PDA

View Full Version : Essential Computer Books for collectors



Micom 2000
April 2nd, 2006, 01:04 AM
In reading Vlads post regarding the Mueller Upgrading and Repairing Computers book, it occurred to me that I've never seen a thread on this most important subject. There have been many on books about a particular computer or system but none on the overall essential books.

So..... What are the Ten most essential books when collecting and getting working an old computer ?

The Mueller book is obviously in the top ten for Dos systems. I'll have to ponder my other choices and likely the Collectible Microcomputers by Mike Nadeau the founder of the newsletter now so ably continued by our own Even Koblentz is up there, altho I don't have one.

I'll have to cogitate on the others altho I must admit the comp sys newsgroups were my major source of support when I was on the point of taking a sledgehammer to this blasted machine which wouldn't work no matter what my blandishments and coaxings were.

I've spent too long in the belly of an electronic beast !

Lawrence

Terry Yager
April 2nd, 2006, 10:13 AM
I've got my top three in mind:

Bowker's Source Book (1985 edition)

CP/M Bible

Soul of CP/M

I'll have to do some thinking (prioritizing) on the other eight.

--T

NathanAllan
April 2nd, 2006, 10:33 AM
I punch my ticket to vote for The Basic Handbook, 3rd edition by David Lien.

mryon
April 2nd, 2006, 11:22 AM
"Macintosh Repair & Upgrade Secrets" by Larry Pina is my vote at least when working with classic Macs. ;)

Terry Yager
April 2nd, 2006, 10:24 PM
Ok, I have a couple more to add to my list:

The Programmer's PC Sourcebook, by Thom Hogan, 1988.

TTL Cookbook, by Don Lancaster

--T

Terry Yager
April 2nd, 2006, 10:31 PM
Do hard/software manuals count? If so, nearly every 'Technical Reference Manual' I've ever seen belongs on the list.

--T

CP/M User
April 2nd, 2006, 11:38 PM
Terry Yager wrote:

> Do hard/software manuals count? If so, nearly every
> 'Technical Reference Manual' I've ever seen belongs
> on the list.

If so the Turbo Pascal - The Ultimate Pascal Development
Environment (Version 3) from Borland is pretty good.

The Personal Computer Handbook - Peter Rodwell which had a
little bit of everything has been good in it's use. But no, it
hasn't lead me into getting another computer (which is has a
guide to).

Usbourne Electronics books are usually good (depending on the
category they targeted at - I particulartly like their book on
Computer Graphics & their books with BASIC game programs in -
cause they simply tell you how they work, some of those
samples are the building blocks to programs done by commercial
companies).

Another good reference I like is this Assembly Language for
the Amstrad CPC464, 664 & 6128 - it's still valuable today for
when I want some Assembly code in my program. Examples used
are quite practical. Others in the CPC have recommended other
references - but this ain't too bad. I brought it at a time
when I was learning some Assembly & this seemed to focus on
Assembly using the first Assembler I got. In more recent times
I've perhaps used it a little bit more.

Cheers,
CP/M User.

Micom 2000
April 3rd, 2006, 10:17 AM
Well with all the books available perhaps there should be a Hardware and a software list. Possibly an ongoing poll if someone wants to set that up where we could vote for top ten Hardware and Software books. Enlightening and fun.

Lawrence

Micom 2000
April 3rd, 2006, 11:19 AM
This is reputably the best source book on Macs. While I have around 10 thick tomes on the Mac including "The Mac Bible", and several 2nd editions of other big sellers, unfortunately I don't have this one. Just on heresay I'd have to vote for this book.


"Macintosh Repair & Upgrade Secrets" by Larry Pina is my vote at least when working with classic Macs. ;)

While checking and preparing a C-64 for shipping I realised I had forgotten much of my Commodore lore.
Partly because I've used GEOS when I do get back to it.

On refreshing my memory with some of my C-64 books,
including "Computes" books, "Anatomy of the 1541 Disk Drive", and others, the most useful one I found was "Using the Commodore 64" by Len Lyons(1984).

Now I'm getting an Apple IIe ready. Again, the memory banks are empty. The IIGS with Apple Works has been my
last usage of A-IIs.

After that comes preparing some Atari 8-bits and possibly some CPM Kaypros. This is becoming fun !
It's so much less frustrating when the machine is working.

Lawrence

alltare
April 3rd, 2006, 02:23 PM
My interest is mostly in S-100 buss computers, and especially Altairs. As such, I think two good reference books are Frieberger's "Fire in the Valley" (on which the TV series "Pirates of Silicon Valley" was based) and Stan Veit's "History of the Personal Computer". Cringely's book "Accidental Empires" is good, but doesn't say much about S-100s, but the PBS TV series ("Triumph of the Nerds") based on the book had some good info.

Although now pretty dated, Haddock's "Collector's Guide to Personal Computers and Pocket Calculators" has much good reference info, too.

Micom 2000
April 3rd, 2006, 06:38 PM
I forgot about the early books. I sold a while back in times of need, a DEC PC-8-m(?) manual. It included the best description of the "fetch" sequence and other processes of a CPU that I have ever seen. It mirrored but in more detail the course I was taking in Digital Electronics. Truly a primer on computers.

