Vintage Computer Manuals

Vintage Computer and Classic Computer Manuals Online

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Is Vista Doomed from the Start?

Is Vista Doomed from the Start?
I was discussing this with a friend the other day, and we noticed a pattern in Microsoft's software. All of it was launched with great hype and fanfare and touted as a 'good' product, but the results have been mixed. Going all the way back to 1986:DOS 3.3: GOODDOS 4.2: BADDOS 5.0: GOODDOS 6.0: BADDOS 6.22: GOODWindows 3.0: BADWindows 3.1: GOODWindows 95: BADWindows NT/98: GOODWindows ME: BADWindows 2000/XP: GOODWindows Vista: ?I have used all these OS's with the exception of Vista, and these are my experiences. Anyone have similar experiences?
Posted: 10/24/2006 @ 07:20

Job Role: Other IS/IT or Technology Function

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Revistas de informática y videojuegos de los 80.

Revistas de informática y videojuegos de los 80.
Hoy les traemos una selección de enlaces que harán las delicias de nuestros lectores más jugones. Se trata de una recopilación de webs que han digitalizado y ponen a disposición del público diversas revistas de temática informática de los años 80.
En primer lugar hay que destacar Proyecto Scanner: una web repleta de enlaces a proyectos de escaneado de revistas como: Enciclopedia Run, Revista ZX, y sobre todo Microhobby forever, con ni más ni menos que 217 números digitalizados de la revista Microhobby repletos de mapas, pokes, trucos, códigos, y maravillas de la publicidad informática celtibérica.
En segundo lugar, Computer Gaming World Archive: Una web en la que encontraremos digitalizados en formato PDF los 100 primeros números de la revista Computer Gaming World magazine; una revista que comenzó en el 81 como proyecto autoeditado y llegó a ser uno de los principales medios sobre entretenimiento digital.
Y para acabar, Classic Computer Magazine Archive: que archiva las portadas escaneadas y todo el contenido en formato texto de revistas como: Antic, Start, Hi-Res, Video Arcade, etc. Y si este último enlace se les ha hecho un poco árido no se pierdan Tandy Computer Whiz Kids Comics: Una galería de comics protagonizados por unos niños Geeks, con capítulos tan delirantes como “Los ordenadores que dijeron no a las drogas“.
Y de postre:En la web de Diego VP, hay una sección (arriba a la izquierda) donde podemos descargar todos los números de la revista micromanía en pdf.Abandonware Magazines: Web francesa con montones de publicaciones sobre ordenadores y consolas para descargar en Una galería enorme de publicidad sobre informática rancia.Digitize Text files: Archivo de anuncios, flyers, panfletos y todo tipo de publicidad sobre computadoras.Atari Archives: Cantidades ingentes de información (en texto) de revistas relacionadas con Atari y otras computadoras clásicas.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Vintage Computer Mannuals

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Early Vintage Computer Buses Have Their Influences On Your Computer Today by Art Fellon October 14, 2006

Posted by car2offerte in Computers. trackback

The term “expansion bus “is a frequent term in vintage computer terminology which requires elaboration. Much of the legacy of vintage bus systems are in our current computer systems today.

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To begin with the “expansion bus” is a data highway for computer data information to travel on: the bandwidth is in essence the number of lanes. The bigger the bandwidth the more data can be sent. As examples, an 8 megabyte bandwidth means that data can be sent in 8 bits chunks. Our current systems use between 32 bit and now 64 bit bandwidth.

An expansion bus is where cards connect to the computer; Cards have an expansion edge, which fits snugly into the bus much like an electrical plug fits into a wall socket.

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When cards are plugged into the bus, they communicate with the system, sometimes through the BIOS and others not. (The BIOS is the basic input /output system that tells the computer how to move data from the different components.) The 8, 16 or 32 bit bandwidth is an important consideration due to communication time between the cards. For example you have a 16 bit vintage 286 PC and it is sending out data at 16 bits a: your video card is also 8 bits. If you have an older 8 bit bus, such as in early IBM PCs and clones, the bus will become a bottleneck in the system; it is like having a 4 lane highway connected to another 4 lane highway by way of a 1 lane road. At most times regardless of the faster 4 lane highway traffic will be slow - limited by the single lane connection road.

There were basically 3 types of expansion bus available in vintage computers: ISA, MCA, EISA systems.

