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The Good Old Days..... 137

gr8fulnded writes: "How many of you remember seeing some of these old computer ads?" I'm not sure whether to file this under humor or technology. I can imagine looking at a G4 Cube ad 20 years from now, and comparing it with the then-current generation. "Gee Grandpa, did your computers really have wires?"
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The Good Old Days.....

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    20 GB hard drive? But Daddy, how could you possibly install Microsoft Office in that amount of space?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Boobs []
  • ..which weren't on that site:

    Microsoft BASIC Compiler [] - Note the misspelling of the word "genius" in the second column.

    CompuServe Ad [] - I'll just let this one's headline speak for itself.

  • You might want to check this one out... I submitted this to Slashdot a few days ago but they didn't post it...

    This page describes how an Atari 800XL (with datasette only, no floppies) is interfaced to medical diagnostic equipment in a Czech childrens hospital. Extremly cool! :) []

  • My firewall:
    • 386dx25
    • 8 1mb 80ns simms
    • 3 ne2k clones
    • 1 floppy controler card
    • 2 1.44mb floppy drives
    • 1 2port 16550A card
    Just because somethings old and slow doesn't mean its useless. Before it was my firewall, it ran a 2 node RBBS for almost 6 years.
  • ...the fact that I looked at all the ads, the fact that I remember the inner debate I had in 1984 (should I stick with Tandy stuff or switch to Apple stuff?), or the fact that I just looked on eBay for a Tandy Model 100 portable (three on right now, ranging from $15-$25!). Ugh...
  • > The fact of the matter is these computer
    > systems died because they couldn't compete
    > with the PC.

    Oh, you mean systems like this one [] couldn't compete with the PC?

    (yes, I know he's just trolling, but what the hell).

  • It doesn't seem that long, considering that a constant link to a single legacy has been maintained for all that time. I can just imagine an IBM PC programmer from 1980 asking, "So, do you MOV AX,0001H anymore?" I would answer, "No, we've moved way beyond that. Now it's MOV EAX,00000001H." The guy from 2020 would just laugh at our lack of the EEAX register.

    And the 1980 guy would be pretty shocked to learn that all of his IBM PC code still runs on the latest machines. Who would have guessed, back then, that legacy compatability would become the #1 priority in the design of computer systems, with all other aspects (performance, ease of use, etc) becoming expendable?

    20 years may have been a long time, but most of the computers these days sure don't look much different than they did 20 years ago.

  • * William Shatner is still using that same Toupee

    Insignificant piece of trivia I didn't bother to research: It'd be hard for Bill to be wearing a different "toupee", as he has plugs instead. Not so easy to change plugs.

  • The quality is not diminishing, you nerf-bunny.

    The stories have always been this pointless.

    Wake up and smell the troll.
  • My personal fave is a Brazilian ad campaign [] done years ago, but it's classic humor that will withstand the test of time (or at least as long as powercords exist).

    FYI, the Computer Museums and RetroComputing Culture WebRing [] is probably the hub of cool vintage-hardware websites where old skool users can reminisce.
  • Before there was priceline, there was the commodore vic-20 []

  • A time of circular type, rounded fonts, sans serif and devices with a lot of edges. Will we revert back after we get tired of curvy devices and sharp, pointy, serif fonts?

  • or co-inventor? Makes you wonder if the 3rd row, 2nd column picture was cheating or came up with this idea too.


  • I meant did atari think of it independently of the original email and arapnet.

  • * All of the systems with "color" seemed to have neon green and neon pink.. usually one on the other.

    * William Shatner is still using that same Toupee.

    * Most of those computer ads were really looking for an audience.

    Incidentally, I had that star raiders game for my atari, and it was great! That game had suprisingly complex gameplay for that time, and the added keypad controller was the bomb. Lots of space dogfighting history here.

