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What's the one bit of tech that made you say, YESS!


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#1 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Dec 1, 2018 4:40 PM

What's the one piece(s) of vintage, or semi-vintage tech that made you say, YESS!! This is a good thing! I have a lot that are my favs, here are some of them.

On-die CPU caches -- allows for enormous performance gains. I was utterly blown away when I got to using such chips. And for some strange reason I get a warm fuzzy feeling knowing my program is zooming around in specialized hi-speed memory.

USB 2.0 -- I so wanted the ability (on a consumer level) to hot-plug HDDs and treat them like modules in a library. Not unlike the big-ass tape robots of yore, but just something I could do in my bedroom - have a small shelf of removable disks. I accomplished it with the ZIP Drive from Iomega, but quickly outgrew it. 100MB.. I farted around with 1394 Firewire, but it was sort of rough around the edges and never got the drive letters and connect/disconnect actions quite right. And it wasn't really interchangeable with many other PCs either unless you bought an expensive card. And CD-R/W was a failure in the reliability department, absolutely horrible. Today I have multi-TB HDDs that just work. And have been for the past 10 years! So WIN!

SD and Micro-SD -- these are amazingly dense and tiny EEPROM chips. It was beyond fantastic (as a kid) looking into the window of an EPROM chip for the first times. I say times because I intently "studied" these magic circuits and imagined the electrons were like tiny cars zooming around. There was a control block, and a huge parking lot array. And I kept one in my school desk where I could daydream about the future instead of listening to bullshit lectures about the puritans. Like what kid wanted to read about backward societies; not that we're much better off with today's social-media zombies.

Edited by Keatah, Sat Dec 1, 2018 5:28 PM.


#2 save2600 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Dec 1, 2018 4:43 PM

FinalGROM99 for the TI. Wow... and finally, a real SD flashcart solution for the system. :)

#3 youxia OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Dec 1, 2018 8:57 PM

Got to be 3DFx's Voodoo 2. After its monstrous power manifested itself there was no going back to the previous stuttery and pixelated status quo. It was fairly affordable too, unlike modern NVidia's flagship cards.



#4 Flojomojo OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Dec 1, 2018 10:15 PM

Solid state storage in general. Yes, please. Getting faster and cheaper all the time.

The App Store. I was pretty "meh" about the $600 iphone when it first launched. But the second I read these words by David Pogue about the candy store for the iPhone, I ordered a refurb iPod Touch. iOS has been my favorite computing environment for almost a decade now.
https://pogue.blogs....for-the-iphone/

WiFi is pretty great, too. It's weird to think about the bad old early days. The original Apple Airport has a 56K modem onboard for internet access. Now wifi is ubiquitous and taken for granted.

Every long distance call treated as a local call, no more abusive tolls for calls made within the US.

The rise of the laptop. I remember when a nice laptop would cost thousands of dollars and be a lot less powerful than a desktop machine with a CRT monitor.

Online gaming. I generally dislike it, but I'm pleased that the technical reality has caught up to and surpassed the dreams.

Cheap, high quality, flat screens. A neighbor gave me a 2010 50" Panasonic plasma television last week. I remember going to technology expos in which a screen of that size would cost in the 5-digit thousands of dollars.

Bluetooth. Like WiFi, it's living up to the early promise.

#5 Gamemoose OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Dec 1, 2018 10:39 PM

Hard drives. First time I got a computer with a hard drive (whopping 20 MB), I was amazed. No more disk swapping!

#6 --- Ω --- OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Dec 1, 2018 10:56 PM

For me that piece of tech was my first modem.  It was 1983, it was a slooooow 300 baud acoustical coupler and there was only one BBS in town, but we also had a TELNET port which really opened up the world to me. 

 

Over the years I upgraded modems, but those years before the Internet, before the PC were special times to me. 

