Donít you just love 'em? Believe it or not, this was the most successful British computer ever made (in terms of numbers sold, that is).
Meanwhile, all your favourites can be found here (forgive me if Iíve given that link before - and be warned that it doesn't always work - due to site maintenance, I should imagine)! Also this one (there are many others). Enjoy!
What about computers in medical equipment? As we know, many machines are actually built around PC's these days. Anyone come across any "interesting" ones (eg, some old clunker still hidden away in high-end medical kit)? What about software? I have seen all flavours of Windows being used (not sure why), plus Linux and many examples of DOS still being used. Also some nice proprietary systems, often as firmware (which, to my mind, is how it should be done).
Lastly, I keep coming across "faults" (on medical kit) being attributed to "corrupted hard-drives". Why is this, I wonder? How many times do standard PCís suffer from this affliction (answer:- I have had many computers pass through my hands, and canít recall a single corrupted hard-drive apart from the odd one or two I had deliberately been playing with)? Why aren't medical systems more robust, I wonder? Haven't they heard of Norton Go-Back? And I have yet to experience a catastrophic failure on PC's running Win 2000. It always seems to self-recover, despite my most determined attacks!
I was talking to Huw about the first computer i ever bought - The commodore 64. I sold it after a year for ¬£200. This must have been in about 1983. Not a bad return considering i'd paid ¬£220 for it in the first place!
Ah yes, we remember them fondly (!) I built my first computer from kit , an "Acorn Atom"! A surprisingly good machine for it's time. A real keyboard, decent interfaces and the potential to expand as your budget/knowledge allowed. I doubt there are many "young bucks" out there now that even know what Machine code is! I wish now that I'd kept it as a momento of a time when I did "real" electronics....
BBC Micro - it was great to be able to "roll your own" utilities for different purposes! I rue the day Acorn produced the Archimedes, it was impossible to "roll your own" that would fit neatly into the WIMP!
It was a shame that BBC basic seemed to die out. Quite a powerful tool AND they improved the instruction set to make ir more structured. Yes I remember many a happy (?) hour spent in the intricacies of 6502 machine code. Basic or windows might have been easier but there was nothing like writing your own piece of code and then watching it run. As I recall the usual bugbear was that it ran too fast and you had to put in lots of "Slow_it_down" loops!
That was a fair amount of money back then, John (what would it be today?). Just shows what a bargain modern kit is, really.
Meanwhile, all this talk of "star commands" and MODE 7 etc. has prompted me to fire up my C-64 and BBC Model B emulators. So now I'm looking at blinking cursors as well as this forum! Makes a nice change from staring at the XP desktop. Happy days indeed.
I learned Machine code and Basic on the BBC micro - happy days
Me too Huw. (I Loved all those BBC Basic DefProcs etc!)
It was also a great machine for interfacing with other kit. I remember developing lots of stuff on it for special needs kids. It was amazing what you could do with the basic 32K of memory! Happy Days indeed.
My Goodness, we've really hit upon a rich seam of nostalgia here!
I've got some BBC Model B's, Masters etc. laying around someplace, plus books and all the rest (and, a C-64, if I remember rightly), if anyone wants to take them off my hands. Meanwhile, does anyone recognize this one (also for sale, and very rare):-
Yes, John, the BBC Micro was a brilliant initiative by Auntie. If only they had followed through, as it were. Who knows, perhaps our licence fees would now be going towards another worthwhile project, like the 100 dollar laptop!
The NEC PC 8001 series was introduced in Japan in 1979, where it quickly became popular and found applications in business and home use, due to the availability of disc expansion units and its general high performance (for that time). Remember this is 1979, so it pre-dated the ZX80, Acorn Atom, Newbrain etc!!
Back in the UK we were still fiddling about with Science of Cambridge MK14's and other esoteric gizmos with a few KB of RAM. This machine had colour, lots of memory and disc drives you could buy off the shelf and just plug in.
The PC 8001 had its own dedicated display unit (which I don't have), and I have not yet got around to connecting it to up to a monitor. I have looked for pin-outs for the monitor ports but haven't found any so far (...anyone?).
My first brush with computers was at school when one of the teachers gave us access to his Tandy TRS-80. We had a Sinclair ZX-80 and CBM-PETs (4K RAM I think) when I did computers studies O-level. I started with a borrowed ZX80 and ZX81 then a Commodore VIC-20 (with 16K RAM pack that cost as much as the computer and eventually went into meltdown).
I then owned a Sinclair Spectrum (my neighbour was heavily into the accessories and peripherals sold by Sinclair such as tape-drives, printers, etc) and subsequently had my eye on the eagerly-awaited Acorn Enterprise computer but it never materialised (manufacturing/development problems I think).
Borrowed Commodore C64 from then on. Subsequently I bought an Amiga 500 (great software, lots of bootleg, etc, etc) and fitted with with extra memory/clock card but my best buy was a £120 PC emulator card that fitted in the Amiga expansion slot - fantastic piece of kit since it was more PC compatible and had as many features as most higher-spec PC clones at the time.
Been PCs from then on with my first x8086/88 clone 128K RAM, 25Mbyte HDD, 5.25 floppy, 620x480 colour video and MS-DOS) that cost £1200. Took a loan out for that because I needed a PC to do my degree!
More recently did the arcade and computer emulators (MAME) for PC and this brought back a lot of memories of holidays spent in arcades at the seaside, etc. Space invaders, Missile Command, Scramble and stuff like that. Was never really interested in PAC-MAN or Mario Bros for some reason.
My first computer was a ZX-81 with a 16K RAM pack bought using my wages from my paper round. It has so many breakdowns in the few months I had it that the shop refunded my money.
This went towards a 16k Sinclair Spectrum which I eventually upgraded to 48K. Then came a Commodore 64 followed by an Atari STfm. Bought it with 512K an upgraded it to a whopping 1 Meg just so I could play Monkey Island! Next was an Atari STe with 2Meg RAM.
I eventually ventured into PCs with the purchase of a 486DX2/66 with 8 Meg RAM 420Meg HD and a dual speed CD rom and Windows 3.1. Should have cost a huge £1495 at the time but somehow the mail order company forgot they sent in and never billed me!
Many PCs later I've finally seen the light and how use a Macbook at home.
"...the other major kind of computer is the Apple, which I do not recommend, because it is a wuss-o-rama New-Age computer that you basically just plug in and use. This means that you don't get to participate in the most entertaining aspect of computer owning, which is getting the computer to work. This is where DOS really shines" - Dave Barry writing in the late 1980's (where are you now, Dave?)
Meanwhile, let's hope that Littlewoods are not avid lurkers on this forum, eh, Scottish?
Whilst I agree that there is an element of "wuss-o-rama" plug in and use with the Apple if you use one of the precompiled and packaged apps for it there is a lot of fun still to be had with the Unix command prompt to install the myriad on non-native apps out there.
The major appeal of the Apple / Mac is the significantly reduced time to boot up do what you need to do and shut down (which I often do before my wifes laptop boots Vista! But then Vista is a whole new topic!!) and the Intel variants ability to run Windoze for those that are sad enough to want it to.
My first computer was an Atari 400. It had a touch pad keyboard with 16k memory. It was bloody brilliant 26 years ago. The Atari 800 had the proper keyboard. You had to insert different cartridge for different game or functions. You also BASIC cartridge so you could load games by cassette.
Nice link. There was another one like that which was advertised for years in "Practical Electronics". The idea was that you built it yourself, bit by bit, and added modules as need arose (and pocket-money permitted), and then programmed it. It looked like a quality build, based on the good old 19 inch rack system. I always wanted one, but never even saw one in the flesh, needless to say. I've been trying to remember what it was called, but it escapes me at the moment. No doubt I'll wake up in the middle of the night (day, whatever) and it'll be there!
Interesting guy, too. I know a bit about Support Workers myself, as I have a relative who lives in Supported Accommodation. It's nice work, and one that I too would consider if I were at the stage of starting out again (either that or physiotherapy, microbiology, or mental nursing - I know, "doctor heal thyself")!
Wow! This thread is turning into a real therapy session! Looks like I may have found my true vocation after all!
Yeah, I remember WE. I went to their original shop once. Wasn't the bloke's name Jessa, or something similar? Unlike me (obviously), he became a millionaire, I believe. All those BBC Micro shadow RAM boards!
Talking of shadow RAM boards, I also visited Solidisk at Southend-on-Sea more years ago now than I care to remember. I had the honour there of meeting the main-man, a bloke from Hong Kong. A real genius guy, who worked in machine code. He was the sideways RAMguru. I bought a couple of (what we then called) Winchester drives off him after he was able to "interface" them with my BBC Master. We were running a "ViewStore" database for a project in Oman. That was in the days before I met dBASE (yeah, it was that long ago). Why do I feel old all of a sudden?
And Alan Winstanley has been the main-stay of those magazines for years. Without him, they would have folded (no pun intended) years ago.
For the record, I finally transferred my files from the Acorn ADFS 5.25" disks to Clone PC MS-DOS disks of the same size in 1988. Come to think of it, some of the propaganda I still use today dates back to my dear old Model B (with the Torch Z-80 card, don't you know). Wish I still had it (can't remember where it ended up. With one of the kids, I suppose)! <sigh>
There was another one like that which was advertised for years in "Practical Electronics". The idea was that you built it yourself, bit by bit, and added modules as need arose (and pocket-money permitted), and then programmed it. It looked like a quality build, based on the good old 19 inch rack system.
Geoff, I'm sure I know the ad you are talking about. Tomorrow, I'll have a looksee through all the old 'r&d' stuff I have around the house.
