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Surface 2 teaser

It's NOT an iPad - but that's FINE: I learned to LOVE Microsoft's Surface 2

Review Microsoft’s first take on Surface RT was a disaster, culminating in a $900m stock write-down in July. Curious then that the company has now produced the Surface 2 with a similar design, and also running Windows RT, the locked-down ARM build on which you cannot install desktop applications – only new-style apps from the Windows …
Tim Anderson, 23 Oct 2013
Early RCA colour video recorder advertisement

Video thrilled the radio star: Tracking the history of magnetic tape

Feature El Reg's magnetic tape odyssey has covered tape's early beginnings in sound recording in part one and its revolution in computing in part two. In this final part, we look at how film and TV became some of magnetic tape's best customers. The music and computer industries weren’t the only early adopters of magnetic tape. The …
Bob Dormon, 10 Oct 2013
Raspberry Pi

UK plant bakes its millionth Raspberry Pi

Comment A Sony-owned factory in South Wales has now punched out more than a million Raspberry Pi board computers. This is laudable, but it shouldn’t be taken as a sign that Britain is going to ride to economic recovery on the back of a new generation of young programmers. The Raspberry Pi is a fortysomething’s wet dream of early 1980s …
Tony Smith, 8 Oct 2013
IBM 3410 open reel tape subsystem

Tracking the history of magnetic tape: A game of noughts and crosses

Feature America began its love affair with tape following WWII, when Jack Mullin, serving in the US Army Signal Corps, dropped in on German radio broadcaster Bad Nauheim and returned home with two portable Magnetophons and 50 reels of tape. News of his 1947 Hollywood equipment demos reached entertainer Bing Crosby who recognised the …
Bob Dormon, 19 Sep 2013
Apple iOS 7

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it ... Win Phone 8? No, it's APPLE'S iOS 7

Review Apple's iOS 7 has come some way since its initial preview release and public unveiling back in June at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference. Back then the focus was inevitably on the operating system’s new visual styling, and Apple does seem to have taken on board the early criticism of the new look. The ultra-spindly font …
Tony Smith, 19 Sep 2013
Grand Theft Auto

It's Grand Theft Auto 5 day: Any of you kids remember GTA the First?

Antique Code Show Grand Theft Auto 5 – one of the most keenly anticipated video games ever – was officially released today, although a few people apparently got their packages a few days ago. The preview videos show it to be stunningly accomplished, and no doubt it will sell phenomenally well. Yet many of the young adults who make an excited …
Giles Hill, 17 Sep 2013
Apple Newton MessagePad

Stylus counsel: The rise and fall of the Apple Newton MessagePad

Archaeologic It will forever be remembered as the butt of a-thousand-and-one jokes about its poor handwriting recognition, but Apple’s MessagePad was bold in its conception. Its legacy is ARM’s conquest of the mobile microprocessor world. The company said on 8 August 1993: The Newton MessagePad is the first in a family of communications …
Tony Smith, 17 Sep 2013
Photo of the iPhone 5S in various colors

iPhone 5S: Fanbois, your prints are safe from the NSA, claim infosec bods

Apple’s decision to bundle a fingerprint scanner with its newly unveiled iPhone 5s has the potential to become a game-changer for personal device authentication. But the success of "Touch ID" fingerprint authentication will depend on security as well as reliability, according to market-watchers. The fruits of Apple's acquisition …
John Leyden, 12 Sep 2013

New iPhones: C certainly DOESN'T stand for 'Cheap'

Analysis You wanted new iPhones and you got them. But if anything, the most surprising thing about Apple's big Tuesday reveal was just how little it managed to keep secret from the tech media ahead of the event. As predicted, Cupertino unveiled not one but two new iPhone models – a first – and just like everyone thought, they are named …
Neil McAllister, 10 Sep 2013
Fritz Pfleumer with his magnetic tape recorder

Reelin' in the years: Tracking the history of magnetic tape

Anniversary feature Today marks the 80th anniversary of the first patent filing for a magnetic tape recording medium, though the tech I worked with was a bit more recent than that. Still, it has been quite some time since I last went shopping for tape. I recall the last time as being a deal on a load of JVC miniDV cassettes that I still haven't …
Bob Dormon, 9 Sep 2013

Amazon to offer FREE smartphone?

