What is retro in computers? It’s a fair question, because there’s a fine line between junk and treasure when it comes to old computers. And the answer definitely depends on who you ask. It means the computer is old enough to be collectible, but there’s no universal standard for “old enough.”
As a general rule, if it’s obsolete and no longer being made, someone considers it retro. But not necessarily everyone will, so there certainly are degrees of retro when it comes to computers.
When it comes to Atari ST vs Amiga, there are more similarities than differences from today’s perspective. But the two machines had significant differences that led them to be incompatible even though the hardware differences look minor today. Here’s a look at the two machines and why they were such fierce rivals in the late 1980s.
I see a lot of people asking how to collect vintage computers, perhaps frustrated they aren’t able to replicate other people’s results. Collecting retro computers isn’t dead, but it’s changing. As hobbyists adapt, collecting will continue.
When it comes to the Sega Genesis power supply, there’s one important thing to remember. You can use a Genesis power supply in a NIntendo NES, but the reverse is not true. The NES isn’t picky about its power, but the Genesis needs 9 volts DC and the right polarity.
The original Genesis power supply connector is the same size as a Nintendo NES, but the Genesis requires 9 volts DC, center negative, and 1 amp, though 1.2 amps is better. A non-Sega adapter is fine to use as long as it meets these specs, but using AC or the wrong polarity will damage the game console.
It’s not terribly uncommon for a VIC-20 to display colors badly, or just downright wrong. Most people attribute this to the nature of the machine. But it’s possible to adjust the color to get something closer to what screenshots in vintage magazines suggest the VIC-20’s display really looked like. Here’s how to fix a VIC-20 displaying the wrong colors.
The VIC-20 never had great color rendition to begin with, but as the components age, the color can drift even further. The VIC-20 has two potentiometers on its motherboard that you can use to adjust the color.
Typically we associate game cartridges with consoles, but for a time in the 1980s, computer software, especially games, were also distributed on cartridge. Here’s why computer game cartridges fell out of fashion.
Computer game cartridges were convenient because they loaded quickly, but their high cost of production led publishers to prefer disk or tape. There was also some concern that repeatedly removing cartridges would wear out an expensive computer.
If you mess around with DOS long enough, you’ll eventually try to run a program and get an error message that says Incorrect DOS version. This means you’re trying to run a program designed for a version of DOS other than the one you’re running.
The best solution is to run programs under the same version of DOS they were designed to run under. But when you can’t do that, as long as you are running DOS 5.0 or newer, you can use the SETVER command to lie to the program and bypass the error check. The program will run, though there is a risk it may not be fully compatible.
Connecting an Apple II to a modern or modern-ish television is easier than getting a good picture from it. Connecting an Apple II to a 1980s TV is trickier. Here’s how to connect an Apple II to a TV, and some tips for improving the picture.
Apple II computers, from the original 1977 model all the way up to the 16-bit Apple IIgs have an RCA jack supplying standard composite output. This plugs into the composite video jack on a relatively modern TV just like a game console–just ignore the sound inputs, and be prepared to have to adjust the picture for the best quality.
For a while in the 80s, floppy disks reliably doubled in capacity every 2-3 years. But floppy disks stopped increasing in capacity at 2.88 megabytes, and some people are surprised that 2.88 megabyte floppies even existed. What happened to 2.88 MB floppies? And why did the industry stop at such a relatively low capacity?
2.88 megabyte floppies never gained adoption outside of very high-end systems, partly due to their high cost. When more cost-effective options became available, 2.88 megabyte floppies and drives faded away.