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Hardware Idle

How Do You Get Your Geek Nostalgia Fix? 422

Vrtigo1 writes "I keep a Pentium Pro CPU on my desk underneath my monitor because it reminds me of simpler times. Every once in a while I want to revisit the old days of the original Doom, the phonebook-sized Computer Shoppers, when you looked forward to the demo CD that came with Computer Gaming World because the Internet was too slow to distribute software, and when Falcon Northwest's Mach V was the envy of many a geek. IRC is just about the only technology I can think of that's still in use today and still looks the same as it did in the early nineties. So where do you go when you need to regress back to simpler times and get your nostalgia fix? I foolishly trashed my old tech mags, and there isn't a whole lot online that has survived from that long ago."
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How Do You Get Your Geek Nostalgia Fix?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 12, 2011 @05:23PM (#36740806)

    People are still refusing to migrate from Windows XP.

    • BAH! XP is still fine. By that definition people shouldn't use Unix.

      Vista and 7 have no need to exist unless you're an MS shareholder. They bring nothing to table of any use.

      I've had this argument for years with people as I still use XP. A couple of games have been DX10 only, which is asinine when in at least one case they were a port of an Xbox title and the console is essentially a DX9 box. But everything is still supported. My system is still current and can run stuff like Mass Effect 2 etc...

      I'm still w

      • by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland&yahoo,com> on Tuesday July 12, 2011 @07:01PM (#36742252) Homepage Journal

        You're high.
        7 is pretty damn good, and far superior to XP in terms of security, usability, and robustness.
        It bring a lot to the table XP didn't, or was just kludged together. And yes, Vista was a PoS.

        DX10 brings more to the table as well. In fact, it's the advantage of PC. You can take a DX9 titles, and make it look better.

        Fine, use XP, but stop the ignorance and lies.

        You have no argument. You are making an emotional reaction to what should be a rational one. You are no different then a monkey who is afraid to let go of their rock so they stay stuck in a termite hill.

    • by Moryath ( 553296 )

      That's not nostalgia. That's "if it works, why break it." A very commonly espoused philosophy of human existence.

      In other news: my brother has a Laserdisc player and a pretty wide-ranging collection. Helps that he can raid the bargain bins at $2.50 per movie, and there are some real gems he's found for an absolute steal - almost every Danny Kaye film, every James Bond up through 1998, the Masterpiece Collection edition of Fantasia...

      • And I still use a VCR to record TV shows and tape decks to record music. In both cases it is more convenient to me than using a non-dedicated PC and cheaper than using a dedicated digital device or a dedicated PC.

        I have a LD player too, but I can't find cheap movies. The discs are heavy, so shipping (especially from the US) is really expensive.

  • by ddt ( 14627 ) <ddt@davetaylor.name> on Tuesday July 12, 2011 @05:24PM (#36740818) Homepage

    I open a terminal window on my Mac. Do it every day for one reason or another.

    It's particularly fun to go fullscreen with it and run nethack, and people actually think you're doing something very brainy and technical.

    • I open a terminal window on my Mac. Do it every day for one reason or another.

      It's particularly fun to go fullscreen with it and run nethack, and people actually think you're doing something very brainy and technical.

      Hear Hear!

      Realistically, I'm not seeking nostalgia with my computer. When I do want a touch of it, I turn to my PSP and emulate some old-school NES/SNES action. Or I build linux from scratch on something unsupported, and see if I can get it functional *enough*. That certainly reminds me of the old days...

      • You mean that posting to Slashdot from my R4400 SGI Indigo doesn't count?

        Netscape Navigator has a wonderful time with the CSS.

        • by T5 ( 308759 )

          I just read posts from three digit /. IDs. Lights the ol' wayback machine for me every time!

      • by tepples ( 727027 )

        When I do want a touch of it, I turn to my PSP and emulate some old-school NES/SNES action.

        I understand about Super NES; some people were lucky enough to buy a Retrode cart reader when it was available. But how do you copy your old NES cartridges onto your PSP? Should one buy an NES and solder in the "CopyNES" expansion board?

      • I open a terminal window on my Android phone most every day also, and that doesn't smack of nostalgia to me. I SSH into a server and solve problems.