I've just taken a look at your Watford Electronics link, Huw. I hadn't realised they were still with us up until recently, let alone just gone "down the pan", as it were. I always imagined they packed it in years ago, with the demise of the BBC Micro (and the Viglen add-ons, and all the rest). With profit margins of 1%, maybe Mr. Jessa didn't make too many zillions after all (I bet he did though, all the same)! Good luck to them, says I.
Meanwhile, I see that Solidisk is still with us, even if they have moved on to, er, better (?) things (not a single RAM in sight, sideways or otherwise)!
Lastly, amazing as it may seem, there is still a strong following for the good old Beeb, as this link shows (that's it for now ... I've got work to do)! <beep>
More from down 32K memory lane ... does anyone have any BBC Micro bits and pieces that they want rid of (and can't be bothered bunging on eBay)?
I'm interested in complete machines, in working condition or otherwise. And also in add-on boards, interfacing hardware, and ROM software. Hardware, software (all except games, which are not really my thing). I've never had a go with any of the second processor boxes that used to be available (although I remember a Z-80 add-on board made by Torch). But there was a second (faster) 6502 processor made by Acorn also. Anyone got one of those gathering dust up in the attic?
I'm especially on the look-out for the "Inter-Base" ROM by Computer Concepts. This was a brilliant BASIC-like language with many database-related commands. I had it once, but let it go during one of my previous lives (28 years ago now)!
Also looking for a PACE Nightingale modem (... remember them? I had one of those, too) ... I'm wondering if it could be adapted to work with modern technology (SMS to mobile phones, for example). Wondering too about the possibility of USB with the BBC Micro (I've already got one with an internal 1 GB hard-drive, and another with a Compact Flash Card "drive"). Oh yes, the Mad Professor is at it again!
Nascom-II available only as a kit without a case and programmed in machine code. But you could get a working programme in its 1k of memory. Now Micro$oft says you need 1,000,000 times that to run programmes. That is just lazy and verbose programming. Robert
Yeah, the MacGyver character is an admirable one (and one that I recognize). But (having been "away", as it were) I've only recently heard about him. Which is a pity, as there have been times in the past when I could have done with a bit of inspiration!
Is there a place for "MacGyverisms" in biomed? Please discuss.
What am I working on? (shss'h ... don't tell, but it's my Escape Pod ... Cygnus Alpha, here I come)!
I still use it now and then. And use the old Norton stuff like TS.exe (Text Search) more often than that (just try doing what it does in Windows). Not to mention NCD.exe (Norton Change Directory ... and its clones, like ACD and WCD). I still use DOS Navigator, too. The great things about all the good old DOS stuff are that they're quick, fully developed, and (these days) they're all readily available off the web for nowt!
And the real cruncher about DOS and the DOS Commands (isn't that the name of a group?) is that, if you knew a bit of C, you could always write your own!
Norton Commander, DOS Navigator, Windows Commander (but Christian Ghisler was forced by "you-know-who" to change the name ... now it's Total Commander, but still just as good), Midnight Commander (by far the best name) ... and there are others (anyone remember the excellent PC Tools? ... even DOSshell?). They're all variations on that theme, and all good!
I guess I should also make honourable mention of XTree Gold! And (last but by no means least, The Volkov Commander ... written by a guy called Vsevolod Volkov in Urkraine ... check it out)!
Just remembered "Back & Forth Professional" ... another classic that I've used a lot. It was a task-switcher that was so fast it seemed like multi-tasking (well, almost ... but this was well before OLE and stuff like that). And remember SideKick? A brilliant hack! Better stop there ... there's just too much of good old stuff like that, from what I would call the Golden Years of computing.
But it's amazing what you can find on eBay. There's a nice Tatung Einstein (3-inch disks on that one) going at the moment, for instance. If it was a straight auction (rather than a "buy it now" deal) I might have been tempted to bung in a bid myself!
Also noticed a Dragon 32 in good shape (made in Wales, don't you know)! And an ACT Sirius 1. It's a pity that the medical equipment section isn't as vibrant (good BS word, that).
Here's some more good stuff (that I came across by accident) which may be of interest to any retro-computer geeks out there. Such splendid people will probably already be aware that Richard Russell (RTR) was (is) famous for his BBC BASIC for the Z-80 processor. His name continues to crop up continually in BBC Micro "circles" (together with one or two other genius guys)!
Cool! On the subject of the BBC Micro and the Rom programs (I used to have quite a library!) I have always wondered why Microsoft has never put their operating system on to Rom! I once read that hard drives where faster but that was way back! Also the basic kernel of XP is relatively small! Just an idea but as you all know Iím as mad as a hatter!
How could a disk drive ever be faster than RAM or ROM, Eddie? Have you ever loaded a BASIC from disk quicker than the *BASIC command (from ROM)? No way, Mate. The now familiar PC "booting-up" (from disk) is all about selling software, and nothing to do with speed or efficiency.
Why not have a go at burning XP into ROM (but what would you run it on)?
The BBC Micro was a clever design, and one that should have been taken further (that is, beyond the Master and up to more recent times). I believe that the grand BBC Micro project fizzled out when (for some perverse reason) the BBC started getting rid of its engineering and R&D facilities (and genius guys like RTR) so it could start paying moronic newsreaders and foul-mouthed "presenters" million £££ salaries. In a way, it just about sums up the state of play in Modern Britain!
Eddie, I think you have hit the nail on the head when you said Micro$oft. 1. ROMs are easy to copy and burn. 2. How many Gb ROMS do you know of that could hold their Bloatware? 3. And most importantly to MS: With it built in to the computer you would not upgrade it to the latest version. 4. And most importantly to us: You could not load all the security patches.
I remeber when 1k of RAM and Rom was all the memory you needed, now we have 1Tb Hard Drives at about the same price as a 1K RAM upgrade. Robert
But the good news is that BBC Micro's and the like, costing around £ 400 back in 1983 (what would that be now?) now change hands for around £ 20 to £ 30. Still perfectly adequate for word processing and the like. How many do you want?
PS: there is an unused BBC Model B (still in original packing etc.) currently on eBay that looks like it might reach £ 200 ... but that is a rare, collector's item (I would love to own it, but needless to say, I won't be bidding)!
PPS: I'm still looking for the Inter-Base ROM from Computer Concepts. You could "flick" from Inter-Word to Inter-Chart to Inter-Base to Inter-Sheet (all in ROM) and "cut and paste" between them. Gonzo fast task switching (as in instant), plus a spell-checker in sideways RAM ... all on a 32 K 6502 8-bit machine. To my mind that's better than what I'm using right now (MS Office "suite", and all the rest).
PPPS: Also looking for C in a ROM for the BBC Micro (and other 6502 machines). Does such a beautiful thing exist at all, I wonder?
Hi, sorry I was tired when I posted that, forget ROM I meant to say Embedded Firmware ! We have some Lab equipment that runs on XP Embedded firmware. Just like a BIOS chip it is upgradable! I also have a music studio that runs off Embedded firmware; Its like sH&T off a shovel!
I've recently got my hands on various versions (evolutions) of the Acorn Archimedes. As it was introduced in 1987, I had missed all this in my previous life (as I was overseas throughout much of that era ... where PC clones ruled the roost). But what brilliant kit! As well as retaining the legacy of the BBC Micro, it had the RiscOS (originally known as Arthur ... and why not?), sturdy case, and a WIMP interface which came up instantly (being in ROM). Expansion possibilities were open and endless. In fact, I would say it was an elegant design in every way. Just imagine if PC's had been like this ... where would we all be now?
I understand that the Archie was popular in schools ... so perhaps some of you out there also have fond memories of this fine piece of kit?
Of course, being an British company coming up with innovative designs, Acorn couldn't be permitted to flourish and survive, and faded away in the late '90's (I wonder what all those "genius guys" are doing now?). Towards the end they were reduced to re-badging Olivetti PC clones. How sad (and shades of Cardiac Recorders re-badging Italian ECG recorders).
I know we have many friends from Welsh Wales on the forum ... so perhaps a word about Dragon is in order.
The Dragon Data Company was doing OK with its Dragon 32, then 64 and 200 machines. They had (have) Microsoft BASIC in ROM. Then it was bought by the Spanish company EuroHard S.A. (great name ... NOT), and it all went down the pan in 1986.
The final product was the Dragon MSX-64, which was really just another re-badged MSX clone from the Radofin company in Hong Kong.
If anyone can lay their hands on one of these ... well, they're like gold ... as the 500 produced were basically handed over to EuroHard staff (as wages) as the company folded.
PS: believe it or not, the Japanese MSX standard stood for:- Machines with Software eXchangeability!
Acorn still lives on in a way. The ARM processors that were originally developed for the Archimedes and RISCPC ( they were fantastic machines and light years ahead of Windows in their time! ) are now very widely used in mobile phone handsets today!
Hi Jonathan. Yes. The Reduced Instruction Set idea was (is) a brilliant idea (indeed, I would say, a stroke of genius)! Someone at Acorn must have had a truly Eureka! moment (...hence the choice of name for the successor to the BBC series, I reckon).
Actually, RISC is something I know very little about ... and I look forward to finding out more about it.
So, who carries the RISC/ARM torch these days, do you reckon? After all, it can't be Acorn (regrettably). Yet another example of British innovation being capitalized upon by others?
Should be OK, but they're really sitting there waiting for me to find the time to check them out. Interestingly enough, it looks like (due to the screw covers still being in place) they've never been opened up! That will have to change, of course. I might add that one of them is well yellowed. But the other looks in great shape (and still in its original box and polystyrene). Cymru Am Byth!
No, it was no secret use It was when I was working for EXLOG (a mud logging company) on the oil rigs. The Geologists would load the programs from 8" floppy discs. If I remember rightly, all it was used for was working out the bore hole dimensions and characteristics. It was a glorified calculator.
