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Hardware Technology

MARCH Presents: Apple I Reproduction In Action At HOPE 9 80

Posted by Roblimo
from the old-computers-never-die dept.
The name — MidAtlantic Retro Computing Hobbyists — might make you think this is a bunch of nerds who get together to enthuse over long-obsolete computer hardware and ASCII computer games. And that's exactly what it is. There are farmers who gush over antique tractors, drivers who love antique cars, and music lovers who dote on old phonographs. So why not old computers? Many people in the computer industry seem to have asked that question, so there are lots of computer museums around. MARCH was just the group Slashdot ran into at HOPE. Their website has lots of links that will help you connect with fellow antique computer buffs (assuming you are one), wherever you may be. See here a member showing off the MacGyveresque process that is booting BASIC and playing a game on a reproduction Apple I. Update: 08/01 15:20 GMT by U L : Evan Koblentz (the guy in the video) commented with a bit more information on MARCH (including info on the discussion list and computer museum).

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MARCH Presents: Apple I Reproduction In Action At HOPE 9

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  • by mister2au (1707664) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @07:45AM (#40841033)

    easy answer to that

    vintage cars will basically perform the same function often with more style ... let's say 1/2 the performance of modern as worst case ... same for vintage tractors

    old phonographs will again perform the same function with 60 dB of dynamic range compared to ... completely adequate for the 10-20 db for range in pop music

    computers on the other hand:
    Apple I = 6502 @ 1MHz
    Apple iPhone = A9 @ 800 MHz

    completely different functionality that should not be compared to cars, tractors & phonographs! or even things like vintage amplifiers

    however, there is a place for nostalgia - just recognise they will never have the cult following of vintage equipement that is functionality equivalent to modern stuff

    • by perpenso (1613749)

      Apple I = 6502 @ 1MHz
      Apple iPhone = A9 @ 800 MHz

      Its not quite that simple. With each machine running its contemporaneous software the perceived performance gap is much narrower.

      Altering the hardware for convenience, but consider an Apple II running the VisiCalc spreadsheet and an iPad running the Numbers spreadsheet.

      • Even with each machine's contemporary software, old stuff is still slower. Windows 98 is contemporary for my 1Ghz P3, Windows 7 is for my 3.3Ghz i5. It's not just clockspeeds at the CPU either - faster buses, solid state drives, better code, more hardware optimisations in the software.

        There is always the nostalgia case, but in terms of practicality, usability and user sanity, most of it is just old hat. Frankly speaking, I'd apply the same logic to most classic cars and audio equipment too. If I have a com
        • by Hatta (162192)

          I find that Windows 98 on my PII 266 is snappier than XP on my C2D. Just the UI, that is.

        • by tekrat (242117)

          And I would still rather have the '63 Mercedes. At least that's a car that's easily understood and not a tangle of wires, check engine lights for no reason, and frankly, was probably built like a tank compared to the paper-thin steel used today. If the "camshaft" breaks (the engine was more likely pushrod back then), and there's no source for a replacement (unlikely), then I have a machineshop make one of a lathe. Chances are the tolerances are not that tight, so as long as I come close, it'll work.

          • Mercedes were way ahead of the curve, they were making OHC engines back in the 50s :)
            • They were also doing mechanical fuel injection but still I would be willing to bet there are a number of places that would source you a new cam and have it out the door within a day for certain values of reasonable. In this case an old Mercedes is more like a specialty piece of equipment a better comparison would be to a '63 Ford, GM, or Chrysler. Parts for those things are common as hell and most auto parts will have parts for them at the warehouse and can be delivered same day if they don't have it on han
          • by mcgrew (92797) *

            And I would still rather have the '63 Mercedes.

            Not me. Drum brakes rather than disk, no ABS, no air bags, 1/4 the gas mileage of a modern car with the same performance (carb rather than injection)... the only advantage to an old car like that was they were easy to work on. And who ever worked on their own Mercedes? Rich people don't work on their own cars!

        • Windows 98 is contemporary for my 1Ghz P3, Windows 7 is for my 3.3Ghz i5. It's not just clockspeeds at the CPU either - faster buses, solid state drives, better code, more hardware optimisations in the software.

          Additionally, clockspeed is horrible for doing even rough comparisons of performance. If you underclocked that i5 to only 500MHz, the single-core performance would still easily beat the 1GHz P3.

    • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @08:09AM (#40841257) Homepage Journal

      vintage cars will basically perform the same function often with more style ... let's say 1/2 the performance of modern as worst case

      This depends very much on how you measure performance. My 1960 Dodge Dart Phoenix (2dr) with 318ci hemi (well, ambi-, but close enough) big block and carter 650cfm 4bbl got somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 mpg on the freeway if I drove it nicely, and with ~240hp and ~340ft-lb it was actually something of a monster. But it also weighed four grand or more, was 6.5 feet wide and 18.5 feet long, had four drum brakes and typical wheels/tires and could either brake poorly or lock 'em up and slide merrily along like the lead sled it was. But it also would have had nightmarishly bad emissions by modern standards and it could easily get only 10 mpg around town if you drove it, uh, spiritedly... and it was my first car. It had no safety features, which may not be performance but which is fairly critical if you want to exercise performance and not die, and it had no niceties whatsoever except a push-button automatic transmission.

      Despite the sepiatone view of history, better and better stuff has become available over the years. Diesel-hydraulic tractors, for example. Laser phonographs. Even modern tube amplifiers which benefit from superior supporting components! And of course, all-wheel-drive, turbocharged, direct-injected automobiles. Which do fall down in one category that you did mention, that being style. That and cost are the only potential reasons to maintain a vintage piece of equipment. The vintage computers pass the style test if you're into that sort of thing, but they fall down on the cost test. Building an Apple I kit will cost you hundreds all told. For fifty bucks I can get a far more useful computer from a yard sale or flea market. You can often get Pentium IVs for free (I have one right behind me that I should unload before no one will take it, it's huge.)

      • by PopeRatzo (965947)

        I've got to agree. While I'm nostalgic for my '63 Couple de Ville, I'm not sure I'd want to drive it on the expressway every day.

        Recently, my wife and I house-sat for a friend who has a '58 Bel Air and he told us we could drive it if we wanted. I was excited to take it for a spin, and it does turn heads but it felt like a tractor compared to my Acura and didn't have a proper stereo anyway.

        I'm somewhat sympathetic to "new-retro" cars like the new Thunderbird or Challenger or Camaro, but I notice nobody is

        • Sounds like when I took my father's old Nova (not the crappy 4 banger from the '80s) that use to be his race car but was street legal out for a drive. It is a fun car nothing practical about it with the race built 350 crate motor, 4.11 gears, turbo 350 tranny, and posi rear end. It is shit your self quick, will light them up in all gears, and will pop the front tires off the ground about 6 inches, but it doesn't brake well, turn well at all, and drinks down the gasoline. If you want a modern car with old st
          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            I've been in a Triumph TR4 with a 350 and a GM corporate posi rear, big edelbrock intake and carb, scary. And a friend has a spitfire with a Nissan GA16DE FWD engine transplanted, which must be a peach if you're skinny and of average height, which he is. At this point, I just want Chevy to come out with this new 3.0 liter turbodiesel and to cram one in my 300SD.

      • The Chrysler 318ci is neither a hemi nor a big block.
        The 318ci is a small block. Chrysler big blocks are 383ci and up.
        Only The 427ci is a hemi.

        That said, my first car was a '73 Dodge Charger with a 318 mated to a 727 Torqueflight transmission (not stock).
        It was two blocks long, weighed more than most modern cruise ships, and I loved every second of owning it!
        To stay on topic, I'm also nostalgic for my TRS-80 Model 1.
        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          The Chrysler 318ci is neither a hemi nor a big block.
          The 318ci is a small block. Chrysler big blocks are 383ci and up.
          Only The 427ci is a hemi.

          It would be cool if you knew what you're talking about, but you don't.
          There was a big block 318ci from the late fifties into the early sixties, maybe until '62.
          It doesn't have fully-domed heads like the 427, but it does have half-domed heads, and it's a sort of proto-hemi.

          The original 318 was a big block. Look it up, but you'll probably need a book to do that, like an old Motors manual.

          • The engine you're thinking of is the 318ci wide block, so called because of its wide polyspherical heads.
            It is absolutely a small block, interchangeable on a unit-for-unit basis with the 318ci LA (small block).
            A polyspherical head is *not* a hemispherical head.

            Chrysler big blocks are 383ci and up. Only the 427ci is a hemi.
            • by drinkypoo (153816)

              It is absolutely a small block, interchangeable on a unit-for-unit basis with the 318ci LA (small block).

              Completely untrue. It's based on the "B" block, though not the "RB" block.

              A polyspherical head is *not* a hemispherical head.

              It fulfills the same function.

              Chrysler big blocks are 383ci and up.

              They also offered the car with a 383 with dual quads on a cross-ram manifold.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      Vintage computers will basically perform the same function (gaming) with more style. No, emulators don't cut it.

      • True that. Nothing more stylish than waiting for your C64 to spool the tape...
        • by N Monkey (313423)

          True that. Nothing more stylish than waiting for your C64 to spool the tape...