        Sounds like functionality.

    • by mellon ( 7048 )

      Terminal.app is what I work in every day (well, okay, actually I have my own version that works better, but you get the point.)

      For nostalgia, I hack on my Scheme compiler. I just don't feel much longing for old obsolete systems; Scheme is pleasant nostalgia because I still think of it as relevant—even though nobody's using it at the moment, a lot of ideas pioneered by scheme are in wide use, e.g. in Javascript. But Scheme is a much better language than Javascript.

    • I'm not affiliated with the project, but someone was motivated enough to take that classic memory and update it (somewhat) for the modern world.
      No, you won't mistake it for a recent game release, but it is a great way to experience the classic again without as much of the dated graphics.
      Highly recommend Duke Nukem 3D HRP (High-Resolution Pack)!
      http://hrp.duke4.net/ [duke4.net]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 12, 2011 @05:24PM (#36740830)

    You feel nostalgic about THAT? Damn you, now I feel ancient. I still remember waiting for those INPUT magazines, with BASIC listings of games and other software for Spectrum/TSR80/MSX/Apple/etc. Get off my lawn!

    (Cue for "You had BASIC?!", "Punchcards" and other even older geezers that will make me feel a bit younger)

    • by fnj ( 64210 ) on Tuesday July 12, 2011 @07:24PM (#36742548)

      Heh, you kinda spoiled it for me by anticipating what I would say :-) You whippersnappers had it all gold plated with those ready-built computers. I built my own Altair 8800 from a kit in 1975 by soldering all the components to the boards, one by one. Double sided fiberglass-epoxy with plated through holes. I splurged and socketed all the ICs with the real deal - Augat gold-plated machined-pin teflon sockets which cost about as much as the ICs plugged into them. Ah, the smell of that Ersin 63-37 eutectic rosin-core solder; the wafts of smoke. The CPU was a 2 MHz 8080 in the original gleaming white ceramic package with the beautiful gold plated chip lid. No heat sink necessary; 40 pin DIP. Row after row of 2102 1Kx1 350 ns static RAM chips in 16 pin DIPs on the memory boards. A serial port board with the fabulous UART on a single chip.

      BIOS? Boot ROMs? HAH! There were 16 red address LEDs, 8 red data LEDs, and 16 toggle switches, all arranged octally in groups of 3 on the front panel. You entered the boot loader byte by byte, toggling in the binary codes, pressing load memory, and incrementing the address for each byte. Then you double checked it. Then you loaded the paper tape in the teletype and pressed run. If you got it right, away you would go, reading BASIC or other application program at a great rate of 10 bytes per second. Go away and get some coffee. Come back; oops, it crashed. Try again. Finally you got it right and the teletype hammered out "Altair Basic, OK." Orgasmic!

      You had to do this each time you turned it on.

  • its a //c for easy storage in my small apartment

    • Candy Apple for Android gives a good dose of nostalgia on the run.

      I still have my old Apple II+ but I doubt any of the old disks will read. I so wanted a IIc when they came out.
      • I have paper tape for various programs I wrote for a DEC PDP-8. I've occasionally shown the paper tape, just to show how much better things have gotten since then.

        I also have an Apple ][+ and an Apple //e. The Apple ][+ is actually an original Apple ][, but with a new motherboard (due to a blown capacitor that fried the board). I sometimes bring out the Apples and run the games I wrote for them. A number of the disks are still readable, believe it or not.

        As far as I'm concerned, what matters for gam

      • by Osgeld ( 1900440 )

        I grew up with a //e and yea I drooled over the //c, on your disk comment, those 5.25 inch disks are pretty resilant, my parents saved all their personal doc's disks when they sold the //e back in 1993 and here I go be-boppin with a //c in 2010 and all of them read just fine

  • When I need a geek nostalgia fix, I fire up one of my old MAC SE-30's running AUX.

    That's Apple's Unix for Macs, circa 1990. Server-class under the skin with MacOS on the desktop.


    • To provide you with more info:

      You can't emulate it, no really, not even using that thing you think will work.
      You need a 68k mac to run it, such as an SE/30, or Quadra.
      It won't run on any of the LCs. Even if you try anyway.
      It won't run on a powermac, even if you try anyway. Not even if you do that thing you're going to try.
      You a particular type of CD drive to install it.

