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Re: [midatlanticretro] Re: Altair 8800 Web Emulator

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  • Mike Loewen
    ... It actually extends forward a bit to the micro era. If you were constrained to less than 64KB of RAM for your code (not considering overlay techniques),
    Message 1 of 25 , Jan 8, 2013
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      On Tue, 8 Jan 2013, corey986 wrote:

      > I 100% agree. Having to "flip" switches or even type in the ocal/hex by
      > hand has made me a better programmer. This actually came up at dinner
      > last night (I'm at training in Texas right now) where we were talking
      > about the "old" days and how people who lived through toggling in a boot
      > loader on a PDP8 seemed to be more efficient in their resource
      > utilization as programmers than the guys who started programming with
      > Visual Basic who tend to be sloppy in memory and resource usage.

      It actually extends forward a bit to the micro era. If you were
      constrained to less than 64KB of RAM for your code (not considering
      overlay techniques), you had to be very careful of your resource
      management. In a Turbo Pascal program I wrote in the mid-'80s on a TRS-80
      Model 4 running Montezuma Micro CP/M, I managed to fit an in-memory
      indexing scheme such that I could retrieve any record from the database
      stored on floppy in less than 2 seconds.


      Mike Loewen mloewen@...
      Old Technology http://sturgeon.css.psu.edu/~mloewen/Oldtech/
    • Neil Cherry
      ... This holds true of any restricted env such as a uC with limited resources. Of course when you ve been around long enough and use larger computer resources
      Message 2 of 25 , Jan 8, 2013
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        On 01/08/2013 09:54 AM, corey986 wrote:
        >
        > I 100% agree. Having to "flip" switches or even type in the ocal/hex by hand has made me a
        > better programmer. This actually came up at dinner last night (I'm at training in Texas
        > right now) where we were talking about the "old" days and how people who lived through
        > toggling in a boot loader on a PDP8 seemed to be more efficient in their resource
        > utilization as programmers than the guys who started programming with Visual Basic who
        > tend to be sloppy in memory and resource usage. It was a pretty heated converstation
        > enhanced by wine and Fogo de Chao "Meat" high....

        This holds true of any restricted env such as a uC with limited resources.

        Of course when you've been around long enough and use larger computer resources
        you start to think about other limited resources such as time. As an Engineer
        (EE, System Engineer, etc.) you have to look at the overall picture .

        But I do agree that folks who have had to live with tight limits tend to
        be better overall Engineers.

        --
        Linux Home Automation Neil Cherry ncherry@...
        http://www.linuxha.com/ Main site
        http://linuxha.blogspot.com/ My HA Blog
        Author of: Linux Smart Homes For Dummies
      • B. Degnan
        The teletype in the museum was converted to rs232. I don t know if it was also upgraded to a baud faster than 110 8/n/2. It should be possible to punch a
        Message 3 of 25 , Jan 8, 2013
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          The teletype in the museum was converted to rs232. I don't know if it was
          also upgraded to a baud faster than 110 8/n/2. It should be possible to
          punch a tape of BASIC from the web to the modified machine's punch, and
          then load basic directly from the tape. You'd need an absolute loader in
          ROM or on tape as well. You could use a switch box to hop over to a glass
          terminal after the tape loads.