The 8" floppies were in a 19" rack configuration and in a bank of 4. For some reason they were always on the top slot of the 19" rack and weighed around 35 kgs. I very often had to change these single handed trying to juggle them into the optima slide rails. Considering I only weigh 70 kgs myself, it was a real challenge.
Nice looking kit ... but I've always been on the side of Sir.Clive ... trying to do more with less.
It's a bit like the NHS (OK, here I go again) ... it's easy to do clever things when you've got a load of (other people's) money. But not so easy (but certainly more satisfying) when you're working at "shoe-string" level.
Hint: why didn't they use a BBC Micro or something similar (or certainly a high-end Archimedes)? Far easier to program, and would have done the job (whatever it was) just as well (badly), but for far less wonga.
What's all this got to do with Classic Computers? Well if I didn't have to pay so many so-called stealth taxes for insane nonsense like this, perhaps I could afford to save a few more 8-bit micro's for the Nation!
Yesterday I had the unexpected privilege of meeting a gentlemen, who (over twenty years ago, and with a team of mates) built what I can only describe as a "clone" of the BBC Micro (actually he/they made forty of them). The surviving example lives in his garden shed, and (at first glance) could be mistaken for an Acorn Atom (the predecessor to the BBC Micro that had so impressed the BBC Computer Literacy Project people). That was because the function keys were grey, rather than the familiar red. But upon closer inspection, I could see that the BBC-like casing was made of fibre-glass. And then, when the lid was lifted ... guess what? The board inside was definitely "home grown". It was nothing like the usual Beeb. Brilliant!
Later (in the guy's den), I was shown the original artwork used for etching the board, plus two (unpopulated) boards in perfect condition. Yes, the guy had designed it himself, after studying the Model B from 1983. He was surprisingly modest about all of this, but did admit to one or two "improvements" above and beyond the original Model B design. Extra ROM slots, for example. I was surprised also to learn that this endeavour has never been published as an article in any of the magazines (and, that it seems, it likely to remain the case).
Of course, after seeing all this, my real question (like yours, no doubt) was "why" (that is, why go to the trouble of cloning the Beeb)? To "build a better mousetrap"? To produce a £ 200 Beeb (they were £ 400 back then, don't forget)? But, time was getting short (and I had other business to conduct), so I have yet to get a reply to that burning question. But, when you think about it, and considering the "cloning" of the PC that occurred eight or ten years later (leading to Wintel conquering the world, and all the rest), the guy and his pals had been somewhat ahead of the game (if only they had realised that, and pursued the idea with vigour)! Yes, there are some amazing people about!
Since the above post has gone out, I have received an email from yet another clone builder! Have we hit upon a rich seam of unrewarded talent here, I wonder? From what the guy has told me, I'm beginning to think that he and the bloke I have mentioned above may have been on the same team. I'm still waiting to discover if this is indeed the case. So, the plot thickens. You couldn't make it up, could you?
So, are there any more BBC Micro clones resting peacefully in the lofts of England, I wonder?
PS: how about cloned pulse oximeters (TENS units? foetal heart "dopplers"?) ... and all the rest?
No, Eddie. But (as I may have mentioned before), I did once have a brief conversation with Sir Alan. It was at the Satellite Television show at Olympia back in 1992 (he was just Alan then, of course). Come to think of it, that would have been the last exhibition I ever attended (apart, that is, from the medical equipment ones in Riyadh).
I've still yet to meet my other heroic knight, of course (Sir Clive).
Meanwhile, I have just received confirmation that the two clone builders who have emerged so far were indeed co-conspirators in the original project. Apparently, the gang consisted of four enthusiasts. So that's two down, with two to go. Who knows, maybe they will now be inspired to have another go!
Sorry Eddie, but I have to disagree with you on both points there. Alan was the King of Kr*p! In his own words, he used phrases like "a mug's eyeful"! Don't get me wrong, as I admire the man greatly, but his stuff was always of the "pile 'em high, and sell 'em cheap" variety. No technical innovator, Sir Alan!
On the other hand, Sir Clive was (and continues to be) a genius guy. Only recently I was browsing through some "Practical Electronics" from the 1960's (as one does). Some of the early Sinclair stuff is in there:- the Stereo 25 amp, the Micro FM radio (smaller than a match-box), the Z-12 mini Hi-Fi amp, etc., etc. All designed by Clive. Forget the C-5. What about the ZX-81 and all the rest?
Amstrad 512 and its big brother the 640, I used to repair these for a living! Oh and remember the PCW9512? Plug the printer in when it was switched on and presto 100 quid for a new power supply! the PC512 and 640 had an interface called GEM. 3 clicks of the mouse button and it would crash! I also used to Repair Beebs, Archimedes, Commodore 64 and the ZX-81 (ZTX650 transistors and Ram being the only failures) or the occasional Z80 CPU. Then along came the Atari ST and the Commodore Amiga and then, well the whole world changed then didn't it (Motorola 68xxx)!
Ah ah! As I thought ... a true aficionado! How about starting something going with the expat community "out there", Mate? Interesting thought, that ... I wonder if there are any 1980's micro's in Saudi Arabia?
Meanwhile, here's something which may be of interest.
As an aside, about ten years ago (whilst happily dwelling out in the desert myself), I was seriously considering a venture to import British four-stroke dirt bikes of 1960's vintage. I had this wonderful vision of myself blasting up the dunes on quality machines such as the Matchless G85. Just imagine! But, as we know, the "problem" out there is the need for a local partner.
Sometimes (better make that often) the simplest ideas are the best. Anyone think of more examples where someone "thought outside the box", and technology (and, therefore, all of us) took a great leap forward? You know, as in "building a better mouse trap".
Who gives a ****!!!! Whilst it may be one of the great tools of our lifetime when used correctly, it is also the bain of our lives and tends to dominate some people's lives. What's wrong with talking to people face to face up picking up the telephone and having a conversation? What happened to letter writing? With regard to fact finding, does anyone use the library these days to "look it up" in a book? Rant of the day over from someone who remembers the time before the internet and we used a Commodore 64 for playing ping pong.
As with everything else (tools, technology, etc.), Kawa, the wise person just uses what is good, and disregards the rest!
If there was no web, there wouldn't be this forum, for example ...
Especially when considered on a global basis, I believe that the web has liberated the minds of millions, generally "leveled the playing field" and given hope to many. Yes, there are negative aspects, but that has also been the case with other great advances (the motor car, antibiotics, air travel, abuse of chemicals, human rights legislation etc, etc.). I think we can safely assume that there will always be idiots about (and in relatively large numbers, unfortunately).
And (lastly), if it wasn't for the web, C-64 enthusiasts would have remained in the closet (as it were). But now there is a thriving "community" on line! I reckon that most of those good old machines would have simply been binned if it wasn't for eBay (and I write this glancing across at the pile of my own 8-bit "classics")!
For any fellow geeks out there if you get a chance check out "Discovery Science Channel" "Download-The true story of the internet" Its actually very well done! Its presented by John Heilemann including a scene in a record store when he's talking about the post Napster court case asking "Was Napster doing anything wrong?" as he walks around the store stuffing Cd's into his pockets!
As with many pioneers, those "early adopters" didn't really know where it was all heading. How could they? It always amazes me how "right" many of the early decisions made in all technologies turned out in the end.
There are many examples:- Gary Kildall with CP/M. Larry Page and Sergey Brin with Google. David Filo and Jerry Yang with Yahoo! Even Chuck Peddle with the 6502 processor.
(Huw and John with ebme)?
As regards the internet, surely we're still on the nursery slopes, as it were?
Of course, after seeing all this, my real question (like yours, no doubt) was "why" (that is, why go to the trouble of cloning the Beeb)? To "build a better mousetrap"? To produce a £ 200 Beeb (they were £ 400 back then, don't forget)? But, time was getting short (and I had other business to conduct), so I have yet to get a reply to that burning question.
This afternoon (at a secret location near Hull) I had the pleasure of a second visit to the den in question, and can now confirm that, yes, the idea was to do it more cheaply. The boys had got hold of a complete circuit diagram for the BBC Micro, and my man (being the electronics hardware wiz of what became the gang of four) realised that he could "knock on up" one himself.
At the time the whole thing was kept pretty much under wraps, as no-one was sure how Acorn would have reacted had they got wind of the project.
Sorry, but I can't disclose what the guy is working on at the moment!
... I had the unexpected privilege of meeting a gentlemen, who (over twenty years ago, and with a team of mates) built what I can only describe as a "clone" of the BBC Micro (actually he/they made forty of them). The surviving example lives in his garden shed, and (at first glance) could be mistaken for an Acorn Atom (the predecessor to the BBC Micro that had so impressed the BBC Computer Literacy Project people). That was because the function keys were grey, rather than the familiar red. But upon closer inspection, I could see that the BBC-like casing was made of fibre-glass. And then, when the lid was lifted ... guess what? The board inside was definitely "home grown". It was nothing like the usual Beeb. Brilliant!
Just in case there were any doubters (?) ... see this link!
In similar vein, I can't remember if I've linked to this one before, but you'll find some very "interesting" kit shown here.
Why were the early hard-drives called "Winchesters"? Well, the preferred version is that the first device IBM produced using this technology had two platters, each with a capacity of 30 MB. The product was called the "3030", and by a kind stroke of fate this was also the name of an early lever-action rifle manufactured by Oliver Winchester (subsequently famous for the Model 73 that helped win the Wild West).
Less romantic chroniclers will point out that IBM happened to have a factory in the New Hampshire town of Winchester.
OK, here's today's bulletin. Of course there were no computers about when I was at school (all that came twenty years later), but today I'm playing around with the Archimedes and A-series Acorn machines for the first time.