      More info here: http://www.aux-penelope.com/
  • by tool462 ( 677306 ) on Tuesday July 12, 2011 @05:25PM (#36740860)

    HP-48GX calculator in my desk. I have had it for about 14 years now, and I still use it every day.

  • I installed Gentoo on an Ultra 5 last week just to see if it still works.
  • Doesn't get any more nostalgic than telneting to nethack.alt.org and trying to achieve demigodhood.

  • by vivek7006 ( 585218 ) on Tuesday July 12, 2011 @05:28PM (#36740898) Homepage
    "Get a life"!
  • by Squeebee ( 719115 ) <squeebee@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Tuesday July 12, 2011 @05:28PM (#36740904)

    I go to textfiles.com [textfiles.com] and read some of the old docs I remember from my BBS days.

  • Byte Compedium, Hackers handbook, old Atari catalogues, that sort of thing. Old issues of Creative Computing, that sort of thing.
  • > EX E800
    > GO ASM
  • I get a tarball for some old project and get it to compile without warnings with g++. The task can take hours as I have to deal with old C programmers' hatred for const correctness, uberclever macros, use of variables called "class" and "new", reinvented containers, and general disregard for maintainer sanity. Approached with the right mindset this can become as entertaining as a video game, with frequent exclamations of "what kind of a moron would do this?!?"

    I highly recommend Omega [alcyone.com] roguelike game for this

  • HP-35 in its original plastic box in a cabinet at work.
  • by G3ckoG33k ( 647276 ) on Tuesday July 12, 2011 @05:34PM (#36741026)

    I use Windows at times. That way I remember how nice Debian Linux is.

    It is slower, uglier, and reminds me of the olde days.

  • Not an emulator for a whole machine (although you could if you wanted to), but just the CPU. That'd be fun. (If you're a programmer of course).

  • Lesser beings may know that game by the name of X-com: Ufo defence but they are not worth talking about.

    For me, that series comes as close to the old days that I am glad are not gone. Who on earth prefers having to rely on a game mag CD over instantly downloading something? Who is not glad off MORE cpu power? Who does not enjoy games with a thousand times the graphical splendor of Doom? (If you are going to claim you loved Doom for its depth of gameplay, then I will have kill you) .

    But UFO: Enemy Unknown is

    • by Thud457 ( 234763 )
      What's the current state of UFO: alien invasion [wikipedia.org] ?
      Last time I played that (mainly for the combat mode), it kicked in the 3D card on my laptop and pretty well fried the hair off my nuts. Other than that, it seemed pretty cool.
  • Making old machines actually come to life... http://www.abc80.org/~hpa/fpga/ [abc80.org]
    • I just hack FPGAs, not trying to emulate old machines though. Who needs software when you can design hardware to do what you want?

      Strangely enough, I've never really coded anything at an assembler level, not even much C, so it's not like I'm getting systematically deeper. Then again I have plenty of experience in hands-on electronics. It's great being able to define your data structures at a bitwise level, not worrying about some little endian crap. Also a nice way to get some ideas for parallel programm

      • by tepples ( 727027 )

        Who needs software when you can design hardware to do what you want?

        Anybody who wants to distribute his work to the public without having to invest capital in manufacturing and shipping physical objects.

        • Who needs software when you can design hardware to do what you want?

          Anybody who wants to distribute his work to the public without having to invest capital in manufacturing and shipping physical objects.

          Just distribute the design files ;)

          • by tepples ( 727027 )

            Just distribute the design files ;)

            That limits audience. As I understand it, far more people can use software than can use a design file.

  • And use the classic discussion system. Reminds me of simpler times.

  • I still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.

  • Zork, or one of the original Infocom games, running on my smartphone.
  • You think hugging a Pentium Pro is nostalgic? Kids these days.

    No, this is not a 'get off my lawn' moment, but get real, if you want to talk nostalgic at least go 8 bit..

    • Pentium Pro is way way up there in terms of non-simple CPU types. It's significantly more complex than even the original Pentium, to say nothing of the 486 or 386 or RISC cpus. This should not be an example of "simpler times".

