April 7th, 2016 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, IMSAI, IMS Associates, IMSAI 8080, Altair 8800, 8080, S-100, Byte, advertisement, 1977
The only winning move is not to play
Here's an oldie but goodie — the IMSAI 8080, a 1975 clone of the pioneering Altair 8800. Like the Altair, it used an S-100 bus, an Intel 8080 CPU, and a blue, boxy sheet metal case with front panel lights. Unlike the Altair, the IMSAI 8080 featured prominently in the 1983 movie WarGames. The machine apparently greatly annoyed Ed Roberts, the inventor of the Altair.
[ From BYTE, February 1977, p.48 ]
Discussion Topic: Have you ever used an IMSAI 8080 or Altair 8800? Tell us about it.
August 31st, 2015 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, solid-state disk, solid-state, SD Systems, Disc-Less, PC World, woman, legs, sex, advertisement, Byte, 1983
SD Systems Presents the New Disc-Less Solid-State Legs
It's pretty amazing — solid-state disks are not nearly as new as most people think. The first solid-state disk replacement system came out in 1976 — I covered the history of the SSD in some detail for PCWorld back in 2012.
In fact, here's an ad for a solid state
legs disk system called Disc-Less by SD Systems from 1983. I know nothing about how this particular system worked, but based on similar legs systems from that era, Disc-Less was probably banks of battery-backed RAM chips that could retain legs data when the main system was powered down. It also probably cost a ton of money.
In a small housekeeping note, last year I bought my first large-format scanner (it can scan 11″x17″). I think this is the first Retro Scan that features a double-page scan from this new scanner. (Prior to this, I digitally re-assembled by hand every double page scan.) It's also my first scan to prominently feature
[ From Byte, February 1983, p.208-209]
legs the color pink.
Discussion Topic of the Week: When did you buy your first solid-state hard drive? What capacity was it?
August 17th, 2015 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Spectrum HoloByte, Tetris, Wordtris, puzzle games, Game Boy, Super NES, Nintendo, VG&CE, advertisement, 1992
How Video Games Are Designed
[ From VG&CE, November 1992, p.59]
Discussion Topic of the Week: What's your favorite Tetris spin-off game?
August 10th, 2015 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Smoke Signal Broadcasting, SWTPC 6800, Motorola, Motorola 6800, SWTPC, SS-50, S-100, Altair, Otto, 1975, advertisement, BYTE, 1977
When taking apart your PC was required
I recently inherited a SWTPC 6800 and a fair number of accessories and peripheral cards from a late friend of my father's. The 6800 was one of the first personal computers, released in 1975, which makes my unit the oldest computer in my collection. The SWTPC 6800 takes its name from its CPU, the Motorola 6800, which was one of the earliest microprocessors, and it refreshingly utilizes a non-S-100 bus. In fact, it created its own minor bus standard called SS-50 that manufacturers like Smoke Signal Broadcasting incorporated into compatible machines.
The 6800 is really neat machine — I cleaned up all the boards, but I can't get it to boot so far. I'll have to give it a shot again at a later date.
[ From BYTE Magazine, March 1977, inside front cover]
Discussion Topic of the Week: Do you own any computer released prior to 1977? Tell us about it.
July 27th, 2015 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Vector Graphic, Vector 1, S-100, Intel, Zilog, 8080, Z80, CPU, Altair 8800, Bob Harp, Lore Harp, Carole Ely, Byte, freelance work, FastCompany, advertisement, 1977
NOW AVAILABLE IN RUST
The Vector 1 (1977) was the first complete computer system sold by Vector Graphic, Inc., a California-based firm founded by Lore Harp (now McGovern), Carole Ely, and Bob Harp in August 1976.
The Vector 1 included an Intel 8080A or Zilog Z80 CPU, and it utilized the S-100 bus introduced by the Altair 8800. In an unusual nod to aesthetics, the Vector 1 shipped in two case color options: green or "rust," which was Vector's name for orange. It retailed for for $849 fully assembled (about $3,288 today when adjusted for inflation) or $619 as a kit.
It just so happens that I wrote an article about the history of Vector Graphic for FastCompany recently. You may enjoy it.
[ From Byte Magazine, February 1977, p.61]
Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever owned an S-100 based computer? Tell us about it.
