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Author Topic: Talk Nerdy To Me (Old Hardware Discussion)  (Read 2940 times)

AsinineVulpine

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Talk Nerdy To Me (Old Hardware Discussion)
« on: November 03, 2014, 02:28:05 AM »

C'mon, guys. I'm feeling nostalgic. I wanna ramble about old computer hardware, old consoles, old computers like the Amiga, C64, Acorn Electrons, BBC Micros, Archimedes, Spectrum 48k through to the +3 and beyond, the Spectrum QL, Oric 1, SAM Coupé, all that shit! Joysticks, games, hardware, tape decks, Kempston interfaces, peripherals! All those weird fucking hardware bits you saw in your favourite magazines that you DESPERATELY WANTED your parents to get you but they never did and then you forgot about them for ages and the system became obsolete but you always kept thinking about it somewhere and were like 'man I wonder what that was like?' or those homebrew circuit designs you could find and MIGHT have tried building but failed utterly because you could never get the right card socket or microswitches...

Talk to me! Come on! Relive those old days! Let's reminisce!

But uh... please let's not start harping on about how the old days were better because. you know. no. they weren't. They were dope as shit but dude seriously fucking Elite Dangerous is godlike and don't even get me started on how balls to the wall amazing computers are these days compared to back then.

But let's remember fondly those heroes of our past.

Starting in t-minus 5... 4... 3... 2....

1!
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AsinineVulpine

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Re: Talk Nerdy To Me (Old Hardware Discussion)
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2014, 04:10:56 AM »

I used to own a Spectrum 128K +2... If you don't know what that is, it's possibly because you're not British, or had a C64 and never looked back. The C64 was THE go-to home computer for kids back in the day, it had great colours and graphics for an 8bit home computer, the SID chip was incredible, and a huge library of games too!... But there WAS another SERIOUS contender (and I do mean serious). Two years earlier,Jim Westwood and Sir Clive Sinclair of Glorious Old England (and soon to found Sinclair Research) created the ZX80 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ZX80), an 8bit computer based around the Z-80 Zilog microprocessor. It had something like 4kb of ram, and was a tiny little thing, for less than $200 of your american "dollars". A year later, the ZX81 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ZX81) was released, and a year after that the classic ZX Spectrum (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ZX_Spectrum)!

Starting with 16k of ram, and a neat little rubber keyboard, the ZX Spectrum could be mailed back to Sinclair Research as it was known then to be upgraded to 48K of ram. Later versions came with 48K of ram (actually 64kb but configured in such a way - an intentional design to keep costs down by buying half-dead ram chips - so that only 48k was accessable) and became the defacto standard of the Sinclair Spectrum range.

Following on from this, some time later, came the 128K Spectrum. Up until now, to load games onto the machine, you required an external tape-deck, and the 128K spectrum was no exception. Plug in the external tape deck (as was common for the C64 as well I believe), type LOAD "" into the 48K basic interpreter or using the new 128K menu, select Loader, press play on the tape deck, and boom, loading! ... granted it was... uh... an experience: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8fYFsBRVC8Y ... and if you didn't have a tapedeck, well, you're stuck with programming games through BASIC! Good luck!

The 128K +2 did away with the need for buying a separate piece of hardware, and came with a built in "Datacorder"... Which was a fully functional tapedeck built into the machine itself, complete with the ability to record a program you had written in BASIC onto it! Great job! Of course the +2 came out when Amstrad had purchased Sinclair Research and the Spectrum brand, but hey, they were still quality machines.

Now the Spectrums, especially the 128K versions onwards such as the +2/+2A/Bs, and the +3s had one important edge over the C64.... ... It certainly wasn't graphics of course... or sound really. I mean the AY sound chip in the 128K models was great compared to the AWFUL 48K beeper from previous versions, but the SID chip just had better range and functionality. In fact the C64 basically outpaced the Spectrums in everything but memory and even then the Commadore had a 128 model after a while too... but the Spectrum was first to the market, and had a bigger foothold in the UK... aaaaand it had a lot of amazing games on it compared to the C64. With a larger game library, and at a VERY reasonable price even after Amstrad bought them, the Spectrums maintained a good market dominance in the UK and had success over most of europe too, and even a little in the States. Furthermore, there were numerous clones and copies produced by Russia and other countries.

The Spectrum was so much a presence that when the SAM Coupé came out (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SAM_Coup%C3%A9) in late 1989, Miles Gordon Technology deliberately marketed the system as a logical upgrade to the Spectrums, adding compatability (to a limited degree) with the Spectrum's vast software library... ssaaaadlly it wasn't as great as it sounds. The SAM Coupé had superior graphics and sound and capabilities but because of its different way of doing things it was incompatable not only with 128K games but also did not come with the Spectrum rom which had to be purchased from Sinclair themselves and also couldn't work with 90% of the copyright protection of certain games at the time. MGT did release the Interface and a variety of addons and peripherals to get around this, and also it was possible to hack the 128K code of spectrm games to get them to work but... again, that was all after the fact. Furthermore with the SAM Coupé's late release, missing the christmas sales, MGT utterly failed to make a significant impact, leading to MGT going into receivership just one year later. So sad.

With a huge line of peripherals on the Spectrum, such as Multiface adapters to help combat those annoying copy protection things on certain games, and also to act as a sort of early Action Replay cartridge for all games in general, Kempston interfaces so you could plug in joysticks which were of generally higher quality and response rate than the standard Interface 2 Spectrum joysticks, and even a range of midi-interfaces and music modules to expand on the capabilities and turn your Spectrum into a recording device and a midi-interface for music production, printer modules, all sorts of other things, the Spectrum was a home programmer's dream come true in the 80s.

If you want an idea of how huge the Spectrum and its line was, check this out: http://www.worldofspectrum.org/

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CorbanAndEveryoneHePlays

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Re: Talk Nerdy To Me (Old Hardware Discussion)
« Reply #2 on: December 16, 2014, 07:49:51 AM »

I just put a Radeon Sapphire R9 290x into my computee earlier this month. It's pretty sweet.
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The more seriously you take things, The harder the rules will become.

Mikail

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Re: Talk Nerdy To Me (Old Hardware Discussion)
« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2015, 12:30:03 AM »

My Commodore64 still works. I have a disk drive, but no tape drive. Alas.
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AsinineVulpine

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Re: Talk Nerdy To Me (Old Hardware Discussion)
« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2015, 09:00:20 AM »

My Commodore64 still works. I have a disk drive, but no tape drive. Alas.

That's kinda sad. D:
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Crest

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Re: Talk Nerdy To Me (Old Hardware Discussion)
« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2015, 06:29:34 AM »

Funny fact: in rural areas of the south, people still call modern video game controllers "joysticks".  As if the entire thing is still a stick and a button.
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