  • I bought a 1958 Scientific American recently and was fascinated by the ads as much as the articles. Many were for missle-related technology - the space program hadn't really gotten off the ground yet (he-he)

    The space program had gotten off the ground in October, 1957 in Baikonur, Russia. But I'm sure you knew that.
  • the reason i ask is 'cause a friend of mine uses his for his N64 and he thinks the quality is bad (i.e. even though it looks good hes worried its not) so i wondered what res it was
  • anyone know what the resolution of the c64 monitor, model 1802 ?
  • I have a bunch of TI-99/4A stuff, including those ads, id scan em but I sold my scanner.... speaking of TI-99/4A, when I dug it up a few months ago, I found the registration card, dated 1983 i think, I filled it out and mailed it... it hasn't come back so I wonder if they got it :)
  • An AC tells me that the calculator I'm referring to is the CURTA calculator []. Looks like some shweet high-tech stuff to me.
  • I remember seeing in my freshman year of high school (1979, if you must know) an ad in Scientific American for a calculator. A hand-held, mechanical calculator. It was about the size of your fist, and had a crank on the end. This was just before those cool four-bangers with the red LED displays came out.
  • Which was the one that had the "Left difficulty" and "right difficulty" switches?

  • To me, "really old" these days is pre-IBM XT, but that's because I'm only 20 and the XT is 18 (1982).
  • by Whelkman ( 58482 )
    We go from hating people over the age of 20 (approx.) to anti-MS people to a pro IBM/Intel/MS post to a link to an anti-Linux rant. This is quite an accomplishment, but not a flamebait. Mark it offtopic.

    Yes a troll, but many, if not most, of these systems long predate the IBM PC. "Not being able to compete with the (IBM) PC" had nothing to do with it. You really think the $5000 monochrome PCs were selling better than the $500 color Ataris in the consumer market? IBM didn't kill these systems, Tandy did, and the 386 killed the Tandy (or was it the 486?).

    Furthermore, the old Ataris and Commodores were used far, far longer than their technological level merited. Some of those 1978 machines were still in wide use in the mid to late 80s! Now you find me anyone who still uses a 10 year old IBM-compatible (which is likely a 286 or maybe a 386 if you're real, real lucky) for anything.
  • I certainly hope you're using the HX chipset (doubtful since it's a dual proc "server" chipset) or a Super 7 chipset to use more than 64MB of RAM. If you're using any of the other Intel [something]X chipsets, you're better off either yanking 192MB of that ram or making it into a huge RAM Disk :)
  • Heh, I almost put in "except in use for a dialup router" but I decided against it. I should have known I'd get bitten. With that said, I implied use and not an automated service. People were using their C64s to make music in the late 80s, for example, a production task. I didn't mean a 386 is *completely* useless today, but unless you have some ten year old software sitting around, it's close to that for normal PC tasks.
  • I didn't mean one couldn't use 64MB at all. I'm saying that one would be better off by not going over 64MB on such a chipset.
  • The HX is meant to cache 512MB provided there is an 11 bit tag RAM chip installed. However, some board manufacturers sought to cheapen the HX line and only put a stock 8 bit tag RAM chip in, which can only cache 64MB.

    The HX is the only Intel Pentium chipset that can cache more than 64MB of RAM. The LX (Mercury), NX (Neptune), FX (Triton I), VX (Triton "III"), and TX (Triton "IV") all have poor buffering and cheap tag RAM, so they cannot cache more than 64MB.
  • Whether it was technologically astounding or not, I knew many, many people who owned a 800XL but not a single one who owned a regular 800. Technology isn't everything in this business. I think the original NES proved this with it's rather mediocre offerings but powerful price point and marketing.
  • In related news, plans were announced to build new Operating Systems for the Commodore 64 and the TRS-80 lines of computers, in response to an earlier announcement [] of a new OS for the Amiga. The makers of Altair are unavailable for comment at this time.
  • Yes! I remember these...

    Honeywell always bought the inside front cover of Business Week. Resistors, caps, coils, wire...

    "In spite of everything, I still believe that people
    are really good at heart." - Anne Frank
  • Is this an allusion to John Hartford's genius, "Back in the Good Ol' Days"?