 

Below is a picture taken around 1990 before turned off that computer for good.

gallery_35324_1027_298605.jpg



#7 adamchevy OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Dec 2, 2018 12:16 AM

Got to be 3DFx's Voodoo 2. After its monstrous power manifested itself there was no going back to the previous stuttery and pixelated status quo. It was fairly affordable too, unlike modern NVidia's flagship cards.

I remember purchasing this at Costco. It was an amazing leap forward. I have to say it was when I finally got a cable modem. I found the box outside in my front yard and ran my own line down the side of my house. The cable company didn’t find out for a couple years until I called them out of feeling guilty. It was so amazing going from dial up to broadband. I think I had a 400kbps download rate. Mind blown! If I recall it was a Motorola surfboard modem.

Edited by adamchevy, Sun Dec 2, 2018 12:20 AM.


#8 x=usr(1536) OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Dec 2, 2018 9:30 PM

Modern: the Raspberry Pi.  It demonstrated that the computing power of a decade-old PC still had tremendous value - but really only when consuming a just couple of watts of power.  For my needs, it wasn't until the Raspi 3 came out that the sweet spots on price, performance, and power consumption were finally in enough of a line for me to seriously buy in, but it was clear from the outset that this was a platform (and concept) with great potential.

 

Classic: Telesoftware.  This was downloadable software broadcast via Teletext - just add a Teletext tuner peripheral to your computer and grab it over the air.  Unfortunately, never having owned a BBC Micro, this was something I had to remain incredibly jealous of, though I did get to see it in action a couple of times and was mightily impressed.  Despite having had a modem at the time, the idea of being able to literally pull software out of the air was just really astounding to me.



#9 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Dec 2, 2018 9:49 PM

Just having a modem, and having two computers communicate was a marvel. What language did they speak? ASCII, X-Modem and 8N1 of course! And I bet some of those more "exotic" systems spoke in like EBDIC or 7bits-Parity-2Stop.

 

What did it sound like? Ohh that screeching sound! So cool. Yes? Having computers talk on the phone was quite the gig because phones were for people talk.


Edited by Keatah, Sun Dec 2, 2018 9:50 PM.


#10 oracle_jedi OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Dec 2, 2018 11:45 PM

On the 8-bit Atari:

 

The 1050 floppy disk drive.  Oh hell yeah.  No more waiting 40+ minutes for Dropzone to load (or not).

 

The SIO2PC.  Double hell yeah.  Fire up the PC-AT, launch SIO2PC, start up the Atari and it boots a "disk" without anything mechanical happening on the aging 8-bit side.  I have one of the original Nick Kennedy made units from the early 90s that someone at BaPAUG (Bournemouth and Poole Atari User Group) brought back for me from the States before I moved there in 96.  After I got it I spent the next few weeks copying every single unprotected disk I had to the PC and basically stopped using real floppies on the Atari.

 

The Incognito.  Adds full XL compatibility and 1MB of RAM to my Atari 800.  This expansion fulfills the original promise of an expandable Atari 800.

 

 

On the TI99/4A:

 

The Corcomp 9900 MES.  Added everything I ever used from the PEB in a small device that makes no noise.  Never used the PEB again after that.  The CF7 is pretty cool, but connected to the SD based HxC the Corcomp is actually more useful to me than the wonky CF format used by the CF7.  I also use it with a 3.5 inch drive I got from Tex*in Treasures.

 

 

Laserdisc

 

OMG I loved this format.  Those huge 12" discs were beautiful to look at, and the packaging of the mid 90s Pioneer laserdiscs was awesome.  When TVs were usually no more than 36" in size and used analog signals Laserdisc blew everything else out of the water.  It made home movie watching an event.  Early DVDs struggled to match LD in quality due to early compression not being very good.  My first DVD of Highlander was practically unwatchable due to artifacts.  The 10th Anniversary LD of the same movie was gorgeous.  I had the boxed set of My Fair Lady which had the Audrey Hepburn audio on the analog audio tracks and the Marnie Nixon dubbed audio on the digital audio tracks allowing you to switch back and forth with a single button tap.  I still miss that format, even though it would probably look awful on a modern HDTV.  I finally sold off all the Laserdiscs and players about four years ago.  Bluray has never given me the same buzz as watching my old Pioneer CLD-D704 load a disc and start to spin it up.

