108 rare and bizarre information storage media types

In this episode of the 8-Bit Guy, David does a video survey of 108 types of storage media that we modern humans have used to store information.

He divides the media into three categories: mechanical media, magnetic media, and optical media. He starts at the Edison Wax Cylinder and ends up at Bubble Memory.

This whole episode brought back fond memories of Bruce Sterling's dead Dead Media project.

Image: YouTube Read the rest

Here's a working paperclip computer from the 1967 book, "How to Build a Working Digital Computer"

I've linked to Michael Gardi's retrocomputing replicas and recreations quite a few times. Here's a list:

How to make a "computer on a card" from the 1960s How to make a replica of the GENIAC Electric Brain from 1955 Complete instructions for making a replica of the Minivac 601 educational computer kit 3D printed replica of the Digi-Comp II marble computer Make this scale model of the Dr. Nim digital game

Michael just finished a new project! He wrote to me and said:

Well it's a new year and I have a new project to share, something a little different. Rather than a straight replica, this time I have created a version of the computer described in the book How to Build a Working Digital Computer, by Edward Alcosser, James P. Phillips, and Allen M. Wolk, and published in 1967. In it they show how to construct such a computer using "simple inexpensive components usually found around the house or in a neighborhood electrical parts store." A very cool book.

Now completed, my version is one of only a few known implementations. I tried to limit myself to technologies that would have been available in the late '60s, but used modern fabrication techniques like 3D printing and cheap PCB manufacturing to build it.

Details are posted on Hackaday Read the rest

Turning a Sega MegaDrive into a cool, retro synthesizer

Sam Battle of Look Mum No Computer, the mad sonic scientist who brought us the Furby Organ, has done it again. This time, he turned a Sega Genesis/Mega Drive into an awesomely retro-sounding synthesizer.

The Sega Mega Drive included a Yamaha YM2612 six-channel FM synthesizer chip under the hood. Sam broke that out to create his synth which so epically invokes that iconic, often cringe-worthy, 80s synth sound.

On his second YouTube channel, Look Mum No Computer But More Serious-ish, he goes into more detail about the YM2612, the Sega Drive, and putting together the synth. Read the rest

Here's how to make a "computer on a card" from the 1960s

Michael Gardi says, "There were probably millions of CARDIACs (CARDboard Illustrative Aid to Computation) distributed to high schools and colleges in the late 60s and early 70s. Heck even my little high school in Northern Ontario got a bunch of them. But they are all but impossible to find now, so here is the next best thing."

The CARDIAC Instructable presented here is not a computer, it's a device to help you understand how a computer works. You the user will:

decode instructions by sliding panels up and down, move the program counter "lady bug" from one memory location to the next, perform the duties of an arithmetic logic unit (ALU), read inputs from one sliding strip, and write output results to another (with a pencil).

Along the way you will you will learn the internal workings of a typical Von Neumann architecture computer. Some fairly sophisticated programs can be executed (by you manually remember) on the CARDIAC. Stacks, subroutines, recursion, and bootstrapping for example can all be demonstrated.

Image: Instructables

Previously on Boing Boing:

CARDIAC: Bell Labs's old cardboard computer CARDIAC paper computer emulator CARDIAC paper computer unboxing New-old stock of Bell Labs's cardboard teaching computer, the CARDIAC Read the rest

Imaginary dream computer from 1984

The funny folks at Squirrel Monkey made a fantasy promotional video for a computer that never existed, called the DC 640. It had a number of cutting edge features, including a built-in LED alarm clock, an FM transmitter (for data and voice communication), and a solderless breadboard. Read the rest

Building a high-performance cluster of Gameboy emulators to teach computers to play video games

Kamil Rocki was inspired by the 2016 paper from Google Deepmind researchers explaining how they used machine learning to develop a system that could play Breakout on the Atari 2600 with superhuman proficiency. Read the rest

Beautiful papercraft retrocomputing models to print and love and hang from your tree

Rocky Bergen creates gorgeous, downloadable papercraft models of retro PCs, from the Commodore 64 to the Apple ][+ to the Amstrad, with different screens to print celebrating classic 8-bit games, and accessories like tiny floppies in tiny paper sleeves. As Waxy points out, these would make stunning Christmas ornaments. Read the rest