    If it is...holy god.
  • nts_Ad1.jpg yA d.jpg

    Not even Bill Cosby could save the 99/4A.
  • Look at my comment []

  • this would be a more direct URL: []


    Computers are like air conditioners.
    They stop working when you open windows.
  • The vintage ads I'd really like to find are the various animals made from electronics components, done by Honeywell back in the mid 1970s. The frog was my favorite. I wrote to Honeywell's PR department recently but they had never heard of these ads.
  • Always nice to know that somebody is thining of the next-generation-nerds ;)
  • Is it any coincidence about half these adds seem to be targeted directly at star trek fans? :)
  • Heheh... My first computer was a Tandy TRS-80 Color Computer 3. It had a tape drive. I mean a [i]tape drive[/i] for standard use. To load a program, you'd fast forward the tape by, say, 45 seconds and start loading from there. I had this really cool side scrollin game for it, though. You were a robot, and if you pressed down, you turn into some sort of rocket, and could fly around. The space bar used your lasers. I think it started with a 'T'. Does anyone know what it was? I wonder if there's a TRS-80 emulator... Ah, horrible, horrible, nostalgia.
  • My GOD, I made first post?!?!
  • Anyone here old enough to remember the World Power Systems ads about 20 years back? All the major computer hobbyist publications had full-color spreads of very neat add-on cards and peripherals for Trash 80's, and at a very good price. People sent their money in to World Power Systems and waited, and waited. No merchandise was forthcoming. It seems that this was all the inspiration of a scam artist, and the pictured devices and peripherals were mockups. No one got their money back and the magazine ads were never paid for. Dunno if the guy was ever caught. Does anyone have scans of these ads to post? Would be interesting.
  • I especially like the astounding Memopak HRG 192x248...

    And I thought my 1024x768 was too small. Just imagine something like that running... well anything for that matter.

    The first computer I ever touched was an XT in my mom's computer repair lab (back in those days people with soldering guns could actually fix computers :) It was running Tetris. The funny thing is, I'm yet to be more amazed by any other game since then...

    I mean, sure... I love many of the newer games that seem so much better (and they are.) But to a 7 years old, playing on a computer for the first time it was like a whole new world.

    Ahh... The memories...

    Oh well, back to my Quake.
  • there is a show i have not seen in a long time. I'm surprised it's not in syndication on any of the sci-fi channels...
  • I have fond memories of the countless hours I spent poring over Antic trying to learn sprite graphics. I still have some of those old Antics, I wonder if they have any collector value
  • JTK: must... resist... VIC-20...

    JTK: credibility... fading.... []

  • The sprites, which were actually very funny things to play with. They could be activated by poking
    $ff into $d015
    $d000 was sprite 0's x-position
    $d001 was sprite 0's y-position
    and so on...

    so if you poked $d001 an $d000 with $ff you could see a sprite appear somwhere past the middle of your screen.
    by poking $07f8-$07ff you could let the sprite data refer to a 64 byte data block somewhere in the first 16384 bytes of memory (bank 0)
    for example poking $07f8 with $c0 let the sprite data start at 12288 or $3000. Filling $3000 to $303f with $ff gave you a massive square. Sprite data was encoded in three rows of 21 bytes. So poking $3000 with $0,$3001 with $ff and $3002 with $0, and so on ....gave you a rectangle.

    Pfff. That's really a long time ago...

    Reading prior post brought it all back.
  • use a ruler next time
  • This post reminded me of the past:

    Bought a Apple IIe $600 (2 x 5 1/4 inch fdd!!!) back then - did the job had fun (games machine ... still I complained "I need something better".

    Paid $1300 for AMD 368DX/40 (4mb ram, 80mb hdd) Optiplex chipset (yes they were big back then) had good times, it was not the best, but it was considered powerhouse back then.

    Paid $1500 for Pentium II 300, 128MB RAM 17 inch monitor, bought this just so I could run the OS (Windows) at an acceptable speed.

