Jump to content

Photo

Your thoughts on retro computing, then and now.


22 replies to this topic

#1 Keatah ONLINE  

Keatah

    Quadrunner

  • 7,792 posts

Posted Tue Jan 24, 2012 2:35 AM

Do you think retrocomputing is more fun today than it was years ago?

As an Apple 2 series enthusiast, I'm quite pleased with the tools we have today vs. back then. We've got stuff like ADT PRO, CFFA, emulators, and the power of the PC as a filing system. We've got hi-def monitors and supplies of spare parts for cheap. Asimov as a repository. Tons of .PDF documentation. All sorts of development tools and the internet. Talk about a killer BBS running at millions of bits a second. We got nukes, we got knives, sharp sticks!

I could only dream (and did) of these tools back then. And I got laughed at for suggesting these sorts of things. The most funniest "they" thought was the notion of running Apple software on the PC without additional hardware. And having just about all the software (disk images) stored on a tiny PEZ-sized device, well, that just got me laughed right out of the club!

#2 potatohead OFFLINE  

potatohead

    River Patroller

  • 4,201 posts
  • Location:Portland, Oregon

Posted Tue Jan 24, 2012 6:07 AM

It's getting more fun for me. Actually, it ebbs and flows, mostly a net gain in fun though.

I missed commenting on the other thread, "what about the hobby interests you?" or something like that. For me, the games are only part of the story. I like revisiting the classics, but really don't spend too much time doing that. If I've got friends to play with, great; otherwise, I'll play once in a while when the mood strikes.

The killer part for me is growing electronics knowledge. Powerful micros are cheap now, and there are lots of places to discuss connecting new tech to old tech. Secondly, applying the lessons of old tech to new can be really rewarding in that thinking that way often takes the hardware somewhere not really anticipated, or will make a project fit either compute or resource wise, likely both!

I like old hardware, like floppies. I enjoy using them with the Apple, mostly because I have a working drive and a handful of disks. I don't like having to depend on them though. Labor intensive. Today, on most old computers, we've got options! We are getting way better at moving data from old machines to new and back again. I would not enjoy the computers as much without these tools. Love actually running the old stuff, but I don't love developing on them so much. That's really hard, and it highlights just how bad ass those programmers were back in the day.

With the emulators and various user tools, doing useful / fun things with old computers continues to progress. I like this trend and given the maker / hobby culture growth seen today, I can't imagine it won't continue for a while yet. Good times right now.

Currently, I'm working on a card for my Apple. It's taking a while, but I've got Eagle, some layout work done, and a lot of questions to answer. That's the last bit for me personally. As a kid, I would look at all this stuff and wonder:

"Can I pick the shapes on the screen?"
"Wish I had a card that would do this or that..."

Slowly, checking off the items on the list is happening, and it's just great. Sometimes I feel old now. I'm getting older now too. Sucks. But, younger people see this stuff and are entertained and it's still somewhat relevant to them, particularly when they can participate.

Finally, it's a great escape. Modern computing is something I do for a living, and the pace has been brutal. There are times I feel kind of burned out. Maybe I am. I'll take some kit with me on business trips, and setup to play. Feels fun again after a while.

IMHO, Apple 2 is in great shape right now! I'm glad I got back into it when I did. Funny how some time changes things. The Apple actually has a great charm, even though it's graphics and sound are limited compared to many other machines. So much was done for it! A person could spend years checking out all the cool stuff! (and a lot of $$$ too)

The other thing I'm doing right now is getting back into retro sounds. Composing music on real time synth is becoming somewhat of a lost art IMHO. Chip tunes are a lot of fun. Check off another "when I was a kid" item. :)

#3 Ransom OFFLINE  

Ransom

    River Patroller

  • 3,945 posts
  • Cartridge Gaming Enthusiast
  • Location:Just south of the Wisconsin border.