Each early development in major ways paved the way for the later systems which indeed we take for granted today. This was both in terms of hardware and basic concepts in our computer systems and technology as well as computer marketing that we take for granted today as simple basic facts of life without any consideration due.

Basically the newer buses offered increased performance over the older technology buses.

The basic explanations of the buses are as follows:

The 3 bus standards to note were Industry Standard Architecture (ISA) .Micro Channel Channel Architecture (MSA) and Extended Industry Standard (EISA) bus systems.

Industry Standard Architecture (ISA). This was the original AT bus also called an ISA bus. It was the original 8 bit IBM PC bus which was bumped up to 16 bits at some point in its later development. Fine for a 16 bit 286 or very early 386 computers

Micro Channel Architecture (MSA). This was an early 32 bit bus system which was not received well but set the stage for an industry consortium of the major non IBM computer manufacturers ( at the time referred to as “The Group of Nine) to develop the EISA standard bus.

Extended Industry Standard Architecture (EISA). The EISA bus standard was a standard of its own right which was 32 bit, included bus mastering and importantly remained compatible with previous older expansion cards. 32 bit systems were first to incorporate in later 386 systems. The 486 line solidified and standardized the 32 bit systems in the established software of the day.

Backward compatibility at the time was a novel new concept which has remained an important consideration in the computer industry.

EISA slots would accommodate both the ISA and EISA expansion slots to allow hardware upgrades, However the EISA expansion boards would be of little advantage and would seldom work in the older ISA expansion slots.

On the other hand the Micro Channel setup was not backward compatible. On the one hand the Micro Channel developers were free to initiate new radical changes in computer development and hardware which would have allowed for major new useful features in computer software. However owners of previous systems would have been left with then obsolete vintage useless hardware which would have been of no use and certainly little financial value.

Hence there was a lot of resistance to the Micro Channel bus setup.

It died a lingering death with its legacy living on in the aspirations of features offered in future developments and standards.

Thus the die was set for future hardware standards and software function as well as standard computer marketing concepts that we take for granted like mother’s milk today.

About the Author

Arthur Z. Felon Vintage Computer Historian Vintage Computer Manuals

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Max Rubin

Computer Mice : Their Telephone Origins

Computer Mice : Their Telephone Origins

Like so many developments that we take for common on our computers the humble mouse had its origins in the innovative work done for more than two decades at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC). The PARC mouse had two rollers for horizontal and vertical motion and a single button. The deucedly boxy shape was favored by many of developers at PARC and remarkably has persisted through many mouse (or mice) incarnations.

Firstly the Microsoft mouse design has had major impacts in the mice industry. Microsoft mice always had ergonomic design. The first Microsoft mouse had a broad teardrop shape with two buttons. The original green buttoned model had a steel ball that spawned an industry in foam mouse pads. The next iteration had larger buttons, a larger body, and a rubber coated ball.

When Microsoft decided that the mouse needed to be redesigned, it turned to the venerable firm Matrix Design of San Francisco. Microsoft routinely used and uses third parties to design and software develop many of the items and software that we take for granted today that Microsoft devoted alone . Mike Nuttal, one of Matrix Designs founders was intrigued by Microsoft’s project: reshaping the exterior without altering the internal mechanism.

Matrix did change one internal element: the position of the mouse ball. “Almost the first thing we tried was to move the ball forward”, Nuttal remarked later. In the old design the ball sat forward under the palm. A computer mouse user has a natural tendency to put their weight on the palms of their hands and thus on the ball. By moving the mouse ball forward the result was much greater accuracy of the mouse.

“We knew the buttons had to be larger “Nuttal as well said “We tried several button sizes and in the process of designing we ended up incorporating the buttons into the body of the mouse.” Another change was in the relative size of the buttons. It was felt that the left buttons should be larger than the right. The results were more than favorable especially with left handed users. By making the left button larger finger position no longer was a major factor therefore the index finger could curve form lower left to upper right ( vice versa in lefties ) . This is the position the index finger naturally favors. In addition the previous rubber-dome switches were replaced with micro switches that had a short travel depression and better tactile feedback.