    Hope you all had just as much fun as I did, (and will continue to do so). Merry Christmas.
  • ... had to be the Wang commercial with the helicopter. Mainly because their company was called "Wang".

    Which helicopter was it, anyway? Airwolf or Blue Thunder?

  • WTF?

    Someone points out a link, and gets moderated down as a troll? I can see "-1, incoherent" or maybe "-1, you're just encouraging them", but it's not a troll.

    Oh, don't forget to moderate me down as offtopic. Heaven forbid that criticism of the moderation system be tolerated by the moderators.

    My mom is not a Karma whore!

  • Who cares? I know a lot of people who care about stuff like this. People want to remember stuff like this because it brings back memories. Heck I remember the HOURS I spent on the colecovision, or the hours I spent in front of my C128. This is a case of remembering history. Where would we be today if it weren't for these systems from yesterday?
  • When I ran accross this [] add I had to laugh ... I guess he was a looser long before the Priceline adds.

    Though they are a new low!!

    - subsolar

  • .. had to be the Wang commercial with the helicopter. Mainly because their company was called "Wang". ----> That leads to the hoary old joke, Who was the worlds first computer programmer? Eve, because she had an apple in one hand and a Wang in the other. *grin* Heard that years ago.....
  • The Source was one of the two main competitors of MicroNet/CompuServe. Can't remember what the other one was. The Source was popular among Atari and Apple owners, while CompuServe was pushed by the Shack. Commodore seemed to be pretty neutral. ---> Commodore was pushing (and might even have owned(?) QuantumLink. YOu got a special disk to log into QuantumLink with, similar to what AOL does these days....
  • A complete, state of the art home PC for under $600. (Commodore 64, graet little machine.) Gee, we're having a hard time getting that NOW, 20 years later, even with inflation.


  • I've got a couple of old Byte mags from the early 80's, and one of my favorite ads is William Shatner pushing the Commodore Vic-20. Does anyone remember these? Did anyone actually buy a Vic-20 because of Captain Kirk? (I bought mine beforehand, so that doesn't count).
  • Did anyone else notice the complete lack of mentioning the CPU specs in all of those oldschool ads? I thought that was cool :) Something else too... these computers used "ease-of-progamability" as a selling point! I remember trying to type programs into the Atari 1200XL I had... but never tried programing on my 286 laptop, 386 desktop, pentium120 desktop, or even my new G4. The software to program with isn't bundled with the computer anymore. Later :)
  • Well if you had followed the link on top of the page then you might have found these:

  • It sez on the screen at the top The Source.

    Wasn't this an Online Service in the vein of CompuServe in those days?

  • wang made monitors as well, i have a 12 inch wang here.

    only 4 color black and white, but it works ok.
  • Ah...whiz kids...the show that no matter where they were, they always seemed to end up in a room or closet that had a terminal or computer in it.

    And that computer would always be networked to the rest of the world, and from it there was an interface to ANYTHING.

    The only 3 episodes I really remember (and given the run of that show, it might be all of them!!!) are:
    - RALF(that's the computer right?) is taken and setup someplace else and the lead's dad is a spy who needs his sons help.
    - Something computer-related makes the lead turn bad.
    - Some episode with a major animatronic computer setup with a big dragon that the kids use to foil the bad guys...those meddling kids.

    I wish I could find some of those episodes...sci-fi should run it. Ahh...nostalgia.
  • I have an issue of PC Computing from 1982. In there is an add for a 10M hard drive for an Apple IIe, and the price is $4000+. I really should scan that mag...lots of vintage stuff.

    One of my other mags has lots of adds for IBM clones, with the take-off of IBM's Charlie Chaplin adds - all with "sorry Charlie" or other similar knocks.
  • HX caches either 64MB or 128MB depending on configuration (ground a pin I think); all the HX boards I've seen are set up for 512MB. It was the VX/TX and later chipsets that wouldn't cache past 64MB; the TX often had problems even running if it had exactly 64MB.
  • I'm prety sure it's the same as a standard NTSC television (~640x480 overscan), cuz a friend of mine had a VCR hooked up to hers instead of a TV. It looked much nicer than a standard TV because the signal went in through RCA jacks instead of an RF modulator.
    'course, you can do the same with most modern TVs, but this was pretty slick!