Even the standard A310 is brilliant for its day. Evolving onwards from the good old BBC Model B (and Master), Acorn did the sensible thing (skipping 16-bits) by jumping straight to their 32-bit ARM processor. Clever stuff. RISC OS2 from 1988 is the one I'm looking at (I still reckon that Arthur is a much better name for a computer operating system)! But also a pre-Windows WIMP "desktop"!
That A4000 is really nice! RISC OS3 from 1992. A very versatile machine. Ctrl+Shft+F12. Kids who had all that available were just so lucky!
Then there's the A5000. More of the same. Who needs a PC? Especially if you've also got the MEU? The Multimedia Expansion Unit ... which had a CD-ROM drive, SCSI connectors, and various audio outputs. And all back in the early '90's, remember.
What do they have in the schools today, I wonder? Not British kit, that's for sure.
I'm still working my way through my pile of Acorn A-series boxes (giving them the "once over", as it were). This has been my first excursion into this line of kit, and I must admit to being impressed with it, especially considering when the stuff was made (late '80's and early '90's). I love to see kit that is cleverly designed and nicely made. And where else would you find computers with VLSI chips with names like Albion, Anna and Arabella? A real touch of class, surely. But, there again, it is British after all!
The ZX81 is (was) not one of my favourite "machines", I'm afraid! The Spectrum was more, shall we say, tolerable.
You're talking about the one at Bristol? There's another one about to finish (on eBay) where a guy is asking about sending it out to Italy! Still, it takes all sorts, I suppose.
And what about the ZX80 (there are a couple listed at the moment ... that's despite being described as "very rare"). For some weird reason those usually go for daft money. But they were **** then, and they're **** now!
If you fancy a punt you might be better off having a go at the Oric (finishes on Thursday).
I have a ZX81 here (plus a smattering of tapes for the Speccy) that I shall be literally giving away when one of my eBay customers calls to pick up my (well, his now) Einsteins!
Meanwhile, the others haven't sold yet ... why not place a bid?
You may be interested in this short lived venture by mattel, the Aquarius never really took off. For some strange reason, (when I was 13), I was saving up for this machine - but was discontinued before I could waste my money on it.
Are you going to tell us what you went for instead, then, John?
The Mattel Aquarius was a very pretty little machine, though, wasn't it?
Pity about the spec! A case of rushing to get it to market, I expect. And there was a lot going on back then! Apparently, production folded after only three months. It had a Z80A processor, and there had been ambitious plans to expand it using add-ons al la the Electron from that same era (the Golden Age).
It was quite a clever ploy was it not? They hooked you with a cheap(ish) base unit, then reeled you in with the multitude of add-ons, expansion units, books, zillions of tapes (then discs) ... and all the rest!*
The Aquarius had some "interesting" features. Like a plastic overlay that you had to place on the keyboard if you needed the programming commands (what if you lost it?). But it did offer Microsoft BASIC. And we're taking about 1983, remember.
The trouble was that once the BASIC was loaded there was only 1.7 KB left for your program! Not good. But RAM expansions up to 32 K were available (er, better make that planned).
But don't laugh, the thing was priced at only £ 50. And if you had one today, it would certainly "go well" as a Collectors' Item on eBay.
But what about this ... the so-called System Command Console (which was planned, but may never have been shipped) allowed the Aquarius to control up to 255 electric devices! Another example (and there are many others littering the corridors of computer history) of "what might have been"!
* And it still goes on today. Like my BBC Micro's with built-in hard-drives, external Winchester drives, Compact Flash "drives", sideways RAM boards and all the rest. Some of that stuff wasn't even conceived back in 1983. Talk about an "after market" ... my Goodness!
Nice information Geoff, like you say, the concept was good and they were sold via Grattan (yes the catalogue people) I was going to buy it and pay back in installments.
Believe it or not after that, one day my dad came home from work one day and presented me with a Sinclar QL . This was a bolt out of the blue, seeing as he saw computers as a waste of time. I do not even know how he came across it. However in my bedroom I would tinker on this machine. Am I right in thinking this must of been one of the first pc's to utilise the Motarola 68008 processor?
Like Linus Torvalds, I learnt to program a fair bit on the QL, however I did not go on to develop Linux.
Yes, I believe that the QL was the only one that used the 68008. But that was a stripped down version of the 68000, of course, which was used in such well known machines as the Commodore Amiga, Atari ST, the Apple Lisa and then the Mac.
You might not be aware, however, that the QL (and with it, of course, the 68008) formed the guts of BT's "Tonto" PABX system. Not many people know that (but, there again, why would they want to)!
But everyone must know that QL stood for "Quantum Leap"! Otherwise it would have been called the ZX83 (and I'm guessing that the Spectrum would have been the ZX82).
About Linus. I reckon that its something about Finland. After all, what else would there be to do during those long dark nights, except crank out genius code? That, and the excellence of their university. See here for a further example (OK, it's Norway ... but never mind, it's still an interesting story)!
Hello again, Mate ... you forgot to mention the tractor!
Originally Posted By: Geoff Hannis
Believe it or not, this was the most successful British computer ever made (in terms of numbers sold, that is).
... it also tends to see the greatest activity on eBay (oh, the Magic of the Marketplace)!
To be honest, computers are only (or have become) my scene because "they" won't let me refurb medical equipment!
But, as you know, I enjoy lifting the lid on all manner of kit ... but old computers, especially. They're like boxes of chocolates, you never know what you're going to find!
"Classic Comms Receivers" may be all very well, Dicky, but as a rule you can't program them, can you? Surely that's the beauty of computers; there's both the hardware and the software to play with. Not forgetting, of course, the firmware (which is especially the case with the BBC Micro).
Hang on to it ... and I'll bung you a tin of biscuits when I call in!
Meanwhile, I'm also on the look-out for an Acorn A4 laptop circa 1992. This one was basically an Acorn A-5000 in an Olivetti laptop case. It had a grey-scale display, but also a filing system that didn't fragment. At all.
I've recently got hold of a Torch Z80 Disc Pack (a twin 5.25" floppy unit) that is even older than the one I bought new (but long gone now, unfortunately) back in 1984. For those who remember this excellent old kit, it typically ran off a BBC Micro with a special Z80 board (running at 4 MHz) installed. This board also holds the Torch MCP ROM, and 64 K of RAM. Essentially, the 2 MHz 6502 processor in the Beeb simply handled all the peripherals and I/O devices, leaving nearly 63 K (that's a lot, in BBC Micro terms, of course) available for running programs.
Those Torch guys were very clever people. Their CCCP (no, from Cambridge, England ... not the USSR) ROM sits in the Beeb. And Torch had their own clone of CP/M known as CPN! This enabled us to play with some of the "state of the art" software of that era.
So, imagine my joy when, going through some of the dusty old disks, I came across (and, more importantly, was able to run):-
Copyright (C) 1982 RSP Inc.
*** dBASE II Ver 2.4 1 April, 1983
... yes, dBASE II (and pre-dating Ashton-Tate, by the look of it). There never was a dBASE I, of course, but I've seen (and had a go with) all the others since dBASE 3. But never (until yesterday, that is) the original! All the basic dBASE commands are there, straight off the "dot" prompt, in much the same form as they continue to the present day. It always amazes me how "right" those early coders got things! Present day coders are simply "standing on the shoulders of giants", as the saying goes.
Pictures may follow at some stage!
By the way, WordStar 3.0 (from 1981) was on there too. But I must admit I was never a great fan of that one.
CCCP : Cambridge Console Command Processor! C/PM : Gary Kildall's famous operating system (on which many of the MS-DOS commands were based). Gary was a Genius Guy who died young. CPN : the "next one on" from CPM? That is, CPM+ in modern parlance? MCP : Master Control Program (of course).
... and, something else for the dBASE aficionado:- it seems that dBASE II used a .cmd extension to program files source files, rather than the more familiar .prg that came later ... in their millions! And there is no COMPILE command, of course (that didn't come along until nine years later when dBASE IV first saw the light of day).
A couple of days ago I had the pleasure of meeting a gentlemen with whom (as usual) I got around to reminiscing about early acquaintances with computers. He told me that in 1980, when the company he was with "computerized" (a bold step back then, remember), the hardware they went for was the NorthStar Horizon.
He reckons that (although it looked just like the illustration), the case was actually faux wood. Their machine had 64 KB of memory, two 5ľ" floppy drives and ran NorthStar DOS on CP/M . At the time the quoted price for the computer plus a VDU and printer (NEC Spinwriter) was £ 5,500.
He then started to learn to program in NorthStar DOS and became quite proficient over a period of about ten years until the office moved on to MS-DOS when they "upgraded" to two Amstrad 1640 machines. The NorthStar supplier was able to convert all the software from CP/M to MS-DOS (using MegaBasic, apparently).
For those who may be interested, here is some more on NorthStar. Plus even more! And here is a MegaBasic manual .pdf.
More good stuff! OK, as I just know that there are many ex-TV trade guru's amongst the Brethren (not to mention a smattering of University trained electronics whizzes) ... can anybody get me excited about Genlocks?
With reference to the first .jpg, I found this board lurking inside a BBC Micro (second .jpg). That's the great thing about these old microcomputers ... they're like boxes of chocolates, in that you never know what you're going to get until you take off the lid!
After consulting with a good buddy on another forum, we have decided that the board is a Genlock. It must be said that there was a pretty strong clue, in that "GL 284 Issue 1" was printed on the back of the board!
I know that it's a bit of a long shot, but I don't suppose that anyone has come across this particular board in a BBC Micro before (and, if so, what was it used with, for, and why)?
Lastly, with reference to the second .jpg, can anyone spot the electrical safety violation? You see, there's something here for everyone!
Some departments have just moved out of our building and left some IT equipment behind. Including a dot matrix printer, a couple of Gateway2000 keyboards and a US Robotics Modem "Powerful enough to meet the needs of large corporations" So that explains our network speeds. How long since these have been used???