          -------- Original Message --------
          > From: "corey986" <no_reply@yahoogroups.com>
          > Sent: Tuesday, January 08, 2013 10:35 AM
          > To: midatlanticretro@yahoogroups.com
          > Subject: [midatlanticretro] Re: Altair 8800 Web Emulator
          >
          > Hey Bill...
          >
          > I have an idea for VCF... I was thinking of bringing my Briel Altair to
          sit next to my real one. It's been modified to have an external serial
          emulating the SIO-A. If we build a current loop to RS232 adapter for the
          teletype, we could let people toggle in a boot loader on the Briel. I have
          like 100 spare switches so I'm not concerned about the public using the
          briel unlike the real one where original orange case round switches are
          expensive and hard to find, and the silk screen needs to be protected from
          wear and scratches for historical reasons.
          >
          > Cheers,
          > Corey
          >
          > --- In midatlanticretro@yahoogroups.com, corey986 wrote:
          > >
          > >
          > > I 100% agree. Having to "flip" switches or even type in the ocal/hex
          by hand has made me a better programmer. This actually came up at dinner
          last night (I'm at training in Texas right now) where we were talking about
          the "old" days and how people who lived through toggling in a boot loader
          on a PDP8 seemed to be more efficient in their resource utilization as
          programmers than the guys who started programming with Visual Basic who
          tend to be sloppy in memory and resource usage. It was a pretty heated
          converstation enhanced by wine and Fogo de Chao "Meat" high....
          > >
          > > Cheers,
          > > Corey
          > > --- In midatlanticretro@yahoogroups.com, "B. Degnan" wrote:
          > > >
          > > >
          > > > > >
          > > > > On the Altair do you actually use the _ key for deleting a
          character? On
          > > > a
          > > > > teletype they normally used the rubout key that gave code 127. On
          modern
          > > >
          > > > > keyvoards that is normally the delete key and backspace used code
          8.
          > > > > The teletype doesn't have a backspace key though you can generate
          the
          > > > > code with control-h.
          > > > > (Rubout third row third from right)
          > > > > http://www.pdp8online.com/asr33/pics/kbd_top.shtml?large
          > > > >
          > > > > THe printing _ is because of teletypes. A teletype can't back up
          other
          > > > than
          > > > > a carrage return. Even if it did you wouldn't be able to reliably
          read
          > > > > the new character printed on top of the old so they printed the
          > > > underscore
          > > > > for each character "backed up". On the PDP-8 you use the delete key
          and
          > > > > it prints the _ when configured for teletype.
          > > > >
          > > >
          > > > In PDP 8 OS/8 using a glass vt102 terminal with a backspace key,
          under
          > > > standard configuration, use of backspace will generate an error even
          if
          > > > your command looks correct before you hit enter
          > > >
          > > > If you type this..
          > > > .RUN RKA0;
          > > >
          > > > ..and then use the backspace key to correct (change semi-colon to
          > > > colon)...
          > > > .RUN RKA0:BASIC.SV [enter]
          > > >
          > > > ...OS/8 will return an OS syntax error.
          > > >
          > > > My original point - you can find a way to add backspace ability, but
          it
          > > > was not really an option back then so you have to decide whether it
          matters
          > > > to you or not to bypass the historic limitation of the time.
          > > >
          > > > I believe that there is value to experience what it was really like
          to work
          > > > in this environment without modern shortcuts. If to engineer a new
          program
          > > > you are required to toggle bootstraps, load a tape, enter code by
          hand,
          > > > punch the tape on the teletype, and so on you'll start to change your

          > > > approach to programming. The first thing you realize is that it's
          best to
          > > > try to write and debug as much of the code by hand before you enter
          into
          > > > the computer. That's why a lot of Altair docs I have come upon have
          sheets
          > > > and sheets of pseudo code and hand-written listings along with the
          manuals.
          > > > People did not use the computer to write and edit code like they do
          today,
          > > > too time consuming. You had to be more precise in your data entry
          and more
          > > > organized in your approach. No one would want to sit there for a
          half hour
          > > > to punch a tape, then another half hour to run the tape just to find
          a
          > > > single syntax error crashes the whole program. That's why there were
          a lot
          > > > less people doing programming and hardware back then, this kind of
          work was
          > > > not for everyone. It gives you a real appreciation for those people

          > > > (before my time btw) who did all of this stuff when it was new back
          then,
          > > > and what motivated the likes of Woz/Jobs to make something easier to
          use.
          > > >
          > > > Not everyone has the luxury of walking up to a computer with a
          teletype. I
          > > > think it would be a great service if we had an exhibit / demo for
          MARCH's
          > > > museum to show people what it was like to use a teletype for I/O and