Posted Tue Jan 24, 2012 7:48 AM

Well, the prices for some of the classic stuff could be better. :) In the mid-90s, I bought a ][gs, a //c, monitors, cards, printer, several large boxes of software, books, and peripherals and the whole thing cost less than $100. And that wasn't a hard-to-find score! Those were the days.

But otherwise, yeah, it's pretty good now. I have my 800XL hooked up to a nice LCD screen. I got a great AppleColor monitor for my //e Platinum for $25 that looks and works like it's brand new. I love ADTPro and SIO2PC. I have access to thousands of programs. And there are still printers out there that you can buy brand new that will work with both of these systems (although I haven't bought one yet...).

I'm waffling on whether to get the CFFA3000. I was on the mailing list for the first production run, but I didn't respond because I'm unsure whether I'll really get enough use out of it. While I like ADTPro for transferring software, I generally prefer using the original hardware and floppies when I sit down to play. I'm not much for flash carts and such. But when it comes to playing the more involved, multi-disk games, I think I'd be happier with the CFFA. But how many of those do I play? So I dunno. Maybe it'll be worth it for me, maybe not.

Back to the original question, yeah, I think things are pretty darned good now.

#4 Ransom OFFLINE  

Ransom

    River Patroller

  • 3,945 posts
  • Cartridge Gaming Enthusiast
  • Location:Just south of the Wisconsin border.

Posted Tue Jan 24, 2012 8:02 AM

Regarding Asimov, wasn't that around back in the 90s? I recall FTPing stuff from there back when I got that ][gs and had it hooked to the Internet via a dial-up shell account.

#5 magnusfalkirk OFFLINE  

magnusfalkirk

    Chopper Commander

  • 155 posts
  • Location:Western Oklahoma

Posted Tue Jan 24, 2012 11:55 AM

I think it has gotten better, especially with the capabilities being added to the older hardware by new hardware. The ability to hook an LCD display to the Apple II, using a flash drive or compact flash to store disk images to run on the Apple II, being able to play MP3's through your Apple II. The list goes on and on. I enjoy transferring programs back to disk to play on my IIc+ but the ability to load a disk image to run on the GS is also really nice.

Dean

#6 JamesD OFFLINE  

JamesD

    River Patroller

  • 4,796 posts

Posted Tue Jan 24, 2012 12:23 PM

I think retrocomputing is better and will continue to get better over time.
The tools and hardware upgrades are better every year.

A few years ago, no SD or Compact Flash drives. Now there are a lot of them, each new version is better, and they are on more and more machines.

Just a few years ago, nobody had even seen a retro machine re-implemented in an FPGA.
Now there are full implementations of several machines, partials of several others, and with the proliferation of open cores, we may eventually see something the size of the MAME/MESS projects but for FPGAs.

#7 BassGuitari OFFLINE  

BassGuitari

    River Patroller

  • 2,946 posts
  • Remember how bright the future used to look?
  • Location:Milwaukee, WI

Posted Tue Jan 24, 2012 12:24 PM

I wasn't really around for retrocomputing's "golden years." (of course, at the time, it wasn't really retro, was it?) My parents had a C-64 in its dying days when I was 5 or 6. The neighbors had an Apple IIc, and the school library had several. But primarily I came up in the 386/486 era...and I don't regret that one bit! Doom, TIE Fighter, MegaRace, Duke Nukem, all those "Epic Megagames" CDs with hundreds of games on them...I've got to tell you, my misspent youth was pretty awesome. :-D

So I suppose that retrocomputing is better now by default since I missed out on the Commodore and Apple II years. I have fond -if fuzzy- memories of a few games on the Commodore and Apple, but having explored different systems now -collecting/playing games, tinkering with hardware, using different BASICs and OSes- I can easily say I have a lot more fun with these machines now than I ever did in those brief moments as a child.

When I got into collecting over a decade ago (!!!), I pretty much stuck to video game consoles, but lately my interest has shifted toward computers. There aren't too many video games left that A) I'm interested in collecting and B) aren't rare/expensive! And with computer systems, there are worlds left for me to explore in terms of both software and hardware, especially for more obscure platforms.

