January 1981: “ZX80 interface micro user”, a vintage computer magazine

For me, it all began with the Sinclair ZX80 I received as a Xmas gift (1981).
I recently purchased this magazine from 1981 (January), it was one of the very few Sinclair-related magazines back then; sometimes you may find similar items such as the original ZX80 manual.

ZX Interface cover - v1-i5 -1- cover

Edited by Tim Hartnell (quite a famous author of Sinclair Computers’ books) it was self-titled:

The monthly magazine published by the National ZX Users’s Club for ZX80, (later, even ZX81 and ZX Spectrum).

As far as I can tell, it didn’t survive too much other, bigger and less dedicated computer magazines: less than three years should have been published.

The magazine itself has a very simple layout and consists of very few pages; cover story says you’re going to learn a lot about POKEs and PEEKs (common BASIC commands to write/read values from specific memory addresses).

News about the upcoming 8K ROM (ZX80 came in with 4K ROM) were covered with a Sinclair-approved photo:

ZX Interface cover - v1-i5 -3- ZX80 8K ROM

You’re going to find some listings too: this is a game from Ian Turtle called Stock Market, not exactly a NASDAQ simulator but quite funny indeed:

ZX Interface cover - v1-i5 -2- high stakes

Another game (of course) is Alien Attack: oddly enough, the original ZX80 was unable to display AND deal with keyboard strokes, so, as stated in the instructions “One command at a time, please gentlemen”!

ZX Interface cover - v1-i5 -4- alien attack

(… second part follows…)

ZX Interface cover - v1-i5 -5- alien attack

You can’t think of an early computer magazine without some vintage comics, here’s Interface take on the “new” 8K ROM.

ZX Interface cover - v1-i5 -6- ZX80 fun

I found very little info: just some scans on ZX81.de.

Posted in BASIC, Magazine, Programming, Retrocomputer, Videogames, Vintage computer, Vintage games | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What’s the story behind QWERTY keyboard layout?

Ever wondered why we’re using such a strange computer keyboard layout as the common QWERTY?

Commodore Plus/4 (1984)

Look at this CNN Money video to get some clue:

More info on QWERTY here on Wikipedia; look here for more detailed info on QWERTY vs. Dvorak or any other fancy layout and a pretty interesting article on “Path dependence” – even on QWERTY keyboards.

Posted in CNN, Computer, Computer History, Computing history, Design, Retrocomputer, Science, Tech industry, Technology, Video | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

ZX SpecPhone: an iPhone app enabling ZX Spectrum dialing

A quite simple iOS app enabling phone dialing the ZX Spectrum way by spanish programmer Raul Flores.

ZX SpecPhone

ZX SpecPhone

Pretty old, but it seems still working!

Available for free on iTunes for all Sinclair ZX-Spectrum fans!

Posted in App world, iOS, iPhone, Retrocomputer, Sinclair, Vintage computer | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Enter Zooids and build your own little Robot Army !!!

Meet Zooids: a tiny robot-swarm with some pretty features.

The project, by Mathieu Le Goc, Lawrence H Kim, Ali Parsaei, Jean-Daniel Fekete, Pierre Dragicevic and Sean Follmer seems amazing:

This paper introduces swarm user interfaces, a new class of human-computer interfaces comprised of many autonomous robots that handle both display and interaction. We describe the design of Zooids, an open-source open-hardware platform for developing tabletop swarm interfaces.

The platform consists of a collection of custom-designed wheeled micro robots each 2.6 cm in diameter, a radio base-station, a high-speed DLP structured light projector for optical tracking, and a software framework for application development and control.

Posted in AI, Artificial Intelligence, Research, Robot, Robotics, Science | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The vintage alternative to Word Processor

Found this one on the ‘net, couldn’t resist…
It’s an awesome, vintage, alternative to modern Word Processor, don’t you agree?

lead pencil word processor

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Hard Disk price from 1956 to 2016

I recently came across a very interesting page in which John C. McCallum has collected a huge number of hard disk unit specs along with introduction year and price.
Beginning from 1956, with the 24″ IBM sporting a hefty 3.75 MBytes (!) the list goes through time and megabytes up to a 2016-compliant 8TB unit.

hard disk drive prices 1955-2016

I’ve been writing in the past about how much storage has changed in the (recent) past, but is really overwhelming!