It was not long before the firm Logitech responded to Microsoft’s mice innovations.
Logitech’s first mouse was truly one of the first examples of the upcoming international efforts in product development and design. A Swiss based Professor: Professor Niklaus Wirth spent a year on sabbatical at Xerox PARC in 1970 and returned to Europe to test mouse designs, working closely with Inria, a French design center for office automation products. In the end their final design was a round mouse with front mounted buttons.
Product development and testing ensued over the position of the buttons, and the front position won over the top.

However, Logitech soon found that the buttons on the front made the mouse jump backward slightly when clicked. The design was abandoned in favor of a wedge shape, which was followed by the rectangular shape that we today.

What is interesting about all of this is the effect of outside products on an item that we take for granted today - the humble mouse which so functional that we seldom give it second thought.

The rounded heel that fits so well in the palm of your hand, the large buttons, and the smooth edges all have roots in the most universal of electrical / electronic products.
Mr. Nuttal and Matrix Design’s area in great expertise was in the design and development of telephones.

Max Rubin
Ag Chemist Linux as well as vintage computing

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Vintage Computer Manuals

on, 16 October 2006
Show 062: The PDP-11 Minicomputer

RSTS PDP - find out what it means to me

Welcome to Show 062! This week's Topic: The PDP-11 Minicomputer!

Topics and links discussed in the podcast...

It's not retro, but you can hook it up to retro stuff (that's one of my main purposes)...the Propeller 32-bit 8 core microcontroller! Electronics super-fun...
Another interactive fiction environment - have a look at Eamon, and the many games available for it!
The Wikipedia page on the PDP-11 - a good starting point. And one for RSTS as well...
Here's a nice picture of a PDP-11/20 front panel. See those switches? Remind you of an IMSAI?
Man, has an incredibly impressive collection of vintage computer manuals, in PDF format. Nice.
I know, you want to play with a PDP-11 emulator, don't you? Admit it! And then, have a look at SIMH...
FAQ on the PDP-11, lots of reading here! Make sure to check out the models that were made!
More info sources on the PDP-11, here, and here...
For a look at the PDP-11's big brother, point your browser to PDP Planet!

Be sure to send any comments, questions or feedback to

For online discussions on Retrobits Podcast topics, check out the Retrobits Podcast forum on the PETSCII Forums page!

Our Theme Song is "Sweet" from the "Re-Think" album by Galigan.

Thanks for listening!

- Earl

Friday, October 13, 2006

Welcome to vNES

Welcome to vNES
The Virtual Nintendo Entertainment System with 395 Games!
Here, you can play NES Games in your browser, using Java Applet Technology. All you need is Java 1.5.0 or higher. If you need to upgrade, click here. Before you begin, please make sure you understand the controls. The controller at top will always remain there, for reference. We are not affiliated with Nintendo in any way. This is an emulator. It was built so we would have something to do.

Notice: Double-Click the screen before trying to play. Also, you'll need decent hardware to use vNES. Firefox is also a good choice. All in all, a low-end P3 with 192 MB of RAM should work. Also, turn off your media players before trying to play vNES.

Recent Updates
October 9, 2006 - News.

Getting lots of emails lately, and there's a few things I want to make clear.

  • The User Interface will be partially redesigned.
  • Yes, I'm increasing the font size. It is too small.
  • A save game system is in the works. Give me some time.
  • Whoever is linking to me, thanks.
  • With the new interface, you can disable sound.
  • You will soon be able to map your own controls.
  • Right now, *nix isn't supported, but does work on Mac/Intel and possibly G4.

Games not playing?
Click here to download Java.

October 8, 2006

American Gladiators 256K
Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes 256K
Castelian 128K
Gun.Smoke 128K
Princess Tomato in Salad Kingdom 256K

October 7, 2006

Friday The 13th 64K
Ghostbusters 64K
Ghostbusters 2 256K
Ghoul School 256K
Gradius 64K

Vintage IBM "Clicky" M Model Keyboard

Vintage IBM “Clicky” keyboards have a major following both among vintage computer enthusiasts and office professionals. What is the secret for this p

Vintage IBM “Clicky” keyboards have a major following both among vintage computer enthusiasts and office professionals. What is the secret for this proclivity with these older keyboard models ?

The secret to the click of a keyboard is the key switch technology it uses. The four key switch technologies commonly found inside PC keyboards are mechanical, capacitive, conductive, conductive rubber dome and membrane switches. All but the last are hidden under key caps, but you cannot tell much about a keyboard’s switch technology just by popping off the cap. Note: If you try to dissemble a keyboard to inspect it you may damage or destroy the keyboard and of course any warranty you may have on the product will be voided.