For those of you who wish they still had their BBC Micro, or others who may be wondering what we're all going on about (!), please be advised that Mike Wyatt's excellent emulator BeebEm for Windows version 4.0 is available for free download. It is a brilliant hack, and I only wish that I could code like that!
As we are talking here not only about (what was arguably) the best of the 8-bit microcomputers from the 1980's, but also a machine famous for having most of its software instantly available in ROM(s), once you start playing (er, using the software) you will soon find that you need the ROM images as well.
So you could do a lot worse than take a look at this page (and especially the 15 Meg .zip file mentioned next to ROM archive). Next, of course you will be looking for software available as disk images ... in which case may I suggest "seek, and ye shall find"! Enjoy!
Here are another couple of photo's of the Torch ZDP. Good, sturdy kit!
Those 5ľ" floppy disk drives were made in 1983, by the way.
The Torch Z80 Disc Pack worked together with the BBC Micro, of course. See the third photo. The Beeb's power supply (normally found at the top LHS of the machine) is missing, as power is drawn from the Torch box itself. Which is good news, as it is, shall we say, a bit more hefty.
The fourth shot shows a spare Torch Z80 card, complete with the world famous Z80 microprocessor. It is interesting to note that this one was not made by Zilog, but by the Italian company SGS (unlike, in fact, the one on the card sitting in the BBC Micro, which carries a genuine Zilog ... that you can't see because it's upside down)!
OK, how about this then? Two 20 MB Winchester drives (as we used to call them back then) from 1984.
They were used (one as a back-up for the other) with a BBC Master running databases under ViewStore. Anyone (else) here remember that?
ViewStore was not the easiest of database managers to use, but we're talking here about the pre-dBASE era, don't forget. Being for the BBC Micro (and Master et al) it was in ROM, and therefore had the redeeming feature of being "instant on". I had a play with it again yesterday (for the first time since 1987), and it was amazing how it all came "flooding back", as it were. I was cracking on like a good 'un in no time at all, I can tell you. A bit like riding a bike, I suppose ... once mastered, it's always "there"!
Back in 1985 I built a database of just under 20,000 records using this lash-up ... er, system. It was definitely a case of "needs must" at the time! Perhaps I should add also that this stuff was not exactly cheap back then, either. And it all seemed so serious (cutting edge, even) then.
It's always rewarding to step back a couple of decades now and then, if only to remind ourselves how easy it all is now. That, and wondering in amazement just how "right" those genius guys got it back then!
Description: Top and bottom views of the 20 MB NEC type LR-56913 Winchesters.
Description: Zero errors ... after 25 years!
Description: The control board (on RHS) is a Western Digital WD-1002 SHD.
Does a BBC Micro have the speed to allow you to watch movies or will they be old Black & White movies pre-talkies?
Speed? Are you sure you're up to speed with computers yourself, Neil?
But never mind, I don't think that Teletext ever made it to Saudi Arabia, did it (like quite a lot of other things that I could mention ... but won't)? Arabic characters in Mode 7 ... h'mmm, now there's an interesting proposition!
There was another one like that which was advertised for years in "Practical Electronics". The idea was that you built it yourself, bit by bit, and added modules as need arose (and pocket-money permitted), and then programmed it. It looked like a quality build, based on the good old 19 inch rack system. I always wanted one, but never even saw one in the flesh, needless to say. I've been trying to remember what it was called, but it escapes me at the moment. No doubt I'll wake up in the middle of the night (day, whatever) and it'll be there!
Originally Posted By: Geoff Hannis
Was it called "The Archer", or something like that?
Originally Posted By: Huw
Geoff, I'm sure I know the ad you are talking about.
Tomorrow, I'll have a looksee through all the old 'r&d' stuff I have around the house.
Have you found it yet?
Meanwhile (thanks to the generosity of a good friend and contributor to this forum), I have just been having a quick look through some extracts from Radio & Electronics World from the mid-1980's (you know, as one does) ... and I came across an ad. (not for the 19" rack system I had in mind, unfortunately, but) for a Z80 SBC (that's "Single Board Computer" for those who had either forgotten, or didn't know) also called the "Archer". It was offered by Sherwood Data Systems Ltd. at SL2 3LX.
It seems that (as far back as 1982) there was also a build it yourself, expandable step-by-step machine called the "Microtan 65" available (in kit form) for £ 79. This one was by Tangerine Computer Systems Ltd. (oh yes, yet more "low-hanging fruit" ... Apple, Apricot, er, Acorn) at CB7 4AE. I bet one of those would be worth a few bob now!
Not good at making links, but I was looking at some toys for my baby and at the top of the page was an old computer Tandy TR80, don't know if you have ever managed to get hold of one, but I remember using similar machines a long time back in my memory banks.
The TRS-80 was produced in many different guises (here's one of them) ... and it was also much cloned!
In its day, it was probably the most popular, well-known home computer in the world. We're talking now about the late '70's let's not forget. I never had one myself, preferring to struggle on (for some perverse reason ... but more than likely cost I should imagine) with stuff like Sinclair's offerings ... and later, of course, the magnificent BBC Micro!
Yes, an "interesting experience" indeed. How Mike keeps that up all day is an entertainment in itself! He has more stamina than me, that's for sure.
I often used to come along more for the "socialising" than anything else, but (as I say) don't get down there very often now that I'm based up't North!
As I've said on here before, I reckon that all NHS Equipment Managers should be "required" to attend at least one auction, just so they can see for themselves what actually goes on, who the "dealers" are, and what sort of pitiful amounts that lovely second-hand kit goes for!
Yes, that's what I'm like ... a kid in a sweet shop!
However, the downside is when you come across kit with your own name on the sticker, that was fixed for £££'s a year or two earlier, now going in a job lot as Mike's hammer falls at 40 pence apiece!
You'll have to make sure you always keep your digital camera handy ... you know, so you can share some of the more "classic" bits of kit you encounter with us all here. Just make sure that the pictures don't show anybody's stickers (to save any possible "embarrassment")!
I know what you meant Geoff. Just from a NHS perspective with a typical hospital not having enough medical equipment, it would have been a cheaper way to get some kit back in:
Rather then the typical buy a car,take it out the showroom and lose half its value scenario
Hereford need more 500's for example and by the looks of it there are five odd 500's going into the next Auction. That would be a huge saving buying these then going straight to grasbey. But I know the typical reply would be, " We need a service record "
I understand that, but just thinking from another view..its just a shame how things run within the NHS, they seem to make it so much harder for them self's but hey..im back in the private sector so all is good
... with a typical hospital not having enough medical equipment
I don't know how you've got hold of that idea. That's not been my experience, at all!
I've been through all this before ... what is needed is a central NHS "returned equipment" warehouse. Or re-distribution point.
I happen to know (and so do the blokes concerned, who are "regulars" on the forum) where there are a pile of "de-commissioned" Graseby 500's (35 of them, I think it was), that, because of (shall we say) bureaucracy look like they're being consigned to the skip!
The other thing is ... why should an NHS manager buy kit from the auction? The tax-payer has already paid for it once! Frankly, the only person who would gain there is the auctioneer (nothing new there).
Ill redirect my point to Hereford then as when the new equipment library was setup. It was proven we(now them) lack a good amount of Air Beds and Infusion pumps. The problem was mainly caused by the powers that be because they "nerfed" the departments budget some what four times I believe.
And it doesn't surprise me about the 500's going to the skip. Hereford still do the same. Only a small margin make its way to Africa for charity.
Oh yes. And (whilst perfectly good ones have been binned in their hundreds) there have actually been people daft enough to buy pumps at auction, "repair" them from resources conjured from thin air, then donate them to "Africa"!
I've stopped doing that sort of thing myself now, by the way. Let the fat, corrupt, health ministers "out there" look after their own people!
These days I'm happy to content myself with "Classic Computers" and such (the topic of this thread, by the way), where I don't need to fend off (what I call) "emotional blackmail", and also get to meet and associate with a whole bunch of like-minded people. People who understand what I am doing, actually respect me for whatever skills I may bring to bear, and pay the appropriate amount when the time comes for money to change hands.
USB on the BBC Micro?* Oh yes ... here is a YouTube video of my mate Mark Haysman demonstrating the use of his brilliant BBC-USB interface board.
Yet another example of the flexibility and almost unbridled expansion possibilities of the good old BBC Micro ... probably the best ever 8-bit micro-computer the world has ever seen!
Just for fun (!) we also had the BeebEM emulator running on the laptop, and controlled that from the real BBC micro via the USB link. How's that, then? Mark is a real "Genius Guy" (in my book, at least), and it's always a real pleasure to be around such people.
Perhaps I should add that I also saw an Altair 8800 in the flesh for the first time, last Saturday. In many ways it was the machine that kicked off the home-PC industry that went on to rock (or should that be conquer?) the world. The Altair was larger than I had imagined it to be, and (I must say) better put together than what I had been led to believe, as well.
Hi Geoff, Good link to the Altair but as to the name, it came from the film Forbidden planet! On a film (and book note) the Altair computer is used in Wargames, a great 80s film featuring a young Matthew Broderick using one to hack into Norad using an acoustic coupler! Those really were the days my friend! As you know I have a few bits and bobs in my collection. I need to dig them out and dust them off, try a few pokes and peeks on the Vic 20 with its massive 3.5k ram................ Will be in touch Ed
As previously noted (I think) I've got rid of my Commode stuff. My garret is just too small for a large "collection" (which is probably just as well).
