Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Talks George Dyson: The birth of the computer

Historian George Dyson tells stories from the birth of the modern computer -- from its 16th-century origins to the hilarious notebooks of some early computer engineers.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Auction: KIM-1 Computer

Here is a rare auction on eBay, its a KIM-1 computer. This is a very early home computer, with a simple keypad and an LED displays.

Here is an text excerpt from the auction: "At auction here is a very nice, rare, KIM-1 Micro computer. This computer was originally released by MOS Technologies in 1976 as a way to demonstrate the power and flexibility of their new 6502 chip to engineers. It quickly found a following among computer hobbyists, and is widely considered the first commercially successful 'home' computer.

This computer cost $245 when released. It consists of a 6502 microprocessor running at 1Mhz, 1024 bytes of RAM, a 6 digit LED display, on-board data entry through a hex keypad, 30 digital I/O lines, cassette recorder interface, and a small operating system in ROM.

This computer is an ORIGINAL MOS Technologies board, before that company was bought by Commodore, making this item rarer still."

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Dinosaur Sighting: Microsoft Bob (1995)

See TechRepublic's Photo Gallery of screen shots of Microsoft Bob, which was an early attempt to make computers easier for new users.

The interesting thing is that some of Bob's features survived into later products (such as Office 2003 and Windows XP).

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Vintage 1961 Minivac 601 Computer

Here was a very rare item up for sale on eBay, it's Minivac 601 Computer from 1961. Here is excerpt from the acution text: "Up for auction is a nice 1961 vintage Minivac 601 computer. The really neat thing about these is that when running a program the relays are clicking, and the lights are blinking, etc. A real conversation piece. This unit is tested and fully functional, but due to it's age I'm selling it as-is."

Then you find some of the problems with it: "Let's talk about the problems that I have attempted to highlight in the photos, there are a few stains on the base paint, the frames of the relays have oxidized, and the most serious is a crack in the top panel that was difficult to photograph. It would be extremely simple to reinforce the crack if it's of great concern. None of these flaws affect operation in any way. One last item, the unit originally had 6 rubber feet, and now it has 5. Quite frankly, the method that was used to secure the feet on these should have been an embarassment to the company, but it is what it is and I'm not responsible."

Hint: When you buy vintage technology, I would always set your expectation low about the equipment working properly. In generally electronics will break down after a few decades, for example capacitors are notorious for going bad.