependent on whatever you’d personally kept from the… Read more »

The original web

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Next year will mark the 30th anniversary of the world wide web. And if you want to get a feel for how far the web has come, try experiencing what it was like in those heady days of December 1990. Tim Berners-Lee (now Sir Tim) built the original web while at The European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) as a… Read more »

A home for my BBC Micro DataCentre

In the last post, I mentioned how I’m using a RetroClinic DataCentre to make it easy to transfer files between the BeebEm emulator on my PC and my real BBC Master 128. A USB memory stick plugged into the DataCentre becomes my main disk drive (*DRIVE 5) for program files. It also holds floppy disk images (single-sided .SSD and double-sided… Read more »

Zolatron 6502 computer: decoding the RAM more reliably

In my earlier post on address decoding logic, I mapped out a fairly simple way of dividing up the 64k address space for my 6502-based retro computer. But maybe it was too simple. There is one slight complication – easily fixed, but which will require the introduction of another chip. And the reason for this is something lacking in memory…. Read more »

Ghost in the machine: a BBC Micro on an FPGA

The BBC Micro was the machine that really got me hooked. The Sinclair Spectrum was the gateway micro, but it was the Beeb that got programming into my veins. So much so, indeed, that not long ago I finally gave into temptation and bought a BBC Master Turbo on eBay. It didn’t last long. Although fully refurbished, any machine of that… Read more »

Altair-Duino – the low-cost Altair 8800

I’ve wanted an Altair 8800 for a long time now. It’s not that you can do much with it. But it is such an important part of computing history. Famously, the January 1975 edition of Popular Electronics featured the Altair 8800. Or rather, it featured a non-working prototype. The first working machine had gone missing in the post. The magazine… Read more »