April 8th, 2013 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Apple, Apple II, Apple IIe, Apple clone, Star Micronics, Delta-10, dot matrix printer, advertisement, Personal Computing, 1983, The Print Shop, Broderbund
The Star Micronics Delta-10 Dot Matrix Printer: Mouse with Machine Gun
My family owned this exact printer. In fact, I think it's still sitting in my parents' attic as we speak. If I'm not mistaken, we used it with our Apple IIe system — the one my dad built from a bare circuit board and a set of cloned ROM chips (much like the one in this 2006 VC&G post).
It's probably the first printer I ever saw in action, likely before I could even walk. I can recall crawling under our computer desk (the printer was on the floor beneath it for some reason) and watching it print out whimsical banners and calendars from a program like Broderbund's The Print Shop.
But what I remember most about it, of course, was the sound it made: like a screeching robot mouse spraying lead into tractor feed paper with a tiny machine gun. Like any dot matrix printer, once you hear one in action, it will never leave you.
Those were the days.
Of course, I was still using a dot matrix printer until the early 1990s, so I am pretty much scarred for life. Mice everywhere.
[ From Personal Computing, November 1983, p.28 ]
Discussion Topic of the Week: What was the first printer you ever owned?
January 21st, 2013 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Apple, Apple Lisa, Apple IIe, Apple II, Popular Computing, anniversaries, freelance work, Macworld, 1983
APPLE'S BOLD NEW COMPUTERS IN ALL-CAPS
Thirty years ago last Saturday (January 19th, 1983), Apple announced two new computers: the Apple Lisa and the Apple IIe.
Ultimately, the Apple Lisa met an early end, leaving behind technology that shaped the entire industry. The Apple IIe remained a reliable breadwinner during uncertain times in the early life of the Macintosh and remained the flagship member of Apple's popular 8-bit computer line until it ended in 1993.
Here's the cover of the March 1983 issue of Popular Computing which featured Apple's two new machines. It has always been one of my favorite vintage computer magazine covers.
By the way, I recently wrote an article about this anniversary for Macworld in case you're interested.
[ From Popular Computing, March 1983, cover ]
Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever used an Apple Lisa? What did you think about it?
October 8th, 2012 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Sanyo, MBC-1100, EHD 511, 8-bit computers, Z80, CP/M, Japanese computers, Personal Computing, 1983
"My whole torso is numb, and it feels great!"
The Sanyo MBC-1100 (1982) was a Z80-A-based business machine that ran CP/M as its operating system. It was one of many, many Z80 business machines from that era designed to run CP/M.
Japanese computer manufacturers were just breaking into the U.S. computer market at the time, so the Sanyo MBC-1100 would have likely been a curiosity in an American office setting.
[ From Personal Computing, November 1983, p.213 ]
Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever used a Japanese-designed vintage computer? Tell us about it.
September 10th, 2012 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Atari 8-bit, Atari 800, Atari 400, Atari, AtariWriter, word processors, Personal Computing, 1983
"You won't find a bluer word processor package anywhere…"
[ From Personal Computing, November 1983, p.43 ]
Discussion Topic of the Week: What was the first word processor software you ever used?
August 27th, 2012 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, TRS-80, CoCo, Color Computer 2, Tandy, Radio Shack, instruction manual, 1983
Every instance of those 16 TRS-80 logos is trademarked, so hands off!
See also: Hot CoCo (2) for Christmas (2007)
[ From TRS-80 Color Computer 2 Operation Manual, 1983, cover]
Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you owned a TRS-80 Color Computer (any model)? Tell us about it.
August 13th, 2012 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, IMS International, IMS 5000IS, ergonomics, woman with computer, Interface Age, 1983
The IMS 5000IS: Your Key to Office Neck Pain
It's almost amusing to recall the days when secretarial computer work mostly involved data entry and/or printing. (In this case, data entry inspired the neck-cramping computer setup seen here.) Both of those activities were designed to bridge the world of the computer and the world of paper.
