Show: Retro Computers

Erich_H

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Feb 8, 2020
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In the picture, it's a 20MB Seagate ST-225 -- "old reliable" -- but it's only for show; it's disabled, and I'm using a 512MB Compact Flash card as the hard drive instead. (Complete card installation: NIC, SBPro, Deluxde Option Board, CGA, MDA, LIM EMS, additional memory at a000-afff so I can extend DOS past 640K, floppy controller, IDE controller, and an extender card that goes to the IBM 5161 next to it which holds some of those cards.)

I have many more; the previous picture was just my "daily driver" that I have set up all the time for imaging disks, doing programming, historical research, etc. Most of systems are organized into rolling racks so that I can move them around and gain quick access as necessary. Here's half a shelf of one of those racks (apologies for the noise in the shot, it was lit by a single bulb):
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I've been collecting IBM PCs and compatibles (roughly 1981-1995 era) for many decades, and I help organize a vintage computer convention (that covers all vintage computing, not just PCs) in midwest USA every year. Last year we had over 1200 attendees, so there is still a sizable hobby for these.
WOW! again. A far reaching collection! I've just got the first IBM models in my abode. Stopped just before the XT. Only 5150's and the like. And a 5161, of course!

Pride of place: the first IBM, with the 64K mother board.

But my special joy is spelled QL.
And ZX 80/81. Quirky Brits.
 

ralf-11

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Jan 16, 2017
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the thing in the gray box is a very specialized computer - a data logger

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junkyardsparkle

haunted scrap heap
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Nov 17, 2016
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2,376
I have some old CH joysticks kicking around, obtained a decade or so ago for use with audio software... they make nice general purpose analog controls, since the centering springs can be individually disabled for X/Y axes.

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I believe this one is the Mach I, by deduction... since it isn't the Mach II or III, and seems like an earlier design... maybe somebody here knows for sure.

EDIT: A little searching around finds this one called the "Mach I" as well as "Mach I+"... clearly a case for the hardcore historians... also confusing is the fact that the patent ref'd on the bottom of this one is from 1988, while the one on the Mach II dates from 1984... :hmmm: My own memory only extends to the Mach III, and then only because of friends who owned one; I never did, myself.

EDIT 2: Ok, I found a picture of a real "Mach 1+"... it has a different stick with one of the buttons moved to the "hat", similar to the Mach III. This is, then, indeed a Mach I.
 
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SandyO

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Dec 6, 2018
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59
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Cranbrook, BC Canada
Jeez you guys, you're bring back nightmares. I retired 3 years ago from doing about 45 in IT .....way before it was even called IT. LOL. Yeah, tape drives, 8" floppies, punch cards and band printers and no I didn't take photos or save all my old stuff. However, for the most part, I did think I had the greatest job in the world though.
 

BosseBe

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Aug 7, 2015
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Stockholm, Sweden
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Bo
Somewhere I have my first ever computer "program", it is on a punched-paper roll.
Made using a Teletype and run on the schools computer clubs 8-bit home built computer, that was in 1976.
 

AJ68

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Jun 3, 2020
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Sweden
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  • #26
Back in 1979, at 11 years old, as I was preparing to go on a Work Experience activity at school, my classmate told me that his dad had a job where he could play games all day! That description was not entirely accurate but my interest was piqued! I managed to get to go along with my classmate to his dads workplace at the IT-department at a big company. He was actually NOT playing games all day but was managing their mainframes (a Burroughs B4890 and a Burroughs B7800) and doing all the job queuing and so on. The terminals that they were using could however be started in an offline mode by holding down a key-combination when powered on that then displayed a menu where you could do simple local tasks like wordprocessing, connecting via modem and play some character based games... It was probably the best week of my life up to that point as me and my classmate played versions of Space Invaders and Night Driver on the terminal!

So come next semester I managed to get to go along with them again but this time the play sessions were interrupted by actual "work"... I got to punch in the code for the bootstrap program on punchcards and then load them into the mainframe to read address information from 0.5" computer tape.

2020-06-22 13.18.35-1.jpg
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(A few punchcards and a 0.5" computer tape together with a HP-200 mini cartridge, 8" diskettes, 5.25" diskettes and 3.5" diskettes)

That information was then printed on address labels that were put on envelopes for invoices and such. This was like magic to me!

