Retro hardware FAQs: call for submissions

Discussion in 'Retro & Arcade' started by elvis, Mar 15, 2019.

  1. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    There's a few console and arcade specific hardware FAQs in here, links at the bottom of post #2 in the FAQ sticky:
    https://forums.overclockers.com.au/posts/17420268

    I'm looking for some help from folks to write similar FAQs for a number of computer platforms. We've got some great discussion threads going (e.g.: the Amiga thread which is always being updated with new happenings in the Amiga user community), but these get too lengthy for people not familiar with the hardware. FAQ threads should be laid out for a complete beginner to be able to get a 1-post, basic understanding of the system, and information they need to start using it. Needs to be "detailed enough, but not too detailed" in the first post. Extra pedantic detail can follow in posts later in the same thread.

    Big ticket items would be:

    * Amiga hardware (M68K family CPUs, including the Amiga CD32)
    * Commodore 64, 128 and variants
    * Atari ST
    * IBM AT / Intel 286, 386, 486 family and clones (pre-Pentium, pre-Windows95. Maybe include XT in here? Maybe separate?)
    * Pentium/586, PentiumPro/686, Pentium II/III, AMD/Cyrix clones (Windows 95/98/NT4/2000/XP, early GPUs without hardware T&L, and up to about GeForce1/2/3)
    * MSX/MSX2 family
    * NEC PC-88 family
    * Sharp X68000 family
    * Apple II family (MOS tech CPUs)
    * Apple Macintosh family (M68K CPUs)
    * Apple Mac family (PowerPC CPUs)

    Try to keep an FAQ to a particular architecture. For example, if doing an Amiga FAQ, stick to either M68K architecture or PowerPC architecture, but not both. Major architecture jumps should be a different FAQ thread.

    Lots of others out there too, feel free to nominate something else if you feel an entire FAQ is worth it (and please don't nominate something for someone else to do - nominate only what you're willing to write about).

    Format of the article should include

    * Introduction to the hardware, including a short bio about the company and predecessor hardware leading to that point
    * Regional differences in hardware (NTSC vs PAL, regional availability, etc)
    * Hardware variations if it's a larger family of machines
    * How to use the systems today, including
    ** Obtaining original hardware
    ** Legally obtaining original software (OS, BIOS/firmware, applications, games)
    ** Mods, addons, transfer tools, etc for original hardware (can be a simple list to projects and sellers, or more detailed posts separately if required)
    ** Hardware simulators available (FPGA systems, clone hardware, etc)
    ** Backwards compatibility options (keep this brief - for example, in the Sony PS1 thread we mention you can play PS1 games on a PS2. From here we link to the PS2 thread, and don't go into more detail. Likewise in the PS2 thread we mention it can play PS1 games, and simply link to the PS1 thread).
    ** Emulation options
    * Links to any related OCAU discussion threads about the platform or generic solutions (Retro Display Solutions thread, MiSTer thread, etc).
    * Any good quality video links that help any of the above
    * Further documentation resources (dedicate communities and forums, recommended books, online resources at archive.org, etc)

    Reply here or PM me if you like. It's a big job and pretty time consuming (and certain ones will be much bigger in scope than others due to hardware variety), but myself and others can assist with editing, layout and flow if required.
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2019
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  2. badmofo

    badmofo Member

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    Great idea, I'll try and get off my arse and do one for the C64.
     
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  3. Camm

    Camm Member

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    Probably the only one that cares, but since I'm doing work with 3DO's atm I'll do one up in the next few months.

    I've also got a fair bit of knowledge of Sony BVM's now, so might be useful one to do as well.
     
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  4. OP
    OP
    elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    As someone who's been using CRTs for a long time, I don't think isolating a particular brand into a sub-thread is really worth it. Up to you, but I think a detailed post or two can be added to the Retro Display Solutions FAQ, as then it's with all the other terminology and related content.

    Definitely happy for you to do one. The 3DO is interesting due to having multiple manufacturers, so that can get confusing for people wanting to play/collect. Plus all the recent modding options are worth detailing as well, as there seems to be a growing community around these.
     
  5. OP
    OP
    elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    Bumping. Anyone interested in writing up a storm?
     
  6. Vanne

    Vanne Member

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    I can do one for the gamecube if you like, I think we kinda hit that up a while ago, but been a bit busy, failing that, I'll put my hand up for the Mac PPC family, I have shit loads of those and still pretty active in the macrumours PPC forums.
     
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  7. mAJORD

    mAJORD Member

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    I'd love to do something. Hopefully will have some time over the incoming break.
    It would be x86 or something relating to general hardware
     
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  8. power

    power Member

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    looking forward to people contributing, as much as I love the systems I feel like there's too many gaps in my knowledge to be a contributor.
     
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  9. OP
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    elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    Many thanks. I know these are time consuming, so no pressure. But anything is appreciated.

    I bet you could knock a Lynx article out of the park. :)
     
  10. OP
    OP
    elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    Bumping. Still loads of FAQs we can write to help fellow retro lovers. Who's interested?