July 13th, 2015 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, APF, Imagination Machine, APF-M1000, console expansions, advertisement, BYTE, 1980
I'm not sure I'm ready to take such a big step, APF.
I once did a slideshow of game console-to-computer upgrades, and the APF Imagination Machine figured prominently in the list. That's because it was a combination of the APF-M1000 home video game system and the "IM-1," which was a large keyboard/speaker dock with a built-in cassette tape player (for program storage and retrieval).
What an odd machine. To my knowledge, the M1000 was the only video game system based on the Motorola 6800 CPU, which is one of the grand-daddies in the microprocessor world (first released in 1974).
While neither the console nor the computer fared well commercially, this distinctive advertisement leaves a positive impression. It was brilliantly playful and colorful for a computer ad of the time (1979; this particular scan of the ad comes from 1980).
[ From BYTE Magazine, July 1980, p.43]
Discussion Topic of the Week: Best console add-on of all time?
June 29th, 2015 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, IBM, Instruments Computer System, System 9000, modular, scientific, Byte, advertisement, 1983
The IBM Instruments Computer System
What a strange machine. The IBM Instruments Comptuer System was a completely modular 68000-based PC with its own custom OS (CSOS, according to Wikipedia, which stood for "Computer System Operating System" — ???). It also utilized Motorola's rarely-seen Versabus bus architecture. The ICS was aimed at scientific and engineering use, and it launched in 1982 — the year following the launch of the IBM PC 5150.
Has anyone used or seen one of these? This is an oddity of oddities. Thank goodness the IBM PC didn't end up like this.
[ From BYTE Magazine, February 1983, p.116-117]
Discussion Topic of the Week: What was the first IBM brand computer you ever owned (even when collecting)?
June 8th, 2015 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, XCOMP, The Toaster, removable hard disk, removable media, lightning, advertisement, Byte, 1983
It burns your disks
I know nothing about this dual removable hard disk device — called "The Toaster" — by XCOMP. The only time I've ever seen it is in this ad. But judging by the lightning, it was completely awesome.
It was also completely expensive — about US $6,639.50 when adjusted for inflation.
[ From Byte, February 1983, p.60]
Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever used a removable hard disk system?
May 18th, 2015 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Personal Software, Infocom, Zork, Apple II, TRS-80, Atari 800, brother, Monty Plays Monopoly, Arcade Classics, interactive fiction, Byte, 1981
A scene from "Zork: Brick Collector"
This is it, folks: an early ad (maybe the first) for the original commercial release of Zork, the famous Infocom text adventure, published by Personal Software ca. 1980 for the TRS-80 Model I and III home computers.
(This site has some wonderful background history on this release.)
I love the artwork featured in this ad. It is excised from the full cover art for the Personal Software version, which captures a great deal of the majesty and wonder of the seminal adventure title — plus a hefty dose of out-of-place machismo.
The mere mention of Zork takes me back to the mid-1980s when my older brother delved into the Great Underground Empire with the aid of photocopied maps and worn out InvisiClues on our family's Atari 800. Warm, fuzzy memories. Of course, by then, Infocom published the title directly.
[ From Byte, February 1981, p.31]
Discussion Topic of the Week: What's your favorite text adventure game of all time? (Modern ones count.)
February 23rd, 2015 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Axiom, EX-801, EX-820, Printer Card, TRS-80, PET, Apple II, BYTE, advertisement, 1979
* Feathered hair not included
Ah, the good ole days when you had to pay $535 (that's $1,744 in today's dollars) for the privilege of merely being able to hook a printer to your home computer. What can I say — it was a useful feature.
My first computer, an Apple II+, came equipped with a Grappler+ printer card (from the previous owner), although I can't recall ever using it. Instead, I printed school reports by that time from whichever family MS-DOS machines we had at the time, each of which included a built-in parallel port for printer use.
What a great day it was when I switched from a noisy dot matrix printer to the that awesome Canon Bubblejet we had. Silent printing! And the day we got our first full-color photo capable HP inkjet printer around 1996. It was pretty low resolution, but still amazing.
Today, I don't print much. I have a color laser copier in service to reproduce scanned documents (in lieu of a copy machine) in case I need a hard copy of something — usually a form or contract — to mail.
[ From BYTE Magazine - November 1979, p.162 ]
Discussion Topic of the Week: Do you regularly print anything from your computer these days? What do you print?