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Thread: Which machines did not have LOWER CASE?

  1. #1
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    Default Which machines did not have LOWER CASE?

    I came across this article mentioned that yesterday was supposedly CAPS LOCK DAY: https://www.daysoftheyear.com/days/caps-lock-day/

    (old fart voice) When I was a kid, we didn't have any any lower case, we wrote in UPPER CASE both ways - in the video snow - and we like it just fine!

    I recall the original TI/99/4 (no bloody "a"), the original Apple II (No bloody "+"), and the first TRS-80, did not have lower case.

    This was one of the reasons why I never liked programming languages or file systems that were case sensitive. Uppercase and lower case words mean the same thing. Capitalization only hints at different uses such as names. It would make just as little sense to differentiate bold and italics.

    So all that got me thinking: what other computers, terminals, printers or other devices did not fully support lower case?

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    The TV Typewriter and the related follow on designs didn't have lower case. I think the first derivative design got lower case in 1977.

    The ASR-33 lacked lower case as did the earlier related teletypes. The ASR-37 from 1968 was the first of the line to have lower case.

    The ADM-3 lacked lower case. The ADM-3A introduced in 1976 got lower case as an option but I don't know how many spent the extra $100 to get the upgrade.

    IIRC, some versions of UNIX would assume that the user was on a upper case only terminal if the user name and password were entered as all upper case.

    DEC's early terminals (VT05 and VT50) lacked lower case with the VT52 being the first to have lower case. I think IBM made lower case an option for the 3270 line for the first few years; I have no idea when lower case became the default.

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    The Apple II and II+ lacked support for lowercase letters. It wasn't until the Apple IIe that support for typing and displaying mixed case became available.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SomeGuy View Post
    the first TRS-80, did not have lower case
    The TRS-80 Color Computer line lacked hardware lower case until the Color Computer 3 came out in 1986. It was possible to "use" lowercase, sort of, because it could map lowercase letters to reverse video versions of the upper case letters, and you could also use the graphics mode to draw them, but, yeah, no glyphs in character mode for them.

    (This was because Tandy cheaped out and used the limited character generator built into the 6847 display generator instead of adding an external character ROM. Hacks to do that were available. Likewise, as mentioned re: the Apple II, lowercase kits were fairly common for it as well.)

    Commodore's PETSCII character set used from the Commodore PET through the C64 family has "shifted" and "unshifted" versions, where the "unshifted" (which was the default on the 40 column PETs and the VIC20/C64) doesn't have glyphs for lowercase characters, instead using the space for graphics characters. An oddity of the "shifted" mode is that the uppercase and lowercase codes are reversed compared to standard ASCII.
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    Along with all of this I had a friction feed 'Gorilla Banana' printer (box still exists) that printed caps only. Also, my Tandy DMP-130, which emulates the first 128 characters of the IBM ProPrinter set, doesn't have descenders on the 'g', 'y', p, q and etc. Remember the NLQ mode on some printers back in the day?
    Surely not everyone was Kung-fu fighting

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    Most of the computer trainers (KIM-1 and the like) lacked lower case. Turning to computers from outside the US, the Acorn Atom, ZX-80, and ZX-81 all lacked lower case. Someone from other countries should mention how the character sets for 8-bit systems were handled. I can't find images of those fonts.

    Conversely, TI made a big marketing point for the TI-58/59 of being the first hand held calculator to support characters. Upper case only, of course.

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    Almost all 6-bit machines used caps-only, as did all unit-record equipment. If you wanted LC EBCDIC on an IBM 029, you had to be handy with the "multipunch" key. So what, about 60 years' worth of computing history? Most early computer languages didn't acknowledge the existence of LC, Algol being a notable exception.

    But then, these are the recollections of a dinosaur. The original TVT was caps-only. I'm not sure if it had an LC upgrade option--I suspect not.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck(G) View Post
    Almost all 6-bit machines used caps-only, as did all unit-record equipment. If you wanted LC EBCDIC on an IBM 029, you had to be handy with the "multipunch" key. So what, about 60 years' worth of computing history? Most early computer languages didn't acknowledge the existence of LC, Algol being a notable exception.

    But then, these are the recollections of a dinosaur. The original TVT was caps-only. I'm not sure if it had an LC upgrade option--I suspect not.
    Unix was the driver for case-sensitive computing, and the preference towards lower-case for commands.
    At least that was my experience in the mid-late 70's.

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    LC assumes that you're using the proper print train on your line printer--or you're using a terminal with LC. The LC print trains were, for a time, a special operator request, as the added characters slowed down most printing. Lower-case on 6-bit machines can be a mess--witness the CDC Display Code extensions to 12 bits or even the LC representation on the early DEC WIPS systems.

    I don't know if there were any early UC-only versions of "C", but it wouldn't surprise me if there were. I've never seen a card punch with explicit LC representation on the keys. I recall entering documentation on an 026, using a prefix "*" on letters I wanted capitalized.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Al Kossow View Post
    Unix was the driver for case-sensitive computing, and the preference towards lower-case for commands.
    At least that was my experience in the mid-late 70's.
    Being case-sensitive and having upper/lower case letters are quite different things.

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