    Freedom is Slavery! Ignorance is Strength! Monopolies offer Choice!
  • 18 years ago tomorrow I got my first computer - A Timex/Sinclair 1000 (aka Sinclair ZX-81). I used it until March of '83 when I upgraded to an Atari 400, which I used until 17 years ago today when I upgraded to an Atari 800XL.

    Recently I went to the local Goodwill store looking for old movie equipment and they had a TS1000 new in a box for $11. I did not find my movie stuff, but I did find my first computer!

    Now, thanks to things like xmess [] I can still enjoy my old computers.

    Also, for you Atari fans out there, you might want to check out Atari Magazines []. They have the entire Antic magazine library online, including the source code, program disks, etc. It is a neat trip if you have a few hours to waste. Heck, even if you are not an Atari fan, it is still interesting.

  • When you buy a PC today, the specs include memory and CPU and not much else. We're pretty close to the day where CPU won't matter for personal workstations [...] Memory is similarly stagnating; unless you work with Photoshop or its ilk, chances are you have no use for >256MB.

    I don't know if I buy this. People are always going to find good ways to waste memory and CPU. Games, for example, are among the most hardware-intensive applications out there. And that's just consumers. On the pro side, you have to do compiling, 3D rendering, real-time video and audio manipulation, encryption/decryption and scientific analysis. Plus, web sites will continue to get more and more complicated as bandwidth and other various technologies improve.

    Then there's the Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence []...

    - Scott

    Scott Stevenson
  • by jaapD ( 45964 )
    I ripped this [] from a Byte in the library:
    Finally you can afford to satisfy your lust for power
    [zx81 ad]
    It was funny 10 years ago, it still is.
  • Well, I hope it is abundantly clear now. First, he gains useful experience in futuristic technology on Star Wars. He then takes such information and covertly plants the seeds of the computer revolution, upon which his scam is to make money by appearing in computer ads. Finally, the internet is invented, giving Shatner a new lucrative ad career for Shatner laughs evilly, muahahaha!
  • I just made my own version about a week ago..(only 5 ads).. /i ndex.html

  • Did you notice the abundance of an outer space background with a blue streak coming from the center(comin right atcha!) of the company's logo? Priceless 80s nostalgia.
  • Maybe that Ohio scientific computer flopped since it was so damned ugly. It looks like a seriously bloated Triumph TR-7
  • They also had TEXNET for TI-994/A computers, and seemed to be just as pricey.
  • this [] article posted not that long ago?

    Okay... I'll do the stupid things first, then you shy people follow.

  • <SHATNERVOICE>So... That's... whatShatnerDid... Before... Priceline...</SHATNERVOICE>

    Can anyone imagine this... "The VIC-20. It's big... Really Big."

  • For example, they said professionals wouldn't need colour, colour computers are for games and therefore are not meant to be used in the office

    As fun as it is to bash, that wasn't Bill. That was IBM.
  • highly usable NT machine

    That's a new one!! *g*

  • This was one of the very first machines I bought out of pocket. Lots of lawns mowed to pay it off. Learning to program on it was tons of fun and that state of the art GTIA graphics chip was blowing the apple machines out of the water for a few weeks. Sadly, the 800 was also my first lesson in why not to buy bleeding edge stuff. Obly a few months after buying it they had a whole slew of new models out (way too many imho) that saturated the market and spelled thier impending doom. I should have ggone with a commodore.. nah.. maybe a pc jr... nah... all that time spent ragging on trash80's and they still prevailed (as a product not as ultra cool machines) until the whole mac and pc revolution got underway.

  • I just got Linux working on my old ZX81 but the RAM pack fell out and I lost everything.