Analysis Amazon may offer a free smartphone, as it contemplates another market to get into and sterilize. Though the strategy is a bold one, it is hardly new, and its basic idea goes back to Henry Ford. Bezos & Co are planning to launch a free smartphone, ex-Wall Street Journal reporter Amir Efrati reported on Friday, and hope to offer …
Jack Clark, 6 Sep 2013
Samsung Galaxy Gear

It's the software, stupid: Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch bags big apps

Analysis Samsung is not a great innovator, yet it’s certainly one of the world’s greatest imitators. Although it follows other companies into booming markets with me-too products, it remembers to add a little more sparkle to its offerings so that it not merely to catches up with its rivals, it eventually pushes past them. That’s what …
Tony Smith, 5 Sep 2013
Myst

Myst: 20 years of point-and-click adventuring

Antique Code Show For many years it was the best-selling computer game ever – at least until The Sims turned up. It created a whole new gaming genre, and it was a major help in getting a new computer storage format established. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we're talking about Myst. Myst debuted on the Mac back in September 1993 after two years in …
Tony Smith, 3 Sep 2013
Philips Compact Cassette launch 1963

Happy 50th birthday, Compact Cassette: How it struck a chord for millions

Feature On 30 August, 1963, a new bit of sound recording tech that was to change the lifestyle of millions was revealed at the Berlin Radio Show. The adoption of the standard that followed led to a huge swath of related technological applications that had not been envisaged by its maker; for Philips, the unveiling of its new Compact …
Bob Dormon, 30 Aug 2013
Shadowgun: DeadZone

Ten top new games for phones ’n’ slabs

Product Round-up Time to once again take a paddle in the duck pond of mobile gaming and burn some time with a selection of the more interesting titles to have rocked up in recent months. All the games were played on Android devices – mostly the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0, which is a near perfect size and shape for mobile gaming – but you can find …
Alun Taylor, 24 Aug 2013
Acorn's Electron

Acorn’s would-be ZX Spectrum killer, the Electron, is 30

Archaeologic The Sinclair Spectrum made the Acorn Electron inevitable. In June 1982, less than two months after Sinclair had unveiled the Spectrum - which had still not shipped, of course, even though Sinclair had promised the first Spectrums would be in punters’ hands by the end of May - Acorn co-founder Hermann Hauser was heard talking …
Tony Smith, 23 Aug 2013
Chris Shelton

UK micro pioneer Chris Shelton: The mind behind the Nascom 1

Archaeologic Chris Shelton is not well known today, yet the British microcomputer industry would have been a very much poorer place without him. Never as famous as Sir Clive Sinclair, with whom he worked in the past; Acorn’s Chris Curry, Herman Hauser, Steve Furber and Sophie Wilson; or even Tangerine and Oric’s Paul Johnson. Nonetheless, …
Tony Smith, 21 Aug 2013
MIDI clocks up yet another birthday party

Happy birthday MIDI 1.0: Getting pop stars wired for 30 years

Feature Back in the early days of computer music, Reg man Bob Dormon was a professional recording engineer and music programmer. With a little help from some of his old music gear, he documents the rise of MIDI from a creative concept to its practical applications – which have ultimately led to its recognition as a Grammy Award-winning …
Bob Dormon, 19 Aug 2013

BlackBerry: It's the end-to-endness, stupid

Analysis Going private still looks the most likely next step for BlackBerry, with Prem Watsa, the largest shareholder in the company, resigning from its board this week, apparently to put together a deal. Watsa still holds almost 10 per cent of BlackBerry stock. Yet even if BlackBerry goes private, its options remain brutal. Nobody …
Andrew Orlowski, 15 Aug 2013
Starfox

Starwing: Nintendo, Argonaut's Brit boffinry and the Super FX chip

Antique Code Show For every cock-up or failed venture made by Nintendo, the company has made some bitingly shrewd moves along the way. Hold the orthodox-looking SNES cartridge for the game Starfox in your hand and you may not realise the significance of the custom circuitry and chips contained therein. The title was Nintendo’s first big push into …
Giles Hill, 15 Aug 2013
Makerbot Replicator 2 3D printer

Buy a household 3D printer, it'll pay for itself in MONTHS!