An appreciation of the long-lost MP3 player skins of yesteryear

When MP3s conquered music, it depended on three key technologies: CD ripping software, file-sharing software, and MP3 playing software, primarily Winamp. Read the rest

The best Christmas computer and electronics ads of 1980

Australia's Paleotronic is celebrating Christmas with twelve posts celebrating the best seasonal computer ads of the years between 1980 and 1992; today is day 1: 1980, in all its Coleco gloriousness. (Thanks, Gnat!) Read the rest

Gorgeous, stylized portraits of vintage computing hardware

Docubyte's Visual History of Computing 1945-1979 is a mix of superb staging, outstanding photography, and intense nostalgia, and it just made my day. Read the rest

How to 3D print the Think a Dot, a nifty "computer" toy from 1965

The Think a Dot was a small non-electronic toy with an 8 pixel 2-bit display. To change the color of the pixels, you dropped marbles into three holes at the top.

As you can see, the pixels change color based on the current color of the pixels and which hole the marble is dropped in.

Someone has made a 3D model of the toy and uploaded it to Thingiverse, so you can 3D print your own!

Image: Decode Systems Read the rest

Nostalgia alert - Scan of "Your Computer" magazine from 1983

Even if you were nothing more than a twinkle in your father's eye in 1983, you will feel pangs of nostalgia for this Archive.org scan of a UK magazine called Your Computer. This 1983 issue has ads for games and productivity programs, as well as lines and lines of BASIC code for you to hunt-and-peck into your keyboard and then spend hours in a fruitless bug and typo session.

Read the rest

WWWBasic: code web-pages in BASIC

Google's WWWBasic project allows you to write web-page interactivity using a BASIC-like syntax that will be recognizable to anyone who grew up with early personal computers in the late 1970s and 1980s (it can be imported within Node.js, too, so you can mix Javascript and BASIC). Read the rest

This colorful homage to classic desktops could occupy you for hours

Mariano Pascual has created a delightful nod to classic desktop layouts for his new site, but it's updated with all kinds of colorful bells, whistles, and Easter eggs. Read the rest

ZX Spectrum Next is an advanced version of the original 8-bit monster machine

ZX Spectrum Next is more than just a cute retro-looking box or a glorified emulator. It is a new 8-bit computer, backwards-compatible with the 1980s' original, yet enhanced to provide a wealth of advanced features such as better graphics, SD card storage, and manufacturing quality control. It's made with the permission of IP owner Amstrad and has already blown past its crowdfunding target.

It has a real goddamn Z80 in it, clocked to a blazing-fast 7Mhz! (And an optional 1Ghz co-processor for those times you want to strap your vintage snow sled to an intercontinental ballistic Raspberry Pi.)

We love the ZX Spectrum. Why wouldn’t we? It was much more than just a computer: it was a machine that sparked a gaming revolution, neatly housed within its iconic design powered by sheer simplicity. ... Meanwhile hardware hackers around the world have expanded the ZX Spectrum to support SD card storage, feature new and better video modes, pack more memory, faster processor... Problem is, these expansions can be difficult to get hold of, and without a standardised Spectrum, no one knows what to support or develop for. ...

The Spectrum Next is aimed at any Retrogamer out there and Speccy enthusiast who prefers their games, demos and apps running on hardware rather than software emulators, but wants a seamless and simple experience contained within an amazing design..

They even got the original industrial designer, Rick Dickinson, to do the new case--and they based it quite wisely on the second-gen Speccy rather than the iconic but infuriating-to-type-on rubber-keyed original. Read the rest

Usborne releases free PDFs of its classic 1980s computer programming books

Jindo Fox writes, "A few years ago, Cory linked to some wonderful pictures in Usborne's 1983 classic Introduction to Machine Code for Beginners. Usborne has made PDF copies available of their whole line, with the only restriction that you link to their page, not to copy and redistribute the files themselves. Very cool. I have fond memories of wasting my childhood typing these listings into the mainframe terminal at my local university, and later on my Timex Sinclair 1000, which I somehow knew was the American version of the ZX-81 that was featured in these pages." Read the rest