 

 

3.5 inch diskettes.

 

As much as I loved the Atari disk drive, discovering the 3.5 disk format on an Apple Macintosh around 1985 was a revelation.  The Mac interface was nice.  The mouse thingy was kinda cool.  MacWrite was meh.  But the disk format!  Now *that* was awesome.

 

 

VGA.  

 

I always liked the 16-colour text mode of the IBM PC's CGA graphics.  My Atari ST could only do four colours in 80-column mode.  But the CGA and later EGA kinda sucked for graphics.  But VGA could do multi-colored graphics as well as the colorful text modes.  VGA was the missing link that made me actually want a PC.

 

 

Winamp and MP3s.

 

Damn I still love that interface, and I would tie up the phone line for hours logged into Dalnet downloading totally legitimate samples of music.  Honest.

 

 

Cable Internet.

 

Man needs only 3 things to survive:  Beer.  A good set of tools.  And high speed internet (so he can watch Youtube videos on how to use those tools - while drinking the beer..) 



#11 adamchevy OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Dec 2, 2018 11:52 PM

On the 8-bit Atari:
 
The 1050 floppy disk drive.  Oh hell yeah.  No more waiting 40+ minutes for Dropzone to load (or not).
 
The SIO2PC.  Double hell yeah.  Fire up the PC-AT, launch SIO2PC, start up the Atari and it boots a "disk" without anything mechanical happening on the aging 8-bit side.  I have one of the original Nick Kennedy made units from the early 90s that someone at BaPAUG (Bournemouth and Poole Atari User Group) brought back for me from the States before I moved there in 96.  After I got it I spent the next few weeks copying every single unprotected disk I had to the PC and basically stopped using real floppies on the Atari.
 
The Incognito.  Adds full XL compatibility and 1MB of RAM to my Atari 800.  This expansion fulfills the original promise of an expandable Atari 800.
 
 
On the TI99/4A:
 
The Corcomp 9900 MES.  Added everything I ever used from the PEB in a small device that makes no noise.  Never used the PEB again after that.  The CF7 is pretty cool, but connected to the SD based HxC the Corcomp is actually more useful to me than the wonky CF format used by the CF7.  I also use it with a 3.5 inch drive I got from Tex*in Treasures.
 
 
Laserdisc
 
OMG I loved this format.  Those huge 12" discs were beautiful to look at, and the packaging of the mid 90s Pioneer laserdiscs was awesome.  When TVs were usually no more than 36" in size and used analog signals Laserdisc blew everything else out of the water.  It made home movie watching an event.  Early DVDs struggled to match LD in quality due to early compression not being very good.  My first DVD of Highlander was practically unwatchable due to artifacts.  The 10th Anniversary LD of the same movie was gorgeous.  I had the boxed set of My Fair Lady which had the Audrey Hepburn audio on the analog audio tracks and the Marnie Nixon dubbed audio on the digital audio tracks allowing you to switch back and forth with a single button tap.  I still miss that format, even though it would probably look awful on a modern HDTV.  I finally sold off all the Laserdiscs and players about four years ago.  Bluray has never given me the same buzz as watching my old Pioneer CLD-D704 load a disc and start to spin it up.
 
 
3.5 inch diskettes.
 
As much as I loved the Atari disk drive, discovering the 3.5 disk format on an Apple Macintosh around 1985 was a revelation.  The Mac interface was nice.  The mouse thingy was kinda cool.  MacWrite was meh.  But the disk format!  Now *that* was awesome.
 
 
VGA.  
 
