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Sinclair ZX Spectrum

ZX Spectrum cassette player lost? There's an app for that

Those with a working ZX Spectrum in their cupboards but lacking a working cassette deck with which to load programs need fret no more: there's an app for that. The app in question, Speccy Tape for iOS, allows users to access the World of Spectrum database of abandonware. Once loaded into an iOS device, it then plays back the …
Simon Sharwood, 10 May 2013
Commodore 64

Retro-tech fan seeks cash for Commodore 64 clones

A brand new 1982-style Commodore 64 for just $75 (£48)? Yes, it is crazy, but that’s not stopping one enterprising retro-tech fan from trying to make it happen. Daniel Biehl has a Commodore 64 - a real one - but he knows it won’t last forever. So he wants to build a machine that will run all the C64 software out there and work …
Tony Smith, 9 May 2013
Detail of Apple 1 Board

You think Macs are expensive? Get a load of this $260,000+ Apple

A hoary old Apple I computer signed by Steve Wozniak is set to fetch at least $260,000 at auction. The computer comes from the stone age of computing and dates back to 1976, when Steve Jobs had just gotten over his first few acid trips and was beginning to flog computers from his parents' garage. The Apple godhead sold his …
Jasper Hamill, 3 May 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
Project Unity

Hardware hacker unifies 15 retro consoles in format frenzy

Most fans of old-skool videogame hardware rely on emulators for their retro gaming kicks. But not some fellow going by the handle Bacteria. Three years ago, he decided he needed 15 original games consoles in his living room and that he wanted them all in a single box. Project Unity Game cube: the console offering a feast of …
Tony Smith, 18 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

Gates and Allen reshoot historic 1981 Microsoft photo

One of the most iconic photos from the history of Microsoft, featuring a lanky young Bill Gates perched next to his coding mentor (the way he tells it) Paul Allen, has been recreated at Seattle's Living Computing Museum. Bill Gates and Paul Allen 1981 Stand back ladies, form a line In a 1981 publicity shot for the then …
Iain Thomson, 4 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
SimCity 4

SimCity 4

Antique Code Show There’s a prevalent feeling throughout the whole of SimCity 4 that this is the game that Will Wright and Maxis would have liked to have made from day one. That is if graphics technology and PC hardware had been up to the task when the original SimCity was in development. The 2003 release was expanded in both the macro and the …
Mike Plant, 14 Mar 2013
Sinclair ZX Microdrive

Infinite loop: the Sinclair ZX Microdrive story

Archaeologic They would, Clive Sinclair claimed on 23 April 1982, revolutionise home computer storage. Significantly cheaper than the established 5.25-inch and emerging 3.5-inch floppy drives of the time - though not as capacious or as fast to serve up files - ‘Uncle’ Clive’s new toy would “change the face of personal computing”, Sinclair …
Tony Smith, 13 Mar 2013
Intel Centrino logo

Intel's Centrino notebook platform is 10 years old

Ten years ago, Intel decided notebook computers needed a boost. The technology wasn’t new, but while a fair few mobile workers had portable computers, and some even had modem cards or were using Bluetooth-connected phones to reach the internet, laptops weren’t seen as a truly mobile networkable device. And so the chip maker …
Tony Smith, 12 Mar 2013
SimCity 3000

SimCity 3000

Antique Code Show I don’t know if my gaming habits had started to become dominated by RTS and FPS games by the time SimCity 3000 made its delayed debut in 1999, but for some reason I don’t recall it registering on my radar. Strange, for not only was SimCity 2000 one of my favourite games - as it remains to this day - but its sequel was also a …
Mike Plant, 7 Mar 2013
Space Invader

Twenty classic arcade games

I’d better say it from the outset: picking 20 all-time arcade game classics is a nightmarish task, not simply because of the almost endless array of titles available to choose from, but because of all the really good ones you have to omit. Space Invader Here then, are the titles that made the cut, either because they have had …
Giles Hill, 5 Mar 2013
bug on keyboard

Keyboard, you're not my type

Something for the Weekend, Sir? When I chose to wave goodbye to wage slavery by turning freelance some (cough) 19 years ago, it was during an era in which the principal means of electronic communication between IT journalists was called Cix. Computers were powered by coke burners and required a team of navvies to work the bellows; monetary currency comprised …
SimCity 2000

SimCity 2000

Antique Code Show The summer of 1995, I remember it well. I was but a slip of lad at the time, slightly console obsessed perhaps, but about to embark on a period of PC gaming that would put me at the forefront of cutting-edge videogame technology, nearly bankrupting my parents as I went. It was my birthday and I’d just finished hooking up my …
Mike Plant, 1 Mar 2013
A still from Victory of the Daleks. Pic: BBC