The only "obstacle" -if it can even really be called that- I've faced in the operation of vintage computers is disk failure/drive failure. But, since we now have things like SD-based virtual drives/disks, there's no real reason to even bother with the old floppies and unreliable disk drives unless you're a true purist (I'm not, but if that's what blows your skirt up, more power to you!). That's the way I'm heading, after having repeated problems with several Disk ][ and 1050 units. I don't care to track down and pay out the ass for drives/floppies I don't have yet, or to replace the ones I already have. I'll keep my 1541 and piles of C64 floppies, and the IBM floppies I use with my Compaq Portable because, well, the drives still work. :) And it IS nice to be able to use the old floppies for old times' sake. But otherwise, it's multicarts and virtual disk drives for me with things like the Atari 800, TRS-80 Color Computer, Aquarius, and Apple II.

Even better (I guess?) is that cassette software -which was flaky even 35 years ago- can now be loaded simply and reliably from .WAV or .MP3 files. No need to bother with those stupid things, either...except for the "cool" factor. :-D

It's also easy as balls to obtain games and software now, with the files just floating on the internet, waiting to be downloaded/copied to the aforementioned programmable multicards and virtual floppies/drives. An uncle of mine was a member of a local Commodore 64 users' club years ago, and he was telling me over Christmas how basically they'd throw in to buy a copy of some software, then get together to crack and make copies of it, since it was so expensive. That was the cheapest way they could all get games and other software, but it sure wasn't easy. Today, it's basically so easy it's almost stupid.

So, all things considered, I think retro-computing is FAR better now than it was when it was just "computing."

:)

Edited by BassGuitari, Tue Jan 24, 2012 12:26 PM.


#8 save2600 OFFLINE  

save2600

    Quadrunner

  • 8,521 posts
  • Location:WI

Posted Tue Jan 24, 2012 12:28 PM

Despite all the hardware and software I've amassed throughout the years, gotta say I enjoyed "retro" computing (it wasn't retro back then of course) more then, than today. Had a LOT more time to play around with it all back in the day! :lol:

On a serious note, the CF/SD card floppy emulators are nice and such, but it's great that there's a wealth of info (and old product) out there to keep our original hardware running.

#9 20ohm20 OFFLINE  

20ohm20

    Dragonstomper

  • 539 posts
  • Location:14559/92592

Posted Tue Jan 24, 2012 2:40 PM

I enjoyed it a lot more BITD. Now, it seems like I'll use my C64, A800, etc. almost daily for a couple months, then I'll not touch them for 3-6 months. The only "retro" system that I have currently connected to anything is a 2600 since my kids and I were playing Warlords and Kaboom! last weekend. I can't remember the last time I used my Apple //e or Atari 520ST (it's been at least 8-12 months, maybe more).

Life is keeping me too busy, I guess. Not being at home 1-2 weeks a month isn't helping either.

#10 BydoEmpire OFFLINE  

BydoEmpire

    River Patroller

  • 2,258 posts
  • Location:Orlando, FL USA

Posted Tue Jan 24, 2012 5:49 PM

There's a lot of cool stuff to do with retro computers nowadays, no doubt. On the downside I was playing my Amiga earlier this year and the whole "wait two minutes for the game to load, then swap the 2nd disk, wait some more, play for 30 seconds, die, swap disks, wait" routine got old pretty quick. I just don't have the free time (or patience). The games are still great. I do still have a few 8 bits hooked up, but I like emulation for classic computers a lot more than classic consoles. It just feels a lot closer to the real thing so I've been slowly migrating that direction. I don't see myself collecting much more retro computer stuff, although I would like to get a Vic at some point since I never had one. Wouldn't mind a 128D as well... on the other hand, I'm not sure how much I'd actually use the real system. Probably better off w/ a MCC or other hardware emulation solution and just play the disk images (or emulate on my computer).