          Speaking of the devil, I saw this on the BBC re the C64 turning 30 [bbc.co.uk].
          The video shows the tape failing to load :-)

          • by ganjadude (952775)
            I am not sure what happened but about 80-90% of my C64/128 media no longer works. I havent cared enough to try and dig into it deeper but a handful of games and software will load without issue but the majority of it just causes the 5 1/4 floppy to keep spinning and clicking.
      • No, emulators don't cut it.

        I respectfully disagree... there is one emulator [mess.org] to rule them all [progettoemma.net]

    • by Anonymous Coward

      nostalgia - I guess that would be my case.

      Back in the Apple ][ days, programming had this feeling of wonderment, accomplishment, and fun. Computers, at least PCs, were new. Programs were programs with very little OS interaction and 'frameworks' never came into the picture. You write and run a highly functional program that was only a few hundred KB.

      Things weren't so abstract. Even programming in Integer BASIC, you eventually had to hit metal in some way (PEEK, POKE) to something or another.

      You felt like y

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        That's very true, I hope the mods see it. My best programming experiences were on primitive machines, the TS-1000 and the MC-10. I wrote a battle tanks game for the TS-1000 in BASIC, but it was unplayably slow, so I rewrote it in assembly, then hand-assembled the machine code, POKEd ito into a REM statement, and I had to put loops in to slow it down. I had it read the keyboard directly, so two players could control their tanks at the same time from the same keyboard.

        Much fun. After buying a repair manual fo

    • by vlm (69642)

      LOL noobs always think "power" is "processor frequency".

      "power" is defined by what you do with the computer not the rate that an arbitrary flipflip in the logic can be toggled.

      I can run a 1960s mid size corporation data center inside my desktop as an emulator. Very interesting, lots to learn about design. The supposedly much more advanced desktop can ... merely run minesweeper or maybe solitaire. Booooring.

      Another knee slapper is when someone claims their iphone has "100 times" the "power" of the compute

      • Clock speed is imprecise, particularly when comparing generations or processor families, but the industry is not quite ready to abandon conventional measures of hardware performance in favour of "lol vln can do 150 internets per hour on this bitch".

    • by tekrat (242117) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @08:22AM (#40841389) Homepage Journal

      Hrmmm. Let's compare:

      Boot time for my 8-core Lenovo Laptop == 20 minutes
      Boot time for my Apple IIe == about 1 second.

      I know you're going to have a hard time groking this; but I can actually be productive in a shorter time period on an older machine. My word processor is 16k and loads in a fraction of the time of MS word -- for basically the same results.

      Heck, I can boot a C=64 into GEOS faster than Windows loads these days -- and still get a complete WIMP/WYSIWYG operating environment.

      Old doesn't necessarily mean useless. Check out the TRS-80 Model 100 -- still in use out in the field by journalists with limited access to electricity -- it will run for months on 4 AA batteries -- and provide you with BASIC,. a word processor, a telecommunications program (built-in modem), and a few other goodies. Negroponte should have looked at THAT when he was designing the OLPC. Hackers today are still finding uses for it.

      • Now try that with an Apple I not IIe ... Or a Commodore PET not a C64

        vintage vs old, perhaps? Old can be useful but vintage is just for nostalgia or true geeks :-)

      • Haha I had GEOS. I still can't believe it took around 3 minutes to read 64k worth of data off the floppy drive...
      • Boot time for my 8-core Lenovo Laptop == 20 minutes?

        What are you running on these?
        My Lenovo Laptop boots up in about 6 seconds.
        You are doing something wrong.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      old phonographs will again perform the same function with 60 dB of dynamic range compared to ... completely adequate for the 10-20 db for range in pop music

      It depends on how old the turntable is. Turntables made before about 1960 or so had very heavy tonearms which would wear out records (and even cheap phonographs from the '80s and '9-s had heavier tonearms than good turntables, but not as bad as old ones), and most turntables and phonographs before around 1960 were monophonic. About 1970 or so they came o

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...I have a VMS orange wall gathering dust in a garage in Sussex (England), and I haven't found anyone willing to take it off me.

    I also have boxes of old crap which I don't know what to do with, but I'd never dare throw anything away. I mean I know the VAXstation 4000/60s and such probably have hobbyist or even industrial spares value, and goodness knows I need to do something with the DECmate III, but there is still a pile of Sparc boxes etc which have probably suffered circuit rot by now. This is all the

    • by vlm (69642)

      Did you talk to the classiccmp mailing list folks?

      http://www.classiccmp.org/lists.html [classiccmp.org]

      when I offered it all for free.

      There is no "free" other than locals within maybe 10 miles or so, and there might not be any locals within 10 miles, so... The main problem I see is in your first line "Sussex (England)". The density of historical re-enactors or classic enthusiasts or whatever you want to call us, is pretty light on the ground in England, despite the cluster of people that hang around Bletchley Park.

