Digital archaeology of the microcomputer, 1974-1994

Ray Arachelian ray at
Wed Jan 17 13:15:30 CST 2007

  Digital archaeology of the microcomputer, 1974-1994

By Steven Goodwin <>

/Online on: 2007-01-05/

/(Or, how to prevent the Dark Ages of computing through free software)/

In a few years time, it will be impossible to study the history of home
computers since everything at the time was proprietary; both in terms of
the physical hardware, and all the software that ran upon it since most
of it is encumbered by software “protection” to prevent copying.

To compound the problem, the hardware is dying (literally) and (being
proprietary) can’t be rebuilt in any equivalent manner. In some cases
the software is physically disintegrating too since, in the case of many
8-bit micros from the 1980’s, the storage medium was cassette tape; a
temperamental mechanism at the time, let alone now. It’s not that no
computer innovation took place in the 1980’s, just that none of it will
be recorded.


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