Also his dad by this point had gotten a computer at home that he used to connect to work and login to the mainframes to check on progress and status of the jobs! This was my first glimpse of the Apple II Plus... He also showed me the first BASIC program that I had ever seen and I was blown away!

Later that same year the Apple II computer had stopped working for some unknown reason and the company decided it was way too complicated to ship it back to Apple for repairs so he got to keep it and had been given a replacement (an Apple III) instead! For some reason his son never took to computers so he offered it to me to take home and play with which I did! So this Apple II Plus was my first computer... even though it didn't actually work!

I have had it ever since and just recently decided to see if I could get it working! So... what did I do to it?

Well the first thing was to just go through it, clean it up and clean out all of the dust that had collected during roughly 40 years! I recapped the powersupply (a recurring theme in retro computing) and refurbished the keyboard. Then I changed the drivebelts on the diskdrives and realigned the heads and also replaced and recalibrated the actual drive motor on one of the diskdrives with one from another Apple Disk II that my older brother @Erich_H gave me which I couldn't get to work!

I finally topped it off by finding a period typical monitor on Ebay that I bought in order to complete the setup! So alltogether it looks just fantastic!

And by the way it doesn't just look fantastic because now... IT ALSO WORKS! :)

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AJ68

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Not that many PC-compatibles here but at least it's MS-DOS compatible... My next project: a HP-150 with dual floppies and touch-screen!

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Erich_H

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Eastern Denmark (annexed in 1658 by Sweden)
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After these posts by the kid brother, I've got a cold, clammy feeling none of youse are going to be muchly impressed, but, anyway:
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A Sinclair QL microdrive cartridge, with the first bundled spreadsheet program, QL Abacus, written by Psion, later famous for small handhelds.

This program was part of the productivity software package of four programs bundled with the Sinclair QL in 1984. The other programs were: QL Quill (word processor), QL Archive (data base), and QL Easel (business graphics), all written by Psion.

A fun computer, with networking built into its true multitasking OS. I still remember how fun it was to write small graphics routines that ran in the same graphics memory simultaneously. Kudos to QDOS!

That you couldn't do on an Amiga!

EDIT: Picture shot with a Pentax Q, obviously...
 
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AJ68

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The next step on my road to computer literacy came in 1980 when I had turned 12 and was also in part thanks to the Work Experience programs we had at school back in those days! Another big reason for this one is, again, my big brother @Erich_H and his interest in cameras! He used to frequent a local store in the city where he lived, called HEFOMA (short for Helsingborgs Fotografiska Magasin which translates to Helsingborg Photographic Warehouse) that sold consumer electronics like TV's, radios, records and, in one department, cameras! I tagged along quite a few times and found all of it fascinating and also got to know a couple of the people working there, including the owner! So, when the time came to select somewhere to go on Work Experience the choice was obvious! I managed to get a spot in the Radio and TV department and got to work!

On the first day at lunch we went to the break room which was upstairs and there were more people there than I realised even worked in the store! Turns out that HEFOMA also had a Computer department on the third floor! I never even knew that was a thing before this moment! So I managed to sneak up there to have a look and that was probably one of the best ideas I ever had! There will be more stories coming up connected to this store, me and my brother!

When I walked around and looked at all the awesome stuff they had there that lit a flame in me that never faded! I went up there whenever I had the opportunity even after my Work Experience activity ended! By that time they had gotten to know me and never really seemed to think that I was a problem but rather liked my interest in all things computer and even though I posed tons of questions they always patiently answered them! However they also had to do proper work so they decided to plop me down somewhere where I wouldn't be able to mess to much stuff up! In the end they sat me down in front of my next computer... this time it was a Commodore CBM 8032 with a magnificent CBM 8250 dual diskdrive!

2020-06-22 13.18.56-1.jpg
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They gave me a binder with the instructions to Commodore Basic v4 (incidentally the rights to use this was purchased from a guy called Bill Gates working at a little company called Microsoft!) and I just plowed through this binder in no-time and after just a few days I had managed to learn and program BASIC! I was thrilled! This would influence me significantly so that later that year, when I finally purchased my very first own computer, I got myself a Commodore VIC-20! You can imagine the war-like state that later developed between me (the Commodore guy) and my brother (the Sinclair guy)! Which one that was best out of Commodore vs. Sinclair was actually a thing in Europe at the time, very similar to the iPhone vs. Android thing today!