          > > > program storage. I would not recommend allowing the public to use it

          > > > though, it'd have to be a ready-to-go demo for someone that had an
          hour to
          > > > witness the entire process, maybe with a little lecture to kill time

          > > > between the tape loads/punches.
          > > >
          > > > Bill
          > > >
          > >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          > ------------------------------------
          >
          > Yahoo! Groups Links
          >
          >
          >
        • David Gesswein
          ... Right, you have to use the rubout/delete key to correct a mistyped character. It will either do a backspace overwrite or print around the deleted
          Message 4 of 25 , Jan 8, 2013
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            On Tue, Jan 08, 2013 at 09:04:47AM -0500, B. Degnan wrote:
            >
            > In PDP 8 OS/8 using a glass vt102 terminal with a backspace key, under
            > standard configuration, use of backspace will generate an error even if
            > your command looks correct before you hit enter
            >
            Right, you have to use the rubout/delete key to correct a mistyped
            character. It will either do a backspace overwrite or print \ around
            the deleted character based on the tty driver configuration/set command.
          • David Gesswein
            ... Its still 110. It was reported that the punch was jamming so if someone wants to use is for a demo we should check it out at the next work day. I think its
            Message 5 of 25 , Jan 8, 2013
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              On Tue, Jan 08, 2013 at 11:34:05AM -0500, B. Degnan wrote:
              > The teletype in the museum was converted to rs232. I don't know if it was
              > also upgraded to a baud faster than 110 8/n/2. It should be possible to
              > punch a tape of BASIC from the web to the modified machine's punch, and
              > then load basic directly from the tape. You'd need an absolute loader in
              > ROM or on tape as well. You could use a switch box to hop over to a glass
              > terminal after the tape loads.
              >
              Its still 110. It was reported that the punch was jamming so if someone
              wants to use is for a demo we should check it out at the next work day.
              I think its only being used as a static exhibit right now.
            • corey986
              Can we set it to 8,n,1 or it is fixed at two stop bits. No big deal, we can simply put something inbetween to echo the data between the two removing the
              Message 6 of 25 , Jan 8, 2013
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                Can we set it to 8,n,1 or it is fixed at two stop bits. No big deal, we can simply put something inbetween to "echo" the data between the two removing the stop bit and maybe changing the rate from 110. I have to investigate changing the briel from 9600 to 110 baud. The idea would be to get people to enjoy the fun of toggling in the boot loader and then watching basic load.

                I think we are on to something that would be fun for the public, but not risk any real "vintage" stuff" since we would need a MARCH member to actually feed and run the teletype (the real vintage deal).

                Let's really think about this and maybe make it a group project for VCF.

                Cheers,
                Corey



                --- In midatlanticretro@yahoogroups.com, David Gesswein wrote:
                >
                > On Tue, Jan 08, 2013 at 11:34:05AM -0500, B. Degnan wrote:
                > > The teletype in the museum was converted to rs232. I don't know if it was
                > > also upgraded to a baud faster than 110 8/n/2. It should be possible to
                > > punch a tape of BASIC from the web to the modified machine's punch, and
                > > then load basic directly from the tape. You'd need an absolute loader in
                > > ROM or on tape as well. You could use a switch box to hop over to a glass
                > > terminal after the tape loads.
                > >
                > Its still 110. It was reported that the punch was jamming so if someone
                > wants to use is for a demo we should check it out at the next work day.
                > I think its only being used as a static exhibit right now.
                >
              • evan@snarc.net
                ... I mostly agree. Definitely not letting anyone use our original copy of Altair 4K Basic. :)
                Message 7 of 25 , Jan 8, 2013
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                  >> but not risk any real "vintage" stuff"

                  I mostly agree. Definitely not letting anyone use our original copy of Altair 4K Basic. :)
                • who88777
                  Some of the embedded FPGA work I ve done really taught the value of this. Whenever possible I prefer to use the on chip block ram and not go external for cost
                  Message 8 of 25 , Jan 8, 2013
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                    Some of the embedded FPGA work I've done really taught the value of this. Whenever possible I prefer to use the on chip block ram and not go external for cost reasons. Every time I would forget to use the minimal printf() routine I'd run out of space for just code - let alone RAM as it linked in half the C standard library.

