Computing, then and now (was Re: Cool 1983 IBM System/36 system needs a home!)

Jules Richardson jules.richardson99 at
Tue Jul 29 14:50:27 CDT 2008

Chuck Guzis wrote:
> On 29 Jul 2008 at 11:56, Eric Smith wrote:
>> Your average $10 hang-tag scientific calculator doesn't, but the new $40 
>> hp 20b calculator does.  It's sold as a business/financial calculator, 
>> but does have scientific functions.  It's based on an ARM-7DTMI 
>> processor running at 36 MHz with 134KB of memory.  People on the MoHPC 
>> forums are already discussing repurposing it, and have set up a Wiki for 
>> developer information.
> Has there been any talk of repurposing DTV "set top" converter boxes? 
>  I've got one here with an RS-232 connector on it that responded with 
> a BSOD display, complete with register dump and MMU status when we 
> had a power glitch.  The video and audio capabilities should be 
> pretty good for the price.

It could certainly be done in the old days of set top boxes; I remember 
booting RISC OS on one of the ARM-based late-80s systems (can't remember if it 
was a Bush or Pace one now). Hook up a keyboard and they potentially made 
quite nice low-power, silent terminals for web browsing.

Kind of nice in a way; I've always been a fan of hardware X terminals, but the 
lack of audio capabilities were really annoying.

I'm kind of surprised a more modern set top box is running Windows - I thought 
they'd all be using *BSD / Linux or something totally proprietary.



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