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Thread: Are vintage computers doomed in the long run?

  1. #31


    I wonder if it would be possible to scan the actual silicone chip? A STM microscope is already doable on the hobbyist level. I never would have though that were possible. I don't know what could be used to cut thru the various layers accurately. I'm not sure how this would work with programmable stuff. Is there a physical structure that maps to the programming of say a CMOS ROM?

    DIY STM:

    On the tubes, I find this video so inspiring

    Edit: 1944GPW's post shows it's already possible.
    Looking for: OMTI SMS Scientific Micro Systems 8610 or 8627 ESDI ISA drive controller, May also be branded Core HC, Please PM me if you want to part with one.

  2. #32
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Silicon Valley


    Quote Originally Posted by mR_Slug View Post
    I wonder if it would be possible to scan the actual silicon chip?
    Yes, there are dozens of examples of reverse-engineered devices on the net. You don't need a SEM to do this, an optical one
    with the right polarized light source works just fine. Image a layer, strip it off, image the next. This obviously is a destructive
    process to the part.

    This works up to a point where the geometries get too small to image optically.

    21st century microprocessors literally contain billions of transistors, good luck reverse engineering that

    The problem is, this won't help recover any firmware stored on a floating-gate memory device.

  3. #33


    I had a thought. In the future, when 1/2 of the workforce is unemployed thanks to automation, I think we will see a huge surge in all "hobbies".

    at least I hope.
    It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potatoes.

  4. #34


    Automation causing unemployment was debunked decades ago.
    Be polite and I may let you live.

  5. #35


    Quote Originally Posted by KC9UDX View Post
    Automation causing unemployment was debunked decades ago.
    You'll need to forgive me if I plan for the worst.
    It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potatoes.

  6. #36


    I believe on can see logic 1s and 0s with a SEM. I know you can see logic levels at least.
    I suspect EPROM values can be read even below that that would fail electronically.

  7. #37
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Blog Entries


    My point is that none of this is cheap or easy. I doubt that the average vintage computer enthusiast has access to a SEM.

  8. #38


    I talked to a rather average guy a few years ago who had one. But well, that certainly isn't typical.
    Last edited by KC9UDX; September 13th, 2017 at 09:00 PM. Reason: Rather works better than Pretty in this sentence.
    Be polite and I may let you live.

  9. #39
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Blog Entries


    Corporations and Governments have tools to reverse engineer chips or just to see the design. Lots of expensive gear will eventually get cheap enough for serious hobbyists to own.
    What I collect: 68K/Early PPC Mac, DOS/Win 3.1 era machines, Amiga/ST, C64/128
    Nubus/ISA/VLB/MCA/EISA cards of all types
    Boxed apps and games for the above systems
    Analog video capture cards/software and complete systems

  10. #40


    Quote Originally Posted by 3pcedev View Post
    Some guy in Russia (I think) still hand makes new Nixie tubes. Not cheap; but they are available. I bet nobody in the 80's thought that would ever happen again.
    Russia was still making new nixie tubes in reasonable volume until at least the late 80s or early 90s. I bought two boxes of 50 from Ukraine a few years ago and they arrived sealed in the original boxes with a 1988 date on them. I'd bet there are still tens if not hundreds of thousands of them still sitting in warehouses.


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