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Which classic computers have stood the test of time the best and worst?


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#26 jaybird3rd ONLINE  

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Posted Thu Mar 15, 2018 6:06 PM

Now if I only knew how to get what I type off of it & onto a modern format. :/

All you need is a DB25-to-DB9 null modem cable (and if your computer doesn't have a serial port, an inexpensive USB-to-serial adapter), and a terminal emulator like HyperTerminal.  The Model 100 series have communication software built-in that you can use to transfer text files to a PC.

 

(I still have the Model 102 that I acquired years ago from Club 100, and I agree that it's a great little machine.  I sometimes bring it to faculty meetings for note-taking, and it always gets a lot of surprised looks.)



#27 carlsson OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Mar 15, 2018 6:37 PM

I'm genuinely surprised how many malfunctioning Commodore 64's you have in America. While I've come across a few that don't work (both breadbins and the C64C model), that is in relative minority to the ones that work 100%. It must be something about storage conditions?



#28 Arnuphis ONLINE  

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Posted Thu Mar 15, 2018 6:39 PM

Yes I have only seen a few breadbin models go bad in my travels. All the C64cs I have come across have always worked.



#29 am1933 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Mar 17, 2018 7:06 PM

I hate to say it-but probably this.....

Sinclair_ZX_Spectrum_48k_%287160143184%2



#30 carlsson OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Mar 17, 2018 7:59 PM

Yes, the ZX Spectrum is rarely seen 100% working in the wild. Then again it probably was among the home computers least intended to function for 35 years.



#31 BassGuitari OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Mar 19, 2018 12:57 PM

I'm genuinely surprised how many malfunctioning Commodore 64's you have in America. While I've come across a few that don't work (both breadbins and the C64C model), that is in relative minority to the ones that work 100%. It must be something about storage conditions?

 

It's not necessarily that the whole system dies. In my experience it's usually SID-related issues, which typically don't affect the operation of the system other than some things sounding wrong. That's happened in at least two C64's I've had.

 

But, I have had a couple that just flat-out bricked themselves for no discernible reason.



#32 LoTonah OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Mar 19, 2018 2:28 PM

I've only seen one working Commodore Plus/4 in the wild, and it was mine.  Worked for almost two weeks before the video chip fried.



#33 Arnuphis ONLINE  

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Posted Mon Mar 19, 2018 6:24 PM

I've only seen one working Commodore Plus/4 in the wild, and it was mine.  Worked for almost two weeks before the video chip fried.

 

That TED chip was infamous for self destructing. Heat sink is essential if you have a working Plus/4. I know I am scared to switch mine on until someone comes up with a replacement option.



#34 RangerG OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun May 6, 2018 6:13 PM

The Adam has held up well, I use one for just gaming because it is so much more robust than Colecovisions. I agree that the TI99 looks good, but when they dent it looks bad and it is hard to fix. I agree about the Aquarius, I have seen a couple in the wild and they looked amazing. So, the winner is the Aquarius, ha! C64s are plentiful, but they seem to be really beat up. Maybe in the US they were more a kids machine. I knew lots of kids with a C64 and a 1541, but I never saw one used in an office or as a parents machine.



#35 BydoEmpire OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun May 6, 2018 6:23 PM

My 800 has worked flawlessly since 1983 and have only had a 1050 and a 1200XL die over the decades. On the other hand, I stopped buying modern laptops (and XBox) after they all crapped out after thre or four years of light use. Cosmetics be damned! I’ll stick with machines that were built for a lifetime of use.

I'm with you.  My original c64 (from 84-ish) has a "Made in the USA" sticker on the bottom, and outside of a missing 6 key and generally stiff keyboard it still works fine.  The keyboard and slow loads are rough in 2018, though.  I should look at just replacing the keyboard, I think it'd make a world of difference.  My XEGS has a stiff keyboard as well, but works fine.

 

I have a 2c that I use pretty often w/ a FloppyEmu, I think that's held up well.  It works as good as new after all these years... actually, it works better with the FloppyEmu.  I was just playing a game on it this weekend.  Games look sharp on the tiny green screen.

