Tag Archives: vintage

Epson MX-80 Part 1 – resurrecting an old friend

It’s hard to lose an old friend with whom you’ve shared more than a  third of a century’s worth of experiences. I’ll never forget the day it happened. I heard a coughing, spluttering noise, turned around and, sure enough, smoke was pouring out of the printer. And not just any old printer – my trusty Epson MX-80F/T III, the first… Read more »

Memory update

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A while back I wrote (here and here) about how I’d bought some old Russian memory. It’s a single memory plane from a Saratov-2 (Саратов-2), a Soviet-era Russian clone of the PDP-8 built in the 1960s. Well, I’ve finally given it the home it deserves. I’ve mounted the memory inside a deep frame and put a ribbon of LEDs around the… Read more »

From the archives: Good Software Guide

Like the Good Hardware Guide (here, here and here), this 1991 publication was an attempt to produce a book listing all the most important products on the market. Yes, one book. Can you imagine trying to do that now? These are just the items I wrote – my mate Steve Gold covered far more, and there may have been other… Read more »

From the archives: WordStar 2000 Plus review

Wordstar 2000 Plus was the third version of the widely hated word processor. The reaction to the original Wordstar 2000 was similar to the one that greeted New Coke. Well, actually no, it was different… New Coke and the original Coke were just slight variations on of vile, corrosive sugared water. Wordstar 2000 was actually a very capable piece of… Read more »

The Hacker’s Handbook and the script kiddie

On its publication in 1985, The Hacker’s Handbook was a sensation. It seemed to legitimise an activity that many of us had been engaged in for a while – the (mostly) innocent exploration of online computer systems. We now live in an age of connectedness. Our phones, our TVs and even our fridges are just nodes on a giant network. Email… Read more »

From the archives: Olivetti Quaderno review

Portable computers were still relatively exotic beasts when Olivetti launched the Quaderno – an XT machine in an A5 form factor. The netbook fad was still some time off. Putting a label on this machine wasn’t that easy. ‘Palmtop’ is, I think, how Olivetti chose to classify it, but it was a bit big for a palm. But just look at… Read more »

From the archives: Amstrad PPC 640 review

This piece was written for Which PC? when the Amstrad PPC first came out in 1988. I can still recall to this day how the Amstrad creaked and groaned. This was probably the cheapest-feeling computer I’ve ever encountered. And as for powering it from 10 C-size batteries – holy crap. Given the lousy battery life – you’d have to carry around… Read more »

From the archives: WordStar 5 review

This piece was written for Personal Computer World – I presume in 1989 when WordStar 5 appeared. Note the bit about needing 512K of memory – you have been warned! I also discovered from some text I’d originally included at the beginning that my old Telecom Gold (aka BT Gold) address was 10074:MIK031. This was, of course, in the days when ordinary… Read more »

From the archives: Bulletin Board Systems for pilots

Another old article dragged from the archives, and again with an aviation theme. This one was written for Pilot magazine in the UK and was published, I would guess, in 1991 (I got my Private Pilot’s Licence in 1990). I still occasionally pine for the old days of the Bulletin Board System (BBS) and CIX. And yes, I’m aware that there… Read more »

Vintage software: WordStar, WordPerfect and muscle memory

Having discovered a trove of my old files on an archive disk, I naturally wanted to read them – and post some of them here. I’ve already written about how I went about converting the files. In the process, I had a chance to catch up with a couple of old friends. I use a FreeDOS VM running under VirtualBox… Read more »

From the archives: Computers in Air Traffic Control

This is another piece from my archives. This was written for Personal Computer World magazine, published in the UK by VNU. It followed on from the one on fly-by-wire, so I’m going to guess this piece appeared in 1991. By that time I was doing a lot of work for IBM, especially its RS/6000 and AIX division which was engaged on… Read more »

From the archives: Fly by wire

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Recently I discovered an archive of past work, including a handful of tech features. I guess these come under the heading of ‘vintage’ now, so I figured I’d share them here. In the late 1980s and early 1990s I wrote for a number of computer magazines. I’ve kept very few of the articles, alas, so this is a rare survivor…. Read more »

Getting lost the easy way: early GPS

GPS seems an almost mundane technology these days. It’s in your smartphone and possibly your camera. You can buy cheap GPS receivers to work with your Arduino or Raspberry Pi so that robot you never seem to have time to build never gets lost (or is that just me?). But yes, I am old enough to remember when the Global… Read more »

Russian memory and British big iron

The Russian core memory I bought on eBay has arrived and I have to say it’s a thing of beauty. In fact, it’s such a fascinating object that the More Significant Other was moved to admit that she’d like it to live, suitably framed, in the living room. There is something strangely hand-crafted about this piece of modern technology. I… Read more »

Vintage stuff: Apple Power Macintosh G3

Writing about the PowerBook 3400c finally gave me the motivation I needed to dig out our other surviving Macintosh from the 1990s – a G3. Yep, this one’s definitely in the beige box category. It’s not a lovely thing to look at, is it? (It also needs a bit of a clean.) But this was the workhorse of our business… Read more »