I always liked the 16-colour text mode of the IBM PC's CGA graphics.  My Atari ST could only do four colours in 80-column mode.  But the CGA and later EGA kinda sucked for graphics.  But VGA could do multi-colored graphics as well as the colorful text modes.  VGA was the missing link that made me actually want a PC.
 
 
Winamp and MP3s.
 
Damn I still love that interface, and I would tie up the phone line for hours logged into Dalnet downloading totally legitimate samples of music.  Honest.
 
 
Cable Internet.
 
Man needs only 3 things to survive:  Beer.  A good set of tools.  And high speed internet (so he can watch Youtube videos on how to use those tools - while drinking the beer..) 

I still use Winamp everyday on my work computer. Still the best after all these years.

Dual Monitors- I remember the first time I finally had a good Setup of 2 Sony 24” CRT monitors. I knew I could never go back to using only one. Ahh the Gdm-W900. I picked up a couple at a Bankruptcy sell back in the early 00s. I still miss those babies. I’ll never forget having two monitors at 1920x1200 for the first time. It felt like endless screen real estate. Photoshop and Quake 3 Arena never looked so good. Half life 2 was also pretty Breath taking at the time.

Logitech Z680s- I remember the first time I heard this 5.1 setup on my friends computer. I knew I needed a set of my own. They were amazing for the time. I still use a Z5500 setup to this day.

Edladdin Supertwin 78 Controller on Robotron 2084 and Centipede with Teamplay. The best controller for the 7800 I have ever used. It makes it the definitive experience for Robotron in my experience.

Edited by adamchevy, Mon Dec 3, 2018 12:05 AM.


#12 amiman99 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Dec 4, 2018 1:20 PM

3D printers!

Design and make your own stuff, incredible! Great for printing spare or missing parts for classic computers. One of the first thing I did, is to design and print my missing Amiga 3000 floppy eject button. YESS!



#13 wongojack OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Dec 4, 2018 2:33 PM

The App Store. I was pretty "meh" about the $600 iphone when it first launched. But the second I read these words by David Pogue about the candy store for the iPhone, I ordered a refurb iPod Touch. iOS has been my favorite computing environment for almost a decade now.
https://pogue.blogs....for-the-iphone/

WiFi is pretty great, too. It's weird to think about the bad old early days. The original Apple Airport has a 56K modem onboard for internet access. Now wifi is ubiquitous and taken for granted.

 

 

 

I had to read this three times and click the link to make sure i got it right.  Someone actually LIKES the app store?  As in - a way to restrict your freedom and make you pay money for things you can find on web sites for free?  I simply have never encountered someone who thought of this as a benefit, and I consider it one of the great dumbing-downs in the history of modern computing.  Because of app stores and restricted OS, high schoolers don't even understand what a file is anymore.  Ask them to do something simple and move a file and then upload it, and they have no idea what you mean.  Don't get me wrong, its not like I enjoy knowing file types and moving them around, but it saves me money to know I don't need to have 3 different word processing tools to open 3 different file types.  Any HS or College teacher will tell you that getting students to save a file in a specific format is an absolute chore.  Then within 5 seconds, you show them the options they were looking past the whole time.  That is after half the semester has passed when they've ignored instructions, and you've had to fail them 4 times to get them to even notice you can't read the garbage protected link they want you to read.  So yeah, NOT App Store

 

 

WiFi on the other hand really did feel like a leap.  No more cord and you could have everyone's laptop connected at the same time.  I could share files between computers with different storage capacities, watch video from my personal collection for the first time that was stored somewhere else.  It was great.  Even now when I travel internationally, I tend to just shut off my data and rely on WiFi on my phone.  I remember bringing dongles and wires with me everywhere . . . and being stuck in front of the desktop at home.  Glad that is over, but I do wish it would get even faster.