 

I think how well a computer holds up is a combination of software library, load times, and keyboard.  Those three things will keep me from using a system as often as I might otherwise. They're not deal breakers (I still use and enjoy my XEGS & c64), but they are certainly friction points so to speak.   Depends what I do on it, though.  The keyboard isn't as big a deal on the c64 because I'm typically playing games that don't use it much.  It's not a black and white line.


Edited by BydoEmpire, Sun May 6, 2018 6:49 PM.


#36 digdugnate ONLINE  

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Posted Wed May 9, 2018 5:04 AM

honestly i feel like the 994A was pretty dang sturdy- i haven't heard of many component failures anecdotally till just recently.

 

i think the Plus 4 and the ZX Spectrum were some of the less durable home computers ;)



#37 polyex OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri May 11, 2018 5:39 PM

honestly i feel like the 994A was pretty dang sturdy- i haven't heard of many component failures anecdotally till just recently.

 

i think the Plus 4 and the ZX Spectrum were some of the less durable home computers ;)

 

I agree about 994a . With the exception of lines showing up in the metal it is pretty bulletproof. Going to play some bigfoot now... :-)



#38 JamesD OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun May 13, 2018 1:42 PM

honestly i feel like the 994A was pretty dang sturdy- i haven't heard of many component failures anecdotally till just recently.

 

i think the Plus 4 and the ZX Spectrum were some of the less durable home computers ;)

If you put heat sinks on the CPU and TED, the Plus/4 is pretty good.  If not... good luck.
The Speccy does seem to have it's share of failures, but at least they have replacement motherboards, keyboards, cases, etc...



#39 Grimakis OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue May 22, 2018 6:36 AM

In terms of the computers that are commonly found, I'd say the C64 has held the worst.

 

In terms of graphics and sounds are fine, but the physical chips, yeesh.

 

The C64 has a few things going on that are bad.

 

1. The power supplies are garbage. They fail short and over-volt the 5v line. This will kill any number of chips and definitely the RAM. Probably the leading cause of C64 deaths in the wild.

2. Joystick ports directly tied to CIA and SID. A little ESD touching that port can kill your SID chip or the CIAs.

3. No cooling, no airflow - A surefire way to shorten the life of your ICs. Failed PLA's are fairly common as well.

#4 and #5 are more subjective

 

4. The keyboard is terrible.

5. Expansion ports are iffy, Unlike the Apple II line(and all modern PC's), a lack of internal expansion slots means that expanding a C64 fully involved a bunch of daisy changed expansions boxes hanging off your C64. It's not the ideal way for me.


Edited by Grimakis, Tue May 22, 2018 6:38 AM.


#40 80s_Atari_Guy OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue May 29, 2018 5:12 PM

Best, Visually :-

ZX Spectrum original - iconic design, and will never go yellow. Mine still works today, and still looks amazing. And, people are still doing amazing things on the Spectrum like the amazing Bifrost and Nirvana engines.

TI99/4a - IMO, still looks amazing with a sort of 70s silver futuristic look to it - This wouldn't look out of place on a Blakes 7 set. Home of some amazing ports. Has some great modern hardware like Nanopeb, and Flashrom 99.

Oric Atmos - I love the contrasting Black and Red look to it, and it has a few great games. And it never yellows, due to it's colour. Most machines on ebay still look great. I love mine, even got a matching tape deck.

Commodore 16 - Ages better than the C64 breadbin, due to it being black, although the keyboard can yellow. More reliable than the Plus/4, but you still need heatsinks on the TED and 8501. I really love mine, some great games like Big Mac.

Enterprise 128 - Always liked the look of this machine. Never had one, and the prices these go for means I probably won't own one. 
Memotech MTX512 - Another, built-like-a-tank computer. I think these also looked great. I remember seeing the adverts in the 80s and wondering what they were like. Only ever tried one at a computer event, never owned one or knew anyone who had one.
 
Worst, Visually :-
Dragon 32/64 - Never liked this behemoth of a machine, it's just so damn ugly. Looks even worse if it yellows badly. And the colour palette was awful, just green, more green, red blue and yellow. Oh, and green. And the joysticks, oh dear god, the joysticks.
Commodore 128 - Dear god, this was a monstrosity. Complete waste of time and effort bringing this thing to the market, and it flopped. When they yellow, they go full Commodore yellowed.
Atari 1200 - Not a popular choice, but I really think it looks terrible. It's like they took a 800XL - which still looks great, and just slapped a huge Frasier forehead on it. Thankfully, it didn't leave the U.S.


