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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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Ada Lovelace, credit 2D Goggles

Quite contrary Somerville: Behind the Ada Lovelace legend

Lovelace Day Ada Lovelace is a compellingly romantic figure, irresistible in today’s age of equal geeky opportunities. The daughter of "mad, bad and dangerous to know" Lord Byron, her mathematics-loving mother Annabella Milibanke purportedly beat the poet out of her with relentless studies in science, maths and logic. A beauty enthralled by …
Dave Wilby, 16 Oct 2012
IBM ThinkPad 700C

Happy 20th Birthday, IBM/Lenovo ThinkPad

The ThinkPad is 20 today. Sort of. Launched by IBM and now made by Lenovo, the familiar black-clad, red-nippled laptop family quickly established itself as an icon, in many ways re-establishing Big Blue's reputation as a PC maker after years in the shadow of the clone manufacturers. The first three clamshell-styled ThinkPads, …
Tony Smith, 5 Oct 2012
Dragon 32. Source: Wikimedia

The Dragon 32 is 30

Archaeologic The Dragon 32, arguably the best-known and most-successful of the UK's early 1980s home computer also-rans, was introduced 30 years ago this month. The micro's story goes back more than a year before its launch. Tony Clarke, a senior manager at Swansea-based toy company Mettoy - best known for its Corgi die-cast metal car brand …
Tony Smith, 1 Aug 2012
Newbury Labs/Grundy NewBrain

The Grundy NewBrain is 30

Archaeologic The NewBrain was launched 30 years ago this month, but its arrival, in July 1982, was a long time coming. The genesis of the computer that might have been the BBC Micro - that might, even, have been Sinclair's first home computer - goes back more than four years to 1978. The company that became known as Sinclair Radionics was …
Tony Smith, 2 Jul 2012
Acorn promotes Archimedes 300 series

Strong ARM: The Acorn Archimedes is 25

Archaeologic The Acorn Archimedes is 25 years old this month. The first machines based on the company's ARM (Acorn Risc Machine) processor were announced in June 1987, the year after the 32-bit chip itself was launched. Four versions of the Archimedes were released in 1987: the A305, A310, A410 and A440. The first two had 512KB and 1MB of …
Tony Smith, 1 Jun 2012
Commodore 64 home computer

The Commodore 64 is 30

Archaeologic Commodore took the wraps off the Commodore 64, one of two immediate follow-ups to its popular Vic-20 home computer, 30 years ago this week. The 64 made its public debut at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), though it wouldn't go into production until later in the year before going on sale in the US market in August. It didn't …
Tony Smith, 2 Jan 2012
BBC Micro

The BBC Micro turns 30

Archaeologic The BBC Micro – the machine which, along with the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, epitomised the British home computer boom of the early 1980s – was launched 30 years ago tomorrow. Unveiled on 1 December 1981 as the Model A and Model B, the BBC Micro would go on to sell over 1.5 million units before the last of the line was discontinued …
Tony Smith, 30 Nov 2011