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Thread: Are vintage computers doomed in the long run?

  1. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by vwestlife View Post
    Vintage television enthusiasts are more doomed, because nobody rebuilds CRTs anymore.
    Yet. If ETF doesn't achieve it, sooner or later someone else will. They've shown that it's not that much more difficult than the guy building Nixies.

  2. #22
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    Generic computer parts will be available for the foreseeable future but special parts like the Commodore TED chip, SID audio chip, certain specialty processors and the chips for prototypes like the C=65 will make repairing some computers impossible. Flashrom chips will fail and the firmware will disappear. Mechanical parts like magnetic storage units and optical drives and media will no longer be manufactured. Media with important software will fail. Sure, you can use substitutes but this will make the computer no longer true vintage. A 1937 radio and a 2015 radio use the same principles but the older radio is vintage: the newer isn't. They don't operate the same way and they don't sound the same way. Also, I may throw out a newer unit but repair the older. I've pitched many newer dead motherboards and parts but almost never classics!
    Rick Ethridge

  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by mwillegal View Post
    At some point, someone will start making reproduction chips. I've already heard about an organization that was considering setting up a SSI chip fab. It will not be inexpensive, but I think it will happen, sooner or later, probably later.

    At the moment, unless you are looking for 60's era IC's there seem to be an ample supply of most kinds of ICs, though a few single source types can be difficult to find.

    regards,
    Mike Willegal
    Mike,

    I think we are getting close to this technology. IC cases can be creating using 3d additive printing, and at Maker Fair earlier this year I saw a machine that laid out circuits using conductive ink. Its not too far fetched for someone to modify the materials and techniques a little to produce simple 74xx chips or as the technology improves small custom logic/processors. I think the hacker movement will create what we need for the future without realizing it. Someone one day will take all the right technology and put them together and produce what is needed.

    Heck there is a guy out there who makes new Nixie tubes again... so you never know.
    https://youtu.be/wxL4ElboiuA

    Cheers,
    Corey

  4. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by vwestlife View Post
    Vintage television enthusiasts are more doomed, because nobody rebuilds CRTs anymore.
    I wouldn't be so sure.

    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.

    I'm sure someone will step up and make CRT's in the future. They will be outside of the general use price bracket; but will be available.
    System 80 Expansion Interface located! Thanks to all who helped out and the good people in the NZ vintage computer forums!

  5. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by KC9UDX View Post
    An 88 T-bird is a breeze to keep going. A 98 is a nightmare.

    In 87 GM led the way, and by 96 all cars were electrical disasters. By 2005 they all seemed to get a lot better.

    The newest car I ever owned was a 91. My current daily driver is a 90. This is no accident; I have quite a bit of experience working on cars, and I don't want to own anything newer than that if I can avoid it.

    My computers will work for my lifetime. If anyone cares to keep them working beyond that, read 3pcedev.
    I have an 85' Fifth Avenue, it is off the road because it needs extensive alignment work and the body while not rusty needs a paint job desperately. It was my daily driver from August 13' to May 17'. During that time though however there was never a worry of computer related malfunctions (ha, what computer?) and our annual state inspections were only $10, safety only, no emissions.
    Daniel P. Cayea - The Lyon Mountain Company - Plattsburgh, New York 12901
    Vintage Equipment: IBM 5150 * IBM 5161
    Modern Equipment: ThinkPad T61 XP Pro * ASUS X75A 10 Pro

  6. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by falter View Post
    Thanks for all the great insights. To speak to my Thunderbird - in fact, it has a number of specialized computer components that are completely unavailable and unlikely ever to be.
    I doubt it has any functionality that couldn't be replicated with a few arduinos and/or a raspberry pi.

    Just need someone who is willing to figure it out and program it :P
    Current Vintage Equipment:
    IBM Thinkpad 390, IBM Aptiva A12, IBM PS/2 Model 25-004. Compaq Contura 4/25C.
    Asus P5A-B Socket 7 Box, Tandy 1000RLX-HD "B" & 1200-2FD, VIC20, Zenith ZFL-181-93, Packard Bell 300SX.
    Looking for: 286 Laptop, 386 Laptop, C64. Packard Bell Legend 20CD.

  7. #27

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    I once solved all the computer problems of a 95 (I think?) S15 Blazer.

    It got about 7MPG and would intermittently die, or not start. It needed a new wiring harness and all new sensors, and a new computer.

    I acquired an intake manifold from a boat and installed a Holley 4160.

    Then it got just over 20MPG, would only intermittently die or not start when the ignition amplifier would die twice a year (could have been resolved with an aftermarket ignition). It became the only S10 in town that could accelerate up hills pulling a trailer. When I would test drive it, there were countless similar vehicles on the road. It was fun to pass them on the highway and get weird looks. If only I could have fixed the anti-stop brake problem (that they all have) and the ignition problem (that they all have) and all the other electrical gremlins, it would have been a really nice vehicle. Unfortunately the owner wrecked it.

    Where there's a will there's a way.
    Be polite and I may let you live.

  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Ethridge View Post
    Generic computer parts will be available for the foreseeable future but special parts like the Commodore TED chip, SID audio chip, certain specialty processors and the chips for prototypes like the C=65 will make repairing some computers impossible. Flashrom chips will fail and the firmware will disappear. Mechanical parts like magnetic storage units and optical drives and media will no longer be manufactured. Media with important software will fail. Sure, you can use substitutes but this will make the computer no longer true vintage. A 1937 radio and a 2015 radio use the same principles but the older radio is vintage: the newer isn't. They don't operate the same way and they don't sound the same way. Also, I may throw out a newer unit but repair the older. I've pitched many newer dead motherboards and parts but almost never classics!
    Even on the "vintage" stuff, how does one replicate LSI support chips or divine the content of programmable logic when it goes? Sure, it's possible to suss out the function of some obscure part and develop a substitute, but that requires skill and time.

  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck(G) View Post
    Even on the "vintage" stuff, how does one replicate LSI support chips or divine the content of programmable logic when it goes? Sure, it's possible to suss out the function of some obscure part and develop a substitute, but that requires skill and time.
    Indeed, I marvel at how about people have decapped chips and imaged the die surface, such as the 6502 and ANTIC and then analyse the layout.
    And as for understanding and reengineering old computing devices, the oldest one of all - the ~2000 yo Antikythera mechanism - has been deciphered and you can find simulators on the web.
    Although things aren't quite at that level of understanding with the Babbage Analytical Engine yet. I keep hoping to see some breakthrough on the http://plan28.org/ site, fingers crossed we will see a complete working steam-powered replica someday. But at least they are assembling a complete documentation base in the hope that this will provide some key to Babbage's notation.
    Sure, a lot of things will just be too difficult to reengineer but then I think due to the efforts of determined people like those crafty decappers it may not be completely all doom and gloom for the future of vintage computing after all.

  10. #30

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    Will they replicate Ada Lovelace?
    Be polite and I may let you live.

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