#41 Newsdee OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue May 29, 2018 7:32 PM

Functionally, the Apple II series (...)
Evolutionarily, the PC. And on that there can be no question.

I see the Apple II as the precursor of the PC. I "pimped" my //e as much as possible and... kind of ironically it feels like a PC with a sound card, USB, CF port, and PS/2 keyboard (all various expansions for the original hardware)

So in my mind "PC" technically covers the Apple II as well. The expandable architecture did stand the test of time over all other approaches.

#42 spacecadet OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed May 30, 2018 12:37 PM

Apple II's are horribly unreliable in my experience, though. And I am an original Apple II guy.

 

Right now I have a IIc, IIe and IIGS. The IIc is on its second motherboard (I had one or more bad RAM chips so just replaced the whole thing; if more go bad, I'll swap between the two boards), and its keyboard is pretty much toast. Can't type on it anymore, it's become so gritty and stiff. The whole system is also banana yellow, including the monitor (I am not going to retrobrite the monitor).

 

The IIe is practically orange, and its "5" key switch seems to be dead. Every other key works but the 5 on the numpad doesn't register at all. At least it has all its keys, unlike most IIe's I see out there...

 

The IIGS... well, technically I've gone through 2 1/2 complete IIGS's as I've replaced different parts. I've replaced the motherboard three times (ok, one of those *may* have been my fault...), replaced the power supply once, replaced the case once. Even replaced the monitor. Holy crap, I just realized I have a complete IIGS system I could probably sell, though broken...

 

Another computer to add to my *worst* aging list is the Atari 800. I just got one, and the top cover is cracked and super-brittle, and when I opened the front cartridge cover, the top shield immediately fell off the disintegrating foam that was holding it on. So now every time I open that cover, I've got little bits of foam going everywhere. (Yes, I should just remove all of it.)

 

In the same package, though, I got an original IBM PC, which I mentioned earlier in my "best" list, and it's perfect. It looks brand new and everything works like it too. And mine was built in 1984, which is a year before my IIc and 2 years before my IIe and IIGS. I'm sure it was more expensive, but I'm not convinced the quality and longevity just comes down to price. I think IBM just knew what they were doing. They'd been building heavy-duty machines for high duty cycles for a long time, whereas most other computer manufacturers in 1981 (when the PC launched) had only been doing it for a few years.



#43 AMenard OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed May 30, 2018 1:41 PM

Best, Visually :-
ZX Spectrum original - iconic design, and will never go yellow. Mine still works today, and still looks amazing. And, people are still doing amazing things on the Spectrum like the amazing Bifrost and Nirvana engines.
TI99/4a - IMO, still looks amazing with a sort of 70s silver futuristic look to it - This wouldn't look out of place on a Blakes 7 set. Home of some amazing ports. Has some great modern hardware like Nanopeb, and Flashrom 99.
Oric Atmos - I love the contrasting Black and Red look to it, and it has a few great games. And it never yellows, due to it's colour. Most machines on ebay still look great. I love mine, even got a matching tape deck.
Commodore 16 - Ages better than the C64 breadbin, due to it being black, although the keyboard can yellow. More reliable than the Plus/4, but you still need heatsinks on the TED and 8501. I really love mine, some great games like Big Mac.
Enterprise 128 - Always liked the look of this machine. Never had one, and the prices these go for means I probably won't own one. 
Memotech MTX512 - Another, built-like-a-tank computer. I think these also looked great. I remember seeing the adverts in the 80s and wondering what they were like. Only ever tried one at a computer event, never owned one or knew anyone who had one.
 
Worst, Visually :-
Dragon 32/64 - Never liked this behemoth of a machine, it's just so damn ugly. Looks even worse if it yellows badly. And the colour palette was awful, just green, more green, red blue and yellow. Oh, and green. And the joysticks, oh dear god, the joysticks.
Commodore 128 - Dear god, this was a monstrosity. Complete waste of time and effort bringing this thing to the market, and it flopped. When they yellow, they go full Commodore yellowed.
Atari 1200 - Not a popular choice, but I really think it looks terrible. It's like they took a 800XL - which still looks great, and just slapped a huge Frasier forehead on it. Thankfully, it didn't leave the U.S.