    Back to square one...
  • Where are the TI/99-4A ads with Bill Cosby???
  • That was a real trip down memory lane.

    Old School: notice how, back then, Microsoft was the hero and Bill Gates represented the ultimate success story of school drop-outs? We had Microsoft Basic, Microsoft Word (which was a really nice, simple text editor with an innovative format called RTF, back then), MS-DOS floppy formatting, etc. Just when you least expected it, our old-time hero turned into a big greedy jerk. Oh the times, they are a-changing!

    Memorable hardware: TRS-80 Model 100 (the first "laptop" that got massively adopted by writers on the move and schientific projects in far-fetched places such as the Himalaya alike), the early 8-bit machines that got most of us started: ZX81, TRS-80 Color Computer (a.k.a. CoCo), Vic20/C64, Atari 800.

    Marketing freaks: Fans of typography will have noticed the futuristic sans-serif variants used in contrast to the boxy-looking computers of the time, hardware designers no doubt noticed the predominance of grey and/or metalic colours, while writers certainly enjoyed the over-abundance of openly published specs and page-wide texts explaining the merits of each product.

    Of interrest to Atari fans: early Atari Computer ads said "We can make beautiful music together" ages before the 520 ST stormed the music business with its built-in MIDI ports.

  • Me, a century-old cyborg robot? It could happen. But a child-eating robot? Sorry, I don't have a taste for children. You must be thinking of JonKatz.

    See you in hell,
    Bill Fuckin' Gates®.
  • The Atari 800 home computer now has 48K RAM.

    Who's ever going to need more than 48K?

    Dancin Santa
  • by Barbarian ( 9467 ) on Saturday December 23, 2000 @11:42PM (#1418083)
    And back then, we didn't have to give the government our encryption keys and access codes and passwords. And we didn't have to watch the 2 minute hate every day or salute big brother when in public. And we could turn the TV OFF!
  • by Barbarian ( 9467 ) on Saturday December 23, 2000 @11:44PM (#1418084)
    Six years ago, when I was in high school, in the computer room, there was an ancient (like 1987) poster on the wall for the Amiga -- some women wearing tight clothing and clutching a joystick figured prominently...I assume by now the poster's gone .. even then it was pushing the limits of p.c.
  • by batobin ( 10158 ) on Saturday December 23, 2000 @11:23PM (#1418085) Homepage
    "You mean, Bill Gates used to be an actual human before he transformed himself into a child-eating cyborg robot? Wow!" --My grandson, 50 years from now
  • by nakaduct ( 43954 ) on Sunday December 24, 2000 @01:04AM (#1418086)
    About a year ago, I was talking to a friend of mine how hardware is getting better and simpler every year.

    When you buy a PC today, the specs include memory and CPU and not much else. We're pretty close to the day where CPU won't matter for personal workstations (my P200, now almost 3 Moore-generations old, is still a highly usable NT machine; until last year I did most of my coding on a Linux P90 with 12 VC's). The web is accelerating this trend, since any machine that can run 10 browser windows will always be useful.

    Memory is similarly stagnating; unless you work with Photoshop or its ilk, chances are you have no use for >256MB.

    Anyway, my prediction at that time was within five years, the only spec on a new desktop PC will be the screen size; you'll buy a 20" PC or a 35" PC, and not care about what's inside. A month later, Viewsonic conveniently propped up my assertion with a campaign pointing out all PC's are the same; the only differentiator is the monitor (they favored Viewsonic monitors for the best PC experience).

    Looking at these ads, you can see the trend vividly -- the IBM copy [], for example, has a box of tiny type listing the diagnostic capabilities, the printer port speed, and a dozen other things no one would care about today.

    In fact, all of the really [] successful [] computers [] have tons o'specs. Most of the ones touting usability, etc. without benefit of hard numbers were flops [].

    We live in exciting times.


  • by Whelkman ( 58482 ) on Sunday December 24, 2000 @12:25AM (#1418087)
    The Atari 800XL was my portal to technology. I owe much of what I am today to that wonderful device. While everybody else was just playing video games with their Atari 2600s, I was learning how to interface with computers and how to program in BASIC.