As an added feature, here comes a single hard disk platter from 1974 I’ve been recently given: as far as I’ve been able to investigate, it should be some 200 KBytes-per-side unit and the whole hard disk unit featured five of them – up to 2 Megabytes (!).
Measures 36 cm (diameter) and weighs in at 3 Kg… (around 1,18 ft and 6 pounds): you can look at the dwarfed Nokia E61 (which incidentally uses a 256 MB MicroSD)!

vintage 1974 hard disk platter

This a not-so-tiny floptical disk I recently spotted at a vintage computer event (thanks to friend Ezio Bagnis):

Brusaporto 2016

You can find the Hard disk original price table here.

Posted in Computer, Computer History, Computing history, Data storage, Digital media, Electronics, Hardware, IBM, Storage, Tech industry, Technology, Vintage computer | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Computer chess”: a 2013 nerd movie about vintage computing – and more…

computer chess movie

I recently watched a 2013-movie: Computer Chess.
To my real shame, I missed it when it was released, some 3 years ago.


It’s very compelling and well-made – and funny too; written and directed by Andrew Bujalski the movie it’s a celebration of the early computing age, nerds and chess-playing.

Lots of vintage computers are featured and you may spot your own favorite…
It’s a black-and-white only indie movie, it’s well worth its 92 minutes!

More details at FastCoCreate.
The movie is available on Amazon too in different formats.


Posted in Chess, Media, Movie, Movies, Retrocomputer, Vintage computer, Vintage games | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Happy #InternautDay: World Wide Web turns 25!

Happy 25th birthday World Wide Web!

Well, actually, as reported here, Sir Tim Berners-Lee submitted on March 9th 1991 a draft of WWW/HTTP to his boss, Mike Sendall, who was not really excited about it…
On August 6th the very first web server, a now-venerable NeXT Cube, was powered on – and warning label stated “Do not power it down!“.

On August 23rd the very first access to the server from ‘outside‘ the CERN network occurred, thus beginning the WWW era.

In this short interview, Sir Berners-Lee tells about the birth of the WWW:

If you really want to experience the first web page with a text-only browser, here you are: CERN still has it available!

text based browser first web page

Posted in Digital life, Digital media, History, html, Internet, Network, Web | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Windows 10 Anniversary Update: a few notes [Updated]

Tomorrow, August 2nd, Microsoft will release the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, the very first major update since the July 29th update deadline.
Most users will barely notice this update even though some details should be taken into account.

windows 10

In first place, beginning August 2nd this update will replace existing Windows 10 1511 installation and this may cause some problems with already-reported unwanted reboots.
This means that automatic update downloading and installing not only may slow down your PC (which you may or may not notice) but may reboot ungracefully in the wrong moment.

According to different sources and from my experience I suggest that you turn off “Automatic updates installing”, which is incidentally the default choice, and turn to “Notify to schedule restart”, which allows you to end a work day and let Windows do his stuff when you’re done doing yours.

windows 10 anniversay update

windows 10 anniversay update

You’ll find this options under Start/Settings/Updates.

In second place, looks like existing Mobile Windows 10 users will be affected at the same time, even though there are no timing information.

In third place, some of the new feature (among many others) include Windows Ink, a renewed Edge browser and a couple of security-related tools (Windows Hello – a password vault, and Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection).
Cortana seems to be affected by this update too.
Microsoft seems to have taken seriously how much Win10 users are concerned with security.

Update file size is reported at 3 GB, so this update seems a brand new Windows 10 more than an update.
Available RAM may become an issue: there are reports the RAM memory minimum requirements have been raised up. [More details about minimum requirements are available here]

Note: this post is based on information available on the Internet and is accurate as much as I can.
Some sources:
Windows Central
Windows 10 Blog

Posted in Microsoft, Operating system, Tablet, Windows | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment