Boomer Tech Thread - *crack* *sip* Yep, the C64 was a good computer.

AmpleApricots

kiwifarms.net
Small bump:

I was curious about the power draw of the earlier Geode board and measured it. Peak is ~8 Watts and it only draws +5V, so you could theoretically power it from a particularly well designed USB port. Kinda interesting that it didn't really get less with FDAPM, since that CPU should have a power-saving halt state. It's fast enough to play Duke Nukem 3D at 800x600, I wonder if it would play Quake 1 fine. It should, but my memory is spotty regarding where to put that game.

While I was measuring I also measured some other computers I had standing around. A 1-Chip Chipset (Headland) 286@16 Mhz without Disk drive, Flash as harddrive, Graphics card (old Acumos VGA chip with no external RAMDAC and 512kb of RAM, Acumos was later bought by Cirrus Logic and defined their line of graphics chips) serial controller card and IDE Controller + 1 MB of RAM onboard (+parity chips) only drew about 10W which was a lot less than I was expecting, but that was probably partially also because of the modern DC-DC power supply. They're a lot more efficient.

Then I measured an A600 with IDE DOM and Floppy - ~15-16W, that one has a small 4MB FastRAM expansion and the ChipRAM expansion so you could probably reduce that somewhat if you took out all the hungry DRAM.

The power consumption of these computers is kinda cool and It's an absolute disgrace that desktops of today don't really work in that range. They could with ARM. Sadly ARM is buried in IP bullshit and only cares about mobile.

I also measured my old A2000 which I dug out thanks to this thread. (yes, the battery was removed a long time ago) With SCSI drive, 060 accelerator, Ariadne Network card and Cybervision 64 graphics (some S3 chip IIRC) + original power supply = 100W which is kinda crazy for the MIPS you're getting. There's no difference between Idle and full running here: Even though the 68060 does know an idle and even a sleep state, the OS can't deal with it and the accelerator doesn't implement it. I played that Star Trek: TNG Click 'n Point Adventure game (in the Mac Emulator) and Day of the Tentacle+Full Throttle in the scummvm port on that one. (I was so dissapointed when DOTT didn't come to the Amiga back then) These days it's easier to just get an old 68k or PPC Mac.

I have way too much old crap.
 

Robert Sanvagene

Autistic Lives Matter™
kiwifarms.net
The power consumption of these computers is kinda cool and It's an absolute disgrace that desktops of today don't really work in that range. They could with ARM.
Fun fact: one of the main reasons why ARM CPUs consume so little power is because the engineers at Acorn wanted to design a chip that ran very cool. They were trying to avoid the thermal issues that affected the BBC Micro and the Electron; the former making it very difficult to design a reliable ULA for the latter.

I have way too much old crap.
If by "way too much old crap" you mean "solid retirement plan", then yes.
 

TaimuRadiu

Kaiserin
kiwifarms.net
Small bump:

I was curious about the power draw of the earlier Geode board and measured it. Peak is ~8 Watts and it only draws +5V, so you could theoretically power it from a particularly well designed USB port. Kinda interesting that it didn't really get less with FDAPM, since that CPU should have a power-saving halt state. It's fast enough to play Duke Nukem 3D at 800x600, I wonder if it would play Quake 1 fine. It should, but my memory is spotty regarding where to put that game.

While I was measuring I also measured some other computers I had standing around. A 1-Chip Chipset (Headland) 286@16 Mhz without Disk drive, Flash as harddrive, Graphics card (old Acumos VGA chip with no external RAMDAC and 512kb of RAM, Acumos was later bought by Cirrus Logic and defined their line of graphics chips) serial controller card and IDE Controller + 1 MB of RAM onboard (+parity chips) only drew about 10W which was a lot less than I was expecting, but that was probably partially also because of the modern DC-DC power supply. They're a lot more efficient.

Then I measured an A600 with IDE DOM and Floppy - ~15-16W, that one has a small 4MB FastRAM expansion and the ChipRAM expansion so you could probably reduce that somewhat if you took out all the hungry DRAM.

The power consumption of these computers is kinda cool and It's an absolute disgrace that desktops of today don't really work in that range. They could with ARM. Sadly ARM is buried in IP bullshit and only cares about mobile.

I also measured my old A2000 which I dug out thanks to this thread. (yes, the battery was removed a long time ago) With SCSI drive, 060 accelerator, Ariadne Network card and Cybervision 64 graphics (some S3 chip IIRC) + original power supply = 100W which is kinda crazy for the MIPS you're getting. There's no difference between Idle and full running here: Even though the 68060 does know an idle and even a sleep state, the OS can't deal with it and the accelerator doesn't implement it. I played that Star Trek: TNG Click 'n Point Adventure game (in the Mac Emulator) and Day of the Tentacle+Full Throttle in the scummvm port on that one. (I was so dissapointed when DOTT didn't come to the Amiga back then) These days it's easier to just get an old 68k or PPC Mac.

I have way too much old crap.
If it matters, there's apparently a SCUMMVM port to the old school Amiga. I keep forgetting that a lot of DOS games were on Mac as well, with better graphics on Mac to boot.
 

AmpleApricots

kiwifarms.net
Fun fact: one of the main reasons why ARM CPUs consume so little power is because the engineers at Acorn wanted to design a chip that ran very cool. They were trying to avoid the thermal issues that affected the BBC Micro and the Electron; the former making it very difficult to design a reliable ULA for the latter.
It's a pity these British computers never really managed to gain any foothold here in Germany because I would've liked to study one of these early ARMs, but Germany was strictly and squarely Commodore country, besides the occasional Z80-based system. My only exposure to that whole history is RiscOS on an old Pi 1. It was quite interesting that it is backwards binary compatible and stuff like the original Elite worked basically out of the box. Well x86 is the same way, so maybe not all that surprising.

If by "way too much old crap" you mean "solid retirement plan", then yes.
There was a time where flea markets and such where flooded with these computers here, you could take home as much as you could carry for a pittance as the sellers were glad to get rid of these and not having to take them away for recycling. I also picked up many from my work back then. (besides the A2000, I have that one since 1987 when it freshly came out and it costed thousands without any expansion) I also have an A1200 I picked up for about $5 from one of these local flea markets. The seller threw in an 030 Accelerator card because it "belonged to the computer" but the computer wouldn't start with it inserted. The oscillator was dead. Soldered a new one in and the card came back to life. (these old "tin can" crystal oscillators are kinda susceptible to the kind of bumps stuff gets when it's loose in some drawer or box for years, it's always a good idea to check them first if some hardware is completely dead)

I bought an 1200 back in the day to "upgrade" from my 2000 in the early 90s. After a little bit I took it back to the store and spent all my savings on an 486 I also still have. What a disappointing computer (back then) that Amiga was. Honestly, still not all that impressive. AGA still doesn't really have any software.

About solid retirement plan - I don't know. A lot of that Hardware is full with MACHs and PALs (by AMD, back from when they used to do lots of electronic components) It's basically programmable logic, similar to modern FPGAs. These chips do have a shelf life and the code in them is proprietary, if it wasn't lost to time already altogether. Most chips are read protected and you can't read them out (although there's a trick with PALs to bypass that I heard) so if they eventually lose their programming to time (AMD put their code retention time at about 20 years, which most of them are past of by now) cards like that 060 Accelerator will become paperweights. Those really of value will be these that are at the extreme end of the bell curve distribution for failures and will still work way past that time. Then eventually the old farts that hoarded these computers will all drop dead and you'll get them for $5 at flea markets again. I remember when people used to collect typewriters and some where quite valuable. Now you can pick off wonderfully cared-for 50+ year old typewriters off ebay for a pittance. There are not enough hipsters to keep up with the supply. The people who collected them died and the relatives who inherited don't care about them. Same will happen to these computers IMO.

