When you hear someone over the age of 50 talk about computers, or read old computer magazines from the 1980s, you may hear or see the phrase IBM compatible, or less commonly, PC compatible. What does IBM compatible mean? What does PC compatible mean? I’ll explain.
These phrases sound a bit odd today. After all, IBM made its last personal computer in 2003. And isn’t every PC just a PC? It wasn’t always. And that’s why we used to make a distinction.
Leading Edge is a little-remembered 1980s brand of computers. Based out of Canton, Mass., it was a pioneer of manufacturing low-cost PCs in the Far East and importing them for sale in the United States. Leading Edge computers were tremendously successful in the mid/late 1980s because they undercut companies like Commodore in price.
Dan Bowman kindly pointed me to former Commodore engineer Bil Herd’s discussion of the ill-fated Commodore TED machines on Hackaday. Here in the States, few remember the TED specifically, but some people may remember that oddball Commodore Plus 4 that closeout companies sold for $79 in 1985 and 1986. The Commodore Plus 4 was one of those TED machines. So was the Commodore 16.
What went wrong with those machines? Commodore miscalculated what the market was doing. The TED was a solution to too many problems, and ended up not solving any of them all that well. Read more
AOL, also known as America Online, wasn’t the first online service. But it became the biggest and most popular one. For many people of a certain age, AOL was their first experience with a modem, or with the Internet. Let’s take a look back at AOL history and how its legacy affects things even today.
AOL long had a reputation as a place where inexperienced, unsophisticated computer users hung out, but the company had a long streak of innovation and was ahead of its time in many regards. I’ll bet you had no idea the history of America Online begins way back in 1983. And you may also be surprised to hear the company still exists, though in a different form, even today.
Micron Computers was a moderately successful attempt by Micron Technology, a maker of computer memory chips, to market PCs. First released in 1995, the venture succeeded very well at first, and survived in the marketplace until 2008. Although not widely remembered today, Micron made dependable, reliable PCs at a fair price.
Hang around enough people like me who’ve been in IT for decades and eventually the Y2K problem comes up. But what was the Y2K problem? What was the solution? And was the problem overblown?
I was in an odd position. I argued in 1999 and 2000 that any problems we had would be relatively minor. But I don’t think the efforts to fix Y2K were overblown. I may be in the minority opinion on that but I’ll explain.
Anyone old enough to have played with an original Nintendo NES knows the problem: You plug in the cartridge, turn on the system, and get a blank screen and the power light blinks at you. The schoolyard fix is to take out the cartridge, blow into it, then put it back into the system. Then, with a little luck, you can play your game. The trouble is, that’s just a short-term fix. In the long run, it makes the problem worse and eventually the system can’t play games at all. The solution is to clean them. Here’s a process for cleaning NES games.
I’ve talked before about the disadvantages of the Intel 8086. But in spite of its weaknesses, it won. The CPU you are using right now descended from it. Even if you’re reading this on a smartphone, the server that sent the page to your smartphone has an Intel 8086 descendant in it. So what are some advantages of Intel processors? They won for a reason.
The Coleco Adam computer was a 1983 attempt by toy and game console maker Coleco to enter the growing home computer market. Critics and consumers looked forward to the computer, but it never lived up to that anticipation. Coleco discontinued the Adam in 1985. Nevertheless, the Adam remains an interesting might-have-been.
Intel’s 8088 and 8086 chips were close relatives that came out in the late 1970s and became popular in the 1980s thanks to the IBM PC and its compatibles. The chips were very similar and used the same software, but there were some differences. Here’s a look at 8088 vs 8086.