Category Archives: Retro

smittytone’s Retro Tech T-shirts are available now

Announcing the results of a small side-project I’ve been working on for a couple of months: my retro tech T-shirt shop is now open.

If you have an interest in the early years of microcomputing, head over to my Red Bubble store and check out the available apparel. Here’s a small selection:

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smittytone’s Retro Tech T-shirts are available now

Announcing the results of a small side-project I’ve been working on for a couple of months: my retro tech T-shirt shop is now open.

If you have an interest in the early years of microcomputing, head over to my Red Bubble store and check out the available apparel. Here’s a small selection:

ss

Continue reading

The Sinclair ZX81: a Raspberry Pi retro restyle – Part 2

Check out my retro tech T-shirt store

Previously on ‘ZX81: a Raspberry Pi retro restyle’: I used a headerless Arduino Leonardo to connect a ZX81 microcomputer keyboard to a Raspberry Pi via USB, using code to handle normal, shifted and function-shifted key presses.

After some searching on eBay, I found an old ZX81 going cheap because it lacked cables, though when it arrived, I found the computer itself to be in excellent condition. Possibly it has never been used, though how if that were the case the cables were lost and the box got so tatty is a mystery I will probably never solve.

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The Sinclair ZX81: a Raspberry Pi retro restyle – Part 1

Check out my retro tech T-shirt store

I love the design of the Sinclair ZX81. It was never a great computer, even in 1981. It only had 1KB of on-board RAM, it was slow, it was small, it could only do black and white graphics, and it’s membrane keyboard was useless for fast typing. But it looked fantastic: black, sleek and totally futuristic. Almost all other 1980s microcomputers now look very dated. No surprise there, of course, but the ZX81 still looks amazing.

The ZX81 membrane keyboard
The ZX81 keyboard hooked up to the Pi via USB and Arduino
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Retro Review: Thorn EMI Liberator (1985)

In November 2012, I wrote and published the definitive history of the Thorn EMI Liberator, the first British laptop computer, over at The Register. I’d never even heard of the machine when I first saw a picture of it. I spotted the snap while researching the story of the Dragon 32 – some of the Dragon engineers went on to develop the Liberator after Dragon Data, by then a subsidiary of electrical industry giant GEC, was closed down.

Thorn EMI Liberator
The Liberator in action
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RIP: Dragon 32 (1982-2013) my first 8-bit colour microcomputer

My Dragon 32 – bought from Boots, Central Milton Keynes by my father for my Christmas 1982 present – passed away this weekend during routine maintenance. It was 31.

Dragon 32, at peace now
Dragon 32, at peace now
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