The iconic Nintendo NES controller tends to be fairly reliable, because it’s a simple design. It’s much less prone to breaking than, say, the joysticks that came with an Atari 2600. But the controllers can still wear down over the decades. Fortunately it’s easy to give them a tuneup. Here’s how to fix NES controllers yourself, with simple tools and household cleaners.
There’s not much that goes wrong with an Atari 2600. Virtually every problem I’ve ever found with them has to do with the electrical path. That means the power supply, the power switch, or the voltage regulator. Outside of those three parts, I’ve never seen a problem with one. Let’s talk about the Atari 2600 voltage regulator and troubleshooting the rest of the internal electrical path.
The NEC V20 was an Intel 8088 compatible CPU that ran slightly faster. It was a niche CPU in the 1980s and 1990s but was a popular cheap upgrade for power users, especially in instances where motherboard swaps were impractical. It retains a following with retro computing enthusiasts today.
The NEC V20 was pin-compatible with the Intel 8088 but included some unique forward and backward compatibility features. It included the 80186 instruction set and could also emulate the Intel 8080, in addition to being faster than the 8088.
The Timex Sinclair 2068 was the US version of the much more popular Sinclair ZX Spectrum, one of the most successful home computers of the 1980s in the UK. The 2068 unfortunately didn’t match its British brother’s success.
Timex withrew from the US computer market in February 1984, soon after the release of the Timex Sinclair 2068, one of the early casualties of the home computer wars. The 2068 proved to be the last of Timex’s home computers.
What is a phreaker in hacking or IT terms? Phreaking is largely obsolete and doesn’t happen much anymore, but it’s an important historical concept in computer security. While phreaking wasn’t the first form of hacking, it’s probably the first example of hacking in a modern sense.
Phreaking was hacking the phone system, usually to make long distance calls for free. Some people phreaked for the thrill of it, but many of them did it because they made more long distance calls than they could afford. Two famous phreakers from the 1970s were Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, the co-founders of Apple.
Whether you’re looking to clean it or service it, sometimes it’s necessary to take apart an Atari 2600 console. The iconic older models can be a little tricky to take apart and put back together, but they aren’t super difficult. Here’s how to disassemble an Atari 2600 VCS.
An Atari 2600 or VCS is held together by 4-6 screws on the underside. The two screws at the front of the console sit at a conventional 90-degree angle, while the rear screws sit at a tricky 60-degree angle.
Bobson Dugnutt was a fictional baseball player in the 1994 console game Fighting Baseball, the Japanese version of MLBPA baseball published by EA. He was a bench player for the Milwaukee franchise, a backup outfielder and pinch hitter.
Lack of a license to use the real names of baseball players led to the game designers using some creativity to come up with believable-sounding names. Bobson Dugnutt was the most absurd name in the meme inspired by the game.
I had a 286 motherboard from the late 1980s with battery damage. A leaky battery corroded two traces completely through, severing them and rendering the board inoperable. Here’s how I repaired the damaged PCB traces with wire.
Fixing broken traces is a bit of a lost art, because it’s easier to just swap the board. But when the board is rare and/or expensive, it makes sense to repair the broken traces instead. These types of repairs can be a bit intimidating, but they’re easier than replacing a chip. And then you’ve saved a scarce board from oblivion.
What was the most popular Commodore 64 monitor? What’s the best one today? Those aren’t quite as straightforward questions as they might seem. While there are a small number of clear-cut favorites, the truth is there were lots of different monitors C-64 users used in the 80s. And there are lots of options today too.
The “proper,” period-correct monitor for a Commodore 64 is the brown 1701 or 1702 for the breadbin-style C-64, or the beige 1802 for the streamlined C-64C. But there were lots of other third-party monitors, and many people used television sets.
I thought the debate ended when the file format went obsolete, but then GIF came back as an animated file format. And with it came the argument of how to pronounce GIF. Is it JIF or GIF?
Steve White, the inventor of the file format, pronounces it JIF, and in the 80s, so did just about everyone else. In the mid 90s, pronouncing it like GIFT without the “T” became common, the logic being that the “G” stands for “Graphics,” not “Jraphics.”