In summary - I'd say it's more fun now because there's a lot more stuff out there, and it's cheaper and easier to get. It's just that I don't have time to take advantage of it. I had more fun with it back in the day. :)

Edited by BydoEmpire, Tue Jan 24, 2012 6:27 PM.


#11 Mirage OFFLINE  

Mirage

    Quadrunner

  • 6,624 posts
  • Have a problem? Hire the Envious Snakes!
  • Location:Milwaukee, WI

Posted Tue Jan 24, 2012 7:11 PM

All the PDF scans readily available now, and all the CF and similar solutions make it a lot better today than it was say 10-15 years ago. Back then it was about the thrill of the hunt, so it was different. Now, for me, it's more about using what I've collected and enjoying it. Nothing will bring all of the magic back that I felt as a kid in the early '80s just discovering computers though. That can't be ever found again. But, the enjoyment otherwise keeps getting better.

#12 save2600 OFFLINE  

save2600

    Quadrunner

  • 8,521 posts
  • Location:WI

Posted Tue Jan 24, 2012 7:54 PM

There's a lot of cool stuff to do with retro computers nowadays, no doubt. On the downside I was playing my Amiga earlier this year and the whole "wait two minutes for the game to load, then swap the 2nd disk, wait some more, play for 30 seconds, die, swap disks, wait" routine got old pretty quick.

...I don't mind most Amiga load times so much. I consider them a nice break - perfect timing to casually reach for your glass of beer, take a swig, put it back down again and grab the joystick. :)

C64 load times without JiffyDOS or Fastload OTOH. Yeah... those load times are absurd. Can fix a lunch waiting for some games to friggin' load. :lol:

At least with the Amiga, you know the computer is receiving several big chunks of kb at a time. There's only 48kb free RAM on the C64... so wtf? :rolling:

#13 BassGuitari OFFLINE  

BassGuitari

    River Patroller

  • 2,946 posts
  • Remember how bright the future used to look?
  • Location:Milwaukee, WI

Posted Tue Jan 24, 2012 8:52 PM


There's a lot of cool stuff to do with retro computers nowadays, no doubt. On the downside I was playing my Amiga earlier this year and the whole "wait two minutes for the game to load, then swap the 2nd disk, wait some more, play for 30 seconds, die, swap disks, wait" routine got old pretty quick.

...I don't mind most Amiga load times so much. I consider them a nice break - perfect timing to casually reach for your glass of beer, take a swig, put it back down again and grab the joystick. :)


Concurred.

I don't find C64 load times to be that bad. Maybe it's just the games I play.

Now, cassette load times are the worst, at least for more advanced games. A lot of the more simple and primitive BASIC games are alright (~0:30-1:00 load times), but I've seen a lot of Color Computer, Timex/Sinclair, and Commodore games with load times of over five minutes. Some, closer to ten. And half the time, they won't work right anyway. :P

:)

#14 save2600 OFFLINE  

save2600

    Quadrunner

  • 8,521 posts
  • Location:WI

Posted Tue Jan 24, 2012 11:22 PM

I don't find C64 load times to be that bad. Maybe it's just the games I play.

When I read what you wrote about Amiga load times, I was booting Who Framed Roger Rabbit from disk. :( And before that, a three-disk version of Star Trek where one of the disks must be nothing but sound samples and digitized pics. UGH!

If you think the C64 isn't too bad... try loading Ikari Warriors sometime and tell me how many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches you can make before it's finally done. :lol:

#15 Thomas Jentzsch OFFLINE  

Thomas Jentzsch

    Thrust, Jammed, SWOOPS!, Boulder Dash

  • 18,893 posts
  • Always left from right here!
  • Location:Düsseldorf, Germany

Posted Wed Jan 25, 2012 6:42 AM

The unaccelerated C64 datasette took almost 20 minutes for a 40k game (~300 bit/sec). And throw an error not before the very end.

