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    This video animation is one of the best explanations I've seen of the technology of London's Big Ben (Elizabeth Tower) Clock Tower

    Danie van der Merwe · / gadgeteerza-tech-blog · Friday, 22 April - 17:55

It just boggles my mind that back in the 1840s such design technology could build a clock so high, with four 7 m diameter clock dials, and with around 2 seconds accuracy per day. To also know how to add or subtract a penny to the pendulum to adjust the accuracy, is also just a testament to the ingenuity of that age.

This video is one of the best explanations I've seen of how all the technology works together, in easy to understand animation.


#technology #retro #bigben #elizabethtower #london

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    You can now read your old punched paper tape through USB with self-calibration

    Danie van der Merwe · / gadgeteerza-tech-blog · Saturday, 16 April - 17:01

LOL yes today's youth won't know what punched paper tape storage was used for. We also used it with punched cards back in the heyday of mainframe computers. Most will remember punched paper tape being used in teletype machines, but in fact it was already used as far back as 1725 for controlling looms, and from 1842 for automated pianos.

So whilst it is quite true many won't have a need for this, it is nice to know that we can now read in punched paper tape from a USB interface.


#technology #retro #papertape #storage

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    Creating the Commodore 64: The Engineers' Story

    Danie van der Merwe · / gadgeteerza-tech-blog · Wednesday, 13 April - 19:02 · 1 minute

In January 1981, a handful of semiconductor engineers at MOS Technology in West Chester, Pa., a subsidiary of Commodore International Ltd., began designing a graphics chip and a sound chip to sell to whoever wanted to make “the world’s best video game.” In January 1982, a home computer incorporating those chips was introduced at the Winter Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nev. By using in-house integrated-circuit-fabrication facilities for prototyping, the engineers had cut the design time for each chip to less than nine months, and they had designed and built five prototype computers for the show in less than five weeks. What surprised the rest of the home-computer industry most, however, was the introductory price of the Commodore 64: $595 for a unit incorporating a keyboard, a central processor, the graphics and sound chips, and 64 kilobytes of memory instead of the 16 or 32 that were then considered the norm.

I still remember getting my C64 back in the 1980's. It was my stepping stone between the ZX81 and the Commodore Amiga. After the ZX81 (and those very early PC's that started to appear), the C64 was actually a big step forward with its graphics (sprites) and synthesizer sound. I always thought it was the Amiga that brought the big step forward, but had forgotten about the C64.


#technology #retro #C64 #commodore64 #hardware

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    A brief tour of the PDP-11, the most influential minicomputer of all time, which helped popularize the interactive computing paradigm we take for granted today

    Danie van der Merwe · / gadgeteerza-tech-blog · Monday, 14 March - 18:42 · 1 minute

The history of computing could arguably be divided into three eras: that of mainframes, minicomputers, and microcomputers. Minicomputers provided an important bridge between the first mainframes and the ubiquitous micros of today. This is the story of the PDP-11, the most influential and successful minicomputer ever.

In their moment, minicomputers were used in a variety of applications. They served as communications controllers, instrument controllers, large system pre-processors, desk calculators, and real-time data acquisition handlers. But they also laid the foundation for significant hardware architecture advances and contributed greatly to modern operating systems, programming languages, and interactive computing as we know them today.

In today’s world of computing, in which every computer runs some variant of Windows, Mac, or Linux, it’s hard to distinguish between the CPUs underneath the operating system. But there was a time when differences in CPU architecture were a big deal. The PDP-11 helps explain why that was the case.

The PDP-11 was introduced in 1970, a time when most computing was done on expensive GE, CDC, and IBM mainframes that few people had access to. There were no laptops, desktops, or personal computers. Programming was done by only a few companies, mostly in assembly, COBOL, and FORTRAN. Input was done on punched cards, and programs ran in non-interactive batch runs.


#technology #retro #vintage #minicomputer #pdp11

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    How the Commodore 64 was Made: A restoration of the original video for C64's 40th Anniversary

    Danie van der Merwe · / gadgeteerza-tech-blog · Sunday, 30 January, 2022 - 09:21

The original very low quality German VHS factory tour of MOS and Commodore has been around for years, but this version uses advanced techniques to improve the video quality, along with English commentary.

It is incredible now to look back at all the human intervention, and rigorous testing, for the manufacture of this computer. Considering all the effort that went into it, it is surprising that it was actually affordable to home users.

The Sinclair ZX81 may have been revolutionary in its day for bringing an affordable and real computer into the home, but the C64 that followed just after it, was revolutionary for the advances in sound and graphics, and was probably one of the reasons why it became the world's best-selling computer. It was the first computer I owned that could play actual games that are recognisable today. Prior to this, there were only beeps and black and white characters that were drawn on the terminal screen. Back then, IBM was only starting out with PC's, and Microsoft was not yet out of diapers with their own MS-DOS.


#technology #retro #C64 #commodore

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    Remembering Flock Social Browser - Why do no browsers today have integrated social media?

    Danie van der Merwe · / gadgeteerza-tech-blog · Tuesday, 25 January, 2022 - 15:01

Flock was based on Chromium a good 10+ years ago. It fully integrated various social media sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, YouTube, Digg, and a few more, along with RSS, and even had a media bar which integrated Flickr and some similar media sharing. The point was you did not have to go visit each and every separate site to see updates from your friends. This was all "on tap" in a vertical sidebar next to whatever other browsing you were doing.

I suspect though this was also Flock's undoing, as back then Facebook, Twitter, etc were all fairly open and 3rd parties could connect easily the feeds. Today, Facebook, YouTube, etc want to be sure you must visit their actual page otherwise you won't see the adverts, inserted posts in your feed, etc. Much of this functionality that allowed you to interact via a 3rd party became crippled over time.

I still miss Flock's browser today...


#technology #flockbrowser #socialnetworking #retro

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    Buck Up And Drive! is a retro-racing delight now on Steam / GamingOnLinux · Tuesday, 11 January, 2022 - 12:57 · 1 minute

Buck Up And Drive! is a fusion of classic retro endless racing with a few fun twists, like 1v1 car fighting mode. Previously only available via, it's screeched over to Steam now too.

Since we last wrote about it in the Summer of 2021, it's added a bunch of new content for the full release too and it's looking like it's quite amusing. I grew up with racers like this on the Amiga, so it speaks to me quite personally. The developer is quite funny about it too, saying "There is time to explain, I just don't wanna.". Not really selling us on it but the trailer below speaks enough for itself I think.

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Watch video on

Game Features:

  • Endless driving game inspired by arcade classics, with simple yet intense gameplay featuring a total slap in the face of realism. And a kick in the spleen, too!
  • Procedurally generated track with multiple environments to visit, ranging from the somewhat realistic to the completely absurd. GO TO HELL!... literally!
  • Go 1v1 against another player (or a CPU) in a fighting mode. With cars. I dunno either, I came up with it while in the shower.
  • Customizable car decals through external image files. Put "eggplants" all over the cars, for all I care!
  • Controls for both game modes are 8 directions and one button. Play one-handed, if you want! Keep your other hand for... holding orange juice! Yes!

Available on and Steam .

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