The second book I sold was on S-100 cards. Again I can't remember the name or the author, likely on one of my boxes which are no longer available. Apparently it is a classic to all S-100 people, the name "Brown" rings a bell.
It had pics of about 50 S-100 boards and their specs as well as other S-100 functionings. I'll search some of my older hard-drives for the auction pics and data but it is fairly well-known.

That raises the qualifier for "essential". For most hackers it is not essential to know the functioning of a CPU or even the FIFO, memory, or BUS relationship. Usually it is more
essential knowing how the software uses this hardware. I do think an understanding of the whole process can enable you to troubleshoot and get this hardware working because you know the processes.

And the best books keep this in mind when leading you thru the processes of the machine and the software commands.

Lawrence

alltare
April 3rd, 2006, 07:22 PM
Lawrence-
I think you meant DEC PDP-8/m. It had a beautiful front panel.
http://zane.brouhaha.com/healyzh/PDP8m.html

alltare
April 3rd, 2006, 07:26 PM
I'm not familiar with that book. Please let us know if you find the title.


The second book I sold was on S-100 cards. Again I can't remember the name or the author, likely on one of my boxes which are no longer available. Apparently it is a classic to all S-100 people, the name "Brown" rings a bell.
It had pics of about 50 S-100 boards and their specs as well as other S-100 functionings. I'll search some of my older hard-drives for the auction pics and data but it is fairly well-known.
Lawrence

Micom 2000
April 6th, 2006, 04:32 AM
It was Dave Bursky's "The S-100 Bus Handbook" and fittingly enough there's a pic of the copy Eric has on this site.

http://www.vintage-computer.com/otheritems.shtml

Lawrence

Terry Yager
April 6th, 2006, 06:17 AM
If we're counting e-books, there's a guy on eBay who has compiled a series of CDs, filled with massive amounts of vintage computer information. So far, all I've done is drool over them, but those who have invested in the set recomend them highly. I'd have to include those CDs in the category of 'Essential' for people beginning to collect, just because of the sheer volume of books that are not available anywhere else.

http://search.ebay.com/_W0QQfgtpZ1QQfrppZ25QQsassZdynacompsoftwareQQssPag eNameZSTRKQ3aMEFSQ3aMESOI

<insert standard disclaimers here>

--T

Erik
April 6th, 2006, 07:15 AM
If we're counting e-books, there's a guy on eBay who has compiled a series of CDs, filled with massive amounts of vintage computer information.

I've asked him to put that stuff on DVD so I can buy it all at once! :)

I have the first three or four disks (I can't remember anymore!) but stopped buying them at that point.

I'll probably fill out the collection sometime and burn it to DVD myself! :D

I do admire the effort that went into scanning all of that material. I hope the investment is paying off.

alltare
April 6th, 2006, 09:31 AM
... I do admire the effort that went into scanning all of that material. I hope the investment is paying off.

It might be paying off for him, but it's not doing me any good. In the case of the Altair manuals, many of them appear to be second-generation scans of the manuals that I have been selling for the past 10 years or so.
I can't blame anyone for buying a cheap CD instead of a printed manual, but it makes me wonder why I bothered to invest so much time and effort (copying, scanning, cleaning up, 25 years of physical storage and archiving) into something that was so easily appropriated by others.

alltare
April 6th, 2006, 09:37 AM
OK- Bursky. I think I have that book, buried somewhere. I had forgotten all about it. Thanks.

It was Dave Bursky's "The S-100 Bus Handbook" and fittingly enough there's a pic of the copy Eric has on this site.

http://www.vintage-computer.com/otheritems.shtml

Lawrence

Erik
April 6th, 2006, 10:51 AM
It might be paying off for him, but it's not doing me any good. In the case of the Altair manuals, many of them appear to be second-generation scans of the manuals that I have been selling for the past 10 years or so.
I can't blame anyone for buying a cheap CD instead of a printed manual, but it makes me wonder why I bothered to invest so much time and effort (copying, scanning, cleaning up, 25 years of physical storage and archiving) into something that was so easily appropriated by others.

I'm sure Herb Johnson feels the same way.

But, by the same token, nothing on these CDs is the property of this eBay seller. . . anyone else could sell what he's selling, couldn't they? :rolleyes:

Terry Yager
April 6th, 2006, 11:07 AM
I'm sure Herb Johnson feels the same way.

But, by the same token, nothing on these CDs is the property of this eBay seller. . . anyone else could sell what he's selling, couldn't they? :rolleyes:

Sure, anyone who's willing to defy whatever copyright laws he's already breaking.

BTW, let us know when you have the DVD ready for distribution.

--T

Micom 2000
April 6th, 2006, 01:36 PM
Damn , it's amazing. One can only admire the effort he put into this project. I'm no fan anyways of the intellectual copyright laws which more protect the peddlars rather than the creator and usually stifle further creation or scientific progress.