By the mid-1990s, the introduction of low-cost scanners paired with optical character recognition (OCR) software helped relieve the tedium of typing in paper-bound data by hand.
Today, such scanning happens far less frequently, as most text-based data originates in the computer space to begin with. And many times it stays there, too: office workers regularly publish data electronically to the Internet or share it over local networks and email, making routine printing (and routine data entry) far more uncommon tasks in the year 2012 than they were in the 1990s.
See Also: The Too-Personal Computer (2010)
[ From Interface Age, May 1983, p.90 ]
Discussion Topic of the Week: Was there ever a time when you were forced to do lots of manual data entry? Tell us about it.
July 23rd, 2012 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Canon, Canon AS-100, IBM PC, IBM, Intel, 8088, business machines, Popular Computing, 1983
The good, the bad, and the obscure.
There's a vast wilderness of little-known business micros that have long been overshadowed by the IBM PC and its brethren in the history books. Seen here is one such machine, the Canon AS-100, which sported an Intel 8088 CPU but was not an IBM PC clone (in other words, it could run MS-DOS, but was not hardware compatible with the PC).
Machines like this one tend to get overlooked historically because they were very expensive (this machine retailed for $3495 in 1983, or about $8,052 today) and they deviated from the emerging business standard of the IBM PC compatible. With those two elements combined, they sold relatively poorly — and, being business-oriented, they also never became notable gaming platforms (enthusiasm for retrogaming brings a lot of attention to certain classic PCs that otherwise might have been forgotten).
Speaking of gaming platforms, the color capabilities of this machine look amazing for 1983. I wonder if anyone ever did write a game for it that took advantage of those high-end graphical specs.
[ From Personal Computing, November 1983, p.36 ]
Discussion Topic of the Week: What's the most obscure computer model you've ever used? Something that you think no one has ever heard of.
July 9th, 2012 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, IBM, IBM PC, Synergetix, Apple, iPad, Smart Cover, furniture, Personal Computing, 1983
The IBM PC Workstation: Almost as small as a refrigerator.
Once upon a time, IBM made furniture.
Specifically, they created a custom folding desk for its IBM Personal Computer called the "IBM Synergetix PC Work Station," which we see in the 1983 ad above.
IBM registered the trademark "Synergetix" in 1981 to cover its line of IBM PC-related furniture, which even included an official IBM PC Table and IBM PC chair. Big Blue let the trademark expire in 1989, which shows you how successful that idea was.
I've been trying to think of modern analogies to the IBM PC Work Station, and the closest I can come up with is Apple making a special cover for its iPad — although Apple's Smart Cover has been popular and well-received. The Smart Cover also doesn't cost $850 like the IBM PC Work Station did (that's about $1,961 today).
[ From Personal Computing, November 1983, p.249 ]
Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever used a desk specifically designed for use with a computer?
April 5th, 2010 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, IMS International, IMS 5000IS, woman with computer, ergonomics, multiuser, Interface Age, 1983
"Is your personal computer TOO personal?"
Facetious 1980s computer manual quote: "Never operate a computer with the monitor sitting directly in front of you. Neck torsion increases muscle tone and blood flow to the brain, resulting in higher computing performance."
[ From Interface Age, November 1983, p.13 ]
Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever been forced to share a PC with someone else? Tell us about it.
December 17th, 2007 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, TRS-80, Tandy, Radio Shack, CoCo, Color Computer 2, Christmas, Computers and Electronics, 1983
As a sequel to last year's "Very TRS-80 Christmas," we have this ad for the TRS-80 Color Computer 2. I'm not sure what makes this model "better" than the first Color Computer (CoCo), aside from obvious: different keyboard, ugly case-retooling, and perhaps more RAM.
Unfortunately, this unit ages to a nasty brown and its rubber-dome keyboard isn't much of an improvement (I still like the CoCo 1′s keyboard better). But at least Tandy saw it fit to advertise the unit with a Christmas theme, which is quite relevant to the season at hand.
[ From Computers and Electronics, December 1983 ]
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