• Published on | Feb 14, 2013 | by FozzTexx

Thinking about a Retro Computer Week

I mentioned on twitter I was thinking about doing a Retro Computer Week where the only computer at my desk would be something old and primitive. I already have several antiques already I could use. NeXT, Apple IIe, Apple IIgs, TI-99/4A, and an HP150. I might also be able to find a dual floppy Mac SE, an Atari 800, a Sinclair T1000, and maybe even a Heathkit H8. A Commodore 64 would be neat too, but I don't have one and don't know anyone that does.

The computer at my desk would be my only interface to a keyboard and monitor (and maybe mouse). I wouldn't use any other desktop or laptop, unless there's some client emergency and I need to use VNC or Remote Desktop or something. I would still have my phone, but I normally use it so little I only charge it a couple of times a week. In fact with the iPhone 4 I was charging it once a week and it was on 24hrs a day with both the wifi and bluetooth always on.

The point of the challenge really isn't about being limited by what the computer can do, it's about only being limited by what I can do with the computer. That means upgrades are ok, even modern ones. Replacing the 6502 in a IIe with a 65c02 or 65802 is fine, or adding on an ethernet card or even compact flash card. Case mods definitely aren't acceptable though. Stuffing a Mac Mini inside a IIe and converting the IIe's keyboard to a USB keyboard via a teensy is cheating.

Using an old computer as a dumb terminal is acceptable, although less interesting. But I think in some instances there may be few other options. The only connectivity with the TI-99/4A is with an RS232 card and a terminal emulator. I don't have the RS232 card even though I have the PEB.

Another consideration is that I'll need to lug the computer between home and work. I would rather not have to transport heavy things like CRTs. A lot of the old computers output some form of NTSC so I could easily keep a TV at home and work. The TI-99/4A though requires the PEB in order to get a serial port, and the PEB is extremely heavy. And my NeXT uses a special monitor which I would have to transport.

Right now I'm still just thinking about the idea. I'm not sure if I will go through with it since it looks like I will need a bit of preparation, and possibly additional and possibly expensive upgrades to use some of the computers. If you're interested in the idea though I'd love to hear what you think!

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+1  Posted by Karim D. Ghantous • Jul.23.2013 at 21.04 • Reply

I'd go further. Form a lobby group to petition the UN to formalize a retro computing week, where all persons are encouraged to use a retro computer to complete at least one task in that week.