Connecting old computers and consoles to not-as-old televisions is frequently a challenge. Sadly, the VIC-20, Commodore’s runaway bestseller from 1982, is no exception to that. Here’s how to connect a Commodore VIC-20 to a TV.
Unfortunately, there are fewer options for connecting a VIC than there are the slightly newer and more common C-64, but I’ll walk you through the options you do have.
Continue reading How to connect a Commodore VIC-20 to a TV
It’s a common question: Why were early computers beige? In some ways it seems a curious color choice today.
Due to their tendency to yellow with age, there’s some occasional debate over what color early home computers really were. But, having spent about a decade working with them starting with when they were new, I can tell you that the Commodore 64 was definitely a tan or beige color. It’s not terribly far off from a Sherwin-Williams color that they call Keystone Gray, or a Benjamin Moore color they call Bennington Gray. It’s a dark beige with gray undertones. But the color definitely runs toward tan or brown much more than it runs toward the gray color of, say, an Atari XE or Atari ST computer of the mid-late 1980s.
Early computers from Apple and Atari were similar colors. They weren’t a spot-on match for the color Commodore used, but much closer to that color than to the light beige that became associated with PC clones for a couple of decades before black came into vogue.
I have no insider knowledge but I think I can provide some insight into the design choices.
Continue reading Why were early computers beige?
Individual Computers is working on, of all things, a replacement Amiga motherboard that will fit in an Amiga 500 or Amiga 1200 case.
The board will use the AGA chipset that the Amiga 1200 used, but the board will be built using a modern process, modern materials, and as many other modern components as possible.
Continue reading Need a Commodore motherboard? Believe it or not you’re in luck
This week the Wall Street Journal ran an editorial about the right to fix our gadgets. It was surprisingly pro-consumer. The author wrote about a friend whose Samsung TV broke due to $12 worth of capacitors and how he fixed the TV, with no experience, in a couple of hours. I can relate, though I took the easy way out.
He lamented the throwaway of gadgets being unethical on several levels, and I agree. I also remember a time when it wasn’t this way.
Continue reading The freedom to fix our stuff
A few weeks ago I uncovered a stash of CDs from my college and early bachelor days that, for one reason or another, I’d never ripped to MP3 format.
When I started ripping the discs, I got one clue as to why I never ripped some of them: Some of them made the DVD drive in my Dell laptop sound like a Commodore 1541. If you ever owned a Commodore, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you haven’t ever owned a Commodore, let’s just say my drive groaned in protest very loudly, and in exchange for putting up with the noise and insanely long rip times, I received a bunch of errors and a few MP3s that played really poorly.
Continue reading CD won’t rip? Try a different drive.
“I know this will sound crazy,” my boss said. “But I miss the sound of a modem connecting.”
I don’t think it’s crazy at all. That chirping was the sound of a hard-won victory, at least if you’re of a certain age.
Continue reading I miss the sound of a modem carrier
I frequently hear lamentations about the number of women in the technology field–or the lack of them. Although there have been a number of successful women in the field, such as Meg Whitman, CEO of HP and formerly Ebay; Marissa Meyer, CEO of Yahoo; and Carly Fiorina, former CEO of HP, men outnumber women in the field and often by a large margin.
That perhaps makes it even more sad that Vector Graphic is largely forgotten today. Last week Fast Company profiled this pioneering computer company that time forgot.
Continue reading Women in tech: The forgotten story of Vector Graphic
It was 30 years ago this week that Commodore released its landmark, long-time-coming Amiga 1000 computer–the first 1990s computer in a field full of 1970s retreads.
Yes, it was a 1990s computer in 1985. It had color and sound built in, not as expensive, clunky, hard-to-configure add-ons. It could address up to 8 megabytes of memory, though it ran admirably on a mere 512 kilobytes. Most importantly, it had fully pre-emptive multitasking, something that previously only existed in commercial workstations that cost five figures.
It was so revolutionary that even NBC is acknowledging the anniversary.
Being a decade or so ahead of its time was only the beginning of its problems, unfortunately.
Continue reading How the Amiga could have lived to age 30 and beyond
IT jobs aren’t as easy to come by as they were 20 years ago, but web app pentesting is one subset of the field that I don’t see slowing down any time soon. Unfortunately it’s a poorly understood one.
But if you spent any significant time in the 1980s or early 1990s abusing commercial software, especially Commodore and Apple and Atari and Radio Shack software, I’m looking at you. Even if you don’t know it, you’re uniquely qualified to be a web app pentester.
Continue reading Looking for a career change? Consider web app pentesting
The Commodore brand is back again, this time on an Android smartphone. For a premium price, you get an Android 5.0 phone with the Commodore logo on it, preloaded with VICE and an Amiga emulator, which, between the two of them, emulate just about everything Commodore ever made, except, perhaps, the products that can be emulated with the Android calculator app.
But I don’t expect this attempt to be any more successful than earlier efforts to resurrect the brand.
Continue reading Why this latest attempt to resurrect the Commodore brand will probably flop