    • It does harken back to the days where you didn't need both a computer AND a stove, the Pentium Pro filled both niches quite nicely. Ever have Pentium Pro-grilled hamburgers? Sublime.
  • I still have the first "PC Compatible" machine that I ever owned. My yellowed but trusty K6-II that I built myself after about a year's worth of internet research on how to build a computer, on the library's computers. I always regretted giving away my NES and my Commodore Plus/4, so I vowed to keep this one as long as it worked, and repair it as long as I could. It still chugs along @ 300mhz, with 128MB of RAM (which was expensive back in the day) and the 6.4GB hard drive. I put it together over the s

  • I watch "Clash of the Titans" or "Troy", of course. Oh, wait a minute: I thought you said Greek nostalgia. Never mind

  • For the most part I don't miss slow transfer speeds and computers that stuttered playing MP3. Nostalgia for me is restricted to certain apps and games I can't or don't have the time to run.

    - If I want a laugh I look at my own web page, built in the mid 90s that's only had minor changes
    - wayback machine
    - Certain games I install if they work on newer OS or emulate if they don't....though some games just can't run without a proper win98 machine which is not something I have any more
    - I still use a Palm Pilot o

  • by BLAG-blast ( 302533 ) on Tuesday July 12, 2011 @05:55PM (#36741382)
    "I keep a Pentium Pro CPU on my desk underneath my monitor because it reminds me of simpler times."

    You kids and your new shit. Nothing simple about a 32-bit CISC chip. When I was a kid we had 8-bit CPUs and liked it! I didn't wait for a "Computer Shopper" with a demo CD, I had to write my games/apps! If I was lucky I could type in some buggy code from a magazine and try to get it to run.

    Every now and then I still play Elite. And dock without docking computers.

    • Nostalgia?

      Screw that, I just start my car! I still use an old 1995 shiftmaster EEC piggyback chip that overrides my car's CPU (OBD-I, Intel 8061). Still works fine, programming is a pain (hex & ascii files), and the car just hit 463rwhp 2 months ago with more room to program the power curves.

      Put that nostalgia to good use I say.

  • YouTube has a lot of recordings of 8-bit videogames played to completion and 8-bit audio/video demos.

    And contrary to the summary, there are a lot of old tech magazines online, especially the ones aimed toward 8-bit computers and even the programmable calculators before them, such as the TI-59. <flamebait>Magazines from the "Pentium Pro" era wouldn't be considered "classic computing" so that may be why those aren't online.</flamebait>

  • Pentium Pro CPU on my desk underneath my monitor because it reminds me of simpler times

    Nostalgic for 10 year olds, maybe.

    I like the hercules System/360 emulator running MVS although I admit to a fondness for MVT. Both are before my time. That and the PDP-8, and my SBC6120, and my MicroKIM...

  • by pongo000 ( 97357 ) on Tuesday July 12, 2011 @06:02PM (#36741492)

    ...alive [floodgap.com] and [quux.org] well [4d2.org]!

  • We have all kinds of crap stored. There is even a Kaypro lugable in there. Hayes modems, Stallion serial ports cards, Seagate 20 Mb disk drive, 8-inch floppy disks. At least the System 36 units went away. At some point, the CP/M unit left, but one of the drive cabinets is still around.
  • by cjb658 ( 1235986 ) on Tuesday July 12, 2011 @06:04PM (#36741518) Journal

    Firefox skin that makes it look like Netscape: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/foxscape/ [mozilla.org]

    That, and, sometimes I also set the Windows theme to "classic." :)

  • There are a bunch of classic shows, CommVEx [portcommodore.com] is coming up in under two weeks (July 23 &24) and there are many others in various places throughout the year. Several Commodore ones, and many others including the Vintage Computer Festival [vintage.org]. Even the Maker Faires [makerfaire.com] have usually a classic computer or five in their midst. Another to look for are the Arcade/Videogaming expos that pop up, you can play on 8-bit arcade hardware.

    There's always the Computer History Museum [computerhistory.org] in Mountain View CA. Intel museum in San Jo

  • I go into the livingroom and turn on my NES and play any of my NES games. Just the act of turning it on and having to blow into the cartridge take me back.