#16 BassGuitari OFFLINE  

BassGuitari

    River Patroller

  • 2,946 posts
  • Remember how bright the future used to look?
  • Location:Milwaukee, WI

Posted Wed Jan 25, 2012 12:12 PM


I don't find C64 load times to be that bad. Maybe it's just the games I play.

If you think the C64 isn't too bad... try loading Ikari Warriors sometime and tell me how many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches you can make before it's finally done. :lol:


If I had Ikari Warriors, I'd take you up on that challenge. :twisted:

I think the biggest game I have for C64 is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The loads themselves aren't very long, but there are a LOT of them. LOAD, Title/Intro, LOAD, Enter Password, LOAD, Start New Game or Load Game?, LOAD, a little bit more LOAD, overhead map level, go into sewer/building, LOAD, sidescrolling level, go to status screen, LOAD, go back to game, LOAD, leave sewer/building and go back to overhead level, LOAD, Raphael gets captured, LOAD...

Instead of having one giant 15 or 20-minute load, the game basically loads anytime you do anything. I'm surprised it doesn't stop to load every time you attack or jump (both of which are done with the same joystick button! :thumbsup: :P ) or kill something. The game is on 4 disks, too, but you really don't even need Disks 3 and 4 since this game is so broken, clusterfucked, and annoyingly difficult for all the wrong reasons (unlike the NES version, which was difficult in a good way), that if you can even make it to Level 3 (the start of Disk 2), you're pretty good. But that's another topic. :-D

Otherwise I play games like Ms. Pac-Man, Blue Max, Realm Of Impossibility, Fort Apocalypse, etc., which have "grab a drink" load times and not "cook a rib roast" load times.

:)

#17 JamesD OFFLINE  

JamesD

    River Patroller

  • 4,796 posts

Posted Thu Jan 26, 2012 4:24 AM

I don't find C64 load times to be that bad. Maybe it's just the games I play.

Now, cassette load times are the worst, at least for more advanced games. A lot of the more simple and primitive BASIC games are alright (~0:30-1:00 load times), but I've seen a lot of Color Computer, Timex/Sinclair, and Commodore games with load times of over five minutes. Some, closer to ten. And half the time, they won't work right anyway. :P

If you had trouble loading tapes on a CoCo, you either had a bad tape or didn't have a Radio Shack tape player.
It used a patented interface and also had the highest standard baud rate of the bunch.
The TS1000 and Commodore's speed was 300 baud, the Sinclair Spectrum 1200 and the CoCo was 1500.
My load times for BASIC programs were under 2 minutes and my commercial games maxed out around 3 minutes.
I bought a disk drive as soon as I could afford one so I only had a handful of commercial games on tape.
If you knew what you were doing, you could also save/load at double speed without additional software.

Edited by JamesD, Thu Jan 26, 2012 4:25 AM.


#18 BassGuitari OFFLINE  

BassGuitari

    River Patroller

  • 2,946 posts
  • Remember how bright the future used to look?
  • Location:Milwaukee, WI

Posted Thu Jan 26, 2012 12:45 PM


I don't find C64 load times to be that bad. Maybe it's just the games I play.

Now, cassette load times are the worst, at least for more advanced games. A lot of the more simple and primitive BASIC games are alright (~0:30-1:00 load times), but I've seen a lot of Color Computer, Timex/Sinclair, and Commodore games with load times of over five minutes. Some, closer to ten. And half the time, they won't work right anyway. :P

If you had trouble loading tapes on a CoCo, you either had a bad tape or didn't have a Radio Shack tape player.


My ONLY tape player is a Radio Shack tape player (except for my Atari 1010 and Commodore Datasette, which are proprietary). A TRS-80 one, in fact. :)

And it's not so much a question of not getting them to load (which does happen periodically), but rather how slow they are.

