Commodore Plus 4 and Commodore 16

Commodore Plus 4 and Commodore 16

Dan Bowman kindly pointed me to former Commodore engineer Bil Herd’s discussion of the ill-fated Commodore TED machines on Hackaday. Here in the States, few remember the TED specifically, but some people may remember that oddball Commodore Plus 4 that closeout companies sold for $79 in 1985 and 1986. The Commodore Plus 4 was one of those TED machines. So was the Commodore 16.

What went wrong with those machines? Commodore miscalculated what the home computer market was doing. The TED was a solution to too many problems, and ended up not solving any of them all that well. Arguably it’s more popular with vintage computer enthusiasts today than it was in the 1980s. Read more

Cleaning NES games and consoles

Cleaning NES games and consoles

Anyone old enough to have played with an original Nintendo NES knows the problem: You plug in the cartridge, turn on the system, and get a blank screen and the power light blinks at you. The schoolyard fix is to take out the cartridge, blow into it, then put it back into the system. Then, with a little luck, you can play your game. The trouble is, that’s just a short-term fix. In the long run, it makes the problem worse and eventually the system can’t play games at all. The solution is to clean them. Here’s a process for cleaning NES games.

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How to use a Commodore 64

How to use a Commodore 64

The Commodore 64 is rather unlike modern computers. It has a CPU and memory like a modern computer does, but the operating system and overall user experience is alien to someone used to computers that run Windows or Mac OS. So to modern eyes, it’s not completely obvious how to use a Commodore 64.

Commodore had a dominance of the market in the 1980s that would have made Apple jealous at any point in its history, but ultimately Commodore lost, so the Commodore 64’s bloodline is extinct.

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Nintendo NES AC adapter replacement

Nintendo NES AC adapter replacement

If you misplaced the AC adapter/power supply that came with your Nintendo NES, or it broke, you may need a replacement Nintendo NES AC adapter. Fortunately, you have a number of options.

Most devices are super picky about electricity. Don’t use random AC adapters as a general practice. What I’m about to say applies to the original Nintendo NES console, and the original NES only. I have general advice on replacing AC adapters that applies to other devices.

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Why have Marx toys dropped in value?

“Why have Marx toys dropped in value?” you ask? Blame Millennials. Well, actually, my generation bears more of the blame for this one. Blame Gen X. The value of vintage toys tends to follow trends, and those trends don’t necessarily pass from generation to generation.

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What is the purpose of a screen saver?

What is the purpose of a screen saver?

What is the purpose of a screen saver? Screen savers served both a technical and a marketing purpose. From a technical perspective, the purpose of a screen saver was to keep an image from permanently being engraved in a CRT monitor’s phosphors. But it wasn’t long before screen savers started serving a vanity or entertainment purpose.

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Coleco Gemini: An Atari 2600 clone from 1983

Coleco Gemini: An Atari 2600 clone from 1983

I spotted it on page 597 of the 1983 Sears catalog. “Two big names play the same games,” the headline boasted. Next to the venerable Atari 2600, Sears presented the Coleco Gemini, an Atari 2600 clone.

In 1982, Coleco built an add-on to make its Coleco Vision game system Atari 2600-compatible. Atari sued. And then Coleco poked the bear by making an outright clone. Sears had sold Atari 2600 clones before, but they were actually a private-label version of the real Atari 2600. The Gemini was more of a true Atari 2600 clone.

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What is retro gaming?

What is retro gaming?

What is retro gaming? The specifics depend on your age, but it generally means playing vintage (retro) video or computer games today. The part people argue about is what constitutes retro.

There isn’t a lot of agreement or consensus about that, and I have some ideas why.

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Computers in 1985: It was a very good year

Computers in 1985: It was a very good year

In some ways, 1985 was a really pivotal year for computing. The industry was changing fast, but in 1985, many relics from the past were still present even as we had an eye for the future. Here’s a look back at computers in 1985 and what made that year so interesting.

I think 1985 was interesting in and of itself, but it also made the succeeding years a lot more interesting. A surprising amount of the technology that first appeared in 1985 still has an impact today.

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