Things I liked about 80's/90's computing:
- Total control over my hardware
- Software that worked with me, not against me
- Superior aesthetics (yeah I said it :3 )
- Overall sense of promise and freedom

Things I like about computing today:
- Easy and open access to knowledge
- Insane amounts of storage
- The sheer computing POWERRRR

Now if only we could make these attributes come together instead of being period exclusive. :blobthinking:

· SubwayTooter · 19 · 88 · 153

@polychrome i'm sad that good ideas make me sad because my brain has been programmed by my experiences to believe good ideas don't happen. Just shitty mitigations to disasters.

@Shitlord when you feel those feels keep in mind that the FOSS movement and The Muppet Show are good ideas that exist :blobnomcookie:

@polychrome sorry, I have been waking up super depressed lately, like a dark cloud of shit. I should do something about that...

@polychrome Man all I want is GPIO without having to program a microcontroller :(

Dozens of ports for all kinds of peripherals, all that insane computing power… but you can’t just send a signal over a wire. Fuck modern PCs. At least the old ones had parallel ports you could abuse.

@dredmorbius @lachs0r General Purpose Input/Output. Basically a series of pins usually hooked up directly to the CPU that you can either turn on/off to manually send a signal or otherwise listen to an incoming signal. It's pretty great when working with electronic components.

@polychrome So -- device controls / programmable hardware / robotics?

That sort of thing?


@dredmorbius @lachs0r anything at all. The difference from other ports like USB is that it's completely manual and has direct influence over the "powered on" and "powered off" state of each pin so your code has full control over what is happening. Can also be good for low latency input like joysticks.

It's pretty great if you're a programmer.


Pins where you can input/output arbitrary signals (ones and zeroes or analog). You can do a lot with that, from generating a PWM signal for an LED dimmer to hacking your GameBoy Printer to print custom labels.


@lachs0r @polychrome you can always do parallel port stuff, and there's still an ISA bus you can peek and poke at even if they call it a PCI bus.

i would imagine the hardest part is finding relevant and up-to-date documentation for these interfaces, but i'm also fairly confident that whatever TLDP has in a HOWTO is still 100% accurate because this stuff hasn't changed, and unlike floppy drives they're still actively used and maintained.

personally i stopped doing this stuff after frying a 2nd daughterboard in ye olde 486 twenty years ago.

@lachs0r I guess rpi could technically do that, not that it is a computing beast @polychrome

Microchip has several USB based extension chips that you can use for bitbanging. I'm using one of those as a cheap USB to SPI converter.


OpenBSD 6.5 comes with the Spleen font, which has a decidedly 70s vibe, and networking! Plug it into an Apple II monitor and you've got yourself modern power with retro aesthetic

@polychrome The current spec mandates TLS 1.2 or higher, and we are talking about requiring 1.3 since we don't have to worry abou backward compatibility.

@polychrome one thing I like – turn it off & on to start over completely w/no state saved.


For total control of the hardware... there's the various hardware projects that exist because of the Raspberry Pi and competitive products.

FreeDOS exists and has networking. It still has the DOS-level access/control to the devices, but can work on modern (and "recent but older") computers.

@polychrome I've got a bad feeling about this that these lists *are* mutually exclusive.

The first comes about because the 2nd isn't available. The 2nd being available precludes most of the 1st from being viable.

Tyranny of the Minimum Viable User.

@polychrome i very much want this. there is no technical reason why it can't work that way, it's just because capitalism

@KitRedgrave I think this one's happening irregardless of the economic system. The masses want to use the computer as a consumer device and this is what it turned into.

@polychrome @KitRedgrave yeah, but, remember when you could switch the batteries in phones?

remember when android was open source??



- get an OpenPOWER9 board and a 1tb ssd
- put them in an original ibm pc case

thats really expensive though

and still leaves you with having to use a unixlike system

maybe someday someone will make haiku os run on power...

@ky0ko I'm okay with unixlike - I'm on TTY more often than I should anyway :blobthinking:

@proxeus I think you may have confused things a bit - I referred to easy and open access to information as something we have now, not back then.

At the time I had a very hard time getting books and documentation on things I wanted to learn. Now days it's all a search engine query away.

Many programs were commercial, but many also did come with source code - not because they were FOSS but because they were written in BASIC :blobcheeky:

Computers were seriously expensive tho, that's for sure.


There is a community pretty much dedicated to this here :
(for programmers)

@polychrome Also, 80s/90s computing was housed in transparent plastic. I got to see my technology and it made me feel closer to it.

@kelseyhusky wait, which machines were packed in transparent plastic? The ones I've had were all opaque plastic and metal :o

@wim_v12e @kelseyhusky ... this is 90's? I remember it as early 00's.


Huh. '98. I guess this counts. For me the late 90's were still a beige box kind of a world, with some black options.

@polychrome Yes, 1998. But you're right that this was probably where the trend (such as it was) started.

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