So I'm only left with a few BBC Micro's and Masters now (well, a bit more than a few, really ... but as you know, it's always nice to have some spares to fiddle about with). I've also sold my 20 MB Winchesters (circa. 1985) that were set up to work with a Master. Although they were perfect the last time I tried them, the guy is now moaning that a couple of tracks are showing errors! They're almost 25 years old, for Pete's sake ... reformat them if you must (note:- the guy is a bit young you know ... but I did impress on him the need to treat such kit with respect ... Ye Gods, I even hand-delivered them to him as well)!
I don't suppose you've got an Altair or two lying around down there, though, Ed? As you probably know (but others may not) the story goes something like the original Altair was "lost in the mail" (I think they were sending it off for the "Popular Electronics" photo session, or some such thing). So, a mystery of sorts, then. What became of it? Will it ever turn up? Was it snatched away by Aliens? A good idea for a story (movie, whatever), perhaps. Or (maybe) the US Postal Service back in 1975 was just as ... er, good as ours is today.
By the way, the Altair link was chosen at random. There are many available on the web.
Huw:- having now worked out what you meant by "Media Tags", I'll give that a go next time. Are there any associated problems there? It doesn't drag (or slow) the site down or anything "interesting" like that, I hope.
Huw:- having now worked out what you meant by "Media Tags", I'll give that a go next time. Are there any associated problems there? It doesn't drag (or slow) the site down or anything "interesting" like that, I hope.
But what if people start "illustrating" each and every post? On other forums of my acquaintance, I notice that guys often link to their photo sets on (for example, Flickr*). I find this to be a nice approach, as you (the user that is) can then choose whether to wade through it all (or not).
Of course, being a non-exhibitionist myself, I don't care to indulge in going around taking pictures of everything I see. Although I'm grateful to those who record events, myself I have always found that savouring the experience in person was always sufficient. That is, the memories are in my head (and unlikely to be of much interest to anyone else).
If you're busy photographing everything (you know, in the time-honoured tourist fashion), can you (the observer ... because that's then all that you become) be sure that you're not missing out on something there? Like, participation, for example. Actually doing something. And ... after a while, who wants to look at those photos anyway? I well remember being trapped on my Mum's sofa on many occasions trying not to appear "too quick" in going through her latest "snaps" ... "Oh, you've missed this one" ... and "And now, here's the scrap-book" [groan]!
That and the thought of the hard-drives of the world being stuffed full of zillions of "holiday snap" images (and, worse still, infantile YouTube videos) just grates on my old-fashioned mind, for some reason. Perhaps after another ten years or so, someone will need to look into ... er, deleting some of that stuff. At least URL links have the useful property of becoming invalid after a few years, if not months!
We had our first telly when I was twelve years old. It was the Murphy V-530 shown half-way down the page at the link. We (that is, me and my sister) were forbidden to touch it! And I can still remember the first programme we gathered to watch - Percy Thrower's "Gardening Club"!
Those were happy days. Britain was still a manufacturing nation then. National Service was just coming to an end (unfortunately). And we had V-bombers on fifteen minutes stand-by 24-hours a day!
The Valiant, the Vulcan and the Victor. They each had their slice of history. For instance, the Valiant dropped the first operational British atomic bomb at Maralinga, and then (only seven months later) the first British H-Bomb (it had taken off from Christmas island). Then there was the tragic loss of life when the "round-the-world" Vulcan crashed in foul weather at Heathrow. Most folk these days will recall the epic bombing mission from Ascension Island to Port Stanley. But my own favourite was the Victor. What a magnificent, powerful, and handsome (?) machine! Definitely "fit for purpose"!
But ... the list of brilliant post-war British aircraft is (was) almost endless ... Hunter, Lightning ... TSR-2, Concorde etc.
Next topic ... British missiles - Blue Streak (carried by the V-bombers), Blue Steel (rocket) et al.
But meanwhile ... back to computers. Here's a great site about early British computers. All largely forgotten now, it would seem.
Well done, Billy. You spotted my "deliberate mistake". I got my Streaks and my Steels mixed up there, so to speak. Just making sure you were paying attention, of course.
---IMAGE REMOVED BY OWNER REQUEST---
The Avro Blue Steel was an air-launched, rocket-propelled nuclear-armed stand-off missile. Whilst the de Havilland Blue Streak was a ground-launched ballistic missile ("rocket") also intended to be armed with a nuclear warhead.
And, by the way, wasn't there a launch-pad (proving ground, whatever) near to where you are now? Is that what you meant about Spadeadam?
On a personal note, there was a time that I was very much "into" missiles myself. But of the second and third generation anti-tank type. All that was before I was moved into biomed, and (to be honest, and with a great span of hindsight now) I reckon that I would have been better off staying where I was.
Meanwhile, I know the whereabouts of what can only be described as a "van load" of BBC Micro stuff (twenty BBC Micro's, five Masters, an "Oak" special BBC Micro, an Acorn Risc PC 700 with 486 board, four dot-matrix printers, monitors, boxes of ROM's, floppy discs, 15 or more disk drives of various type and configuration, boxes of cables and leads, EPROM programmer, books, magazines, ... etc., etc.).
The asking price is £ 1,500 for the job-lot, on an all or nothing basis (the stuff is worth in excess of twice that amount, I would say) and you would need to arrange collection.
Anyone interested in such a bargain of classic memorabilia (certainly something with which to while away the long winter evenings, at least) could do far worse than get in touch by PM.
GeoCities ... gone, but not forgotten. And yet another example of what usually happens (as if such a reminder is actually needed) when something small, but good, is swallowed up by one of the Big Boys! Anyone care to give a few more examples (there should be enough to fill a few pages, right there)? How about eBay, for starters?
... for the Psion Series 3a PDA's (oh yes, another classic) and even (and dare I say it) the Psion Organiser II (outed in 1986 and still going strong ... indestructible, in fact)!
Good News! I've tracked down the emulators! I fact the one for the Org2 was sent to me by a kindly soul. I guess the guy simply took pity on me.
I'm told that the one for the Series 3a was good enough to be able to develop software for the actual device. Which sounds amazing at first shout. But when you think about it, it's probably how most software for hand-held kit is written. That is, from the "comfort" of an emulator running on a desktop PC, and then finally downloaded (uploaded, blasted ... whatever) into non-volatile memory inside the actual device.
Before I ask you to rush out, buy up all the surplus stock, and then stash them away in some cool, dark place, well away from anti-aircraft missile battery radars and stuff like that, we would need to establish exactly what they are.
So called Double Density, so called High Density ... and all the other possibilities. Such details matter to 25 year old disk drives that aspire to work with 8-bit microcomputers of similar vintage.
Maybe you should restrict your purchase to just one box in the first instance and then check them out. OK, don't tell me ... no 5.25" disk drive!
I must admit that I've never really gotten to the bottom of all this stuff, but know a few ... er, wizards who (apparently) have. It's interesting (what isn't), but it's "yesterday's technology", unfortunately.
But wait, better make that "fortunately" ... how many disks (and disk drives) have I tried in recent times, only to be ... um, disappointed with the results (as in, loss of irrevocable data)!
Also ... see here! Elephants' graveyard? Sorry Neil, but I can't ship to Jeddah.
Off the top of my head:- for our purposes (that is, the 8-bit micro scene) DS/DD (Double Sided, Double Density) at 48 TPI (Tracks Per Inch) seem to give best results.
Some folk reckon that it doesn't matter, and other formats (eg, 96 TPI) work OK as the formatter program will sort things out anyway.
However, I remain unconvinced, as the physical (magnetic, spacing etc.) make-up of these various disks are different, all of which can contribute to (in my experience) unpredictable results.
Bear in mind also that we're talking here about disk drives themselves from an earlier age, some of which may have been heavily used, and not quite within original specs!
I made the dumb mistake a while back of wrecking a "new" (unused) disk with a hard-to-find program on it (specific to a particular sideways RAM board) by attempting to read it from an disk drive of, shall we say, unproven capabilities. Unfortunately the drive wrecked the disk. Playing about with this old kit requires a somewhat different approach, you know. Like proceeding at a measured, gentle pace, for instance.
Meanwhile, are you about to 'fess up, then, Neil ... to still having your BBC Micro to hand?
I just bet there are tons (tonnes?) of good old kit, some of it probably never used, lurking around in Jeddah.
I once knew of a guy who went out to Riyadh and came back with a container stashed with Triumph Trident motorbikes that the Al-Shurta (or it may have been the Al-Haris) didn't have either the nous, mallam, inclination, or wherewithal to be able to look after properly. As you can no doubt believe, they were simply dumped in a heap out in the desert, and some passing expat, probably out on his weekend camping trip, must have alerted the guy back in London.
So Neil ... keep your eyes skinned when you're out and about, Mate.
Well ... the last Tridents were made circa. 1974 ...
But I've actually seen one of them (in Croydon). Single seater, radio tray on the back, and painted (as you might expect) in desert khaki. And ... er, I believe the term is "slightly the worse for wear"!
But surely you must have noticed the mountains of junked cars, trucks, Caterpillar tractors, and all the rest when you were out in those parts. Such dumps were usually encountered just out on the edge of town, and I have spent many happy afternoons avoiding the dog packs in such places.
What were those scrapyards called (in the local lingo)? The name escapes me now.
How about Tashliyah ... was that it?
OK ... here we go. Oh, the magic of the internet. Of course, they were Cardinals (rather than Tridents). If you remember, British Police Thunderbirds were called Saints. Here's a bit more. And lastly.
There was a load of old computers belonging to the IT department in a storage area, but as that area has been reassigned the computers along with a load of 'junk' were put up for a scrap sale. I hinted that they should have been sent to the schools or colleges but out here everything has to be new!
Nearly thirty years ago there was an elephants' graveyard of junked and smashed up cars just to the north east of Jeddah. Then they started burying them (acres and acres) with bulldozers, turning it into a kind of land-fill.
I can only wonder what it's like by now, especially considering the daily rate of attrition on Saudi roads.
