Hi everyone, a few months ago I got a Brother AX-25, and since then, I've been working on turning it into a computer. It uses an Arduino to scan the custom mechanical keyboard and control the typewriter, and a Raspberry Pi is connected to the Arduino over serial so I can log into it in headless mode.
How it was when we were young
After completion of the System Beeps, I wasn’t planning to make another stand alone album release with the pseudo polyphonic music, as I felt the topic had been explored enough. This, however, wouldn’t mean I couldn’t apply the experience and skills gained to make more utilitarian stuff, like an actual retro game OST or an old school demoscene project. Such an opportunity arose in Autumn 2020, as David Murray of The 8-bit Guy Youtube channel fame announced his new game to be in development, the Attack of The PETSCII Robots for Commodore PET and some other Commodore 8-bitters. As I previously worked with David on his previous big release, Planet X3 game for MS-DOS, and this was a perfect opportunity to satisfy my interest towards the pre-graphics era PCs as well as apply my vast experience both in the minimalistic computer music and 6502 assembly programming, I offered my services that had been accepted. Besides the sound code I also had hopes to participate as a music composer this time.
Unfortunately, this time the project didn’t went well on my side, and lots of issues of all kinds eventually turned it into a small scale development hell (you can learn more from a series of posts at my Patreon blog) The end result was that my code and sound effects were only used in the VIC-20 port, and music for other versions has been created by other people. However, I was left with the full working code of the sound system for PET, and a number of music sketches. It would be a pity to file it into the archive, PET projects aren’t a frequent thing these days, so another chance to use the stuff wouldn’t come any time soon. So I got the idea to develop my music sketches into full songs, and release it as an alternative OST, and having David’s approval it has been done and released in the Winter 2021 as Faulty Robots, a small music album for PET that is available as a digital audio release and a runnable program for the actual PET computer.
Back in 2016 an United States based music composer and performer Sergio Elisondo released an one-man band music album A Winner Is You (know your meme), with multi-instrumental cover versions of tunes from numerous memorable classic NES games. A special feature of this release has been its version released in the NES cartridge format that would run on a classic unmodified console and play digitized audio of the full album, instead of the typical chiptune sound you would expect to come from this humble console. I was involved with the software development part of this project.
This year Sergio makes a return with a brand new music release. This time it is all original music album You Are Error, heavily influenced with the video game music aesthetics. It also comes with a special extra. This time we have raised the stakes, and a new NES cartridge release includes not only the digitized audio, but full motion videos for each song, done in the silhouette cutout style similar to the famous Bad Apple video. Yet again, this project is crowdfunded via Kickstarter. It already got the asked amount in a mere 7 hours, but there is still a little time to jump on the bandwagon and get yourself a copy. In the meantime I would like to share an insight on the technical side of both projects.
I bet the red thing you've just seen does not look much a Spectrum to you. Here's the story.
Video conferencing systems, so familiar to us today, have come a long way — more than a hundred years passed from fantastic ideas inspired by belief in unstoppable technical progress to the first mass implementation of video conferencing systems. A lot of dramatic events have come along the way. The way to success wasn’t easy at all.
The Origins of Startup Culture: How the Early Success Stories Shaped the Modern State of the Tech Industry
This event preceded the similar and widely publicized success stories of Microsoft and Apple by more than 30 years. But it nonetheless perfectly defines the startup culture as we know it today. How come?
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Every old hardware enthusiast has a fetish. In the eastern Europe it's often a clone of Sinclair ZX Spectrum, as they were extremely popular there, as well as in Britain and Spain though. Unfortunately, ZX Spectrum left very little legacy. IBM PC 5150 is a different beast. Many love this computer for its heritage. For it has eventually became an ultimate PC. The PC. But although the history of this computer is very well known, surprisingly enough not many people know what was under the bonnet of the very first IBM PC.
Several years ago I wrote a Pascal compiler. The motivation was simple: as a teenager, I had learnt from my first programming textbooks that a compiler is a very sophisticated thing. This claim eventually became a challenge and required to be tested by experience.
First, a simplistic PL/0 compiler came into being, and later an almost fully-functional Pascal compiler for MS-DOS has grown from it. My source of inspiration was the Compiler Construction book by Niklaus Wirth, the inventor of the Pascal language. I don't care if Wirth's views are now considered obsolete and have no direct connections to the IT mainstream, or if the compiler design fashion has changed. It is enough to know that his techniques are still simple, elegant, and — last but not least — bring much fun, since it is more appealing to parse a program source with a handwritten recursive descent parser and generate the machine code, rather than to call yaccs, bisons and all their descendants.
My compiler's fate was not so trivial. It has lived two lives: the first one in my own hands, and the second in the hands of computer antiquarians from Poland.
«System Beeps» is a music album in shape of an MS-DOS program that features original music composed for PC Speaker using the same basic old techniques like ones found in classic PC games. It follows the usual retro computing demoscene formula — take something rusty and obsolete, and push it to eleven — and attempts to reveal the long hidden potential of this humble little sound device. You can hear it in action and form an opinion on how successful this attempt was at Bandcamp, or in the video below. The following article is an in-depth overview of the original PC Speaker capabilities and making of the project, for those who would like to know more.
For people, who owned a pager before, and want to know how it works, this article will be useful.
I was putting things in order in a garage, when I found an arithmometer Felix M. It is old school iron gadget, there are no electronics inside.
I'm a ragman. I have a closet full of old hardware. From Boolean logic microchips in DIP-cases to Voodoo5. Of course, there's no practical value in all of this, but some people enjoy messing with old hardware. If you are one of them, I invite you under the cut, where I will tell you how the computer based on AMD 286 processor worked with a modern network, and what came out of it.