Category: Interview

Episode 69 – Retro Computing Special With Paul Hagstrom

Welcome to the Citizens of Tech podcast. Today, we have a special for you. Departing from our normal format, we take a look back at tech of the past with this feature show on retro computing.

Our guest is Paul Hagstrom. Paul, if you would, please introduce yourself to the audience.

Discussion

  1. Let’s define “retro computing.”
  2. Is there a generally accepted line where it’s no longer retro? As in, 486 is retro, but Pentium class is not, or some such arbitrary distinguisher?
  3. Does vintage silicon from the 80’s still function in the present day?
  4. Finding parts for your retro computer of old.
  5. Old media – floppy disks, cassettes, cartridges. Can you still read these things? All part of the experience.
    1. Preservation.
    2. Jason Scott: http://ascii.textfiles.com/archives/3191 (“Floppy Disks: It’s Too Late”)
    3. http://ascii.textfiles.com/archives/5180 (“Please help us track down Apple II collections”)
    4. 4am collection: https://archive.org/details/apple_ii_library_4am
    5. Kyroflux: https://kryoflux.com
    6. SuperCardPro: http://www.cbmstuff.com/proddetail.php?prod=scp
  6. Emulators. Go.
    1. MAME/MESS: http://mamedev.org
    2. Mini vMac: http://www.gryphel.com/c/minivmac/ (68K Mac)
    3. VICE emulator: http://vice-emu.sourceforge.net (Commodore)
    4. AppleWin: https://github.com/AppleWin (Apple II, Windows)
    5. Virtual II: http://www.virtualii.com (Apple II, macOS)
    6. Altirra: http://www.virtualdub.org/altirra.html (Atari 8-bit, Windows)
    7. Stella: https://stella-emu.github.io (Atari 2600)
    8. And many many others.
  7. On the retro computing scene, what are the rare, coveted devices that collectors speak of in hushed tones, hoping to get their hands on?
  8. Niches. Are there retro computing specialties people get into? Like…video cards. Or keyboards.
  9. We live in a world today of incredible computing power and retina screens that make the computing scene of 30+ years ago seem almost comical. And yet…there was much productivity to be had. What, surprisingly, is still really useful from the retro computing age?

Getting involved in the retro computing scene

Podcasts

  1. Retrocomputing Roundtable: http://rcrpodcast.com
  2. Floppy Days: http://floppydays.libsyn.com
  3. Retrobits: http://www.retrobits.com
  4. History of Personal Computing: http://www.historyofpersonalcomputing.com
  5. Apple II: Open Apple: http://www.open-apple.net
  6. Apple III: Drop III Inches: http://drop-iii-inches.com
  7. Atari 8-bit: ANTIC: http://ataripodcast.libsyn.com
  8. Commodore: Chicken Lips Radio: http://www.chickenlipsradio.org
  9. TRS-80: TRS-80 Trash Talk: http://www.trs80trashtalk.com
  10. CoCo: Coco Crew: http://www.cococrew.org
  11. Infocom: Eaten By a Grue: http://monsterfeet.com/grue/

Events

  1. Vintage Computer Festivals, see: http://vcfed.org. 2017 dates.
    1. VCF East (New Jersey, was Mar 31-Apr 2 )
    2. VCF Southeast (Georgia, Apr 29-30)
    3. VCF West (California, Aug 5-6)
    4. VCF Midwest (Chicago, likely September)
    5. VCF Europa (Munich, Apr 29-May 1).
  2. KansasFest: https://www.kansasfest.org July “18”-23 in Kansas City, MO (Apple II centric)
  3. 26th annual last Chicago CoCoFest: http://www.glensideccc.com/cocofest/ (Chicago, was Apr 22-23)
  4. Retrochallenge: http://www.retrochallenge.org

YouTube

  1. Terry Stewart (Tezza)’s Classic Computing channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/tezzaNZ
  2. Assembly Lines video podcast (Chris Torrence), Apple II focused: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLulp9MiRMeNonsKuYpPBr7QkGRciah7aL
  3. How II video podcast (Charles Mangin), Apple II focused: https://www.youtube.com/user/option8

Forums

  1. VCF forum: http://www.vcfed.org/forum/forum.php
  2. AtariAge: http://atariage.com/forums/index.php
  3. Applefritter: http://www.applefritter.com  
  4. Lemon 64 forum: http://www.lemon64.com/forum
  5. ClassicCmp mailing list: http://www.classiccmp.org/lists.html
  6. Comp.sys.whatever, I check in on comp.sys.apple2 with some regularity.