Install a 3D printer in your house and it could pay for itself in just four months, a group of university engineers have claimed. This is according the Michigan Tech "Open Sustainability Technology Group" (also home to "3D Printers for Peace"). Dr Joshua Pearce and his acolytes say that anyone who uses an open source "self- …

Google Chromecast: Here's why it's the most important smart TV tech ever

Analysis The more details that emerge about Chromecast, Google's new streaming media dongle, the more it sounds like you get what you pay for – and let's face it, $35 isn't a lot. But don't be fooled. There's more to Chromecast than meets the eye. When the hardware hackers at iFixit did their teardown of the device, their conclusion was …
Neil McAllister, 27 Jul 2013
Quatermass and the Pit

Mars, bringer of WAR: Quatermass and the Pit

Quatermass at 60 “When I wrote the Quatermass stories, I couldn’t help drawing on the forces and the fears that affected people in the 1950s,” wrote Quatermass creator Nigel Kneale in 1996. His inspiration for Professor Bernard Quatermass’ third appearance on television had been the Notting Hill race riots that struck the London suburb during …
Tony Smith, 24 Jul 2013

Goodbye Blighty: The alternative reality of Quatermass II

Quatermass at 60 The Quatermass Experiment saw Nigel Kneale lay the foundations of what, in the era of trilogies, prequels, sequels and reboots, the entertainment biz would almost certainly call "a franchise". Kneale created Professor Bernard Quatermass, a gifted British rocket scientist whose adventures would be told and re-told eight times …
Gavin Clarke, 22 Jul 2013

1953: How Quatermass switched Britons from TV royalty to TV sci-fi

Quatermass at 60 In June 1953 millions of Brits huddled around their newly bought TVs - all two million of them - and watched their new young Queen take the Coronation Oath before God, her bishops and peers amidst the gothic splendour of Westminster Abbey. Just over two months later a similar number clustered around their sets again, to watch a …
Joe Fay, 18 Jul 2013
Pebble

It's all in the wrist: How to write apps for the Pebble smartwatch

Feature Pebble didn’t invent the smartwatch, but it has done more than most to bring the product category to the attention of World+Dog, largely thanks to its hugely successful and well-reported Kickstarter funding campaign. Not only is Pebble’s smartwatch - also called Pebble - the only product of its kind, but it remains one of the …
Tony Smith, 18 Jul 2013
Unreal

Unreal: Epic’s would-be Doom... er... Quake killer

Antique Code Show The summer months of 1998 have gone down in history as the period in which Larry Page and Sergey Brin took their PageRank web search engine technology and formally founded a company around it. They called it Google. Microsoft had just launched the internet-centric Windows 98. This writer had started working full-time for a web- …
Tony Smith, 16 Jul 2013
Sir Maurice Wilkes teaser pic

What it was like to grow up around the world's first digital computers

Centenary Ever dreamed of taking Saturday morning trips to the computer lab at Cambridge University, playing with the equipment, cannibalizing old computers, and building new machines from the bits? We're not talking metal Meccano minnows run on AA batteries, either. We’re talking actual, operating electro-mechanical machines powered by …
Gavin Clarke, 8 Jul 2013
National Lift Tower

Love in an elevator.... testing mast: The National Lift Tower

Geek's Guide to Britain The Tower rises above the flat plain of the Nene valley near Northampton - for centuries home of Britain’s shoe industry, but these days better known as the home town of 11th Doctor Matt Smith, comics auteur Alan Moore and El Reg operations manager Matt Proud - like some kind of latter-day Barad Dûr or Orthanc. The sinister …
Tony Smith, 4 Jul 2013
Prince of Persia

Prince of Persia: Baggy trousers and curvy swords

Antique Code Show Prince of Persia was surely one of the most ubiquitous Dixons demo titles of the early 1990s. Mesmerised onlookers gazed at the smooth-moving, cartoon-like animation, while bewildered sales drones looked on wondering whether any of these humans would ever manage to get past level one. Hang around long enough randomly pressing …
Giles Hill, 1 Jul 2013
TNMOC

Rise of the machines, south of Milton Keynes

Geek's Guide to Britain It’s the sounds that get you: wheels spinning, processors squeaking, the furious hammering of teleprinters, and some 1980s synth. Yes, computers really were this noisy – something you forget in an era when even the benign tap of the keyboard is giving away to the silent swoosh of finger on glass. I’m at The National Museum of …
Gavin Clarke, 29 Jun 2013

MSX: The Japanese are coming! The Japanese are coming!