If it matters, there's apparently a SCUMMVM port to the old school Amiga. I keep forgetting that a lot of DOS games were on Mac as well, with better graphics on Mac to boot.
That's what I used on the Amiga, sorry if that wasn't clear. The 68k Mac emulation on the Amiga is more like a modern VM, less like a honest-to-god emulation. You can switch back and forth between both OSes. The A2000 with 50 Mhz 68060 Accelerator is theoretically the fastest you can run 68k based Mac Software on original 68k Hardware. You needed to turn off the superscalar processing of the 68060 to run MacOS and I think (it was long ago) there was some other hack you needed to apply, as Apple sabotaged the OS to not work with the 68060 properly. They were pushing PPC hard then and really, really didn't want 3rd party manufacturers to make 68060 accelerators for Macs. Apple basically killed off the 68k architecture.
 

Smaug's Smokey Hole

no corona
kiwifarms.net
It's a pity these British computers never really managed to gain any foothold here in Germany because I would've liked to study one of these early ARMs, but Germany was strictly and squarely Commodore country, besides the occasional Z80-based system.
Up until the very late 90's I thought Commodore was a german company and when told they were American I just figured that it meant that they had been bought and was now American owned. German developers had such a massive presence that it felt like a logical assumption. Scandinavia was also heavily into the Amiga. Then there's the Brits, France.. it felt like a European product of some kind.

There was a time where flea markets and such where flooded with these computers here, you could take home as much as you could carry for a pittance as the sellers were glad to get rid of these and not having to take them away for recycling.
Over here lots of dudes in their mid-twenties were cleaning out their closets and the Amigas became part of a barter economy, trade my trash for your trash. A lot of them were heavily into the Amiga but when it died they didn't transition to PC or Mac for computing or SNES/Playstation for games. They only liked the Amiga, it was a cultural phenomena.
 

XYZpdq

fbi most wanted sskealeaton
True & Honest Fan
kiwifarms.net
Up until the very late 90's I thought Commodore was a german company and when told they were American I just figured that it meant that they had been bought and was now American owned. German developers had such a massive presence that it felt like a logical assumption. Scandinavia was also heavily into the Amiga. Then there's the Brits, France.. it felt like a European product of some kind.



Over here lots of dudes in their mid-twenties were cleaning out their closets and the Amigas became part of a barter economy, trade my trash for your trash. A lot of them were heavily into the Amiga but when it died they didn't transition to PC or Mac for computing or SNES/Playstation for games. They only liked the Amiga, it was a cultural phenomena.
I had a buddy with an Amiga for a while that way.
That reminds me I think I have an Atari ST in my parents' garage.
 

AmpleApricots

kiwifarms.net
Up until the very late 90's I thought Commodore was a german company and when told they were American I just figured that it meant that they had been bought and was now American owned. German developers had such a massive presence that it felt like a logical assumption. Scandinavia was also heavily into the Amiga. Then there's the Brits, France.. it felt like a European product of some kind.
Commodore actually had a considerable corporate presence in both the UK and in Germany AFAIK. There was an corporate HQ in Braunschweig and the first A2000 was designed there, and some units were produced. There was a later CR (Cost Reduced) version produced in the UK that Commodore ended up going with and the production of the Braunschweig A2000 was stopped. The CR version is a two layer board that has a simpler design closer to the A500 design, as compared to the four-layer board the first revision A2000 was which was design-wise closer to the A1000 and I think had the Buster Custom chip for the Zorro bus built up by a combination of programmable and discrete logic IIRC. I have two of these Made in W. Germany A2000 boards. I'm not sure they were ever actually sold in ready-made A2000s (and if they were, there probably only were a few thousand) so I don't know what they're worth, but they have this very nice yellow silkscreen on dark green PCB look. They work fine and escaped battery damage because they had more expensive NiCd batteries soldered in that were encased in a small plastic case. These are the only parts of my old electronics heap I actually hold onto solely for the value they might have.

