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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 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
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
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 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
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
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
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
USS Enterprise in Ascii

Star Trek: The original computer game

Antique Code Show Ah, the simple pleasures of the earliest computer games - and you don’t get much earlier than 1971. As Star Trek: Into Darkness warps onto UK cinema screens this weekend, we look back at not only the first attempt to bring the franchise to computer screens, but what was arguably one of the most popular, certainly the most …
Tony Smith, 3 May 2013
Mosaic spinning world logo

Mosaic turns 20: Let's fire up the old girl, show her the web today

NCSA Mosaic - marking its 20th anniversary this week - was not the first web browser, but it was the first to be widely used. Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the web, describes its early days in his book Weaving the Web. Berners-Lee states that the first browser - WorldWideWeb - was text-based, and he had an early version working …
Tim Anderson, 26 Apr 2013
Sord M5

Sord drawn: The story of the M5 micro

Archaeologic It took Japanese micro maker Sord more than six months to launch its M5 home computer in the UK, but in April 1983, the company said the Z80A-based machine would finally go on sale during the following month - half a year after it was originally scheduled to arrive over here. It was a bold move. Even in November 1982, when the …
Tony Smith, 23 Apr 2013
Sonic X-treme

Sonic the Hedgehog

Antique Code Show Pocket-money saved, game ordered, wait for the postman and... nothing. A friend had the game already – rubbing salt into the wound – yet my journey of anticipation home from school each day still arrived at a big hole of spiky blue hedgehog nothingness. The original Sonic the Hedgehog was especially hyped throughout its long …
Giles Hill, 11 Apr 2013
Sinclair Research ZX81

The ten SEXIEST computers of ALL TIME

Product Round-up Does a computer need to look sexy? You might say that the looks of such a pragmatic gadget don’t matter. After all, most of us have, at one time or another, had to make do with bland, beige boxes almost exactly like everyone else’s bland, beige box, and it didn't hinder us from getting the job done, or made play any the less …
Tony Smith, 9 Apr 2013

Reg man bested in geek-to-geek combat - in World War 3 nerve centre

Geek's Guide to Britain During the Cold War, Neatishead in Norfolk was theoretically the worst place in the UK to live: the nearby RAF base would be target Number One if the Russians nuked us. This was brought home to me in a guided tour by a retired officer, whose old job was to run Blighty’s air defence. Standing in the 1980s-era Cold War control …
Dominic Connor, 28 Mar 2013
Reading tape LEO II computer, photo: Science Museum / SSPL

Blighty's revolutionary Cold War teashop computer - and Nigella Lawson

Geek's Guide to Britain The Victorian offices were bulldozed long ago for a stack of flats and mirrored offices, and there's not a single indication to the significance of this site - or what happened here. This isn't the scene of a lost battle, and the bones of a missing Plantagenet king do not slumber beneath the car park serving the offices. Sixty- …
Gavin Clarke, 27 Mar 2013
Camputers' Lynx

The Lynx effect: The story of Camputers' mighty micro

Archaeologic Not all of the early 1980s British home computers were fated to be as successful as Sinclair’s ZX series or Acorn's BBC Micro. Many were destined instead to be loved solely by keen but small communities of owners. For all these users’ enthusiasm, there were too few of them to sustain the cost of developing, manufacturing, …
Tony Smith, 20 Mar 2013