"Hang on", I here you ask. "Since when is a typewriter a computer and who is the young kid at the keyboard ?". Well, it is the young web master aged three years. Here he is studying the hammer action of the QWERTY keyboard layout way back in 1976, which incidently was the begining of the punk era and the Sex Pistols. You should also note the awful wallpaper which looks as if it appeared on an Austin Powers movie set.
On the subject of typewriters, you are probably wondering why the keys are laid out in the QWERTY layout. Well, it is all to do with the early design of the 18th centry type writer; they found this choice of keyboard layout minimized the jamming of the hammers. So now you know...
|Sinclair ZX Spectrum
Ah, the good old rubber keyed Spectrum. This I picked up for £15 about 12 years ago. Sadly, the person I bought it from lost the original PSU. Silly me blew it up by using a non standard PSU with the wrong voltage polarity, hence, I fried the voltage regulators in the machine. I kept it anyway, since I love the squidgey feel of the rubber keyboard.
Over the years, the Sinclair ZX Spectrum became the butt of all jokes due it's unusual squidgey rubber keyboard. Many jokes Your Sinclairmagazine readers wrote about the rubber keyboard included the one where you could use the keyboard as a trampolene due to it's springy tendencies. Their were other jokes too such as you could take it to the pub to use as a beer mat. The most amusing joke for the Speccy 48k was you could often throw it out of a top window and it would bounce back again much like a boomerang after hitting the floor... Boing !The Sinclair Spectrum was built by Jim Westwood, Richard Altwasser, Rick Dickinson and Steve Vickers way back in 1983. I've reproduced an old article from the Sinclair Spectrum 1983 annual which you can read here on my home page of how these gentleman developed Sinclair's wonderful machine under the supervision of Sir Clive Sinclair.
|Sinclair ZX Spectrum
This Sinclair ZX Spectrum 48k+ machine I picked up from a collector. It came with around 40 cassettes, joystick, manual, and joystick interface, and a British manufactered data cassette recorder manufactered by Lloytron dating back to 1984. The joystick in the photo came from an old Atari VCS console. That old Atari VCS joystick is ideal for those crazy joystick waggling games, such as Daley Thompson's Supertest.
This machine I discovered is an issue 2 model, manufactered in Dundee, Scotland at the Timex plant way back in 1983.
The Spectrum 48k+ was identical to the original 48k machine with the same motherboard and components. The only thing that changed in design of the 48k+ over it's older brother was an improved keyboard.
The 128k model was based on the same keyboard design, but more memory, and the AY38912 sound microprocessor as used in the Atari ST. Incidently, the 128k model was the one I learnt early programming; firstly, with BASIC via the original manual and later via assembler routines courtesy of OCP assembler and a book on Z80 assmebler programmer which was written by Rodney Zakks.
|Sinclair ZX Spectrum
A pile of old Sinclair ZX Spectrum tapes I've collected, including many old favourites, such as Ultimate's 'Atic Atac' and Firebird software's popular space trading game, 'Elite'.
My oldest software title in this collection is 'Space Raiders' which was released by Psion (Sinclair's own in-house software producer) in 1982 !
An old Commodore 64 I was given by a friend some 12 years ago. This is the newly designed model which features the improved keyboard design over the original C64's keyboard. I've never been a Commie 64 fan, but I most certainly liked Andrew Braybrook's Uridium on the Commie, it was a great shoot 'em up!
The Commodore 64 was one of the best sounding micro's of it's hayday, thanks to the machines 6581 sid microprocessor; a great little sound chip which could produce some great sounds. Rob Hubbard was one of the pioneers of writing music on the Commodore 64, and I am a great fan of Rob's music. You can read a past interview with Rob Hubbard on my home page.
You'll see in the photo, I have a Cheetah manufactered lightgun, original manual, two PSUs, and original data cassette recorder.
|Commodore 64 Software
A selection of Commodore 64 cassettes I picked up at a boot fare for a few quid, some without cases.
The two Commodore 64 ROM cartridges in the photo are Psygnosis' 'Shadow of The Beast' and Ocean software's 'Pang' which was based on the original arcade coin op.
An old Sega Megadrive. This was Sega's entrance to the 16 bit console market. The one pictured here I obtained from a friend for my old broken Television. I am very surprised this Meagdrive console still works: he would often throw it out of the window after losing his last life on the final stage of Sonic The Hedgehog.
I only have three cartridges for it: Mega Games 2 consisting of Shinobi, Streets of Rage and Golden Axe all on one cartridge. I also have the somewhat crap Bartman Vs The Space Mutants, and Lotus Turbo Challenge, a great little racing game which first appeared on the Amiga.
An Amiga 500. The first 16 bit micro I ever bought.
Back in 1990, I saved long and hard to buy Jay Miner's wonder computer whilst studying on some Youth Training Scheme earning a shitty £35 a week. I went without beer rations or regular food. It was however, money well spent, and I was most certainly not disappointed with the Amiga's sound and and graphic capabilities.