                    I've toyed with the idea of making a few Retro-On-A-Chip computers but I think the Briel model is a better way to go for recreating the old machines. BGA parts have no place in a retro machine.

                    --- In midatlanticretro@yahoogroups.com, Neil Cherry wrote:
                    >
                    > On 01/08/2013 09:54 AM, corey986 wrote:
                    > >
                    > > I 100% agree. Having to "flip" switches or even type in the ocal/hex by hand has made me a
                    > > better programmer. This actually came up at dinner last night (I'm at training in Texas
                    > > right now) where we were talking about the "old" days and how people who lived through
                    > > toggling in a boot loader on a PDP8 seemed to be more efficient in their resource
                    > > utilization as programmers than the guys who started programming with Visual Basic who
                    > > tend to be sloppy in memory and resource usage. It was a pretty heated converstation
                    > > enhanced by wine and Fogo de Chao "Meat" high....
                    >
                    > This holds true of any restricted env such as a uC with limited resources.
                    >
                    > Of course when you've been around long enough and use larger computer resources
                    > you start to think about other limited resources such as time. As an Engineer
                    > (EE, System Engineer, etc.) you have to look at the overall picture .
                    >
                    > But I do agree that folks who have had to live with tight limits tend to
                    > be better overall Engineers.
                    >
                    > --
                    > Linux Home Automation Neil Cherry ncherry@...
                    > http://www.linuxha.com/ Main site
                    > http://linuxha.blogspot.com/ My HA Blog
                    > Author of: Linux Smart Homes For Dummies
                    >
                  • billdeg@degnanco.com
                    Work from a copy of the abs loader and orig BASIC. It will take 30 minutes to load, so as I have said below, this is not a quick demo. Sent from Windows Mail
                    Message 9 of 25 , Jan 8, 2013
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                      Work from a copy of the abs loader and orig BASIC.  It will take 30 minutes to load, so as I have said below, this is not a quick demo.
                       
                      Sent from Windows Mail
                       
                      From: corey986
                      Sent: ‎January‎ ‎8‎, ‎2013 ‎12‎:‎42‎ ‎PM
                      To: midatlanticretro@yahoogroups.com
                      Subject: [midatlanticretro] Re: Altair 8800 Web Emulator
                       
                      Can we set it to 8,n,1 or it is fixed at two stop bits.  No big deal, we can simply put something inbetween to "echo" the data between the two removing the stop bit and maybe changing the rate from 110.  I have to investigate changing the briel from 9600 to 110 baud.  The idea would be to get people to enjoy the fun of toggling in the boot loader and then watching basic load.

                      I think we are on to something that would be fun for the public, but not risk any real "vintage" stuff" since we would need a MARCH member to actually feed and run the teletype (the real vintage deal).

                      Let's really think about this and maybe make it a group project for VCF.

                      Cheers,
                      Corey



                      --- In midatlanticretro@yahoogroups.com, David Gesswein  wrote:
                      >
                      > On Tue, Jan 08, 2013 at 11:34:05AM -0500, B. Degnan wrote:
                      > > The teletype in the museum was converted to rs232.  I don't know if it was
                      > > also upgraded to a baud faster than 110 8/n/2.  It should be possible to
                      > > punch a tape of BASIC from the web to the modified machine's punch, and
                      > > then load basic directly from the tape.  You'd need an absolute loader in
                      > > ROM or on tape as well.  You could use a switch box to hop over to a glass
                      > > terminal after the tape loads.
                      > >
                      > Its still 110. It was reported that the punch was jamming so if someone
                      > wants to use is for a demo we should check it out at the next work day.
                      > I think its only being used as a static exhibit right now.
                      >




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                    • corey986
                      I think it will be fine with the time. I contacted Vince Briel and he s going to help us make the micro work with the teletype. I think this will be fun.
                      Message 10 of 25 , Jan 8, 2013
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                        I think it will be fine with the time. I contacted Vince Briel and he's going to help us make the micro work with the teletype.

