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This forum is part of our mission to promote the preservation of vintage computers through education and outreach. (In real life we also run events and have a museum.) We encourage you to join us, participate, share your knowledge, and enjoy.

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Defining Eras of Vintage

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    Defining Eras of Vintage

    I was just reading a thread up in the Pentium forum in which the OP asked if Pentium MMX counted as vintage, and then another poster commented that they thought that vintage was a moving target. I guess if you liken technology to automobiles once it hits a certain age then it could be considered vintage. I'd like to know if there are different eras of vintage or should there be.

    In my own mind I look at it like this...

    1977-1984 8-bit Era
    1985-1994 16-bit Era
    1995-2005 32-bit Era
    2005->64 bit Era

    thoughts?
    Daniel P. Cayea - The Lyon Mountain Company - Plattsburgh, New York 12901
    Vintage Equipment: IBM 5150 * IBM 5161 * ThinkPad 770ED
    Modern Equipment: MacBook Pro 13 * Alienware M15R3

    #2
    Originally posted by lyonadmiral View Post
    I was just reading a thread up in the Pentium forum in which the OP asked if Pentium MMX counted as vintage, and then another poster commented that they thought that vintage was a moving target. I guess if you liken technology to automobiles once it hits a certain age then it could be considered vintage. I'd like to know if there are different eras of vintage or should there be.

    In my own mind I look at it like this...

    1977-1984 8-bit Era
    1985-1994 16-bit Era
    1995-2005 32-bit Era
    2005->64 bit Era

    thoughts?
    For home computers only.

    Comment


      #3
      Yes vintage of this era or that era is the appropriate way to look at it. vintage 8-bit Atari from early 80's is a specific "vintage" or just 8-bit era vintage to mean the home computers from the mid-70's to the mid 80's primarily. There are vintage mini and mainframe types too, vintage by use (a vintage early www GUI interface), it's up to the circumstances.

      I think at this point there is a consensus that you can't just say "vintage computers" to mean every computer from some arbitrary cut-off date any more.

      b
      @ BillDeg:
      Web: vintagecomputer.net
      Twitter: @billdeg
      Youtube: @billdeg
      Unauthorized Bio

      Comment


        #4
        I personally don't like the word vintage with regards to computers. I do like the era designation as stated above though. I prefer "classic" and possibly "retro".

        Vintage always makes me think of wine.

        Comment


          #5
          I think it's subjective and there is no definitive answer. Kind of like asking at what age is someone "old"?

          Comment


            #6
            Vintage is whatever you remember using (or wanting) during the good old days.
            I use my C128 because I am an ornery, stubborn, retro grouch. -- Bob Masse
            Various projects and oddities: http://oldvcr.blogspot.com/
            Machine room: http://www.floodgap.com/etc/machines.html

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by ClassicHasClass View Post
              Vintage is whatever you remember using (or wanting) during the good old days.
              How does that work, for young teenagers, for one example?
              PM me if you're looking for 3" or 5" floppy disks. EMail For everything else, Take Another Step

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by byates View Post
                For home computers only.
                Indeed! VCFed's Univac 1219B, circa mid-1960s, is a 36-bit computer.
                @ Founder, Vintage Computer Federation -- resigned Dec. 2019
                @ Author, Abacus to smartphone: The evolution of mobile and portable computers
                @ My homepage
                @ My Lego Robotics Page

                Comment


                  #9
                  They're "obsolete" but that doesn't sound great. "Retro" means an imitation. "Classic" means typical of its type, which is probably the best description.
                  IBM 5170/5053, 2 x 5150/5051
                  Sun IPC, Ultra1 and SPARCclassic
                  HP Apollo 9000/735
                  Silicon Graphics Indy, O2
                  Radio Shack TRS-80 model 100
                  Apple Mac Plus

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Warning: Opinions ahead.

                    It is easiest to just pick a cut-off date and be done with it. For me, anything 20 years old or older is vintage, full stop. No debating, no arguments; most non-collectors have no trouble understanding this. As time marches onward, so does the year something can be considered vintage. In the year 2020, systems from Y2K will be considered vintage (because they will be!).

