A teenager describes his hilarious adventures installing a surplus, 1,500lb mainframe in his parents' basement

Connor Krukosky's lifelong hobby was collecting and refurbishing superannuated computing equipment, which is surprisingly cheap provided you have a lot of space -- Krukosky scored things like keypunch machines for a mere $7 (though he had to drive 1,000 miles roundtrip to get it home). Read the rest

Computer historians crack passwords of Unix's early pioneers

Early versions of the free/open Unix variant BSD came with password files that included hashed passwords for such Unix luminaries as Dennis Ritchie, Stephen R. Bourne, Eric Schmidt, Brian W. Kernighan and Stuart Feldman. Read the rest

Paleocomputing watch: Tech magazines cover the BBS scene

The wonderful folks at Paleotronic (previously) have rounded up scans of articles from 1980s-era computer magazines that advised new computer users on navigating the burgeoning world of dial-up BBSes. Read the rest

The ENIAC Programmers: how women invented modern programming and were then written out of the history books

Kathy Kleiman, founder of the ENIAC Programmers Project, writes about the buried history of the pivotal role played by women in the creation of modern computing, a history that is generally recounted as consisting of men making heroic technical and intellectual leaps while women did some mostly simple, mechanical work around the periphery. Read the rest

Remembering the pre-Netscape browsers

Young ones, gather round, and let Ole Grampa Doctorow tell you about the glory days, before the creation and deprecation of the <blink> tag, when tables were still a glimmer in a data-structure's eye, when a DOM advertised in the back pages of your weekly freesheet and CSS was a controversial DVD-scrambling system. Read the rest

A look back at the sales training for Radio Shack's Model 100, a groundbreaking early laptop

When Radio Shack released the Model 100 in 1983, it was a breakthrough for portable computing: an AA-battery-powered laptop that you could fit in a briefcase, with a built-in modem and an instant-on Microsoft OS that contained the last production code Bill Gates ever wrote himself. Read the rest

Read the source code for every classic Infocom text-adventure game!

Jason Scott has made the source available for every one of Infocom's classic and genre-defining text adventure games (previously) for the Apple ][+ and its successors, posting it to Github under the historicalsource account. Read the rest

The sad history of Livejournal as a lens for understanding the state of social media today

Like Facebook, Livejournal was built in a bright student's dormroom; but unlike Facebook, LJ wasn't built "for nonconsensually rating the fuckability of stolen photos of undergrads," but rather as a community-minded platform for self-expression and connection-forging. Read the rest

Classic Christmas covers from computer magazines of the bygone era

More outstanding paleocomputing Christmas cheer from Paleotronics (previously): a trove of 55 Christmas covers of classic computer magazines, include lamented bygones like Creative Computing. Read the rest

Hi rez images from NASA's 1967/8 Lunar Orbiters were withheld to hide US spying capabilities

In 1967, the Lunar Orbiter missions sent back exciting -- but grainy and low-rez -- photos of the moon's surface. Read the rest

Translate between Charles Babbage's computing jargon and modern terminology

If you're intending to build an analytical engine with a six-sided prism to run Charles Babbage's weird cardboard vaporware program, you will need some help with Babbage's notes, as old Charles was inventing a whole technical vocab from scratch. Read the rest

Pre-Nixie digital: the amazing world of edge-lit displays

Before there were Nixie tubes, there were edge-lit displays: "Each digit panel has a tiny incandescent lamp associated with it that lights when that the numeral on the panel is to be displayed. When the tiny lamp corresponding to a given digit panel lights, the light is injected into the edge of the plastic panel. The engraved area in the plastic causes interference with the light as it travels through the plastic, and some light is refracted out through the plane of the panel, causing the engraved dots making up the digit to light up with a white glow. The resulting digits look much like the fully formed numerals in a Nixie tube, except rather than an orange glow, the Canon display digits give off a cool white glow like that of an incandescent light bulb." Read the rest

Found at a thrift shop: the last record of a doomed Apple DRM effort from 1979

Redditor Vadermeer was in a local Goodwill Outlet and happened on a trove of files from Apple engineer Jack MacDonald from 1979-80, when he was manager of system software for the Apple II and ///. Read the rest

Breaking the DRM on the 1982 Apple ][+ port of Burger Time

4AM is a prolific computer historian whose practice involves cracking the copy protection on neglected Apple ][+ floppy disks, producing not just games, but voluminous logs that reveal the secret history of the cat-and-mouse between crackers and publishers. Read the rest