Although you might expect a keyboard’s touch to be directly related to its switch technology, this is not always the case. Keyboards with mechanical switches tend to have the positive "clicky" feel and touch that you would expect, but keyboards that use the newer capacitive and capacitive rubber dome or membrane technology are not always mushy as you might expect.

Mechanical switches were the most popular technologies in the older higher quality vintage keyboards such as the IBM M class “ Clicky” keyboards . Keyboards that use mechanical switches tended to have a positive tactile touch , which is produced by the spring tension used to return the key . These keyboards thus generated an audible click as opposed to now more common silent electronic capacitive keyboards that we take for granted today in our “ silent effective offices”. Hence the IBM M Class keyboard has the nickname “Clicky Keyboard.”

The feel and sound of the mechanical keyboard result from the contact that occurs between the conductive materials on the actual plunger : the conductors are often made of gold , gold alloy or Mylar with silver- carbon alloy.

One drawback of these mechanical switches is the greater number of parts they require , which of course was increased the cost and complexity of manufacture . Believe it or not a mechanical switch keyboard may used as many as three times the parts of a similar function membrane switch model , It is now wonder that only older vintage computer models who in their time were very used these keyboards. Today with our throw away computers that are only meant to get us into the doors of big box stores in order to buy those extended warranties computer manufactures cannot justify the costs of these types of keyboards for in addition to the cost the time span of a keyboard needed is not great since the life span of a computer is relatively very short .

This mechanical switch is what gives these older keyboards such as the venerable IBM “Clicky Keyboard” both its distinctive sound and its ultra reliability and long life expectancy .. Many are these vintage keyboards are still in service today even though the IBM Clicky keyboards have not been manufactured by IBM since the mid 1990’s .

Even though the Clicks are made more substantially than current light weight

Keyboard due to metal used in manufacturing hence much more expensive to ship , the Clicks command a premium price on eBay sales. Professionals who depend on their keyboards such as executive secretaries and court reporters use these models as a preference.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The History and Origins of Our PC Computer Keyboards

The History and Origins of Our PC Computer Keyboards

The keyboard is among the most underappreciated and taken for granted component of the Personal Computer (PC) that we use everyday.

We are all creatures of habit. We generally use certain keys and not others in certain way.

What are the origins and history of the now current accepted PC computer keyboard?

Interestingly enough the standard keyboard layout did not originate in one fell swoop. It developed through three separate IBM keyboard projects and often involved mistakes and pitfalls along its evolutionary path.

Most keyboard setups have their direct origin in the original IBM keyboard – “The IBM Enhanced 101 Key Keyboard “which IBM set as the standard in the year of 1987. The Enhanced Keyboard was not the first but rather IBM’s third keyboard standard for PCs.

What were these previous frameworks of IBM keyboard models?

First the original IBM PC and XT keyboards had 83 keys. There were 10 function keys on the left side of the keyboard, a combined number pad and a cursor pad placed on the right hand side. The now called Control (Ctrl), Left Shift, and Alt keys were arranged in a line next to the function keys.

The Escape (Esc) as we know it was to the left of the numbers in the top row. To the right of the Right Shift Key, an unshifted asterisk key allowed the user to type the now common *.* without acrobatics. Between the tiny Left Shift key and the Zee key was a Backslash / Vertical key. The Enter key was narrow and vertically aligned and very easy to miss by most early PC users.

The design of this original IBM keyboard standard was a mixture of sensible and absurd keyboard layout decisions so much so that the admired components overshadowed the less thought out shortcomings and thus here we are today.

IBM’s next design was the original AT keyboard. This was somehow made incompatible with the earlier PC/XT design but a calculating user could reprogram in essence the newer keyboard to work.

The AT keyboard again had the then accepted ten function keys on the left, but exiled the Esc and the unshifted asterisk to the number pad. The Enter key was L-shaped and the Backsplash key, which now occupied the spot which used to be the left half of the Backspace key. Was reduced in size to the width of a single “alpha” key.

