Retro Cool Technology

Matias Saibene

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Retro tech? Now THIS is cool retro tech. The Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, restores ancient machines to full working order. Here they have a fully operational IBM 1401 from 1959 and they figured out how to run Fortran on it, which it was never designed to do. This thing is a giant, breathing, chattering beast and these guys put so much love into it.

The IBM 1401 compiles and runs FORTRAN II - YouTube

And here they restored a 1959 DEC PDP-1:

Lyle Bickley explains the PDP-1 (and we play the original Spacewar!) - YouTube

What a wonder, just look at those rolls of magnetic tape, they are impressive when they move, it seems that this thing was thinking, it seems magic. I love old computers even though I only know them on the Internet or encyclopedias, I never had the opportunity to see one in real life, but I see them as extremely engaging, or intriguing. That moving magnetic tape... today's computers could bring that, even if it's a decoration, I do not know, they give me an image of activity (or being processing something) that the current computers can not give me (except a little bit the Linux console and the few commands that I use).

The first time I saw magnetic tape running, it was in this video. Is magic.
Look at the white HP device.

The first time I saw an old computer, it was in the documentary about Pixar where UNIVAC was shown for a few seconds.

Look at these old commercial, to this day I find it impressive.
From the optimist voice of the speaker, the dimensions of the computer, and the graphics, seem to show a past (in this aspect) amazing. And of course the name: UNIVAC, sounds like something universal, a powerful computer.

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Look at the typography, it looks like science fiction.
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Andy44

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The first time I saw magnetic tape running, it was in this video. Is magic.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEL8wnW5uvs
Look at the white HP device.

That's interesting; those tape drives were both made in the 1990s. I didn't know they were still making them then. Apparently they are good for archival data storage.

In the 1980s many home computers used cassette tape drives for data storage, before floppy disks and hard disk drives became more common. My Sinclair 1000, for example, has audio in and out jacks for connecting to a cassette player/recorder, and software was sold in cassette format for this machine. Not as dramatic as a reel-to-reel drive, but still a mechanical tape drive.

My earliest memory of tape drives might be from watching the TV show Six Million Dollar Man in the late 70s. Mainframe computers and tape drives were a common prop on that show. The bad guy's hideout always had them.
 

AssemblyLanguage

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What a wonder, just look at those rolls of magnetic tape, they are impressive when they move, it seems that this thing was thinking, it seems magic.

This video doesn't show the tape drive's vacuum columns and the holes on the back that sense the vacuum change and control the speed of the feed and take-up reels. IBM Field Engineers used a mercury column gauge (manometer?) to adjust the vacuum pump.

Every computer room had a vertical dowel rod to hold the write rings.

My words can't do justice to the tape drive. Here is a Computer History Museum video:
 
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dbeachy1

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Now that was just too cool! :thumbup:
 

Matias Saibene

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Awesome. Tons of even older documentation!
I found documents from, for example, the mythical UNIVAC. Manuals on its use and descriptions of the mechanical parts of the UNISERVO magnetic tape system.

And many beautiful graphic designs, with typographic fonts of the time.
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Wait... a report of 1930! And a book of 1794!

Really, thank you very much, it is incredible that this information still exists and is published on the Internet.

:leaving:
*leave the laptop, and run to take the Delorean*

:thumbup::thumbup: :hailprobe::hailprobe:
 

Urwumpe

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And a book of 1794!

Really, thank you very much, it is incredible that this information still exists and is published on the Internet.

I had once found a hyperlinked version of the bamboo slip edition of the 孫子兵法 (Sun Tzu ping-fa) in antique Chinese (with each symbol explained and its development towards modern Chinese), like it was discovered in a 2200 year old tomb.

Much older and an extremely interactive and impressive presentation of it. Sadly I can't find it again. The internet isn't a perfect memory. :(
 

Notebook

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RE #247 above to MaSa.

Company I worked for had a PDP-8? driving an Oxberry 16mm animation system. Used for making TV titles. We didn't really get involved with it, it had an external contract for maintenance, not surprising, all a bit specialised.
But we did go down to help if it was simple mechanical problem, and general first-line cover.
Do remember being fascinated by the PDP, lots of large toggle switches? Very tempting, unfortunately not allowed to touch!

Just for reference:
https://vimeo.com/189968602

This isn't the machine I remember, but it gives the general idea.

N.
 

Notebook

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Notebook

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Could be usefull for handicapping players in tournaments so anyone could play.
Would make the game open to corruption though...

N.
 

Urwumpe

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Could be usefull for handicapping players in tournaments so anyone could play.
Would make the game open to corruption though...

N.

Just invert it... require not hitting the bullseye. :lol:
 

Notebook

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Exactly!
The fact most Darts games involve alcohol makes hitting the bullseye problematic. So a moving target would add to the fun. You could freeze the board when the dart is in flight, give them a chance...

N.
 
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