I believe the 1200XL was designed prior to the 800XL

The biggest beef I've with the C128 is the placement of the power connector. It should've been in the back.

As for which stood the test of time the best I would go for the big three, Apple IIe, C64\128, Atari 8bit computer. I'm in Canada so I don't have any experience with the speccy. And esthetics is less important for me than usability.

#44 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed May 30, 2018 2:00 PM

IBM has good reliability simply because they didn't skimp on materials. No paper shields or weak plastic brackets or other cost-cutting measures.

 

A lot of the materials are beefy and that adds weight and momentum and inertia to a box, and that means it can absorb outside shock better than a thin brittle plastic shell. Less vibration inflicted upon delicate parts.



#45 AMenard OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed May 30, 2018 2:04 PM

IBM has good reliability simply because they didn't skimp on materials. No paper shields or weak plastic brackets or other cost-cutting measures.
 
A lot of the materials are beefy and that adds weight and momentum and inertia to a box, and that means it can absorb outside shock better than a thin brittle plastic shell. Less vibration inflicted upon delicate parts.


IBM PCjr... Cough,cough...

#46 spacecadet OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed May 30, 2018 2:27 PM

A lot of the materials are beefy and that adds weight and momentum and inertia to a box, and that means it can absorb outside shock better than a thin brittle plastic shell. Less vibration inflicted upon delicate parts.

 

They certainly used plenty of plastic, though - the Model F keyboard that some hold as the standard bearer for keyboard construction is still about 70% plastic, the entire front of the PC itself is plastic, and 100% of the monitor housing is plastic. They just knew how to build stuff. They knew where they couldn't skimp and where they could, and they supposedly had armies of engineers inspecting every last detail at their third party vendors.

 

I remember realizing how much better built their stuff was even at the time, but I'm still amazed at the difference today vs. basically every other machine I own. Even machines I otherwise consider well built have various creaks when I pick them up, they'll bend when I push in the wrong places, their switches and keyboards might be scratchy or mushy, they're almost all yellowed to at least some degree, etc. The original PC is just a marvel of engineering. I've seen some that are rusted on the metal parts, but other than that, they usually look and feel like they were just made. And they don't seem to have some of the common issues of other old computers like RAM or power supplies that go bad. (I've seen one site reference the tantalum caps on the motherboard blowing, but I haven't seen many others talking about that.)



#47 80s_Atari_Guy OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu May 31, 2018 5:17 AM

I believe the 1200XL was designed prior to the 800XL

 

Whats that got to do with my post ? I was talking about visually, nothing to do with history.

 

 

 

And esthetics is less important for me than usability. 

 

The OP wanted comments on "Visually", NOT "Usability". If we were talking about usability, then my list would be very different.



#48 carlsson OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu May 31, 2018 5:30 AM

Well, Omega wrote already on March 14 that he was ready and willing to discuss functionality, expandability, usability and every other aspect besides visibility, so for that matter I have been waiting for two months for someone to look deeper than the plastic shell.



#49 80s_Atari_Guy OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu May 31, 2018 8:44 AM

I'm aware of what he wrote. That doesn't mean my list can be taken out of context.  ;)



#50 AMenard OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu May 31, 2018 9:37 AM

 

Whats that got to do with my post ? I was talking about visually, nothing to do with history.

 

 

The OP wanted comments on "Visually", NOT "Usability". If we were talking about usability, then my list would be very different.

 

 

You wrote:

 

"Atari 1200 - Not a popular choice, but I really think it looks terrible. It's like they took a 800XL - which still looks great, and just slapped a huge Frasier forehead on it. Thankfully, it didn't leave the U.S."

 

Since the 1200XL came first, they couldn't take anything from the 800XL design wise.

 

You: "The OP wanted comments on "Visually", NOT "Usability". If we were talking about usability, then my list would be very different."

 

And the meaning of the thread isn't clear going by the title.

 

And drop the "tude" man. I'm polite and respectful and I expect the same. If you have a problem with my post take it to the mods.






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