Timex Sinclair 1500: The ZX81 in Spectrum clothing

Timex Sinclair 1500: The ZX81 in Spectrum clothing

The Timex Sinclair 1500 was Timex’s ill-fated attempt to fix what went wrong with the Timex Sinclair 1000. It was completely compatible with the 1000 and the Sinclair ZX81, but sported 16K of RAM and a better keyboard. These were welcome improvements, but they weren’t enough in the hyper competitive 1983 U.S. computer market.

The Timex Sinclair 1500 was essentially a Sinclair ZX81 with more memory in a Sinclair Spectrum case. Released in July 1983 at a price of $80, it wasn’t successful and Timex withdrew from the market in February 1984.

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TRS-80 MC-10: Radio Shack’s cheapest computer

TRS-80 MC-10: Radio Shack’s cheapest computer

The TRS-80 MC-10 was a really cheap beginner’s home computer from 1983, designed to compete with cheap computers from Timex. It was a little bit too limited and perhaps not quite cheap enough, so it only lasted a year on the market.

Priced at $119, the TRS-80 MC-10 was Radio Shack’s entry-level computer in 1983 and 1984. Tandy overestimated the demand for cheap, limited computers and the MC-10 flopped.

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1983 video game crash

1983 video game crash

The 1983 video game crash is something most retro gaming enthusiasts are familiar with. But it didn’t necessarily happen exactly the way people remember it today. To Atari, it certainly felt like a crash. But to its consumers, it was much less sudden than that.

The video game crash was a swift and dramatic loss of interest in video game consoles, as consumer mindshare shifted to home computers. But it wasn’t an overnight event.

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Make a picture ledge for your vintage computer

Make a picture ledge for your vintage computer

Some Youtubers, including Casual Retro Gamer, use picture ledges to keep their vintage computer systems on the wall when they’re not using them. You can buy a picture ledge, but they’re easy to make, too. And if you make them, you can make them whatever length you want.

A picture ledge is a small, J-shaped shelf that mounts on the wall, normally used for displaying art without having to use a bunch of hangers. But their size works well for vintage home computers and game consoles too, allowing you to store and display them.

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Timex Sinclair 1000: The can’t-miss that missed

Timex Sinclair 1000: The can’t-miss that missed

The Timex Sinclair 1000 was the U.S. version of the Sinclair ZX81. It was perhaps Timex’s most successful home computer, but its success paled next to its British counterpart. It was a real computer for $100 way back in 1982. The public was tiring of game consoles and wanted more capability, so what could go wrong?

The Timex Sinclair 1000 sold for $99, and was the first home computer to sell for under $100. It was a very limited machine with 2 KB of RAM, a membrane keyboard, and no color or sound, and was discontinued in 1983.

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Atari 800 video cables

Atari 800 video cables

The standard for video output on 8-bit computers is there was no standard. Well, oddly enough, a bunch of companies did something super similar, but there are enough gotchas that you have to be careful. At least Atari sidestepped the problem. Here’s my experience with Atari 800 video cables, which also (mostly) applies the XL and XE variants. And you can use the same cable with other machines in a pinch.

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7805 switch mode replacement

One of the best things you can do for heat dissipation in vintage computers and consoles is replace the 7805 voltage regulator with a modern switch mode replacement. Here’s why that helps and where to get one.

A modern 7805 switch mode replacement regulator runs cooler than the original 7805. This reduces the need for heat dissipation and helps other components, such as capacitors, last longer.

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Why do capacitors fail?

Why do capacitors fail?

Bad capacitors are the bane of generations of consumer electronics. They plagued early 90s Amigas and Macs, early 2000s PCs, and cheap hardware even today. So why do capacitors fail? And how can you tell when a failed capacitor is a problem?

Capacitors fail when the electrolyte dries out, or when the gas inside them builds up to a point that it opens a safety valve and the electrolyte leaks out. A good capacitor takes decades to dry out, but a cheap capacitor can leak within a few short years.

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