Southend Linux User Group

Retro computing day – June 2016

Some pictures from SoSLUG’s retro day, held Saturday, 18th June at TAP. The day started around noon, and was intended to be a hands on fun day,
playing with computers and consoles from the 1980s and 90s. Entry was free, and all comers were welcome, and if possible invited to participate, by bringing whatever’s in their loft
such as any retro machines, manuals, disks, tapes, games etc. from this era.

The event was well attended, with visitors coming from as far afield as Cambridge and Frinton, and all ages were represented.
Some having grown up with the technology, but the event was primarily intended as an opportunity for younger visitors
to see just how far computing has progressed in 30 years.

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Just for comparison some retro pie stations + controllers were also on hand. They still use Turtle graphics,
which was developed by Seymour Papert in the late 1960s, to support his version of the turtle robot.
The robot turtle had pen attached to its body, and when placed on the a sheet of paper
(the back of old wallpaper was good for this), would then trace out it movements based on commands from the user’s workstation.

It’s simple commands still make it an easy introduction to programming for children today.

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Keeping the robot tradition alive, some modern day robot’s were also on display. This one, with just two wheels, was self balancing.

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Smaller robots were used to demonstrate their mobility. Balloons were attached to the robot, along with a pin. The aim was to burst the opposing robot’s balloon.
Great fun requiring a lot skill and concentration.

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Robot designer sharing his experience with a SoSLUG member.

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The games consoles on display were, Nintendo Entertainment System, Sega Master System, Megadrive, Super Nintendo,
N64, PlayStation 1 & 2, Dreamcast, Sega Saturn, Neo Geo, etc!

Games were initially stored on ordinary audio cassettes, hard drives came later. Even the early computers,
such as the Apple II, initially used audio tapes, as these were readily available to the hobbyist community.

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On perhaps a slightly more serious level, the computers on show were, Commodore 64, BBC Micro, Commodore PC, Amiga 1200, iMac G3,
486 DOS machine, and an Apple II(ish)!

Well actually the latter was an ITT 2020 (shown below), a variant of an Apple II computer, which is a part of our local history. It was
the first Apple computer to be built in the Europe under license, at the ITT Consumer Products Division in Basildon.

For the technically minded, the BBC Micro, and Apple computers used a 6502 microprocessor with a clock speed of 1MHz.
The maximum amount of RAM that could be fitted to the Apple II was a whooping 48KiloBytes. Most machines where programmed with (very basic) Basic,
but by fitting a language card, the Apple could also be programmed using the Pascal programming language. For a long time after, this was the language used
to teach programming, as it’s rigid syntax was intended to promote, good programming habits.

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The Apple I, it’s predecessor can be seen in the Science Museum, along with other memorabilia of that age, such as the Moon lander.

Author: Alan Campion - Page reference: 5434
Last modified: Alan Campion - 2016-06-20

Categories: Events

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