Facebook

There are a million groups, here are a few:

  1. Apple II Enthusiasts: https://www.facebook.com/groups/5251478676/
  2. Vintage Computer Club: https://www.facebook.com/groups/vintagecomputerclub/
  3. Commodore 64/128: https://www.facebook.com/groups/commodoresixtyfour/
  4. TI 99ers: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2209774843/

Archive.org software library, top level: https://archive.org/details/softwarelibrary

Outro

Thanks for listening to Citizens of Tech today. You can follow us on Twitter @citizensoftech, and be sure to visit the /r/citizensoftech sub on Reddit. We post the most interesting stories we find there, and if you upvote them, we’ll talk about them on a future podcast.

Things you want to tell us? Want to share your retro computing story? Did you steal a nuclear football and have to brag about it to someone? Email us – citizensoftech@gmail.com.

Giant Magellan Telescope at Sunset

Giant Magellan Telescope w/ Dr. Patrick McCarthy #043

giant magellan telescope header

Today we had the privilege to discuss the Giant Magellan Telescope with Project Lead and Interim President, Dr. Patrick McCarthy. Dr. McCarthy shed a lot of light on what is involved in a project of this scope, what kind of scientific advances are likely to occur, as well as general information about how telescopes of all types actually work.

 

  • Why another telescope? We have so many. What is the Giant Magellan Telescope bringing that we haven’t had before?
    • Greater resolution through larger aperture
  • What are the big goals we hope to achieve with the Giant Magellan Telescope?
    • Distant galaxy observation (closer to the big bang)
    • Observing planets orbiting nearby stars
    • Identify planets with the chemical signatures of life
  • A recent report suggests that there is a planet orbiting Alpha Centauri, and that it might have liquid water. Could the Giant Magellan Telescope help us find out more?
  • How much of an optical compromise do earth-based telescopes experience compared to space-based? Or do they?
  • The mirrors are polished to 1 millionth of an inch. How do natural forces impact such a fine tolerance (i.e. shifting tectonic plates or even earthquakes, gravity, atmospheric pressure, ambient temperature, or even people walking by)?
    • Adaptive optics
  • Why this specific location in Chile?
  • The Giant Magellan Telescope is described the first of a new class of “Extremely Large Telescopes.” Is there a specific definition for ELTs?
  • Can you describe how the GMT will gather light via the mirror array, etc.?
    • Primary mirrors
    • Secondary mirrors
    • Final mirror
    • CCD
  • The mirrors are asymmetric. Why so?
  • The Giant Magellan Telescope has 7 massive mirrors, while the Thirty Meter Telescope and European Extremely Large Telescope were designed with hundreds of smaller mirrors. Why the choice of 7 large mirrors for GMT?
  • Can the system be upgraded over time, for instance a better CCD?
  • Aside from the visible spectrum, what else will the GMT see?
  • What other scientific instruments will be installed at the GMT complex?
  • How long before the GMT is operational?
  • How is the construction phase funded?
  • Once the GMT is up and running, how will it be funded?
  • Is there still room for other institutions to be involved?
  • Last question. In your opinion, are we alone?

For more info about the Giant Magellan Telescope project, head on over to http://www.gmto.org/!

Outro

We hope you learned something today on CoT. If you like what we’re doing, please share this podcast with your friends, rate us on iTunes, and send us some upvotes in the /r/citizensoftech subreddit. Until we show up in your podcatcher again, visit citizensoftech.com, where you can become a Patreon patron.

Now go outside, tilt your head up, and stare at the stars. Unless there’s only one really bright one in the sky. In that case, avert your gaze.