:)

#19 Arkhan OFFLINE  

Arkhan

    Stargunner

  • 1,375 posts
  • Thug Life.
  • Location:Atlantis

Posted Fri Jan 27, 2012 1:20 PM

Its getting more fun but also more annoying. I first got into this stuff with an A500, then a C64/C128, and then some other stuff... I landed at MSX and prefer it most.

There are two kinds of tools coming out now, in all of the various computer scenes...

Great tools: software/harder that make using them easier.
Bad tools: People diving into it because its now somewhat hip to be into this sort of thing, and end up screwing off and annoying people... usually by screwing up the market, or by being an all around dick.

#20 Keatah ONLINE  

Keatah

    Quadrunner

  • Topic Starter
  • 7,792 posts

Posted Sun Jan 29, 2012 2:25 AM

Hip to be interested in retro-computing?? Good god!! I get laughed off quite a bit when I discuss how cool my old Apple II+ is.. Then, and only then, when I mention ePay, and that I can sell it for bux deluxe, do I gain any semblance of respect back. Mostly the response is, "What are you gonna really do with that junk??" To which no answer is satisfactory other than the ebay thing.

IMHO, ebay's days have come and gone, it's full of overpriced shit and the classic computing wares have thinned out. It's full of fluff and trash like all sorts of magazines which can be read on-line. It isn't a rich site anymore.

Ahem, non-sequitur ..

The thing attached to me, called an ass, was rescued by a modern tool on the pc when I was doing some crack work and blew up a disk. So, definitely, the modern tools and filing capabilities of a PC are completely indispensable when it comes to working with classic systems.

Edited by Keatah, Sun Jan 29, 2012 3:09 AM.


#21 HuckleCat OFFLINE  

HuckleCat

    Dragonstomper

  • 540 posts
  • Location:Avon, IN

Posted Sun Jan 29, 2012 4:41 PM

While I agree that today we have much more available to us in terms of taking advantage of what the old systems had to offer, I have to say I was much more "into it" when it was new.

I miss that feeling of excitement I'd get when I got a new game. Exploring Ultima V, or playing Wasteland for the first time. While I like finding games on Asimov that I never got around to playing back then, the excitement is just not there.

#22 Grig OFFLINE  

Grig

    River Patroller

  • 2,058 posts
  • Laugh while you can, monkey boy!
  • Location:Rylos

Posted Tue Jan 31, 2012 7:28 PM

Definitely back then was better. It's OK now because I can afford many of the 'extra' items I couldn't get a hold of back then (and multiple systems for little to no $$), but back in the 70s and 80s home computing was new and exciting - and much simpler. You had a computer, a TV, a controller, a tape or disk drive, a modem, and carts/tapes/disks. All of these things hooked up easily and Basic was a great starting computing language. They were fascinating and new programs/articles were coming out all the time. You could go to the supermarket (Lucky's in my neck of the woods) and pick up the latest issue of Compute for $2.95. Those were 'magical' times (that's cliche but I can't help it). No one expected the world - they just expected good game play. I remember with vivid clarity going over my friend's house (I had the 400 and a tape drive, he had the 800 and the 810) and playing 'Drelbs' on disk. I was enchanted - of course we also watched the D&D movie with Tom Hanks and were just as awe struck by that TV movie. There were those of us who stuck by Atari and we waged war with the Commodorians. We all thought our system was the best. Anyway, that's my two cents.

#23 Streck OFFLINE  

Streck

    Chopper Commander

  • 117 posts

Posted Wed Feb 1, 2012 11:07 AM

Regarding Asimov, wasn't that around back in the 90s? I recall FTPing stuff from there back when I got that ][gs and had it hooked to the Internet via a dial-up shell account.


Asimov is my very favorite archive, despite its shortcomings, because its contents are mirrored and copied and distributed absolutely everywhere. It's the only place where I know that when I upload something, it will spread across the Internet and be granted pseudo-immortality.




0 user(s) are browsing this forum

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users