First 486 computer: The Apricot VX FT

First 486 computer: The Apricot VX FT

It’s fairly common knowledge that Compaq made the first 386-based computer, but what about the 486? What was the first 486 computer? When did the first 486 computer come out? And why have you never heard of it?

The first 486 computer was the Apricot VX FT, a line of servers announced in June 1989, with general availability later that year. They were expensive and they were only marketed as servers, so that’s why they aren’t as well known as the Compaq Deskpro 386.

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VGA connector doesn’t fit? Here’s why.

VGA connector doesn’t fit? Here’s why.

I dusted off my 486 the other weekend because I had some 90s nostalgia. And just like the 90s, I immediately ran into some trouble. The VGA connector didn’t fit on the 15-inch 4:3 LCD monitor I wanted to use. If your VGA connector doesn’t fit, you probably have the same problem I had.

VGA connectors used to leave out pin 9 as a key pin, to keep you from plugging the wrong kind of cable into the connector and damaging the connector. Modern VGA cables use pin 9, so if your cable doesn’t fit, check to see if the port has 14 pins or 15. A 14-pin VGA cable is almost a must-have if you travel and give presentations a lot, or are into retro computers.

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Deliberate security threats

Deliberate security threats

A friend of a friend suggested to me that I should carefully preserve my Commodores and other vintage computer gear, because it’s the only secure computer equipment available. I said I don’t complain too loudly since security is my job. He then said I’ll always have a job, because so many security threats are deliberate. While he’s not wrong, saying all security threats are deliberate is unhealthy. Here’s why.

Deliberate security threats certainly exist, because planting backdoors in the supply chain is the best way to get into certain highly sensitive networks. But I’ll argue that more security threats are honest mistakes than intentional sabotage.

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IBM PC vs XT

IBM PC vs XT

The difference between an original IBM PC and a PC/XT seems subtle today. The XT wasn’t a huge upgrade over the PC, but the improvements were enough to be significant. The changes IBM made greatly extended the lifespan of the XT, and that’s one reason XTs are so much more common than PCs today. Let’s take a look at the IBM PC vs XT.

The PC/XT had the same CPU running at the same speed and couldn’t take any additional memory over the PC. But the XT was more expandable, and in the late 1980s, that was everything.

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How long should you let spray paint dry?

How long should you let spray paint dry?

How long should you let spray paint dry? It varies depending on the paint, and you should always read the can to get specific advice for the paint you’re using, since my favorite brand might be different from yours. But generally speaking, an hour is the absolute minimum.

A more realistic minimum safe drying time for spray paint is about 8 hours. Some hobbyists let their paint sit and cure for a full week before they assemble the item and put it into service, and they’ve had excellent results with this practice. Your can is your guide, because dry times can and do vary. So always, always check the instructions on your can. But here are some general guidelines.

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How do emulators work?

How do emulators work?

Emulation is the black art of running software designed for one computer or game system on another system that normally wouldn’t be compatible. Emulation has existed since the 1970s, but is much more practical today. Here’s how emulators work.

Strictly speaking, emulators work like a translator, sitting between hardware and software and translating between the two so the software doesn’t realize it’s running on something else. Just like a human translator, there’s overhead involved in this, but modern computers are fast enough that emulation is more practical today than it was in the 1980s, even though plenty of emulators existed even then.

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Cyber security degree or certifications?

Cyber security degree or certifications?

From time to time I get questions from people looking to break into my field. Here’s a good one: What’s better to get, a cyber security degree or certifications?

If you’re in school now, get the degree. But if you’re not currently in school, and can learn on your own, the certification route is much cheaper, and probably faster. The key is having something on your resume that gets you through HR, and most companies know they can’t demand both.

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What came after 486?

What came after 486?

CPUs didn’t have brand names, besides the manufacturer, until the 1990s. They had part numbers and clock speeds. Frequently we shortened the part numbers. The 486’s full part number was 80486. The courts wouldn’t let Intel trademark a number, so the 486 was the last CPU of its kind, raising the question: What came after 486?

The follow-up for the 486 was the Pentium, at least in Intel’s case. But several companies made 486 CPUs, and several of those released their own follow-ups to the 486, including AMD and Cyrix.

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