 

In the classic realm, I felt that when VGA graphics and Sound Blaster hit the PC things dramatically moved forward.  That was the moment when the 8-bit stuff really showed its age and you could tell things were moving on.  Of course, I didn't experience that for a few years, so YMMV, but it was a big leap at the time.  I never was tempted to buy a VooDoo 3d card, or I might have experienced the same thing in that era.  At that time, I wasn't really focused on tech and ended up just waiting until the Playstation to experience that type of gaming.



#14 youxia OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Dec 4, 2018 9:32 PM

From modern times, it has to be G-Sync. Yes, I know, I know, it's the evil  NVidia with their propertiary, closed and pricey ways again. But...it's just too good to be true, so I had to succumb to their lure. I don't know, maybe Freesync caught up with them yet, but when I was in the market for it a few years ago it wasn't up to scratch.

 

And let's face it, gaming with stutter sucks. Big time. I know there are huge amount of folks, especially in the PC scene (on consoles you don't really have a choice) who push in opposite direction, eg: sacrficing smoothnes and fps for more eyecandy such as resolutions, colours, detail. Not me...it's 60 fps or bust. And with G-Sync you can have that 60 (or less) with no stutter. The difference is staggering.



#15 power OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Dec 4, 2018 9:42 PM

the 1050, all my mates had C64's and tape drives - peasants!



#16 Zonie OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Dec 4, 2018 9:45 PM

Hard Drives

Modems

Soundblaster

Wifi

My 14" MAG MagicSync VGA monitor and GIF files (wow look at that resolution). That thing would take ANY signal. CGA, EGA, VGA, RGB...

Cordless Phones and Cassette tapes (When I was very young)



#17 Thomas Jentzsch OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Dec 5, 2018 5:52 AM

LCDs



#18 Flojomojo OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Dec 5, 2018 6:44 AM

I had to read this three times and click the link to make sure i got it right.  Someone actually LIKES the app store?  As in - a way to restrict your freedom and make you pay money for things you can find on web sites for free?  I simply have never encountered someone who thought of this as a benefit, and I consider it one of the great dumbing-downs in the history of modern computing.  Because of app stores and restricted OS, high schoolers don't even understand what a file is anymore.  Ask them to do something simple and move a file and then upload it, and they have no idea what you mean.  Don't get me wrong, its not like I enjoy knowing file types and moving them around, but it saves me money to know I don't need to have 3 different word processing tools to open 3 different file types.  Any HS or College teacher will tell you that getting students to save a file in a specific format is an absolute chore.  Then within 5 seconds, you show them the options they were looking past the whole time.  That is after half the semester has passed when they've ignored instructions, and you've had to fail them 4 times to get them to even notice you can't read the garbage protected link they want you to read.  So yeah, NOT App Store

You say dumbing-down, I say removal of barriers to entry. It's a haven for indie developers, a playground for UI experimentation, and a way for Grandma to try a new program without infesting her device with viruses. I think it's cool for people to play games without paying sixty bucks to Gamestop. Yes it's got some negative sides inherent to the platform (quantity over quality, in-app-purchases pointed at whales) but to my mind, infinite variety with easy access is my version of the 80's arcade. 

 

The fact that your students are computer-illiterate is a different issue. When we were kids, the vast majority of them knew little of computers. Nowadays, more is expected of them. You're failing them (clarification: they're failing your class) because they're not listening to you, or you're not speaking to them in ways they can understand.  :) The kids I know are all in the Google Classroom ecosystem, which is easy to use but also largely sidesteps the file system or specific file formats. It's the future, present day, bub.  ;)  Might as well yearn for manual transmissions in cars or hand-written letters if you don't like it. 

 

On that note, I think a lot of the technology we thought of as amazing in the 80s has reached a state of maturity now. Desktop computers haven't changed much in the last 20 years. Thin and light laptop computers have been pretty much perfected. Mobile devices are almost there too, there aren't too many low-hanging fruit to pick. If I had to use my current, admittedly fancy iPhone "as is" for the next ten years, I think I'd survive. Except for batteries. I sure hope there's a battery revolution on the horizon on the order of the takeover of flat panel displays.



