Interconnecting classic computers

Tony Duell ard at
Tue May 6 16:35:03 CDT 2008

> Tony Duell wrote:
> > So far the best I've come up with is to link one machine to a palmtop 
> > (HP95LX), then transfer the data to that, carry the palmtop to the other 
> > machine and transdfer the data on. It's not ideal, but it does work.
> > 
> > Any other ideas?
> Hmm, I've got a deep mistrust of any 'data over the mains' technology, but 
> might that be an option here? I assume *most* of your systems are physically 

It's certainly something I'd considered. 

> plugged into the mains anyway, so it'd meet the ideal requirement for no extra 
> cabling. Data rates presumably not lightning fast, of course...

Even those machines that are battery-powered are likely to be near a 
mains socket, at least when I wasnt ot link them to another machine. So 
that's not a problem.

Do true full-dupliex data-over-mains 'modems' exist? The chip I looked at 
for this years ago seemed to be half-duplex only (it had a 
trasnmit-enable input, and you were supposed to only have one 
transmiotter enabled at a time out of all the chips on your mains 
wiring).And that certainly wouldn't do here.

> Sneakernetting data around isn't such a problem in a classic context, though - 

That depends on how many machins you have to climb over to get between 
the 2 you want to connect :-)

> most old machines need you to be physically present in order to do anything 
> (interesting) with them, so carrying the data back and forth isn't any great 
> hardship.
> Some sort of RS232 star-based topology could be fun, though :)

I actually have soemthing called a Netcommander in front of me. It's a 16 
port any-to-any RS232 switch (I also have smaller versions with 6 RS232 
ports and 4 centronics ports). Since it allows different baud rates on 
all the ports, it must make use of the flow control lines (otherwise what 
happens if you try to send a lot of data from a 9600 baud port to a 300 
baud one), but this might not be a problem if the 2 ports are set to the 
same speed.

Anyway, the big prolem with it is that it's one small box, and it's only 
16 ports. I could link 16 classic computers to it, but (a) I've got a lot 
more than 16 machines and (b) it would involve cables running everywhere, 
soemthing I need to avoid. It would be interesting to use that to link up 
16 'favourite' machines, but that leaves a lot more that I have to think 
of another (temporary) solution for.


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