It's not new, with the inception of CDs many people have been putting out software disks containing freeware, abandonware, and other apps that were simply not viable in this new age. Herb Johnson and others simply supplied a market which the big guys refused to service. Change happens and if your busines of selling copies of LP records is blown away when the originals are put out on CDs so be it. You didn't create it.

There are also many companies who survived by supplying copied manuals at vastly inflated prices.

A T.O. friend of mine copied all the DEC BBS disks and offered them to classiccmp members at cost. He was more interested in propgation than profits. Tim Olmstead's Unofficial CPM site was saved by Gaby. We have to be more concerned with losing info than ensuring that some niche markets lose their viability. I helped convince the DEC Rainbow-100 site originator to reestablish it with Jay Wests help. It exists and at least 2 cds from one of the main DEC Rainbow BBS s have been put online.

http://www.classiccmp.org/rainbow/

I would encourage all to copy and scan all the old docs and other stuff available because the big boys will abandon anything that doesn't show a profit, and if they can figure a market they'll charge the nuts off you. It's actually amazing that sites like this exist which according to the bean-counters shouldn't have the right to exist.

I can only hope that Don Maislin's wife sees how universally he was admired and realises how important it is that his HDs be preserved and copied. Obviously Tim Olmsteads heirs recognised it.

I did make a cd of one of my HDs puter archives, but with all the dross of usenet headers and useles crap. About 10 years of tips on most of the comp.sys platforms. I'll clean it up some day, recopy, and make it available. Of course I could die before then, I'm no spring chicken , but at least it's available on cd for others to edit. Have to do another one soon because IT quickly progresses (?) as do docs and info as exhibited by some of the new members who consider the 486 as vintage.

Age does have some regrets. None so painful as the realisation that you were once as vacuously hopeful and enthusiastic as the present generation.

Lawrence

Erik
April 6th, 2006, 01:59 PM
Damn , it's amazing. One can only admire the effort he put into this project.

It was actually more than one guy.

The eBay seller used to be a brick-and-morter merchant and mail-order dealer way back when and had all sorts of early PC stuff warehoused. A couple of years ago he started clearing the warehouse through eBay.

Before selling the paper copies of all of these manuals he had a bunch of employees scan them for these CDs.

I just wish I could remember the name of the original business! :D

alltare
April 6th, 2006, 02:37 PM
I'm not claiming copyright infringement- I have no rights of ownership, and anyone else could sell (Altair) manuals. I'm just sorry that my work in getting printed manuals into the hands of a lot of people ultimately brought me to the point where it's no longer worth the effort to continue. A $10 CDROM is certainly cheaper than printed manuals.

A lot of people complained that my (and Herb Johnson's) ~$0.30 per page was scandalously high. In my case, however, I was barely breaking even after considering the costs and labor involved in printing, storage, photoshopping, mailing, and endless technical questions, none of which the ebay seller has had to provide.

I'm sure Herb Johnson feels the same way.

But, by the same token, nothing on these CDs is the property of this eBay seller. . . anyone else could sell what he's selling, couldn't they? :rolleyes:

carlsson
April 6th, 2006, 02:58 PM
When scanned, have the manuals been OCR:ed or at least been tagged and put in PDFs so you can search within them? Otherwise, it is one big lump of graphical document which tend to be a pain you rather want to print to get some kind of outline of.

Edit: The eBay page says they are compressed into both Adobe Acrobat and Microsoft Word documents. I sincerely hope it doesn't mean a Word document filled with high-resolution pictures only. If the seller has performed quality OCR and mounting illustrations back into the documents to obtain a true e-text, it sounds just as much work, if not more, than scanning old manuals as graphics, clean up the page and print it again.

Besides, the seller has a voice that sounds shockingly alike my voice when I record it...

Micom 2000
April 6th, 2006, 03:41 PM
I can sympathise with the plight of those who like Herb and yourself (who had a smaller market) maintained themselves with the support of new and dedicated users of abandoned markets and are now threatened by sellers using cd-rom technology. I must however also remember all the dedicated people who wrote those postcard or buttonware programs, maintained thankless BBSs or even now websites who receive NO remuneration and usually struggle to continue their web-site.

Some like Don Maislin would send disks simply for the cost of the media and shipping. He was of the old school.

Deciding that you are going to turn this enthusiasm into a viable business subjects you to all the threats of competitors, including new technology. That's how this squewed system of capitalism works. Your choice.

Lawrence

Terry Yager
April 6th, 2006, 03:57 PM
I don't think anyone does it for the money...

--T

alltare
April 8th, 2006, 10:05 AM
Lawrence-

It turns out that I don't have "The S-100 Bus Handbook" after all. A quick search at Advanced Book Exchange turned up 2 copies in the US for $28 and $49 plus shipping, and one from England for $15 including shipping. I ordered the one from England, but surface mail may take a month to get it here.

Thanks for mentioning the title.


It was Dave Bursky's "The S-100 Bus Handbook" and fittingly enough there's a pic of the copy Eric has on this site.

http://www.vintage-computer.com/otheritems.shtml

Lawrence