Archaeologic MSX: three initials that struck fear into the heart of Britain’s nascent home computer industry. The Japanese were coming, and the UK’s technology pioneers were anxious about what that might mean. Far Eastern firms like Sony, JVC, Sanyo and Pioneer had put paid to Britain’s mass-market hi-fi makers, and others had killed the …
Tony Smith, 27 Jun 2013
LEO I, credit Leo Computing Society

LEO, the British computer that roared

Live Chat Just graduated and looking for a career in computers during tough economic times? Try breaking into tech during the 1950s when most people hadn't even heard of a computer. Yet, that's exactly what brothers Frank and Ralph Land did and within a relatively short time from the closing of their studies at the London School of …
Gavin Clarke, 26 Jun 2013
Sir Maurice Wilkes teaser pic

'Flash Gordon' tech: How Sir Maurice Wilkes made practical computers possible

Centenary Born this day 100 years ago in Cambridge, Sir Maurice Vincent Wilkes was a pivotal figure in the world of digital computing. Few would dispute the critical role played by Wilkes in developing practical computing that would ultimately lead to the accessible machines we rely upon today. Certainly for the British computing scene, …
Dave Wilby, 26 Jun 2013
Monty Python foot UHDTV

The future of cinema and TV: It’s game over for the hi-res hype

Feature Digital video guru and author of The MPEG Handbook, John Watkinson, examines the next generation of TV and film and reveals it shouldn't be anything like what we're being sold today. The next time you watch TV or go to the movies, bear in mind that you are not actually going to see any moving pictures at all. The movement is an …
John Watkinson, 25 Jun 2013

Magpie Apple plunders the competition for cosmetics, as egos run wild

Comment If you're an AAPL shareholder, there are reasons to be deeply troubled by last night's WWDC announcements of new Macs, OS X 10.9 and iOS 7. It was widely believed that "Apple was unmanageable" after its mercurial, driven co-founder Steve Jobs departed in 1985 - without Jobs, egos ran rampant and chaos ruled. Apple in 2013 is in …
Andrew Orlowski, 11 Jun 2013
Mattel Aquarius

The toy of tech: The Mattel Aquarius 30 years on

Archaeologic Once described by Creative Computing journalist David Ahl as “a machine so cheesy, they should have supplied rubber gloves to wear while using it”, the Mattel Aquarius was launched in the UK - and went on sale in the States - 30 years ago this month. Ahl, writing up a list in September 1985 of the worst computers to date, went …
Tony Smith, 10 Jun 2013
Sony Vaio L Series

Seven all-in-ones that aren't the Apple iMac - and one that is

Product Roundup Pride comes before a fall, or so they say. When Apple CEO Tim Cook unveiled the new super-slimline iMac towards the end of 2012, he started by announcing that the iMac was now the top-selling desktop computer in the US. Six months later, he has admitted that Apple launched the machine too soon, and that the complicated …
Cliff Joseph, 7 Jun 2013
Steve Jackson

Interview: Steve Jackson, role-playing game titan

Feature There aren’t many interviews – particularly when it comes to those offered because someone has a new video game to promote – that take place at the home of the interviewee. Such was the case, however, when I went to meet Steve Jackson. A man who, along with university chum Ian Livingstone, not only founded Games Workshop, but …
Mike Plant, 6 Jun 2013
Space Invader

Thirty-five years ago today: Space Invaders conquer the Earth

Antique Code Show Tomohiro Nishikado already had a string of almost a dozen arcade games under his belt when he started on what was to become the best remembered - certainly the most played - game he was ever to create: Space Invaders, released in Japan 35 years ago this month. Nishikado was an engineer who had joined vending machine company …
Tony Smith, 5 Jun 2013
Halo 4

Exclusive Halo game coming to Windows 8 and WinPhone 8

Microsoft is looking to woo gamers over to its latest mobile platforms by releasing a new entry in its popular Halo franchise exclusively for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. Halo: Spartan Assault will be a completely new game with a new story featuring familiar characters from the franchise, set in the years between Halo 3 and …

Review: Philips Hue network enabled multicolour lightbulbs

The Philips Hue lightbulbs are the Internet of Things made real: multicoloured light bulbs with network connectivity and cloud control, with only the outrageous price preventing world domination. The bulbs come beautifully packaged in a three-light starter pack, along with a controlling hub. The bulbs fit into a standard screw …
Bill Ray, 4 Jun 2013