The Amstrad PC1512 and PC1640 were inexpensive Korean-made PCs that took Europe by storm in the mid 1980s. Amstrad was the UK’s largest computer maker, and it hoped to replicate that success in the United States as well. Here’s an overview of those machines, and why that effort was less than an overwhelming success.
My roundup of Commodore motherboards turned up on a vintage computer discussion board. A minor aside that I mentioned in passing turned into a major topic of discussion. And then the conversation turned in an entirely different direction. What about going with an FPGA solution, rather than vintage hardware? With an FPGA approach you can be certain you’re getting what you want. But what are the drawbacks of FPGA vs retro hardware, if any?
A purist will object to modern FPGA approaches, usually for more than one reason. But there can be practical advantages to an FPGA solution, and it’s also possible to blend it with a more traditional approach.
Someone asked in a vintage computer forum recently what the correct monitor would be to use with a VIC-20. Commodore never sold a white monitor the same color as the VIC. Its first color monitor was the 1701, which matched the C-64. If you want a period correct Commodore VIC-20 monitor, you have a couple of options. If you want a holy grail story, the matching monitor for the VIC-20 is a good one.
Commodore cancelled the VIC-1510 monitor for the VIC-20. But there were some third party monitors from the 1980s that look the part.
When I was a kid, computer science textbooks taught a language called Basic. They explained various commands, including POKE, which changed values in memory, or on a chip register. The books went out of their way to explain that you can’t harm a computer with a command, even a POKE. But it turned out there was an exception–the infamous POKE 59498,62 on the Commodore PET. The infamous killer POKE.
The killer POKE sped up the Commodore PET’s video output at the expense of degrading the video quality. The tradeoff was worth it, except it could damage the machine over time.
The IBM PS/Valuepoint was IBM’s attempt to address public objections to the IBM PS/2 series. Introduced in October 1992, they were the most clone-like IBM business desktops since the IBM PC/AT. As the name suggests, they were designed to be price competitive with the higher-end PC clones like a Compaq Deskpro. IBM sold them alongside the PS/1 and PS/2.
The Sega Genesis and Nintendo SNES were natural rivals. They weren’t the only 16-bit game consoles of their era, but they ended up being the two most popular. Sega leapfrogged Nintendo with the Genesis, and the SNES was Nintendo’s answer. Let’s take a look at the Genesis vs SNES.
Overall the SNES was the better console of the two and its popularity reflects that. But the Genesis had its moments, so it retains a following today, even if it has to stand in the shadow of the SNES.
The Sega Genesis connects to a TV in much the same way as other consoles of similar vintage. But there are some dangers unique to the Genesis that give you an opportunity to damage either the console or your TV. We certainly don’t want that. Here’s how to hook up a Sega Genesis to a TV without damaging either.
Some Genesis parts are interchangeable with other systems, but not universally. That means it’s very important to verify the AC adapter you plan to use, as well as the AV cable you want to use, to avoid damage to your console, your TV, or both.
Commodore 64 power supplies are notoriously unsafe to use. As a result, all Commodore power supplies have a bad reputation. I won’t say it’s unfair. But it means questions about the Commodore 128 power supply come up frequently on vintage computer discussion groups. Is the Commodore 128 power supply safe to use? The short answer is yes. Here’s why.
Ah, the 301 keyboard error. The POST error you might be able to fix with your bare hands, or could require a soldering iron. Hopefully that doesn’t scare you off. It’s more frequently a pretty easy fix, especially if the PC isn’t terribly old.
The HP Touchpad tablet was, dare I say it, the biggest technological flop of the 2010s. It was HP’s attempt to compete head to head with Apple with a premium-priced tablet that didn’t run Android and, of course, didn’t run Apple’s iOS. Instead it ran WebOS, an operating system it acquired from Palm, Inc.
HP didn’t meet expectations with the Touchpad, and discontinued it after just 50 days on the market. But there are lessons to learn from HP’s experience with its tablet, even if it’s largely forgotten today. Read more