    And the games. I had over 300 games for my 800XL. Sure most of them were crappy as can be, but they were fun.

    And the old Ataris even had voice synthesis! Man, how long did it take PCs to get that?

    Man, I loved my old Atari. One of the worst days of my life was when my mom threw it away while I was at school. She told me "I didn't use it anymore," when all that happened was the disk drive broke the week before. Oh well.

    A few months later I got an 8086 with the "full" 640K of RAM and when I heard how fast and how much RAM it had, I surely thought it would make my puny 64K Atari look like junk. Boy, was I disappointed. It had text only monochrome graphics and WordPerfect 5.1. Yeah, WP beat the pants off of Atari's Word Processor, but the machine was no fun at all.

    A few years later I got a 386. Surely a 25 Mhz "monster" with 2MB of RAM and VGA graphics would beat the crap out of the Atari, right? Nope. It wasn't until my Pentium 90 did I enjoy computers as much as I enjoyed the ancient Atari.
  • by the dweeb ( 169796 ) on Sunday December 24, 2000 @03:31AM (#1418088)
    Speaking of Bill...

    The headline testimonial in this ad [] refers to the May '83 issue of Byte Magazine, which, by odd coincidence, I had right in front of me in a little stack of obsolete literature keeping my monitor at a comfortable height. Curious, I turned to the referenced page 34 of the mag and found the glowing words of praise just as they appeared in the advertisement. This is not the interesting bit. What I found amusing was the closing paragraph of the article:
    "Radio Shack could probably make money issuing just a mediocre portable computer. Instead, it produced an exceptional machine. The designers of this machine--including Bill Walters of Radio Shack, Bill Gates of Microsoft, and several others at both companies--should be congratulated. And I have a feeling they will be--all the way to the bank."

    It's past 4am and I'm kind of tired, so you'll have to add your own Microsoft/Bill Gates/Radio Shack joke here.

  • by PyRoNeRd ( 179292 ) on Sunday December 24, 2000 @08:05AM (#1418089)
    Bill Gates wrote the editor of the TRS-80, according to "Gates" by Stephen Manes and Paul Andrews (Touchstone 1994, ISBN 0-671-88074-8).

    On p.209 it sez:

    Squirreled away in Bellevue, the lead programmers were three ASCII Microsoft employees from Japan: Jey Suzuki, Rick Yamashita, and Jun Hayashi, whose names later turned up in the ROM. But there was also the handiwork of William Henry Gates, who designed the machine's data structures and some of the user interface.

    Later, Bill became impatient with the lame line-oriented text editor that had been developed for the machine. The programmers insisted a change was impossible; with all the other goodies in the 32K ROM, there just wouldn't be room enought for a full-screen text editor. The next morning Gates had delivered the "impossible" editor in the same amount of code as the rudimentary one. It would be the last time Gates wrote a program that shipped as a Microsoft product. The demands of business has inexorably become more compelling than mere codesmithing.

    So this was Gates swansong as a programmer and he made it into a fine product that is STILL being used by many journalists.

    It goes against the grain of the popular image of Gates as a greedy businessman who profiteers from other's work and doesn't contribute anything himself but apparently Bill Gates was a competent programmer in his time.

  • by AcidMonkey ( 188562 ) on Sunday December 24, 2000 @12:04AM (#1418090) computer years.

    I think the astonished youth is more likely to ask "Your computers were really visible to the naked eye?" or "...required external power sources?" or maybe "...didn't rule the world as harsh yet fair despots?"

  • by Mignon ( 34109 ) <> on Sunday December 24, 2000 @04:59AM (#1418091)
    I bought a 1958 Scientific American recently and was fascinated by the ads as much as the articles. Many were for missle-related technology - the space program hadn't really gotten off the ground yet (he-he) - but there were a few computer ads as well.

