The first Compaq computer was its eponymous Compaq Portable. It was a suitcase-sized clone of the original IBM Personal Computer, with an Intel 8088 CPU running at 4.77 MHz running Microsoft MS-DOS. It was hardly the first non-IBM computer to run MS-DOS, but it was the first legal IBM PC clone with a high degree of compatibility.
Compaq announced it in November 1982 and shipped the first unit in March 1983. It originally cost $2995 for a single-drive unit. A dual-drive unit, which was much more useful, cost $3,590.
Continue reading The first Compaq computer
I’ve been seeing some references to LOAD “$”,8,1 lately. I think this is due to Commodore 64s making appearances in pop culture. If you’re wondering what this curious command means, I’ll explain it.
Continue reading LOAD “$”,8,1 – what it means
What happened to Packard Bell? It ceased operations in the United States in 2000, after a 14-year reign of terror on the consumer market.
But there’s more to the story than that. The Packard Bell story is a brilliant piece of marketing.
Continue reading What happened to Packard Bell?
Purists prefer CRT monitors for a more authentic experience, but if you don’t mind an LCD, here’s a good LCD monitor for retro computing. Look for a Dell 2001fp manufactured in June 2005 or before. For bonus points, try to find one with a soundbar.
With any luck, you should be able to find one for under $60. Sometimes well under $60.
Continue reading An LCD monitor for retro computing
People frequently ask me for a list of common or useful Commodore 64 commands. Since the C-64’s built in operating system is more of a combination command line/Basic interpreter, it takes some getting used to if you didn’t grow up with it.
These commands assume a stock, unmodified C-64, freshly powered on. Many fast-load cartridges, ROM replacements, or so-called DOS wedge programs include shortcuts for these commands. But these commands work on any C-64 with a disk drive, modified or stock.
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Commodore’s 1541-II disk drive has a pair of DIP switches on the back to let you change its device number. DOS and Windows computers use drive letters to address its disk drives (usually A: and B:). Commodore used the numbers 8-11 to address them. Here’s how to set the 1541-II DIP switches so you can run more than one drive.
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What’s the purpose of the scroll lock key? What does the scroll lock key do? With modern windowing operating systems we don’t need it very often, but it solved a very real problem in the days of DOS.
Continue reading What does the scroll lock key do?
Commodore’s rise and fall are legendary, at least to people like me who grew up using their computers. Putting numbers to that rise and fall was more difficult. I dug up the Commodore financial history from 1978-1994 to help quantify that spectacular rise and fall. Continue reading Commodore financial history, 1978-1994
Steve Jobs was aware of the Amiga. He didn’t think much of it. Even still, Steve Jobs and the Amiga did have some connections.
Jobs’ opinion of the Commodore PET made bigger headlines after he died, but Jobs had an opinion about the Amiga, too. Both pre- and post-Commodore Amiga.
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The dark tan 1541 is the most common C-64 peripheral in existence. Its counterpart for the VIC-20, which looks exactly like it at first glance, is pretty rare. The 1540 vs. 1541 is a fairly common topic among Commodore enthusiasts.
Continue reading Commodore 1540 vs. 1541