Later on in the mid 90s a big german computer retailer (ESCOM, formerly Schmitt Computers or sth.) bought Commodore and the Amiga label up when they were auctioned off after bankruptcy and there were quite a few late Amigas manufactured under ESCOM leadership. They then put up an Amiga related technology divison and some late produced custom chips have the label "AmigaTech". I remember seeing it on the news and how they outbid Dell. I don't know the whole story off the top of my head but you can google it. That 486 I talked about was from ESCOM. They ended up bancrupt themselves and that whole thing only went on for about a year.

Back in the day, bodge jobs on the boards (fixes to fauly PCBs that needed stuff soldered in after production) for C64s and some Amigas were part time work for german housewives in and around Braunschweig. Many a C64 had protective diodes or for the user port soldered in by some bored german housewife that did work from home. Because Commodore always went with the cheapest parts you could get for money later on you'd find east german components (these square ceramic capacitors they used to have over there) in these official commodore bodge jobs and I've seen boards like that.

Over here lots of dudes in their mid-twenties were cleaning out their closets and the Amigas became part of a barter economy, trade my trash for your trash. A lot of them were heavily into the Amiga but when it died they didn't transition to PC or Mac for computing or SNES/Playstation for games. They only liked the Amiga, it was a cultural phenomena.
The C64 was also very popular here way into the 90s. You could buy joysticks, mice and the whole computer at supermarkets like Aldi, which was weird looking back. Some of the bigger stores even had games.
 

The Real SVP

kiwifarms.net
Aldi has a history of supplying Germany with cheap home computers. They had a whole SKU of the bread bin C64 made only for them, they had a 100 DM (roughly $100 US in buying power) Commodore Plus/4 bundle with a printer and an extensive programming and computer use course, they had a 1 GHz PC bundle for 1000 DM, they had a 79€ PS2 Slim bundle, and their Medion brand makes somewhat decent notebooks to this day.
 

Smaug's Smokey Hole

no corona
kiwifarms.net
"Aldi Generic C64" sounds dank af
In the 80's during summer break you could stand at the check-out line with your mom at the super market trying to decide if you wanted to spend what's left of your allowance on an ice cream, a soda or take your chances on one of the C64 games(tapes) from the big crate. Cover art sold a lot of crappy games.
 
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XYZpdq

fbi most wanted sskealeaton
True & Honest Fan
kiwifarms.net
Aldi has a history of supplying Germany with cheap home computers. They had a whole SKU of the bread bin C64 made only for them, they had a 100 DM (roughly $100 US in buying power) Commodore Plus/4 bundle with a printer and an extensive programming and computer use course, they had a 1 GHz PC bundle for 1000 DM, they had a 79€ PS2 Slim bundle, and their Medion brand makes somewhat decent notebooks to this day.
I haven't run into anything that cool on this side of the Atlantic, but I've bought a lot of lower-tech stuff at decent prices from them, like a 6plug/2usb outlet, a few small fans, and a food dehydrator.
They have a smart watch I think but I don't really have any use for a smart watch.
 

AmpleApricots

kiwifarms.net
Yes, some of the cheap Medion PCs were pretty good value for the money. I got an Medion Pentium MMX notebook back in the late 90s, it must still be here somewhere too. I remember it had some inbuilt general midi wavetable chip and .MIDs sounded pretty cool on it. Looking back and considering the manufacturing date, it was probably a YMF719x combined with the general midi YMFsomethingsomething (I don't remember) chip Yamaha made. It sounded alright and I think the Notebook even wired out the game port, which not all did. I took it on vacations to game (I remember playing Fallout 1 on it) and write in the evenings and nights in impossibly hot countries and I remember taking the battery pack out to help with the cooling. The screen was not a looker though. Mobile computers were sort of a luxury then still.
 
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tehpope

Archivist
True & Honest Fan
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So based on a few videos by PhilsComputerLab I bought myself a socket 754 mobo with a cpu, cooler, and ram. I'm going to use it for DOS/Win9x stuff.

Lord help me.
 
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