Show: Retro Computers

AJ68

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Ok... At long last here is the next item on the list! It is not yet quite finished but I am working hard on it... 😃

When I finally managed to get my hands on a computer at school (between 7th-8th grade) we here in Sweden had created our own domestic computer mainly due to the fact that the company in charge had failed to close a deal with Tandy to import and distribute the original TRS-80! The result was the ABC-80 which supposedly meant Advanced Basic Computer for the Eighties! It was ready in late 1978 and marketed by Luxor and started shipping to schools and individuals in 1979! The example I got my hands on was in quite a poor state...

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After a whole lot of elbow-grease and some repairs both cosmetic and electronic here is the finished result! This particular one is 40 years old but looks and works like it just came out of the box!

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I am currently in the process of fixing the monitor (which in all fairness was just a 12 inch black and white TV) but I have already tested it with a composite adapter and a modern monitor and it works great! More on this will follow in a later post!

I also found a dual floppydisk unit which was designed to sit behind the computer with the monitor on top between the disk units!

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Fixing this was a tough nut to crack! Cosmetically it was in perfect shape with hardly a scratch on it! The electronical and mechanical side of it was a different story though! Fixing the power supply in this required a healthy dose of thinking outside of the box to find modern components to replace the old ones! Documentation on this particular model was really hard to come by on the interwebs!

Also the controller card needed a refurbishment and I had to recap it and also replace a few faulty logic chips to get it working and recognized by the computer!

And the the diskette units... The good old Pertec FD-200's...

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Both of those I had to go through and refurbish mechanically, especially the drive and stepper motors! And then troubleshooting the drive electronics!

But now both of these beasts work great in all their single-sided, single-density, 80k glory! And they don't sound half bad either... whirring and clicking like its 1980 once again!

As a bonus I also finished the refurbishment of the cousin of the bigger brother of the ABC-80! The bigger brother was the ABC-800 which came out in 1981 as a office and scientific computer instead of a school and home computer like the ABC-80! The cousin of the ABC-800 was the Facit DTC6500 which was launched at the same time but aimed for the export market! However the deal between Luxor and Facit fell through quite quickly and they started competing in the domestic market and this is why, when I entered High School, I worked on these ones...

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This one required recapping the power supply unit and replacing a meltfuse in the screen. Then I had to replace some of the ROM-chips on the motherboard... and of course fix the keyboard!

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But it works now... and with a glorious amber monitor! This particular one is from 1983! 😁
 
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rloewy

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My old 1999 Psion 5mx (next to my E-PL7 for scale).

Up to that time I used an old HP 200LX running Dos - and I came back with it from Africa where it proved to be great, but the screen was starting to go really dim - so I upgraded to this tiny thing. I suspect that if I found proper replacement batteries, it would fire right up.
 

rloewy

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The Psion was replaced by this Sharp Mobilon HC-4600 running Windows CE. I do not think I kept using it for a long time, the attraction was that it had a color screen and it was a Windows machine so in theory sharing data with a proper PC was going to be easy, unfortunately, this is peak Microsoft not understanding mobile computing - and trying to force the full desktop metaphor on a tiny machine. I believe I replaced that with an IBM Z/50 that I should have somewhere as well.
 

OldRex

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OK, some screenshots from Series 3a, Siena and Series 5 FreeCell
Series 3a
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Siena
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And Series 5 (just snipped then from the emulator)
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Good times!
 
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Fairfax Iowa
My old HP 200LX (1992 or so) and my Toshiba handheld Windows Palmtop (2002 or so)

Great for the early days of email, gameplaying and checking airline connections.
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MichailK

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Although I'm not a computer nerd in any way, may I recommend the American TV series Halt and Catch Fire, set in the early '80s around the personal computer industry. It's gripping watching!
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2543312/
The single greatest aspiration of that era in electronics was that a human being could manipulate almost all parts by one’s own hands - you could literally use your naked (yet grounded!) hands to replace those high end ICs or all other parts on a PCB or even design and built your own systems without a microscope, special soldering stations or other ultra precision robotic SMD parts manipulators that are now needed after the first proof of concept step (which again usually needs smd miniaturized parts & boards ordered from elsewhere). Heck, you could even knit a whole system on wirewrapping and the low MHz of the day meant it would work reliable even in that tropical jungle mess state it was in.
With your own bare hands and some simple tools plus a multimeter and an oscillscope.
 
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The single greatest aspiration of that era in electronics was that a human being could manipulate almost all parts by one’s own hands - you could literally use your naked (yet grounded!) hands to replace those high end ICs or all other parts on a PCB or even design and built your own systems without a microscope, special soldering stations or other ultra precision robotic SMD parts manipulators that are now needed after the first proof of concept step (which again usually needs smd miniaturized parts & boards ordered from elsewhere). Heck, you could even knit a whole system on wirewrapping and the low MHz of the day meant it would work reliable even in that tropical jungle mess state it was in.
With your own bare hands and some simple tools plus a multimeter and an oscillscope.
Probably the closest I'll ever get to 'knitting a computer' is crocheting a toy one! ;)
http://crochettoys.com.ua/crochet-pattern-computer-bonus-bouquet-of-roses/
 

sinclair

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Seeing these things brings back some memories. In my 20's I started collecting old Macintosh's with the intent to set them all up in a room together. Life happened and 20 years later now they are all on my back porch getting dusty and full of spiders. I keep meaning to go through them and at least clone all the hard drives and my collection of floppies for use in emulators, but life just keeps happening. At this point I'd rather someone that will take care of them have them, but haven't found anyone in my area that has this kind of interest.
 

oldracer

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OldRex

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Some blasts from the past. Failed experiment of my dad's. He never made the transition to technology use unfortunately.
I think we should have predicted it when he couldn't work out how to use the VCR!
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OldRex

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This, on the other hand, my dad could use quite happily!
Interestingly it is a very comfortable form-factor in the hand.
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Erich_H

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Seeing these things brings back some memories. In my 20's I started collecting old Macintosh's with the intent to set them all up in a room together. Life happened and 20 years later now they are all on my back porch getting dusty and full of spiders. I keep meaning to go through them and at least clone all the hard drives and my collection of floppies for use in emulators, but life just keeps happening. At this point I'd rather someone that will take care of them have them, but haven't found anyone in my area that has this kind of interest.
If you've got a quote for the shipping from the land by the Trump Wall, I'm sure @AJ68 would consider it seriously.... 😂
That is, if he's not too busy with all the old Amiga crap I'm forcing upon him...
 

rloewy

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The best of my Windows CE computers (in other words, this one sucked the least) - an old IBM Z50
 
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Well it is old since Sun is not around anymore.
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barry13

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The single greatest aspiration of that era in electronics was that a human being could manipulate almost all parts by one’s own hands
And a person, alone, could write a bestselling game in a few months or less.
(nowadays game development often exceeds movie budgets)

Or two people could write the first spreadsheet in two months: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VisiCalc
 

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