Dalek designer Ray Cusick passes away aged 84

The designer of iconic Dr Who villain the Daleks has died. 84 year-old Ray Cusick died in his sleep over the weekend, reportedly of heart failure. Dr Who Magazine broke the news with a Tweet. It's with great sadness that we report the death of Ray Cusick -the designer of the Daleks. Half a century on, his iconic design lives …
Simon Sharwood, 24 Feb 2013

Official: Cloud computing invented by two technophobic old geezers

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Not a day goes by without a dozen press releases on the topic of cloud computing thrusting their way into my inbox (ooh, matron). I think I’ve made my opinions of the cloud con clear enough in previous columns but for the benefit of newer readers, let’s just say that I think it’s cock. Well, that is, cloud computing itself isn’t …
Alistair Dabbs, 22 Feb 2013
SimCity

SimCity Classic

Antique Code Show Doughnuts. Doughnuts are what I think of when someone mentions SimCity in my vicinity. Not because I used to cram them into my face, Homer Simpson-style, while I played, but rather because, back in my childhood, I was obsessed with arranging my own ‘simmed’ city in perfect concentric 'doughnuts'. Squares in three-by-three …
Mike Plant, 22 Feb 2013
Electronic waste dump in China

Paper computers: Not mere pulp fiction

Something for the Weekend, Sir? I love it when I read or hear the phrase “Print is dead”. Idiocy is so enthralling. I am fascinated by people who can shamelessly proclaim their own ignorance in public with such determination. Tomorrows World Elliot light pen 1967 Future tech: Elliot light pen shown on Tomorrow's World in 1967 How many trees could you grow in …
Oric-1. Source: Retro Bytes Portal

The Oric-1 is 30

Archaeologic The Oric-1, which was formally launched 30 years ago this week, was produced with one thing in mind: to take on Sir Clive Sinclair at his own game. “The Oric is a competitor for the Spectrum,” one of Oric developer Tangerine Computer Systems’ software team, Paul Kaufman, emphatically told members of the press. “We are convinced …
Tony Smith, 28 Jan 2013
Harwell Dekatron

Brit 2.5-tonne nuke calculator is World's Oldest Working Computer

Britain's hefty Harwell Dekatron is back in the Guinness Book of World Records after being recognised - for the second time - as the world's oldest working digital computer. The 2.5-tonne number-crunching goliath began life at the Atomic Energy Research Establishment in Harwell, Oxfordshire, in 1951, and put reliability over …
Anna Leach, 25 Jan 2013
Steve Jobs and the Apple Lisa

Happy birthday, Lisa: Apple's slow but heavy workhorse turns 30

Read a press release from Apple in the 1990s and it'll end with something along the lines of: “Apple ignited the personal computer revolution in the 1970s with the Apple II and reinvented the personal computer in the 1980s with the Macintosh.” All of which is true up to a point, but the statement does overlook the product that …
Bob Dormon, 18 Jan 2013
EDSAC

Bletchley Park boffins start trailblazer EDSAC computer rebuild

Physical production of a replica of EDSAC, aka the Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator, has at last begun at The National Museum of Computing, located at World War II crypto centre Bletchley Park. EDSAC is an early computer originally put together at Cambridge University in the late 1940s. The initial work on the …
Tony Smith, 9 Jan 2013
1983 PCN/MRIB UK home computer charts teaser

MEGAGRAPH: 1983's UK home computer chart toppers

Archaeologic How popular - relatively speaking - was your early 1980s home computer? Thanks to some old chart data, we can tell you. Back in the day - 1983, to be precise - VNU Business Publications’ launched Personal Computer News, a glossy magazine pitched against the weekly incumbent, Sunshine’s newsprint Popular Computing Weekly. A …
Tony Smith, 3 Jan 2013

The amazing magical LED: Has it really been fifty years already?