                    I don't think it is useful to define "eras" because there are always outliers that get people arguing. For example, here's a few that are hard to classify (and no, I am not looking for anyone to start arguing about these):

                    - The IBM PC is a 16-bit CPU with an 8-bit data bus. So is it a 16-bit system or an 8-bit system?
                    - The TurboGrafx-16 is a console with an 8-bit CPU and a 16-bit graphics processor. So does it belong to the 8-bit console "era" (NES, Colecovision, SMS, etc.) or 16-bit "era" (SNES, Genesis, etc.)?
                    - The Atari Lynx is a hand-held console with an 8-bit CPU, a 16-bit graphics process, and a 32-bit math co-processor (multiplies can have 32-bit result, can divide 32-bit numbers). So where does it belong?
                    - The Atari Jaguar is a console with a 16-bit general-purpose CPU, two 32-bit RISC CPUs, a 64-bit graphics processor, and 64-bit bus. So...?

                    So defining hard year cut-offs for these things never work well, that's too simple. I guess you could define overlapping ranges, sure, but not hard cut-offs.
                    Offering a bounty for:
                    - A working Sanyo MBC-775 or Logabax 1600
                    - Music Construction Set, IBM Music Feature edition (has red sticker on front stating IBM Music Feature)

                    Comment


                      #11
                      To me home computing started in the 70's and each decade since then has seem quite a few major changes in designs. Sooner or later things will stagnate and a 20 year cutoff date will start to get meaningless.

                      I think you have to look at software as well as the hardware. To me PC computing had major changes in the DOS to 16 bit windows era and the switch from W9x to the Win2k era. X64 wasn't that big of a deal.

                      These days with everything running on Intel or AMD you could argue any system that can't run Windows is vintage.


                      For me current computing is whatever I can get work done on, vintage would be obsolete but still interesting to me, and classic is so old even I don't care about it.
                      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

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Just on the DOS/Windows Perspective of things - I've always split it up this way - with overlapping eras.....

                        1981-1983 - Early PC-DOS & Semi-Compatibles (the break for this era is the Compaq Portable)
                        1983-1987 - the XT Class Era (8088/80186/8086 based PC's with max 640K RAM and CGA/EGA Graphics)
                        1984-1991 - The AT Class Era (80286 based PC's with CGA/EGA/VGA and possibly a sound card, running DOS)
                        1986-1993 - The 386 Era (80386 based PC's running with EGA/VGA/SVGA and possibly a soundcard under DOS or Windows 3.x)

                        And then I split the 486 era into distinct yet somewhat overlapping era...because that genre is not exactly dead yet tbh.
                        1989-1991 - The Socket 1 era, ie 486 DX 33 MHz being king, ISA only BUS, VGA being standard video, soundcard optional
                        1991-1992 - The Socket 2 era, 486 DX2-66 being king, ISA, EISA, and VLB come along, Soundcard somewhat optional but preferred
                        1992-1994 - The EARLY Socket 3 eara, 486 DX2 and DX4, Overdrive Chips, VLB becomes more common, Soundcards are standard, 528MB Limit broken
                        1994-1997 - The Late 486 Era, which includes DX4's, AMD 5x86, Overdrives, PCI busses, and massive VLSI
                        1997-present - The Industrial Era of SBC 486 based systems which continues today - most of those have features supported by modern systems and most of the circuitry is embedeed into the 486-derived CPU chip much like a modern core series CPU. Most of these run industrial equipment though like laser engravers and whatnot but can be preened to function as a DOS Desktop PC.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          It's simple--anything made after the time that people started talking about "vintage" computers isn't.
                          Reach me: vcfblackhole _at_ protonmail dot com.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            As trixter has mentioned, the goalposts are moving as we speak. My problem with that however is we eventually encroach into later generations of computers where between brands they become extremely similar or the technologies they use have changed little in the following years. I have issues telling people with a straight face that a Commodore 64 is as vintage as a dual Pentium Pro machine. It's two entirely different generations of hardware.

                            It's like how here in BC you can own a 1980 Corvette and have Collector plates on it, but then I pull up next to you in a 1992 Geo Tracker with collector plates as well because the car is technically past the 25 year requirement.
                            Two MASSIVELY different cars in every possible way, yet both are technically "vintage".
                            Last edited by NeXT; February 20, 2017, 09:08 PM.
                            [Need something to waste time on? Click here to visit my YouTube channel CelGenStudios]
                            --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                            [No time for videos? Click here to visit my Twitter feed @CelGenStudios]

                            = Excellent space heater

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Two MASSIVELY different cars in every possible way, yet both are technically "vintage".
                              But why is that a problem? They are both technically vintage.
                              Offering a bounty for:
                              - A working Sanyo MBC-775 or Logabax 1600
                              - Music Construction Set, IBM Music Feature edition (has red sticker on front stating IBM Music Feature)

                              Comment

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