The desert is a big place, but one day even that will be all gone!
For those for whom it may be of interest ... I've just sold my last Risc PC and the Mighty (and much modded) Oak (what a hefty beast that one is - or was)!
The Risc PC700 has a 486 board fitted. And here it is shown running Win 3.11 in all its ... er, glory! The aficionado will no doubt also note the "pizza oven door" which (unusually) is not broken.
Yes, that's a steel case on the Oak. Notice the home-brew electronics in the second photo (not by me, I hasten to add).
The fourth photo shows a Genlock board fitted inside a BBC Micro. Anyone out there ... er, genned up on Genlocks?
The last photo shows an ex-laptop HDD fitted inside an early BBC Micro. It uses a 4.3 GB IBM TravelStar HDD partitioned into two formatted 536 MB drives (effectively a 1 GB drive).
Drive 0 contains over 310 MB of files. There is a vast amount of software on there:- games, utilities and software from many of the well-known vendors of that Golden Era (far too much to list ... but including, I might add, "Elite" which was mentioned here on the forum a couple of days ago), and all accessed via an easy menu system. This is a BBC Micro, remember, not a PC. Brilliant!
Drive 1 is empty with 536 MB free. Would anyone ever fill it up?
The last two mentioned are up for grabs as part of a job-lot on eBay. But if you're excited by all this good stuff (?) you will need to be quick if you want to place a bid!
Geoff, are you still using google, for me igoogle in google chrome is much better and faster. 30 years eh (Pac Man) I only got upset when I found out that I was older than Coronation St. Not that I have ever watched it, Movies and sport only at home.
Steve Furber mentions this sort of thing in the interviews I linked to a couple of posts back.
With a modern PC you're generally working quite high up the software stack (or, if you like, many layers of [censored] above what's really going on).
As we know, old BBC Micros and the like are ideal for really learning about the bits and bytes ... not to mention the hardware, architecture etc.
Meanwhile, my own son (already an "Old Bugger", according to a defintion recently given on this forum ... that is, born before 1980 [just]) has just discovered BeebEm. He'll "get it" one of these days (well, maybe).
Yes, a good effort. But best viewed with the sound turned off?
1) Technic Lego ... the successor to Meccano?
2) Analogue computers ... much overlooked in the "digital age", I reckon (and I write as someone who remembers such interesting kit as ball resolvers, and the famous "Navaid"* fitted in some of the early Chieftain tanks).
* Does anyone else remember those? They used to take a while to "precess", but once they had decided upon where North was, they were surprisingly accurate! Can anyone remember who made them (Sperry, GEC-Elliott ... or someone like that)? Happy Days, as my mate Tony Dowman (aka the Outcast) would say. Tony was a Rapier man, of course, which had analogue computing elements as well. Rapier ... well worth a go on YouTube!
Quite frankly I hated computers, probably because everyone else I worked with seemed to know far more about them than I did. (They were more interested in them as well.) I understood all other forms of engineering but coming from hands-on engineering, computers seemed abstract to me. However the first one I worked with was a Burroughs Mainframe and after that came DEC PDP 11s with UNIX operating systems. I can remember the reel to reel tape drives, Winchester disc drives and all the air conditioning temperature control and standby power from that era, but thatís about all. I suppose a modern PC would have more computing power now.
While we are reminiscing, while at University I started to play around with the university computer* as I had some data I wanted to analyse I formatted an array in my programme and took the punch cards to the data room to have them input in to the array. The person at the desk just laughed, I had formatted the array 512 by 1024. This was hundreds of times bigger then the whole core memory of the computer. Yes magnetic beads on wire type memory. An' you try tellin' t' kids of today that, they won't believe you. RoJo
*Yes there was one for the university IBM370 if I remember right. Electrical engineering had their own PDP-11 but for post grads only.
Never had one, the first computer that I bought was a Toshiba laptop, about 5 years ago. Tried not to have a computer in the house, but the wife needed one. Now we own 3 laptops and an imac and I have just bought an HP laptop for my mother.
Thanks for that link, Neil. I'll take a closer look later.
As I have probably already mentioned (?) the first "computer" I bought was a ZX-80 back in 1980. Followed by BBC Micro's and Masters once I had more of a clue about it all.
Then on to IBM-clones (pre-286) in Saudi in the late eighties and early nineties. They used to cost a month's salary, as I recall. Happy Days!
I bought my own first laptop for SR 6,000 from the Shula Centre in Khobar seventeen years ago. A 486 Bondwell (from Hong Kong) with a bluish "monochrome" screen. That one went AWOL seven months later (if only to dispel the myth that "there is no Ali-Baba in Saudi Arabia")!
The second one was more of the same, but with a colour display, and 8 MB of RAM. SR 7,000 that time!
Anyone else remember the "Khobar" virus?
Toshiba laptops always used to be highly regarded. I bought a few in job-lot off eBay a few years ago, and they were still in good shape. Even had the carrying cases and manuals. I gave one away to Colin (my son) and sold the others later as part of one of my own "job-lots"!
My boy had a C=64 back in his youth. Good for games (and PEEKing and POKEing if you were into that sort of thing - which I was) but inferior to the BBC Micro is almost every way (in my opinion).
I wonder if we'll be seeing much more of this sort of thing? You know, for other "classics" such as the BBC Micro*, Tatung Einstein, Dragon, etc., etc.
Interesting though that folk reckon there is a market for born again retros. Maybe there is, but somehow I have my doubts.
If you want a proper retro machine, you can pick one up off eBay for a lot less than the amount mentioned. Or if you just want emulation, you can buy a decent PC for the same money. Or, better yet, why not enjoy the best of both worlds and get a nice PC and a real C=64 (whatever)?
A guy posting at one of the "retro" forums has this to say:-
I would go so far as to say it's a cynical attempt to sell a low spec modern pc on the back of people's fond memories of a classic machine.
Perhaps he's right.
My own take is that whilst there may be great fun to be had in building your own "retro machine" (or simply enhancing an original), buying a new one is a bit, err ... naff. A bit like buying a new "Mini" in fact.
OK ... now I'm standing by to be flamed by all those proud owners of those hideous (large, at least) "Minis". But, on the other hand, should we expect anyone to come on here and actually admit to having one of those things?
I reckon that even I shouldn't have two much trouble squeezing a 288 into one of my old 233 carcasses!
Meanwhile, here's a link to a forum that may be of interest to some folk.
Here's a bit more. Clever stuff, in my opinion. And I'm constantly amazed (humbled, even) by the quality of work that some guys produce for what is really a Labour of Love. It's also nice to be reminded that for some good folk, it's not all just about money, money and ... err, money!
Somehow I doubt you would find many 15-year olds capable of producing such a bit of programming these days. Let's hope that there is the odd talented one about, but they certainly seemed more ubiquitous back then!
I can't help but wonder also how much other great software was written back then that never saw the light of day, either because those reviewing the software thought it wouldn't make it (that is, didn't have much of a clue), or were afraid of copyright infringements, or some such thing.
The marketing angle is very interesting. As most of us know, techies tend to get immersed in the bits and bytes of code, and tend to, let's say, neglect the selling side of things.
But I reckon that history tells us that successful ventures need two "Genius Guys":- the techno-whiz, and the salesman!
Steve and Steve (in the early days at Apple) are the "Golden Pair" who spring immediately to mind.
Meanwhile, Repton always was an outstanding game. I still remember my son Colin (32 years old now) spending days creating his own backgrounds, characters and all the rest. "Repton Around the World", or some such thing.
Lastly ... why Leeds, I wonder? Maybe there's something in the water up there. And ... I can't help but wonder what's happening up there these days.
OK Neil, seeing that you asked so nicely, I took a quick poke around in my archives, and dug out some info.
My first "proper" laptop cost SR 6,000 from the Shula Center in Khobar in early 1994 (before that I had managed with various "luggable" beasts based upon BBC Micro's and Masters, Z88's and good stuff like that). It was a 33 MHz 486 machine with 4 MB of RAM. Monochrome display (bluish tint) and DOS based. As I have mentioned before, that one was stolen from the office.
The next one (the following year) was similar, but had a colour display. It was also a 486 unit but this time with a whole 8 MB of RAM! 250 MB HDD, modem and 3.5" FDD. SR 7,000 (about £ 1,200 at the time) - so quite a lot of money, really. I did a lot of work on that machine, and (alas) it only lasted a year until it started giving hard-drive errors. Despite my best efforts (NDD, SpinRite, Norton Calibrate ... and anything else I could think of) in the end it had to be binned, sadly.
I had to wait until 2000 for my next one. It was a generic MTC Notebook PC. SR 6,800 from a shop in Khobar (again). This was a really nice 266 MHz 32 MB machine. I even had Linux running on it at one stage. It survived until 2005 (back in Blighty by then) when it went up in smoke in my brother's shed (probably got a bit damp, I expect).
And later that year (2000) I bought a Compaq "Notebook 100" for SR 6,000 from a shop called PC-Net in downtown Hofuf. That one had an AMD-K6 processor running at 475 MHz, but the screen was not so good as the MTC. The Compaq also took a hammering and I remember the W key finally failed (so I ended up using it with a standard keyboard plugged in the back). The FDD had long since given up (due, no doubt, to the "dust of Al-Hasa"), and I was never able to lay hands on a replacement. I said good-bye to the Compaq about 18 months ago when it went as part of one of my eBay "job lots".
A few years ago I picked up some old Toshiba's off eBay. These were nice, well made units, that have also now "moved on", as it were. Here they are (together with my trusty old Compaq).
These days I have an Asus which is also getting a bit long in the tooth, and will need to be replaced soon. Cost me £ 680 in late 2006 (from Weston-Super-Mare, for those who know it). So yes (as expected), prices have fallen whilst capability has risen (by a large margin).