Next time I hear Coldplay festively crooning "May all your troubles soon be gone, Oh Christmas Lights keep shinin' on," I'd like to think that far from lamenting some lost love, they're paying solemn tribute to the humble but illuminating LED. The Light Emitting Diode celebrated its 50th anniversary this year. It's easy to …
Dave Wilby, 29 Dec 2012
Lilienfeld's transistor

Happy birthday, Transistor

The transistor, the ubiquitous building block of all electronic circuits, will be 65 years old on Sunday. The device is jointly credited to William Shockley (1910-1989), John Bardeen (1908-1991) and Walter Brattain (1902-1987), and it was Bardeen and Brattain who operated the first working point-contact transistor during an …
Tony Smith, 14 Dec 2012
Apple II with monitor and floppy-disk drives

The 30-year-old prank that became the first computer virus

To the author of ‪Elk Cloner‬, the first computer virus to be released outside of the lab, it’s sad that, 30 years after the self-replicating code's appearance, the industry has yet to come up with a secure operating system. When Rich Skrenta, created Elk Cloner as a prank in February 1982, he was a 15-year-old high school …
John Leyden, 14 Dec 2012
iConnectMIDI

MIDI: 30 years old... almost

Despite rumours to the contrary, MIDI is not 30 years old today. The concept is older and its actual adoption as an industry standard gets its birthday next summer. Yet as industry standards go, it’s certainly been a robust one. As with a lot of technology standards – remember draft-n Wi-Fi? – manufacturers don't want to hang …
Bob Dormon, 28 Nov 2012
The Register breaking news

The early days of PCs as seen through DEAD TREES

Feature Thirty years ago, Time Magazine broke its 86-year tradition of naming a Man of the Year, and instead anointed its first Machine of the Year: The Computer. Time didn't deliver this news via www.time.com nor an HTML-encrusted email blast, but rather by macerated wood pulp pressed into sheets and coated with ink, cut into …
Rik Myslewski, 23 Nov 2012
Thorn EMI Liberator

Liberator: the untold story of the first British laptop part 3

Archaeologic In the early 1980s, civil servant Bernard Terry devised a 'portable text processor' to make his fellow civil servants more productive in the office and out. Electronics giant Thorn EMI designed the machine with help of a team of former Dragon Data engineers. As the Liberator, it launched in September 1985 to become the first …
Tony Smith, 16 Nov 2012
The Register breaking news

Nazi Enigma encoding machine sells in London for over £80k

A rare German WWII Enigma cipher machine has beat its auction estimate in London, selling for £85,250. Bonhams auctioneers had put a £40,000 to £60,000 estimate on the pristine 1941 oak model coding device, used by the Nazis to encrypt and decode messages sent between the military and their commanders. "Enigma machines come up …
Thorn EMI Liberator

Liberator: the untold story of the first British laptop part 2

Archaeologic It is 1984 and Bernard Terry, a civil servant, has devised a 'portable text processor' to make his fellow civil servants more productive in the office and out. Electronics giant Thorn EMI has agreed to manufacturer the machine, which will eventually be called the Liberator and become Britain's first laptop computer. Thorn has …
Tony Smith, 14 Nov 2012
Thorn EMI Liberator

Liberator: the untold story of the first British laptop part 1

Archaeologic In 1985, the UK home computer boom was over. Those computer manufacturers who had survived the sales wasteland that was Christmas 1984 quickly began to turn their attention away from the home users they had courted through the first half of the 1980s to the growing and potentially much more lucrative business market. The IBM PC …
Tony Smith, 12 Nov 2012
Dom Joly

20 years of GSM digital mobile phones

Twenty years ago today, on 9 November 1992, Nokia launched the world's first commercially available GSM digital mobile phone - the Nokia 1011 - strengthening consumer interest in the world of mobile connectivity. The candybar device - which weighed a whopping 475g and could sustain a conversation for no more than 90 minutes - …
Caleb Cox, 9 Nov 2012
The Register breaking news

Pristine WWII German Enigma machine could be yours

A World War II German Enigma cipher machine is on the block at Bonhams, the London auction house, this month. The 1941 oak model, described as an "extremely rare example", is expected to go under the hammer on 14 November for an estimated £40,000-£60,000. In 2010, a 1939 Enigma fetched £67,250 at auction - that model was …
Drew Cullen, 2 Nov 2012
ZX80

A history of personal computing in 20 objects part 2

Archaeologic Personal computing may have originally been more ‘computing’ than ‘personal, but that changed in the late 1970s in the US and, in the UK, during the early 1980s. In the first part of ‘A History of Personal Computing on 20 Objects’, we saw how computing went from maths gadgets to first mechanical, then electromechanical and …
Tony Smith, 2 Nov 2012
Babbage Difference Engine No. 1

A history of personal computing in 20 objects part 1

Archaeologic Personal computing. Personal. Computing. We take both aspects so completely for granted these days, it's almost impossible to think of a time when computing wasn't personal - or when there was no electronic or mechanical computing. To get from there to here, we've gone from a time when 'computers' were people able to do perform …
Tony Smith, 1 Nov 2012