  • Fire up the old NES, play a round of Tecmo Super Bowl.

    My friend has an Apple II and Teipai on 5 1/4 floppy that she plays every year or so (the old versions had a bug she likes to exploit, so she won't play a newer version).

  • That's DataSAAB Interpretive Language / DataSAAB Assember Language. Back in the days of minicomputers with magnetic core, punchcards, paper tape readers, and hard disk drives the size of washing machines.

  • I have my Apple IIc that I use to play old Apple II games I played as a kid. I sometimes use it with its original matching green-screen CRT display, sometimes I plug it in to my 47" HDTV.

  • How else can I be sure that I can still hand-assemble MACRO-11 code for the PDP-11?

    I still regret tossing all the DEC-20 manuals that I bought in college. Nothing like using 3 or 4 different bases to do anything with the operating system.

  • I look in the mirror.

    Oh, wait. I thought you asked how I *fix* my geek nostalgia.

  • I'd turn off my PC, ride a bus to the library, pick up what books may relate to what I want to know and spend the afternoon taking notes by hand.
  • Sometimes I go into work and boot up a Sun Ultra1, just for kicks.

    Except it's not for kicks, and I don't have to boot the thing. Because we're still running Critical Infrastructure Applications on it.

  • The SPIES wiretap archive, now owned by Area.com, and moved to HTTP from Gopher but the content is still there. First place I learned about Phreaking and Rainbow Boxes, as well as Core Wars, a ton of great old practical jokes.

    http://wiretap.area.com/ [area.com]

  • I recently bought an Acorn Electron [wikipedia.org] on eBay. It works. Now to think up something super-1337 to do with it.

    I also still own the Pentium 233 MMX system I did my Master's thesis on.


    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      there is nothing super-1337 you can do with it, that's why it isn't used anymore. Did you at least get the expansion unit?

  • I just get out my old trusty pentium 100 with awesome win98 and Caldera Linux on it and read /. with Lynx ! I havent tried for a couple years though, not sure if it will still even work.
  • I get nostalgic playing Avatar [wikipedia.org]. NOT to be confused with the current movie-based crap.

    Nostalgic for my 920+ Ninja lost in the old NovaNET [wikipedia.org] system.

    Nostalgic for the Wyvern Skin left behind.

    Nostalgic for the first forays into the 'new' Avatar, back then.

    So I play the Cyber1 [cyber1.org] version. And it is sweet.

    And you can, too [cyber1.org]. See you in the dungeon, probably dead (you).

  • by yarnosh ( 2055818 ) on Tuesday July 12, 2011 @06:56PM (#36742190)
    I don't get my nostalgia fix. I used it do it all: BBSes, tinker with assembly, love flipping through the computer shopper, play silly text/ascii based games... all of it. I've tried going back and doing some of those old things but it all just seems so boring now. Those 8-bit games, the MSDOS commandline, fiddling with the registers on my VGA card.... all boring. I feel like I have no use for a computer now that doesn't have a 24/7 link to the internet. BBSes (those that are left) feel so lonely and isolated. I still do geeky things. Don't get me wrong, but I do things on a whole different scale now. There's a dozen layers of abstraction between me and the hardware now and I like it that way. I use websites like Slashdot with thousands of simutaneous users and I like it that way.. No more single line BBSes.
  • an excuse for people to come out and wave their 'I've been doing this since x" penis around as if it's worth anything.

    If I really need some nostalgia, I find an LED calculator and type 5318008.

    Seriously though, In this day in age, we have so much new stuff all the time, I don't want to waste it pulling out some game where the only redeeming feature is my emotional attachment to a PoS.

  • by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Tuesday July 12, 2011 @10:37PM (#36744098) Homepage Journal

    Do a search on the torrent sites. I've contributed some of my old Run, Enter, and Computer language magazines, and a great fellow scanned them. I help seed the torrents.

    Reading a few years of those should give you a good taste of what life was like when we had to work the bellows to do our computing.

"The pyramid is opening!" "Which one?" "The one with the ever-widening hole in it!" -- The Firesign Theatre