                        I think this will be fun. We could have a sign up sheet for people to toggle in the boot loader every 1/2 hour. Will give them real appreciation of "instant on".

                        --- In midatlanticretro@yahoogroups.com, wrote:
                        >
                        > Work from a copy of the abs loader and orig BASIC. It will take 30 minutes to load, so as I have said below, this is not a quick demo.
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        > Sent from Windows Mail
                        >
                        >
                        > From: corey986
                        > Sent: ‎January‎ ‎8‎, ‎2013 ‎12‎:‎42‎ ‎PM
                        > To: midatlanticretro@yahoogroups.com
                        > Subject: [midatlanticretro] Re: Altair 8800 Web Emulator
                        >
                        >
                        > Can we set it to 8,n,1 or it is fixed at two stop bits. No big deal, we can simply put something inbetween to "echo" the data between the two removing the stop bit and maybe changing the rate from 110. I have to investigate changing the briel from 9600 to 110 baud. The idea would be to get people to enjoy the fun of toggling in the boot loader and then watching basic load.
                        >
                        > I think we are on to something that would be fun for the public, but not risk any real "vintage" stuff" since we would need a MARCH member to actually feed and run the teletype (the real vintage deal).
                        >
                        > Let's really think about this and maybe make it a group project for VCF.
                        >
                        > Cheers,
                        > Corey
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        > --- In midatlanticretro@yahoogroups.com, David Gesswein wrote:
                        > >
                        > > On Tue, Jan 08, 2013 at 11:34:05AM -0500, B. Degnan wrote:
                        > > > The teletype in the museum was converted to rs232. I don't know if it was
                        > > > also upgraded to a baud faster than 110 8/n/2. It should be possible to
                        > > > punch a tape of BASIC from the web to the modified machine's punch, and
                        > > > then load basic directly from the tape. You'd need an absolute loader in
                        > > > ROM or on tape as well. You could use a switch box to hop over to a glass
                        > > > terminal after the tape loads.
                        > > >
                        > > Its still 110. It was reported that the punch was jamming so if someone
                        > > wants to use is for a demo we should check it out at the next work day.
                        > > I think its only being used as a static exhibit right now.
                        > >
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        > ------------------------------------
                        >
                        > Yahoo! Groups Links
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        > http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
                        >
                      • David Gesswein
                        ... Does it care about the keyboard parity? I m pretty sure I sent an email with what it is but so far I can t find it. If it does I ll search harder. ... The
                        Message 11 of 25 , Jan 8, 2013
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                          On Wed, Jan 09, 2013 at 01:25:07AM -0000, corey986 wrote:
                          > I think it will be fine with the time. I contacted Vince Briel and
                          > he's going to help us make the micro work with the teletype.
                          >
                          Does it care about the keyboard parity? I'm pretty sure I sent an email
                          with what it is but so far I can't find it. If it does I'll search harder.

                          > but not risk
                          > any real "vintage" stuff" since we would need a MARCH member to actually feed
                          > and run the teletype (the real vintage deal).
                          >
                          The mounting the tape on the reader is fiddly and I'm not sure how strong
                          the plastic cover is so may be better for a MARCH member for that. I would
                          think letting them type on the keyboard is fine.

                          It will be interesting to see how this goes. Long demos don't work well
                          during the normal show hours so its hard to really convey what usage
                          of these machines was really like.
                        • evan@snarc.net
                          ... Yes. We already do that. A few times, when people were experienced or just very interested, I demo d writing/reading to paper tape (just a little). But
                          Message 12 of 25 , Jan 8, 2013
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                            >> I would think letting them type on the keyboard is fine.

                            Yes. We already do that.

                            A few times, when people were experienced or just very interested, I demo'd writing/reading to paper tape (just a little).

                            But it's been a while, and I forget how to do it!
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