Atari 2600 emulator for the VIC-20

Rumored to exist! I first heard the rumor in 1996, and more than a quarter century later, it’s never turned up. But let’s talk about the Cardapter 1 and the Game Loader, a pair of vaporware Atari 2600 emulators for the VIC-20. The Cardapter 1 was  demonstrated in January 1983 under much secrecy, advertised a bit over the spring of 1983, but never appeared. The Game Loader is a bit more mysterious.

Read More »Atari 2600 emulator for the VIC-20

Protecto Enterprizes: What is was and wasn’t

Protecto Enterprizes (not Protecto Enterprises), and Computer Direct, one of its divisions, are names that come up occasionally in retro circles. They were a company that advertised heavily in computer magazines in the mid-1980s, and their inventory is frequently interesting to retro computer collectors. But sometimes it’s a little unclear what this company was, and I think that was by design.

Protecto Enterprizes/Computer Direct was a computer mail order discounter based out of the Chicago area from 1979 to about 1995. They were not a manufacturer nor were they strictly a liquidator, though they did sell a lot of closeout inventory and private label products that made them look like they may have been more than just a distributor.

Read More »Protecto Enterprizes: What is was and wasn’t

Are battery wet dry vacuums good?

Battery wet dry vacuums certainly have appeal, if only due to convenience. Frequently the places where you need to use them may not have a convenient outlet, or the outlet may not be safe to use because of the standing water. But does that mean they’re good? They certainly have trade-offs. Here’s how to figure out if they are right for you.

Read More »Are battery wet dry vacuums good?

Lionel 116 station

The Lionel 116 station is a popular if impractical centerpiece for pre-war tinplate layouts. Also known as the double station, it is an enlarged version of the Lionel 115 station and shares many of its characteristics. While best suited for standard gauge trains, its design does lend itself to o gauge. It’s a majestic station for large layouts, but it’s easier to squeeze the smaller 115 station into a typical layout.

The Lionel 116 is the largest station Lionel produced, eclipsing the similar 115 station. Its design was inspired by New York city’s Grand Central station, but it used selective compression to give the impression of a big city station without taking the space that would be required of a true scale model.

Read More »Lionel 116 station

DOS memory management on a 286

This month, YouTuber Casual Retro Gamer rebuilt a 286 clone from the late 1980s. After his restoration work was done, he did what any of us would have done. He started upgrading it, because a handsomely restored retro PC is less fun than a souped up handsomely restored retro PC. And that’s where he ran into the oddities of 286 memory optimization. When he was done, he had 585 kilobytes of conventional memory available, and he speculated that might not be quite enough. Here’s how to get more.

Read More »DOS memory management on a 286

What the purpose is of RAID adapters

RAID, in case you are not aware, is an acronym for redundant array of inexpensive disks. It serves two purposes in computing, using multiple disk drives as a single logical drive for the purpose of improving performance, improving reliability, or both. There are different flavors of RAID, depending on the capability. Frequently, the most common types of RAID are RAID 0, 1, or 5. You can also combine them for extremely high performance applications, which usually are called RAID 5 + 1. Anymore, this is frequently handled and software. So what is the purpose of RAID adapters?

Read More »What the purpose is of RAID adapters