      If you were my neighbor, I'd take the

  • I can't help but wonder what Apple could make a modernized replica Apple II for. Not something literally compatible. A little Apple TV style box with a USB connector, a network connector and a HDMI connector. Simulating the original graphics modes on the HDMI output, etc.

    If they could do something like that for $100, the Apple TV price, they probably could sell a decent amount due to nostalgia and curiosity.
    • I would prefer a replica with a full size Apple II case with a hand crank on the side. When you move the crank, it plays Pop Goes the Weasel with a Wozniak bobble head popping out at the end.
    • by Hatta (162192)

      You mean a Raspberry pi with an Apple II emulator? Apple probably could sell something like that, but not for the kinds of margins they are used to. Commodore and Atari have licensed reproductions, the C64 DTV and Atari 2600 flashback, which were fairly successful. But neither of them are the most profitable company in the world right now. Apple wouldn't bother, they want people to forget about the times that Apple was an open, engineer driven company anyway.

    • I can't help but wonder what Apple could make a modernized replica Apple II for.

      It'd be funnier if Samsung made one.

    • by necro81 (917438)
      I am sure that you could fully emulate the Apple //e in software on an Apple TV as a tiny software application. Makes me wonder if some apple employee hasn't considered doing that as an easter egg.
    • Most USB keyboards don't have a reset button on the bottom.

  • Interesting...
    • Checking the article, "reproduction" is indeed a more accurate description than "clone".

      Usually, a clone copies functionality of the original machine, using whatever tech is available / preferred currently. For example you could replace rows of old RAM chips with 1 larger, modern RAM chip.

      In this case it seems they copied the original board, used same components etc. Which is a very unusual way to produce a 'clone'. I guess it's not so much for people who want to run Apple I software on real hardware, but r

      • I thought clones were identical, while reproductions were recombinant from two parent donors getttin' jiggy wit it
  • I really love vintage computing. I didn't even know this repro company existed until now. Very cool! It's hard finding old parts for these things and guys on eBay are starting to realize their collector's value. Now is not a bad time to get in to this market considering the people already having nostalgia from 30 year old computing.
    • Besides folks on eBay also people scrapping old electronics will realize the value of some of the parts on old boards. I'm mostly thinking of poor chaps in China that demolish e-waste from the west with their hands & crude tools. But it might apply to others in this chain.

      The next step is firing up an old IC production machine, produce a few batches of different parts, put the newly produced IC's in housings that are made to look like they're 30 years old, and apply markings to suggest the same. Wouldn'

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Hello Slashdot! I'm the guy in the video ... I know, not exactly the world's best on-air presentation. :) Anyway: my user group, MARCH (Mid-Atlantic Retro Computing Hobbyists) formed in 2004. Anybody can join (it's free, as in beer) although our focus is on the northeast quadrant of the USA. Our bricks-and-mortar museum is in Wall, N.J. (InfoAge.org); we're solely run by volunteers. The computer museum is open Sundays from 1pm-5pm and other times by appointment; InfoAge itself is open Wednesday / Saturday

  • Count me in. I still search Ebay for original Altair computers and IMSAI 8080 machines. There's still something cool about computers with switches and lights on the front. Probably why I also like steam punk.

    • by bpechter (2885)

      Try something bigger. More lights and fun. And the fan noise. I had a PDP11 in my kitchen. Power up both 14 inch disk drives and watch the breaker for the 20 amp circuit blow. 8-(

      The SIMH emulator can run PDP11 software and give you the 11/40 blinking lights in a window. I put up RT11 and did some toggle in programs to test it. Amazing. I just wish we had the 11/45 and 11/70 light panels to watch as well.

    • by hson (78256)
      Not a real machine but Briel Computers sell (kit or assembled) a "mini replica" of the Altair 8800. The i8080 CPU is emulated with an ATmega but you get the front with LEDs and switches. With a add-on card it can even run CP/M. :)
      He also sells the Replica 1 (Apple 1 clone) and Micro-KIM (MOS KIM-1 clone). They, however, use true 6502 processors.
      http://www.brielcomputers.com/wordpress/ [brielcomputers.com]
  • What was the point of the part with the "special effects created by a professional on a closed course, do not try at home"?
  • I spoke with Evan at HOPE 9, and also attended the Vintage Computer Fest East in Wall, NJ recently. Evan, and the others, are all cool guys who are doing a great job keeping this history alive. The repros showed at HOPE were very cool, and even though I follow this stuff I did not a lot of the stuff they showed existed. If you're on the east coast and Evan or others from the club are around be sure to check it out.

  • ..the wheel, of oppression?

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