Introduction - Terry Stewart (tezza)
ard at p850ug1.demon.co.uk
Wed Oct 20 15:16:21 CDT 2010
Wello, and welcome ot the list.
> My interest in microcomputing history started about 11 years ago, when I
> created a website to archive some facts about my first micro.
WHen I first saw the pictutre of that on your web page, I thought 'That
looks like what I calleda 'video genie'. Then I read the description.... ;-)
> However, in 2007 with the kids off my hands (and more room) I started
> collecting other micros. This was trigged by finding a OS Challenger 1P
> someone gave me in the late 1980s in the bottom of a wardrobe, turning it on
> and finding (astonishingly!) it went! Along with my old System 80, I now
I hate to start another one of my rants, but I hope you've learnt now
that turnoing on a classic machine is not the first thing to try. I
would strongly recoemdn a careful visual inspection and then testing the
PSU on adummy load. It doesn't take long (at least not for most machines
), and it may save you having to powst a message hear askign for a
dump of the ROMs for some rare machine
 OK, in a couple of cases I have made up special PSU test boxes which
takes a little longer...
> had the nucleus of a classic computer collection! There was no looking back
> after that!
I think many of us have had that experince.
I was interested to read your comments on the Sinclair QL. You basically
have the same views as me. I feel that the machine was simply too ckeap,
too much was cut out. IIRC, it sold for about \pounds 400 in the UK. If
it has sold for \pounds 600, but had had a useable keyboard, a disk drive
(even a 3" one), proper serial ports , and the like, then the machine
might actually have been popular. As it was, it was pretty much unusable.
 The QL has 2 seral port conenctors. But the data input lines are
simple ORed together (!). The peripheral _has_ to look at the handshake
lines, or data will either get corrupted by being mixed with data from
the other peripheral, or it'll be sent to the wrongplace by the OS. Alas,
many peripherals don't do that (and why should they, it violates the
RS232 standard). But anyway...
> I am not a computer engineer, electronics technician or even associated with
> the computer industry in any way. Before I started collecting I knew
> nothing about electronics except you plugged something in at the wall,
> flicked a switch and (if you are lucky) it went. I had never been under the
> hood of a computer even my System 80. However, once I started collecting I
> found I HAD to learn something about the mystery of binary hardware in order
> to keep these machines up and running! See
Err, yes... There are very few people prepared to fis a classic machine
for you, and those that will tend to charge ;-).
Fortunately, I came to computing from electronics (not that I have any
qulaifications in either...), and have a fair idea of what goes on inside
these machines. And contrary to certain comments here, I do try to share
> http://www.classic-computers.org.nz/blog/index.htm . I've found the
> vintage/classic computer community to be very supportive and helpful with
> sharing knowledge in this regard. I've still got huge gaps in knowledge
> regarding the hardware side but it's improving all the time.
Many of us have shelf upon shelf of old servie manuals, data books,
electroncis books, etc and are quite happy to look things up.
> (unexpectedly) come to enjoy the hardware side as well! Nothing is as
> satisfying as seeing a dead computer suddenly surge back to life after a
Now that I certainly agree with. I rememebr tinkering with my PDP11/45
for over a month before I finally understood all the manuals, had it all
put toghet and I turned the key (literally). I then toggled in my first
program. OK, it didn't work, but it appeared the machine was basically
working. Some time later I found I'd mis-understood one of the machine
instructions, I fixed that and my program ran...
> fix. To me, a dead computer is just a collection of wires, silicon and
> plastic. They HAVE to be working, and my wife would claim I go to obsessive
> lengths to make them so.
I agree with that too. Computers intended to 'compute'. I've spent (and
will spend in the future) many enjyable hours tracking down faults,
finding spare parts, making spare parts, and generally getting these fine
old machines to work again.
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