Retro computing Archive

Building a Psion/EPOC32 emulator

In which I build WindEmu, an emulator for the Psion Series 5mx (a PDA from 1999 running EPOC – the OS that would become Symbian), over the course of just over a week, without access to the actual hardware. Yet another cursed project. ↫ Ash Wolf I had never seen this before, even though it’s from 2019. You can load the emulator in your browser and use EPOC32 as if it’s running on the real thing, and I have to say it feel remarkably realistic for a project completed in a little over a week. Of course, it may have been tweaked and improved over the years since 2019, but I don’t know by how much. The last GitHub commit was five years ago, so it seems there really hasn’t been much public work done on it since. An emulator like this is probably the closest most of us will get to the later devices from Psion, since as with all retrocomputing platforms, the number of working devices is rapidly dwindling, and prices for working examples on sites like eBay have gone through the roof.

Atari Falcon030: impressive, but too late to the party

So looking back, it is obvious that neither Atari or Commodore would really be able to succeed in the long-term, although perhaps one of them could have become the 3rd “also-ran”. For a while, Atari really thought they could be that third choice and some of their late-model computers have some impressive innovations. With that preamble over with, let’s talk about the last Atari computer: the Falcon030. ↫ Paul Lefebvre In my mind, Atari is a game and console company, not a computer company – I don’t have any sale figures, but I feel like the Atari general computers weren’t quite as popular in The Netherlands as they were in some other places.

Everything you ever wanted to know about HP’s 9000 Series 300

Hewlett-Packard’s 9000 Series 300 (HP300) was a range of technical workstations based on Motorola 680×0 microprocessors. Superbly engineered in modular form, and ahead of the curve in terms of functionality, these workstations were used mainly as instrument controllers and for desktop technical computing. The HP300 series launched in 1985 with the models 310 (pictured below) and 320. It evolved through numerous variants of increasing power, concluding with the 38x models released in 1991. The series was officially obsolete as of 1997. The definitive website dedicated to vintage Hewlett-Packard computers is the wonderful HP Computer Museum, which has excellent and wide-ranging archival resources. The present site is focused specifically on the HP 9000 series 300 and is for anyone interested in the history, conservation and restoration of these personal workstations. ↫ Everything you could possibly ever want to know about the series 300, in one place. It’s incredibly detailed, and if you have your eyes on buying one of these machines, I urge you to keep this resource in a permanently open tab so you know what you’re doing.

Browsing the WWW on a 1980s IBM PC using MicroWeb

Do you ever sit at your 1981 vintage IBM PC and get the urge to pop onto that newfangled ‘WWW’ to stay up to date on all the goings-on in the world? Fret not, because Al’s Geek Lab has you covered with a new video, which you will unfortunately have to watch on a device that was made at the very least in the late 1990s. What makes this feat possible is a miniscule web browser called MicroWeb, created by jhhoward, that will happily run on an 8088 CPU or compatible, without requiring any fiddling with EMS or similar RAM extensions. Anything is possible, if you just want it hard enough.

Quicktake 100 for Apple II

Apple released their first Quicktake camera, the Quicktake 100, in 1994, ten years after the Apple //c. On the box, they very boldly wrote: “Requirements: 386, 486 or superior; 2MB of RAM, 10MB of free hard disk space; an 1.44MB floppy drive; a VGA, SVGA or superior card”. But was this true? No. They were just being lazy, or trying to get you to upgrade a perfectly functional 8-bit, 1MHz computer with 128kB of RAM and 140kB floppies. In fact, it was absolutely possible to do digital photography on an Apple //c. Useless projects are the best projects.

Long gone, DEC is still powering the world of computing

The VAX served DEC well throughout the ’80s and into the ’90s, but as the latter decade went on, DEC began to face stiff competition from UNIX vendors, particularly Sun Microsystems. DEC struggled to change with the times, and the company ultimately failed. In 1998, DEC was acquired by Compaq, and in 2001, Compaq was acquired by Hewlett-Packard. The DEC line, including the VAX/VMS system, was discontinued and faded from the market. And yet it lives on today. Here’s how. Getting a DEC Alpha machine has been on my list for a long time, but they’re in very high demand, and extremely expensive. It’s quite impressive to see DEC’s continuing legacy laid out like this.

GeckOS 2.1 released

I had to do some digging into our archives to see if we ever covered GeckOS before, but apparently we haven’t – and that’s a shame. GeckOS is a pre-emptive multitasking operating system for the Commodore 64 and the PET, and should be easily portable to other 6502-based machines, and offers multithreading, TCP/IP networking, and more. Version 2.1 has just been released, and it adds a ton of new features and bugfixes.