Cyrix processor chips: In memoriam

Cyrix processor chips: In memoriam

Cyrix was a scrappy, up and coming CPU manufacturer in the 1990s. They never had Intel’s name recognition, but for a few years they made life more difficult for its larger rivals, Intel and AMD. For a while, Cyrix processor chips were a popular choice for value-conscious PC buyers.

Cyrix contributed a lot of confusing alphabet soup to the 1990s CPU market, and their chips usually weren’t the highest-performing chips available. But they usually did provide good value for the money, even though Cyrix never was a premium brand.

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Commodore 1571 disk drive

The Commodore 1571 was Commodore’s successor to the notorious 1541 disk drive. It addressed many of the shortcomings of the 1541, partly because Commodore had more time to get it right this time. It was the same color and style as the C-128. And they worked as well together as they looked together. It was a high-end drive, but I hesitate to call it Commodore’s top-end 5.25-inch drive. I’d give that distinction to the SFD-1001.

Commodore introduced the 1571 in 1985 at a price of $299 US. It was a double-sided, double density 5.25-inch disk drive that was faster than the 1541 when you used it with the 128, and maintained good backward compatibility with the 1541 when needed.

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FPGA vs retro hardware

FPGA vs retro hardware

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.

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Monitor for a Commodore VIC-20

Monitor for a Commodore VIC-20

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.

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The killer POKE for the Commodore PET

The killer POKE for the Commodore PET

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.

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Genesis vs SNES: Battle of the 16-bit consoles

Genesis vs SNES: Battle of the 16-bit consoles

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.

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