As you can see in this photo, I still have this machine in it's box, complete with manuals, Workbench 1.3 and Extras 1.3 diskettes, and The Emulator disk, which turned your Amiga into an emulated BBC model B micro.You can read the story of how the original Amiga design team created the Amiga under the visionary Jay Miner on my home page which makes interesting reading.
|Arcadia Arcade Machine
Amiga's were quite popular in their hayday, in fact they were fitted into some arcade cabinets at your local arcade amusements as can be seen in the leftmost picture via this old Arcadia hardware.
A friend of mine at the time knew the guy at the local arcade amusements who was chucking out loads of old arcade machines, to which he kindly donated this Arcadia board. This old daughterboard is from an Arcade cabinet which used the Arcadia hardware via an Amiga 500 motherboard. It appears to be a game called 'Up Scope' which was made by some company by the name of 'GPI'. The daughterboard itself is dated 1986, but the ROM chips are dated 1987. No idea if this board actually still works, it's been in the loft with loads of other junk for the past 16 years. Some of the soldering joints seem to of oxidized on the reverse of the board. Furthermore, I've even no idea why I didn't throw it away. Oh well, I may just hang it on the wall as a museum piece.
An Amiga 500+ I picked up for the reasonable price of £25. It came with a host of games and joysticks.
This was Commodore's sequel to the original A500. The only difference being the A500 plus had 1 megabyte of chip RAM, ECS chipset, Kickstart 2.0 and Workbench 2.04. The 1 megabyte of chip RAM, and the new Workbench 2.04 meant when first released alot of old software that worked on the older machine no longer worked on the A500+. Still, developers eventually got used to the idea.
I originally bought this Amiga 1200 from a friend for the bargain price of £5.
During production, tight old Commodore were looking for many ways of saving a buck or too. Hence, they produced three different motherboard revisions of Amiga 1200 computers depending on the availability of components. What a bunch of tight fisted arseholes !
Revision 1D1's are the prefered motherboard revision, since these work well with 68040 and 68060 accelerator cards.
1D4 and 2B revisions however, have some components missed off so Commodore could cut down on manufactering costs. These aforementioned revisions in this paragraph have timing problems with regard to the onboard Gayle and Budgie chips, which you soon notice after fitting a 68040 or 68060 accelerator, and IDE splitter often resulting in random crashes and freezes due to the hardware going out of sync.
My A1200 in the picture is a revision 1D4 with solder work carried out to fix the bus timing problems. Don't use it anymore though, it mainly stays packed away as a spare.Tha A1200 was released almost two late for the Christmas season of 1992. At the time, nobody wanted an Amiga 500. They wanted the latest Amiga 1200, but only a few could get them. It was a case of Amiga meets the Osbourne Syndrome and Commodore loses $350 million dollars, a direct result of a bad Christmas. The following year of summer 1993 brings with it staff cuts, and funds for new development all but dry up by the autumn of 1993. Despite this, Commodore still goes ahead to work on the Amiga CD32.
|Commodore Disk Boxes
An old Commodore diskbox.
Written on the front is "Creative, Education for the 90's". Hmmm, not sure on that Commodore - sure Amiga was creative, but it was certainly not an education tool as such: back then most schools and colleges were using 32 kilobyte BBC model B micro's.
I have another one of these floating around somewhere...
|Apollo 1240 Accelerator
I originally bought this back in 1994 for my Amiga 1200. It is a trapdoor fitting accelerator equipped with a Motorola 32 bit MC68040 processor which fits into the Amiga 1200 trapdoor to boost your machine speed from 14Mhz up to 25Mhz clock speed. I expanded it to the max with two 32 meg 72 pin ED0 SIMM modules for 64 megabytes of RAM.
The Apollo cards are pretty shitty when compared to the Blizzard range of cards which were indeed of a better build quality. The fan on this card Apollo card was useless and died after a year. A quick repair later, and I fitted a nice 486 heat sink with a smear of thermal compound and fitted a more adaquate fan on the reverse to keep the 68040 nice and cool.
I originally swapped this Amiga CD32 from a friend for an Amiga 500 and two external drives.
The CD32 comsole was designed in 1993. It was an award winning design, both as a game box and as a low cost multimedia engine. Over a hundred developers were interested in developing for the machine even before it's launch. But by autumn 1993 and the Christmas build time, Commodore has no money and the company owes so much debt to so many that it was difficult to get the parts. They make a mere 100,000 CD32's for Christmas 1993. They might of survived with 400,000 !
April 25th and 26th 1994 and most of the staff at the West Chester plant in the United States are laid off. Out of 1,000 employees, all are sacked with only 30 employees remaining. Then shocking news; The evening of April 29th 1994 and several of Commodore's branches file for a liquidation bankruptcy in the Bahamas, losing $374 million in the progress. Ouch !