Fast forward to a number of years later, at the end of the 80's, they finally wound down their business due to the increasing competition from other electronics chains that popped up and outpriced the smaller stores! They initially kept the computer department as a separate company named HEFOMA Data for themselves and sold off the electronics store to another company, which still exists to this day, but in the end for the computer department it was to little too late and they closed their doors for the last time in 1989 or 1990! When that happened I managed to buy this computer (and a few other machines with corresponding history coming in the near future) from the owner!

As with so many of these older computers at this point I have had to go through and recap the power supplies of both the computer and the disk drive! I also had to refurbish the screen and keyboard so that now it looks and works as good as when I first used it 40 years ago!

To finish off this part of the story... a treat for all of you in the MU-43 community:

2020-06-22 13.25.23-1.jpg
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Erich_H

Mu-43 Top Veteran
Joined
Feb 8, 2020
Messages
908
Location
Eastern Denmark (annexed in 1658 by Sweden)
Real Name
Erik
The next step on my road to computer literacy came in 1980 when I had turned 12 and was also in part thanks to the Work Experience programs we had at school back in those days! Another big reason for this one is, again, my big brother @Erich_H and his interest in cameras! He used to frequent a local store in the city where he lived, called HEFOMA (short for Helsingborgs Fotografiska Magasin which translates to Helsingborg Photografic Warehouse) that sold consumer electronics like TV's, radios, records and, in one department, cameras! I tagged along quite a few times and found all of it fascinating and also got to know a couple of the people working there, including the owner! So, when the time came to select somewhere to go on Work Experience the choice was obvious! I managed to get a spot in the Radio and TV department and got to work!

On the first day at lunch we went to the break room which was upstairs and there were more people there than I realised even worked in the store! Turns out that HEFOMA also had a Computer department on the third floor! I never even knew that was a thing before this moment! So I managed to sneak up there to have a look and that was probably one of the best ideas I ever had! There will be more stories coming up connected to this store, me and my brother!

When I walked around and looked at all the awesome stuff they had there that lit a flame in me that never faded! I went up there whenever I had the opportunity even after my Work Experience activity ended! By that time they had gotten to know me and never really seemed to think that I was a problem but rather liked my interest in all things computer and even though I posed tons of questions they always patiently answered them! However they also had to do proper work so they decided to plop me down somewhere where I wouldn't be able to mess to much stuff up! In the end they sat me down in front of my next computer... this time it was a Commodore CBM 8032 with a magnificent CBM 8250 dual diskdrive!

View attachment 831416

They gave me a binder with the instructions to Commodore Basic v4 (incidentally the rights to use this was purchased from a guy called Bill Gates working at a little company called Microsoft!) and I just plowed through this binder in no-time and after just a few days I had managed to learn and program BASIC! I was thrilled! This would influence me significantly so that later that year, when I finally purchased my very first own computer, I got myself a Commodore VIC-20! You can imagine the war-like state that later developed between me (the Commodore guy) and my brother (the Sinclair guy)! Which one that was best out of Commodore vs. Sinclair was actually a thing in Europe at the time, very similar to the iPhone vs. Android thing today!

Fast forward to a number of years later, at the end of the 80's, they finally wound down their business due to the increasing competition from other electronics chains that popped up and outpriced the smaller stores! They initially kept the computer department as a separate company named HEFOMA Data for themselves and sold off the electronics store to another company, which still exists to this day, but in the end for the computer department it was to little too late and they closed their doors for the last time in 1989 or 1990! When that happened I managed to buy this computer (and a few other machines with corresponding history coming in the near future) from the owner!

As with so many of these older computers at this point I have had to go through and recap the power supplies of both the computer and the disk drive! I also had to refurbish the screen and keyboard so that now it looks and works as good as when I first used it 40 years ago!

To finish off this part of the story... a treat for all of you in the MU-43 community:

View attachment 831420
Nicely done post! And, no, I'm not partial. Sinclair is still the best!
 

Erich_H

Mu-43 Top Veteran
Joined
Feb 8, 2020
Messages
908
Location
Eastern Denmark (annexed in 1658 by Sweden)
Real Name
Erik
Just had to...
FV5_0314-01.jpeg
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FV5_0315-01.jpeg
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FV5_0316-01.jpeg
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FV5_0317-01.jpeg
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Tried it first with the QL. She didn't approve.

Please note: No cat was seriously flattened during this photo session!
 
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