But the bottom line as far as I'm concerned is that (apart from the internet) I'm still doing more or less the same sort of stuff on the Asus as I was doing on those Chinese Bondwells back in the early '90's!
Indeed. Including working up a nice set of spreadsheets in Lotus 1-2-3 that I used for making proposals for servicing work.
No doubt many folk labour under the misapprehension that the streets of places like Al-Khobar are laid out in gold, when in fact (as anyone who has been to such places must agree) many of them are simply zift (dirt).
For a year or two I couldn't get my beloved Shaikh to find the money he needed to pay me, and at one stage got so low in funds that I didn't even have the option of flying out! So I set to trawling around the various private clinics (of which there are many) and small private hospitals, looking for repair and maintenance work (and, if possible, contracts).
The short story is that I would take an inventory of their equipment, including a quick assessment of condition of each item, feed all the data into my spreadsheet(s) and get back to them with a nice list, and some prices (just a couple of options - things had to be kept, shall we say, simple), within a day or two. Those guys were always impressed. Most of them didn't even have a list of the kit they had, of course.
I've just taken a look at a couple of spreadsheets from those days ... and, to be honest, was quite impressed by them. All they would need is importing into Excel to render them "presentable" even today. In fact, there could be a nice little database programming project just sitting there waiting to happen!
But it was hard work getting any sort of deal with those guys, and the "best" I ever got were understandings that they would call me when and if they had problems. So I ended up with a few "interesting" jobs that way. But even then, getting any money out of them was never going to be easy. Some of them even used to pretend to be "out" when I called by (usually after the evening prayer, as was customary).
Luckily (as things turned out) another New Hospital Project came along, so I took a grab at that. It was a two-year project that ended up lasting over six years. Ideal, then.
For thirty-odd years, when folk have asked "should I wait", "which one is best", "which one should I buy"? ... and all that stuff, my answer has always been along the lines of:-
"It all depends what you actually want to do with it"!
(More often than not, back in those days, folk didn't actually know. They just wanted a computer)
For instance, if you want to play games, you will need a high-end spec. If you just want to do a bit of letter writing, well you can pick up a complete used system from the classified adds in the local paper (in England, that is) for £ 100 or less.
I still have a bog standard 100 MHz PC here that sometimes still gets powered up from time to time. I can do stuff on there that is almost impossible to do on later machines.
Of course technology marches on, but it's not always valid to compare prices from the past. A more realistic way might be to ask the question:- "how many hours would I need to work to be able to afford that machine"?
Meanwhile, I hope you're not referring to yourself there, Robert.
But if you are ... perhaps it's time to consider setting up our Own Gang, Mate. Many people (well, a few, here and there) ask me about doing that, and whether there could be a "place in the team" for them. I always try to respond in positive vein, but very few that I meet are actually willing (able, whatever) to take things forward.
Just look (if you have the stomach for it) at the news again today. All Doom and Gloom, as usual. But when it all goes down the pan (as it looks increasingly like doing), there will still be a need for blokes who can actually do things (like fixing kit, for example) rather than just counting things (or whatever). As an Old Mate remarked only yesterday:- "Hold your nerve, and keep your powder dry"!
It's sad to think of so much classic software - especially home-grown one-off's - heading towards the bin. Stuff stored on data cassette tapes has faired just as badly (or worse) of course.
Luckily most of the good commercially produced stuff has already been saved as images and poked into various places around the 'net. And thankfully ROM-based stuff still marches on (and has been "imaged" as well)!
There was an article on the Tv very recently about detector vans, they said that they were updating them for digital TVs but were keeping very quiet about the technology. But surely the RF stage is very similar but just at a different frequency. So the vans may still be around somewhere. You are supposed to have a licence for watching the BBC by any means including cable TV and on-line but how do they "detect" this sort of use?
Has anyone ever actually seen one of these vans in action? Do they really exist except in BBC information films?
You can be sure that if "they" wanted to pursue "non-licence payers" these days, the work would be farmed out to Serco, Capitas, G4S (or some other such quasi-governmental "agency" of dubious competence).
As I may have mentioned before, I have not owned a TV set for many years (over 23 now, at least), and so have some experience of threatening letters, and all the rest.
Although Urban Legend (myths?) would have it that "snoops" are indeed about, it makes you wonder how they actually go about it. Listening at the door, perhaps?
Maybe they have someone rummaging through wheelie bins for discarded copies of the TV Times (or whatever it's known as these days). Who knows?
"Looking for TV aerials" is another I have heard about. But how can that be any good in blocks of flats, or indeed "dwellings in multiple occupancy"?
I'm pretty sure that the whole thing is just another example of frightening folk into coughing up the "Licence" fee. In other words:- scaremongering. Not that we would know anything about that on this forum, of course.
Rojo - my understanding of how the 'old type' TV detector vans used to work and thus know you had a TV is this: People in the van will fire an RF signal at your property. If you have a TV, the local oscillator on the TV will pick up the signal and re-radiate it. As you know, the local oscillator is at a pre-set frequency, and if your TV re-radiates the signal - hey presto, you have a TV. It doesn't even need to be on, they are just looking for a re-radiated signal. The best way to stop it would have been to shield the local oscillator, but that's another story. It's not rocket science but I can understand how they would like to keep it from becoming public knowledge. How it works with digital - no idea.
Meanwhile, someone else has advised me as follows:-
TV detection with the 625 Line system was based on the line timebase high voltage transformer LOPT's (Line Out Put Transformer) electromagnetic field. It produced considerable radiation; for a good 50 feet or more. So using a BBC receiver within the van to monitor the off-air signal via its line-time-base on a 'scope, you could detect the radiation from the TV within a house, and identify the channel it was receiving by comparing the two signals. Today however, it's impossible to detect any useful signal from a flat screen TV, where radiation from any local oscillator is well screened, and no line timebase to detect any more. What TV's, and other domestic products, radiate is wide spectrum hash-noise. And if these also use SMPS's (Switched Mode Power Supply) - they wipe out most HF Short-wave reception and low band too.
The computer mouse is 50 years old and it inventor has just died. He was one of the men with that special spark and imagination that made computing what it is today. Here is how the mouse got its name, and this is the first mouse demo.
Here is an interesting article on the start of office automation and computing. I read the opening paragraphs
Do you remember the office before email? Before we spent our time watching cat videos and doing surreptitious grocery shopping online?
As an experiment I turned off my office computer and kept it all off all day. I found I could think - just about - but had nothing to think about. I couldn't work, or communicate. I couldn't even skive. I was a non-person.
Computers are so clever that it sometimes feels as if they do our thinking for us.
No, never, computers are the dumbest machines of all time, they only do what they are told (despite what it may seem like at times).
I, however, do remember what it was like before (oh god, I'm soooooooooo old ). The fax, now that was a revolution. No more dependency on the horrors or the postal system and, clearly, anything that came off the magic machine must be of high importance and must be dealt with NOW.
That being said, email, spreadsheets, databases etc (with the possible exception of Power Point) are great tools, but only tools. They have increased the pace of business and, if used well, the ability to provide a quality business/service but, we need to be selective and concentrate on the important stuff.
But then, that has always been what we should be doing.
Can't help you there, I'm afraid, Ed. The last time I sent a telex would have been from Nigeria in 1984.
But (and on the other hand), people tell me that telex is still used in certain types of secure (maritime, financial, maybe) international communications. As you know, you actually get an acknowledgement that your message has been received.
There's a definite autumnal nip in the air this evening (here in my part of the UK, at least) ... so with those long winter evenings just around the corner (and if you have a reasonable internet connection), why not plan to take a look at some of this good stuff?
And how about this for a thing of beauty? See also here.
Originally Posted by Scott Adams
I wrote The Dilbert Principle around the concept that in many cases the least competent, least smart people are promoted, simply because they're the ones you don't want doing actual work. You want them ordering the doughnuts and yelling at people for not doing their assignments - you know, the easy work. Your heart surgeons and your computer programmers - your smart people - aren't in management.
* Wouldn't it be nice to do something similar with the Psions?
One of the Physicists in Riyadh used to carry his Psion around in his shirt top-pocket. Every-single-time he leaned forward, the Psion would leap out of his pocket leaving him scrabbling around on the floor chasing batteries. I lost count of the number of times that happened, but he'd never consider changing pocket locations. Maybe it was a trophy - they were probably quite expensive.
Meanwhile, Windows CE has now come of age* ... here's a nice display of Psion-like "clamshells".
The "word on the street" is that the clamshell format may be making a come-back. Apparently the novelty of the tablet format has worn off somewhat of late.
Does anyone have any thoughts or recommendations about which one to go for?
* 21 years old.
BTW, my "research" into Windows CE was prompted by a conversation I had today in my local Tesco supermarket, where they are introducing the "Scan As You Shop" handheld scanners for use by shoppers as they explore the aisles. These are Symbol (now Zebra, apparently) MC18 devices running Windows CE. Needless to say, I won't be using them myself (what's the point?); and - as I remarked to the Tesco guy - expect to see them being discarded in the river soon (just as the trolleys have been for years). I imagine they could, however, be useful in industrial or even hospital settings!
It's been many a year now since I last needed to use a printer. I recall that it was an Epson that I bought new at a very "competitive" price, only to be stung on the ink cartridges which seemed to last hours rather than days.
Before that (out in the Desert) I had a decent (but large) HP, which I donated to the "guys" when I left.
Other than that, of course, I have enjoyed playing with various dot-matrix printers from an "earlier era" (see past post under this thread). Cheap consumables (just the ink ribbon), a bit noisy of course ... but programmable!
Anyway ... how about DIY toner cartridge refiling - has anyone had a go? I tried it once some years ago, and recall "poor results" together with lots of mess. But it seems that things may have now moved on a bit.