    Perkin-Elmer was one such company advertising back then. We had a laugh at work because until recently, they still used those beasts there. Because they never rewrite code when we change platforms, only port it, there's a routine called PEKLUDGE() which must be called. Nobody ever claims to understand what it does anymore.

    I remember some detail of one ad - it was comparing one company's product to the competition and described how it had some 512 bytes of memory and could perform something on the order of a few hundred operations per second. And I think they boasted that it could use the new punch-card technology to input programs...

    I gave the issue to a friend who was born that month, but I think I'm going to borrow it and put up a page with some of the ads on it. Email me if you're interested in the URL when it's available.

  • by ericdano ( 113424 ) on Saturday December 23, 2000 @11:21PM (#1418092) Homepage
    And they had cables, and disks that spun around and everything........
  • by AntiNorm ( 155641 ) on Saturday December 23, 2000 @11:32PM (#1418093)
    Here [] is a *really* old one.

    cat /dev/random > /dev/hda3
  • by Bill Fuckin' Gates ( 262364 ) on Sunday December 24, 2000 @12:17AM (#1418094) Homepage
    In the spirit of Conan O'Brian's "In the year 2000" sketch:

    In the year 2020...

    • Intel will produce a stable 1.4GHz CPU. AMD, long the market leader, will buy it from them out of pity. In a surprise twist, Cyrix outlasts Intel through the sales of their Via chipsets for AMD mainboards.
    • Netscape 7 will be released. It is expected to dutifully follow Andreson's Law ("The lifespan of Netscape browsers will double with each successive release.") and isn't suspected to reach EOL until the end of the millenium.
    • Alan Cox will awaken from a five-year alcohol induced blackout to discover he has become Chief Scientist at Sybase. He promptly vomits on Tesla.
    • The average desktop PC will have more power in its GPU than its CPU.
    • John Carmack will enter an "experimental" stage, leaving id to create a new software company which shuns such outmoded concepts as "gameplay" in favor of sheer graphical excellence. Music fans will recognize that "experimental" is a buzzword meaning "poor sales". Carmack's new company will produce a series of mildly successful screensavers.
    • Steve Jobs will have fulfilled his childhood dream of becoming a pirate [].
    • Apple will release a 700MHz G4, which because of its amazing Altivec graphics subsystem, "remains competitive" with the 20GHz Athlon Firebird.
    • The US Trade Commission approves the merger of Microsoft Applications Development Ltd. and Microsoft Systems Incorporated, reuniting the innovative software juggernaut tragically split by the Department of Evil^H^H^H^H"Justice" in 2002.
    • According to this post [], I will be a child-eating cyborg robot.
    • Online messageboards will experience a renaissance.
    • Linux 2.4 will be released RSN.

    See you in hell,
    Bill Fuckin' Gates®.
  • by Admiral Burrito ( 11807 ) on Sunday December 24, 2000 @02:19AM (#1418095)

    A complete, state of the art home PC for under $600. (Commodore 64, graet little machine.) Gee, we're having a hard time getting that NOW, 20 years later, even with inflation.

    With the C64 it was common convention to prefix hexadecimal numbers with a $ instead of the now more common "0x". So $600 was decimal 1536. A location which, if you (POKE|ST[AXY])'ed it, you could make a character appear at a certain place on the text screen. That's because $0400-$07E7 (inclusive) was by default used to store the 40x25 text screen. The colour information was stored elsewhere though, at $D800-$DBE7. After the screen memory was a few bytes related to the eight graphic sprites (but you had to poke at the video chip registers in the $D000 range to actually make the sprites appear). And right after that came $0800, which was the start of BASIC program memory space, which extended all the way up to $A000 (which was the start of the BASIC interpreter ROM unless you fiddled with $0001 to unmask the RAM that was there). That's 38912 bytes, which when you exclude the zero byte at $0800 gives you the "38911" in the "38911 BASIC BYTES FREE." message that appeared when you turned the computer on.

    Just a little arcane knowledge I thought I would share.

"Yeah, but you're taking the universe out of context."