#19 rpiguy9907 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Dec 5, 2018 9:43 AM

As a kid the first time I downloaded an "inappropriate" image on my Amiga from the local BBS (finally a good use for HAM mode!) The picture quality was stunning.

 

When I was older it was probably playing Dark Forces. Managed to be both immersive and technologically a huge leap over anything I'd played on the Amiga.



#20 Atari_Warlord OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Dec 5, 2018 10:02 AM

The first tech I loved was my Okidata dot-matrix printer.  I could get it to print just about anything.



#21 wongojack OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Dec 5, 2018 12:04 PM

You say dumbing-down, I say removal of barriers to entry. It's a haven for indie developers, a playground for UI experimentation, and a way for Grandma to try a new program without infesting her device with viruses. I think it's cool for people to play games without paying sixty bucks to Gamestop. Yes it's got some negative sides inherent to the platform (quantity over quality, in-app-purchases pointed at whales) but to my mind, infinite variety with easy access is my version of the 80's arcade. 

 

The fact that your students are computer-illiterate is a different issue. When we were kids, the vast majority of them knew little of computers. Nowadays, more is expected of them. You're failing them (clarification: they're failing your class) because they're not listening to you, or you're not speaking to them in ways they can understand.  :) The kids I know are all in the Google Classroom ecosystem, which is easy to use but also largely sidesteps the file system or specific file formats. It's the future, present day, bub.  ;)  Might as well yearn for manual transmissions in cars or hand-written letters if you don't like it. 

 

I see the benefits as you describe them for the app-store, but I still don't really think of it as a benefit to me.

 

Full disclosure - I am not a teacher. My wife is the university teacher and she's using the most common classroom software that is used across a large portion of US universities.  It is a mandated standard and not a choice, so I'm not talking about some one-off teacher stuck in the dark ages, bub.



#22 zylon OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Dec 5, 2018 2:10 PM

My 1541 floppy drive. Sooooo much faster and better than twirling tapes around a pen.



#23 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Dec 5, 2018 2:17 PM

Solar Cells -- I was quite taken with these little slivers of glass that could be bought at RadioShack for 5 or 10 bucks each. It was mysterious and amazing that the sun could power electronics and motors and circuits. And it was so different and seemed more important than playing with G.I. Joe dolls or other stupid stuff. I even tried hooking one, and then more, to some light bulbs in hopes they would generate enough power to make enough light to power the bulbs and have it continue forever. I must have spent a month trying to solve the problem.



#24 Flojomojo OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Dec 5, 2018 2:25 PM

I see the benefits as you describe them for the app-store, but I still don't really think of it as a benefit to me.
 
Full disclosure - I am not a teacher. My wife is the university teacher and she's using the most common classroom software that is used across a large portion of US universities.  It is a mandated standard and not a choice, so I'm not talking about some one-off teacher stuck in the dark ages, bub.


I understand, bub. And the older I get, the younger (and dumber) the college kids seem.

I love me some App Store. I was just contemplating a home arcade cabinet project, but the #1 thing holding me back (apart from my chronic laziness and procrastination) is that even these happy happy joy joy machines from my adolescence are unlikely to bring me nearly as much pleasure and entertainment as the little device from which I am tapping out this message. The iPhone is easily my favorite gadget, ever.

Bub!

#25 thetick1 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Dec 5, 2018 2:47 PM

1979 --- first calculator and I can carry it with me.

1986 --- getting my C64 ... such a huge improvement over Vic20

1992 --- 8-bit color at 1280x1024 (POWER Gt1x graphics adapter) on my work IBM Workstation.

1993 --- compiled Sega emulator for my work IBM Workstation... and could play Sonic during lunch.

1997 --- 2 Mbit/s Wifi working with Red Hat Linux 

2009 --- FTTH 50Mbit/s right to the home






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