The CD32 was Commodore's last manufactered Amiga. Furthermore, it was the worlds first 32 bit game console.
|Action Replay Mk III
My Action Replay Mk III freezer cartridge. I picked it up when buying some Amiga bits n' bobs. Originally built by Datel, this wonderful gadget fitted onto the Amiga 500 sidecar slot. It is the ulimate hackers toy, since it lets you freeze the 68000 registers, disassemble code, rip protracker music and graphics and a host of other wonderful things... Datel these days are still around; they now continue building their brand of Action Replay cheat cartridges for the Playstation 2. However, I still believe their Amiga Action Replay cartridge was the best product they ever made !
The crowded bookshelves in the asylum provide a situe for housing my large collection of old Amiga magazines. My oldest issue is an old October 1991 edition of CU Amiga. My most recent magazine in this collection is Amiga Active, issue 26, November 2001 which incidently, was the last UK Amiga magazine that was to ever grace the news stands. After which, the final nail in the coffin was hammered home, and the Amiga drifted off into oblivion.
My vast collection of old Amiga games which were dragged out of the cold storage of the loft for a brief photo opportunity. On the top of the pile, is my collection of Amiga Format and CU Amiga Magazine CD-ROM's.
At the front of the pile is Deluxe Paint III, the revolutionary paint package programmed by Dan Silva, which made the old Amiga's wonderful electronic canvases to paint with, alongside are some classic Psygnosis games, including 'Lemmings' and 'Shadow of The Beast', which have to be two of the most remembered games during the classic 16 bit era of the 1990's.
A collection of old style joysticks I've collected over the years. Quite a collection here, including a bunch of Quickshot pythons, Konix Navigator, and the classic Spectravideo Quickshot 1 which I fondly remember from my Sinclair Spectrum days... You should also take a look at the highly unusual multi-coloured Cruiser joystick in the photo. You can't miss it, it's the one in green pink and yellow. Bleugh ! It would seem not only was 1990's clothing available in disgusting colours, but the same applied to computer joysticks of the same era.
|Bert and Amy
Bert and Amy side-by-side. A relationship created in heaven or maybe not... These two workhorses are setup in "the asylum" an area the webmaster uses for relaxiation and creativity. The asylum has padded walls and often during regular breaks from computing activities he seeks the freshness of the night air whereby poking his head out of the Window, to which he is known to develop werewolf tendencies by howling at the moon at 3am in the morning. Much to the annoyance of his neighbours...
Bert is on the left in this photo. Although not quite an antique, I constructed Bert just over a year ago. He may not be that old, but he can be considered antique in the lateral sense; his motherboard I purchased just last year and already it is discontinued. His processor was state of the art, now Intel Core Duo beats him into the ground, since two brains are better than one. Bert will need a replacement brain for his socket 939 soon, but AMD have to now play catch up...
Bert runs Windows XP and is fitted with an Athlon 64 bit 3800 processor, Radeon X800XL PCI express graphics card and 1 gig of RAM. Bert's duties include crashing regularly, and acting as an air conditioning unit with all the bloody fans the machine needs to keep cool. He also likes to drain the electricity supply of the national grid. Sound activated cathode ray tubes illuminate Bert's intestinal wired interior which provide a mobile disco experience, as can be seen in the leftmost photo. Hey ! maybe humans shall be dancing on the dance floor many years from now, with illuminated intestinal tracts, and transparent illuminated beer gut.
Bert special's talents are in emulating 1980 retro arcade machines and Amiga desktops courtesy of MAME and WinUAE software emulators due to his 2.4Ghz clock cycles. He also provides the web master with a much needed television via a fitted digital TV tuner card, and is sometimes used for transfering home movies to DVD and for various video editing tasks.
Amy is on the far right in this photo. She started life as an Amiga 1200 desktop computer. The poor gal has had interfaces where they were not supposed to go, which have been poked and probed into every orifice with Zorro breakout boards, buffered interfaces and scan doublers. She has also had a face lift and has undergone major plastic cosmetic surgrey by being transplanted from her plastic interia desktop case into a PC tower case. She still however, ticks along nicely at a meagre 50Mhz via a Blizzard 1260 processor card much like a mini with a broken gearbox. Oh well, at least she gets the job done due to her user friendliness. Amy I use mostly for web site programming and graphics stuff. All the web page programming for this site was performed on her ancient hardware and AmigaOS 3.9. You can read about how I put her together on my web page by clicking this link.
I think Amy is sulking; she won't talk to Bert via MiamiDx TCP/IP and RJ45 ethernet network. Maybe she has been POKEd and probed too much by the webmaster and now Bert is jealous that he can't give her interfaces a good poke too. Maybe Bert needs to check when address areas are free with the use of the PEEK command, before he gives Amy a good POKE.