Thursday, November 11, 2010

emulate this

Pictured above is the Tandy TRS-80 Model I, unleashed on the world in 1977 as one of the first mass-produced desktop microcomputers available to consumers. Unusually for its time it sported a full QWERTY keyboard.

These devices were a lot of fun at the time, and with some work and some highly-priced peripherals it was even possible to get some genuinely useful functionality – yes, even something approaching the modern concept of productivity – out of them. Users could either program the machine themselves in its native floating point BASIC programming language, or shell out a bit more dough for commercially available software to run the thing.

Naturally these machines are no longer available on the market, unless you can find a working relic on eBay or somewhere. So, users of modern-day 21st Century machines are unlikely to ever experience the thrills-and-spills of operating what was a cutting-edge product of its day. (Of course, if it’s thrills-and-spills you want, then there’s still Microsoft Windows.)

And yet, there is a reasonably low-cost and convenient way to experience the awesome technology of yore. The answer is to run a TRS-80 emulator.

Yes, it may seem outrageously implausible that you could emulate a

  • Zilog Z80-based, 8-bit, 1.77 Megahertz, 16 Kilobyte RAM, cassett-tape-storage  machine

on your

  • Intel Quad Core, 64-bit, 3.2 Gigahertz, 8 Gigabyte RAM, multivarious storage, state-of-the-21st-Century PC

But through the magic of modern software technology anything is possible, requiring only the will to realise it.

If you have a hankering for the archaic and too much time on your hands, you might start here...

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Blogger Father Park said...

I used to enjoy punching holes in cards. Never did punch the correct holes and so my model rockets never did fly straight.

That all changed when I dispensed with cards and found a Texas Instruments "scientific" calculator. Goodbye log tables hello straight flying rockets.

12/11/10 3:23 PM  
Anonymous Jacob said...

Fascinating! I had no idea computer cards were used to control (or try to) model rockets. You should do an article on your experiences with that stuff.

14/11/10 8:21 PM  
Blogger Father Park said...

Not so certain anyone would be interested in such. The first rocket was named "Lyndall". It did not fly straight in any way. Rather it resembled the chooks that used to hurtle about the copious backyard of my youth after unfortunate meetings with Jack's hand axe.

Lyndall used to go to MLC Croydon - black stockings was the uniform then - and when together my hormones behaved exactly as did the rocket . A "red rattler" romance.

Unfortunatley my skill at finding the right hole mirrored the rocket or the rocket mirrored my clumsy hole finding.

Fortran that is not fornication. Good Catholic lad and Good Methodist girl and all that....

15/11/10 10:50 PM  

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