At some point when market forces pushed IBM to upgrade the venerable AT computer, it introduced the Enhanced model keyboard which was compatible with the original AT model, but had a drastically different layout. The ESC key and the 12 function keys were now along the top, the number pad was moved to the right. And a new cursor pad was placed between the alpha keys a number pad. The cursor pad ( which was actually split into two sets of keys ) consisted of four arrow keys in an inverted T at the bottom and a separate bank of 6 keys at the top: Ins ( Insert) , Del (Delete) , Home and End, and PgUp (Page up_ and PgDn ( Page down) .

What happened is that the computer users of the time disastrously started to press the Delete key when they meant end. There was virtually little memory, by today’s standards’ hence no advanced features of rescue that we take for granted today. A computer user who may have spent hours typing a major endeavor such as master’s thesis may have seen his hard work disappear into never never land.

It did not take too long for the complaints to arrive at IBM head office to rectify the situation. “Leave well enough alone “was the refrain. And the Backspace key returned to its original double width. The backslash key now occupied a single row. Caps lock migrated to the old side of the Ctrl key, and twin Ctrl and Alt keys flanked the spacebar.
The Del key though remained in its now current place although in some keyboards it is now double sized.

Like it or not this layout has become the standard by which we live with our computer enhanced lives.

The keyboard is among the most underappreciated and taken for granted component in our every day computer lives. We seldom stop to think why certain keys are laid out in the given way. Like it or not we owe a debt to thoughtfulness and thoroughness of the original IBM PC project engineers.

Vintage Computer Manuals

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

My First Computer: Sinclair ZX81

My First Computer: Sinclair ZX81 Collecting, Computers, Science & Technology An article on the rapid developments in the computer hardware in the last twenty years. That had me thinking about the very first computer I ever owned. It was in 1981 that I bought my first “real” computer. At that time, being able to use a programmable calculator was a “cool” thing to do. I was one of the few lucky ones in my class (3rd year of civil engineering) to have and program a Logic P- 512 (programmable calculator with 512 step program capacity). One day, going through a second hand issue of “Popular Mechanics”, I came across an article about the new affordable and highly popular new computer for hobbiest, called the Sinclair ZX81. Even before finishing the article, I somehow knew that I had to have this toy. Next day, a close friend of mine and I went into the city center looking for that computer, and to our surprise, we found it in the bookstore. There were no computer shops at that time; so all calculators, typewriters, etc. were instead sold on bookshops, at least in my city.
Programming interested me so much that I pulled together all my savings and resources to buy a Rs 3,000 (nearly US$ 200 at that time) machine. Once I bought the computer and brought it to my hostel room in the university, and unpacked it with great expectations, I realized that I could not use it without a TV and a cassette player. The computer had no screen or backup storage of its own. That really damped my enthusiasm. I had no more savings to buy a TV and a cassette player. By that time, everyone in the hostel had heard about the new computer, the first of its kind in the entire university of over 4,000 students, and friends were flocking into my room to take a look. One of my friends brought in his TV a 12" black and white antique, and another friend offered his walkman, so we set it up and switched it on. Nothing happened, except we saw a blinking dot, the cursor on the blank screen. We had no software to run, so once again all excitement frizzled out. Once the crowd dispensed, un-impressed and disappointed, I began thumbing through the manual and got acquainted with the “Basic” Language. By the next morning I had successfully written my first computer program, which was the famous racket and ball game. It was actually nothing fancy, you moved a small straight line at the bottom of the screen (the racket) by using ‘L’ x ‘R’ keys trying to deflect a ball (the cursor) moving at a turtle speed. This was, however, exciting enough for me and most of my friends who spent hours playing, so finally we had something to show for the computer. I then went on to write a full frame analysis program using matrix method as my 4th year project on the same computer, within the limits of its ‘8K’ memory. Yes, not 8Mb, but just 8Kb.
While I was planning to write this article, I thought where would I get the specifications and a picture of the computer I used nearly 23 years ago. So I turned to Internet and entered ZX81 in Google search. To my surprise there were over 20,000 pages containing information about this computer. I later found out that ZX81 has become a collectors’ item and there are several websites and groups entirely dedicated to this marvel of computing.
===================================Dr. Naveed Anwar is Associate Director of ACECOMS, AIT. ACECOMS is provide an impetus to the research in civil & structural engineering computations and to the development of quality computer software tools for engineering applications, their wide spread promotion, seminar and training on their effective use. Please visit at