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Planet hopper: The Earthly destinations of Doctor Who

Doctor Who @ 50 The Doctor has often stated that the Earth is quite his favourite planet, and it’s by far his most frequent destination. Yet judging by his televised adventures, he has seen surprisingly little of it. He has barely visited a tenth of all the countries of the world, and the vast majority of his escapades have taken place in …
Paul Smith, 6 Nov 2013
Doctor Who: Pyramids of Mars

Ten top stories from Classic Doctor Who

Doctor Who @ 50 ‘Classic’ is a word that was already worn out back in the mid-1980s when fanzine editors and contributors couldn’t help themselves attach it to any Doctor Who story they were particularly keen on, whatever its merits. Thirty-odd years on, the word is no less overused, but the release of stories on VHS and, later, DVD has helped …
Tony Smith, 5 Nov 2013
Call of Duty: Ghosts

OH what a LOVELY, well-rendered WAR: Yes, it’s 'Call of Duty: Ghosts'

Roundup2 The latest Call of Duty game, Ghosts, is out today, and already websites’ game reviewers are tripping over themselves to reach for the clicks they hope the new Infinity Ward title will win them. The fact is, fans will have bought it already, in colossal numbers, leaving the reviews to be read when the gaming’s done and the …
Hans Grenade, 5 Nov 2013
Battlefield 4

Forget 'Call of Duty: Ghosts' - how does its rival from EA stack up?

Review To borrow from football parlance, Battlefield 4 is your proverbial game of two halves. There’s the dry single-player campaign that, for all its bluster, offers few new ideas. Then there’s the juicy multiplayer version that will pull you in and devour your life. Battlefield 4 Squad manoeuvres My usual approach to writing games …
Mike Plant, 5 Nov 2013
Days of the Doctors

Staying power: The small screen spans of the eleven Doctor Whos

Doctor Who @ 50 Here we see the total running times of each Doctor’s regular episodes in which they were the lead – so not counting return appearances with a later Doctor; Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee in The Five Doctors, for instance. With seven years in the role under his belt, Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor is clearly the longest serving, …
Paul Smith, 4 Nov 2013
Screenshot from Doctor Who serial "The Green Death"

Digital deviants: The many MAD COMPUTERS of Doctor Who

Doctor Who @ 50 The Doctor has always made use of a range of remarkable technologies in his travels, including the Tardis, his Sonic Screwdriver and a whole host of homebrewed devices and contraptions. But there’s one area of technology that he seems to have trouble with, and that’s computers. Specifically, apart from his own “mobile computer …
Alone in the Dark

Ding-dong, Cthulu calling: Infogrames’ 1992 Alone in the Dark

Antique Code Show There was a time when you were considered a bit of a sissy if a computer game scared you. Yet along with the numerous innovations Alone in the Dark brought to the gaming world, it was one of the first titles to genuinely put the shits up anyone brave enough to play it. Creaky floorboards, distant howls, Hitchcock camera angles, …
Giles Hill, 31 Oct 2013
Batman: Arkham Origins

HOLY how-did-we-get-here?: Batman Arkham Origins

Review It might be that I’m just a Batman fan, it might be that I’ve yet to be jaded by the Arkham series – certainly not to the extent that I am with the Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed franchises – but I just can’t help but like Origins. Set on one particularly hectic Christmas Eve during the early days of Bruce Wayne’s caped …
Mike Plant, 30 Oct 2013
Enterprise 64

Phantom Flan flinger: The story of the Elan Enterprise 128

Archaeologic Despite its name, Intelligent Software also had a nice little sideline designing hardware. Founded in 1981 by international chess champion David Levy and chess writer Kevin O’Connell, the company was best known for its chess programs, in particular Cyrus and SciSys Chess Champion. But it also developed chess computers for toy …
Tony Smith, 24 Oct 2013
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