Digital archaeology of the microcomputer, 1974-1994

Chuck Guzis cclist at sydex.com
Wed Jan 17 14:35:24 CST 2007


On 17 Jan 2007 at 14:15, Ray Arachelian wrote:

> 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.

I don't buy that "most" software is encumbered by software protection-
-unless the author is talking about games.  Even so, much of the 
early software protection is easy to hack.  What concerns me more is 
modern software that requires activation via the internet to run. 
When companies disappear (as they are wont to do), the user is left 
with no recourse.

> To compound the problem, the hardware is dying (literally) and (being
> proprietary) can´t be rebuilt in any equivalent manner.

As Tony has pointed out, early hardware is usually far easier to 
repair than the modern variety.

> 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. 

Feh.  Most of the software of the 80's was written to floppy, an 
excellent storage medium.  Give me a 20-year old 8" floppy any day to 
a 2-year old 1.44MB 3.5" diskette.  How many 80's (not 70's) systems 
used cassette tape as primary storage?  True, the DC-xxxx carts are 
starting to have problems, but in most cases, this was used as 
backup, not a distribution medium.  In many cases, the problem is 
with the aging rubber in the drive, not the medium itself.

I'd be more worried about the various writeable DVD types lasting 20-
30 years.

Cheers,
Chuck






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