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Delia Derbyshire edits on a Philips EL3503 while Desmond Briscoe checks the script

Delia and the Doctor: How to cook up a tune for a Time Lord

Doctor Who @ 50 As a theme tune, Ron Grainer’s music for Doctor Who needs no introduction. But to describe this unique piece of electronic music as solely Ron Grainer’s composition would be a disservice to the considerable musical contribution made by Delia Derbyshire, who in 1963 set about realising the original score at the BBC’s Radiophonic …
Bob Dormon, 19 Nov 2013
Doctor Who: Earth and beyond

GALACTIC YO-YO: Doctor Who’s trips to Earth... and beyond

Doctor Who @ 50 We’ve seen how much of a tendency the Doctor has for visiting Earth relative to other planets in the universe, so what are the trends over his own timeline in his movements between Earth and elsewhere? When has the series felt most tied to our planet? For this chart, each story was assigned a score of +1 if it predominantly took …
Paul Smith, 19 Nov 2013
The TR1200DT-7 treadmill desk

SuperStride Me: Reg hack spends week working at 'treadmill desk'

Part 1 I turned 45 this year, a psychological milestone that rammed home the fact I'm not in great physical shape. My diet's rubbish and my usual efforts to keep trim and fit – cycling – have been curtailed by a combination of lethargy and kids' sport commitments that keep me off the road when my bike club sets out on weekends. Which …
Simon Sharwood, 18 Nov 2013
The Master

What a plot of nonsense: Ten Master master plan FAILS

Doctor Who @ 50 “I am the Master, and you will obey me.” He was the Professor Moriarty to the Doctor’s Sherlock Holmes, another renegade Time Lord and always out to conquer the universe - or destroy it. The Master The vicar of diaboly Source: BBC There’s a fan theory that the Master was no megalomaniac at all, but an agent of the Time Lords …
Tony Smith, 18 Nov 2013

Who’s Who: a Reg quest to find the BEST DOCTOR

Doctor Who @ 50 As befits a show about a Time Lord, Doctor Who straddles the generations like a colossus. Even if you weren’t there in 1963, you picked up on the Doctor as some point during his travels. That means a shared experience, regardless of whether you grew up under the influence of Harold Wilson or Maggie Thatcher, whether you watched …
Simon Sharwood, 15 Nov 2013
Daleks in Australia

DE-MON-STRATE! How a DALEK SAVED AUSTRALIA from a Dr Who drought in 1977

Doctor Who @ 50 The trike inside the racing Dalek belonged to Kerrie Dougherty’s little brother Geoffrey, who had left it on the front porch of his Sydney home alongside his smaller, older set of wheels. Kerrie had intended to use the smaller, outgrown trike when she and some friends from the University of Sydney planned to build and enter a …
Simon Sharwood, 14 Nov 2013
Doctor Who: The Companions

Are you experienced? The Doctor Who assistants that SUFFERED the most

Doctor Who @ 50 There is a range of events the Doctor’s companions can expect to encounter, from meeting his most arch of enemies to being flung bodily through time and space, and undergoing various forms of attack. One might presume the more adventures they have, the more of these experiences they’ll gain, so the radius of the slices indicates …
Paul Smith, 14 Nov 2013

How to relieve Microsoft's Surface RT piles problem

Somewhere in Redmond (at least metaphorically speaking) are several very large piles of unsold Surface RT tablet components. Why did the long-awaited and much-hyped ARM tablet running "Windows for ARM" Windows RT flop so badly, when ARM tablets running iOS for ARM from Apple are doing so well? It's not just the Modern Windows …
Liam Proven, 14 Nov 2013
Doctor Who: The Enemies

PUNISHMENT gluttons: The Dr Who monsters that come back for more

Doctor Who @ 50 Given the Doctor’s propensity for making enemies, he has faced relatively few more than twice. This is perhaps not surprising for someone who can travel anywhere in the whole history of the entire universe – the chances of bumping into someone again should be low. But the demands of making an adventure TV series mean return …
Paul Smith, 13 Nov 2013
Research Machines 380Z

The micro YOU used in school: The story of the Research Machines 380Z

Archaeologic If you’re a British techie of a certain age, there’s only one microcomputer that defines your first memories of computing at school. No, not Acorn’s BBC Micro – the Research Machines 380Z. While Acorn was still knocking up the Proton, the machine being designed as the successor to the Atom, and while the BBC was pondering how it …
Tony Smith, 13 Nov 2013
Doctor Who

Ten top stories from New Who

Doctor Who @ 50 We’ve already listed the stories that mark the very best that the many production teams behind the classic years of Doctor Who during the 1960s, 70s and 80s brought to our TV screens. It seems only fair, then, to do the same for the rebooted series’ run. Doctor Who returned in April 2005 with the story Rose, and there have been …
Tony Smith, 12 Nov 2013
BMW i3

ULTIMATE ELECTRIC driving machine? Yes, it’s the BMW i3 e-car

First Drive People can sometimes behave like sheep. They will go somewhere, do something or buy a certain product simply because other people are doing so or because they recognise the brand. Call it consumer herd mentality. It’s one reason why the Toyota Prius sells so well in the States. BMW i3 Brands Hatch bound: the BMW i3 Here in …
Alun Taylor, 12 Nov 2013
The Talons of Weng-Chiang

Doctor Who nicked my plot and all I got was a mention in this lousy feature

Doctor Who @ 50 There’s no question: blocked Doctor Who writers and Script Editors - or Story Editors as they were in the very early days - frequently turned to movies and books for inspiration. They regularly resorted to, ahem, "borrowing" plots and ideas from famous flicks and notorious novels for the basis for their Doctor Who stories. …
Tony Smith, 11 Nov 2013
Doctor Who McCoy titles

Classic telly FX tech: How the Tardis flew before the CGI era

Doctor Who @ 50 These days it’s all done with computers, of course. CGI – short for Computer-Generated Images, or Imagery – was a well established visual effects technique long before Doctor Who was rebooted in 2005, so it was never in doubt that on-set mechanical effects would be duly combined with CGI visuals during post-production. Both the …
Tony Smith, 8 Nov 2013
Dalek Attack

The CURSE of WHO: WHY has there never been a decent videogame with the Doctor?

Doctor Who @ 50 Doctor Who has not done well as part of the videogame industry. There have been a fair number of professionally-made games based on the series, but few with the BBC’s official blessing and of them an even smaller number that were actually worth playing for any length of time. "Good" in this context doesn’t necessarily mean that …
Tony Smith, 7 Nov 2013
Doctor Who Locations

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