    I don't feel like I've got nearly enough know-how for most of the systems in the OP, and we've got some very capable folks in here who could put up some excellently curated info.
     
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  11. Grant

    Grant Member

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  12. OP
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    elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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  13. Phido

    Phido Member

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    Might be interested in writing a 680x0 Mac one.. Since I have quite a few now and am in the process of playing with them.
     
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  14. OP
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    elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    I would *love* it if someone could do a DOS emulation FAQ.

    I'm staring at

    * DOSBox
    * DOSBox-ECE
    * DOSBox-X
    * dosbox-staging
    * bochs
    * PCem
    * dosemu
    * dosemu2

    And the trying to find out a simple comparison table of which is better at what is impossible. Each has endless waffle about why they are the best overall (no objective pros/cons information, like "we sacrifice speed for accuracy", etc), and the links to forums with lots of infighting.

    A kind OCAUer summarising these in a DOS FAQ would be awesome.

    Of course, there are endless other FAQs that could be written about anything at all. Could be as specific as a single piece of niche hardware or software, or as broad as something like "Old Windows software/games on new Windows". The more the merrier.
     
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  15. CRTified

    CRTified Member

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    // CRTified (that's me) proposes to prepare an initial, very rough draft for the below DOS sub era, when time and motivation allow - at any time during the coming days, weeks, or months. Below is pasted a plaintext beginning.

    With a view to consulting and collaborating with the forum's other DOS specialists like badmofo and Pierre32, to gather their inputs and improvements at times, prior to finalisation. (Those gentlemen and others may even wish to take on specific sub-categories of the document for themselves in time, in fact I'll almost insist upon it when it comes to certain aspects like Sound) //

    -----

    // DOCUMENT START: //

    DOS is the overall category covering the typical home and gaming usage of IBM PC/XT/AT/386/486/Pentium and compatibles, based upon the commandline-centric Disk Operating Systems spanning the era from the original IBM PC, through the fast-evolving 90's home computer scene, and into modern emulation. A single document could not easily cover the entire era, as each sub era's information density is equivalent to a game console generation, therefore there may be (author-dependent!) a separate DOS FAQ for each 5 or 10 year period.

    ====================
    DOS - Sub Era: 1990-1994
    ====================

    CONTENTS

    1. Overview of the sub era
    2. General advice about recreating the experience in these modern times ("hardware vs emulation", etc)
    2. Hardware : General; Graphics; Sound; Input; Other; Basic Build Advice, Pointers & Caveats
    3. Operating Systems : Notable DOS versions & what they brought; Concurrent Windows development; FreeDOS
    4. Software : Other common, notable software of the time; Modern niceties
    5. Gaming : Some notable games from each year 1990-1994
    6. Online resources, entertainment and information
    7. ??
    8. ??
    .....

    1. OVERVIEW OF SUB ERA

    This sub era was a very busy one for DOS machines, and many consider it to be the flagship sub era for DOS gaming.

    In 1990, a computer in the home was still the exception rather than the rule, and the average home system was classified as "IBM AT compatible"[1] or 3rd generation x86, being based around the 16-bit Intel 80286 processor[2] which had been widely released in the mid 1980's. Those processors typically ran between 8 and 16Mhz, with an average of 0.5 - 1 megabyte of RAM, a 20 megabyte hard disk, and a basic audio speaker capable of nuanced beeps. The operating system of the time was MS-DOS 4.01[3], a lesser considered version which fell between the better known versions 3.3 and 5.0. Much basic and later-taken-for-granted functionality (e.g. WSIWYG text editor, user memory management) was not yet part of the operating system.

    By 1994, the 4th generation x86 line was commonplace in the home, namely the 32-bit 80386 and 80486 processor based systems. These offered a (very-ballpark!) 2x to 8x speed increase over the preceding AT compatible 3rd generation. During the decade's first half, consumer uptake of home computers had begun to seriously explode[4] and this, coupled with the aforementioned speed increases, meant that the range and capabilities of DOS software vastly expanded during the sub era under consideration here. In 1994 the typical home system was a fast 386 / slow 486 with between 2-4MB RAM, an 80MB hard disk, and sometimes a Sound Blaster card allowing for proper audio in games and applications. Much of the aforementioned taken for granted functionality associated with later DOS developed during these years, and accordingly many people looking to recreate systems of the time will be aiming toward this end of the sub era. The DOS version of the time was the iconic MS-DOS 6.22, widely considered to be the true final MS-DOS : prior to the (literally) game changing era of Windows 9x and beyond.

    {{MSDOS 6.22 Floppy Disks image}}
    Image credit: from Wikipedia[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MS-DOS#/media/File:MS-DOS_6.22_floppy_disks_20110326.jpg]

    LINKS:
    [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_Personal_Computer/AT
    [2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intel_80286
    [3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_DOS_operating_systems
    [4] https://www.bls.gov/opub/btn/archive/computer-ownership-up-sharply-in-the-1990s.pdf

    -----

    2. GENERAL ADVICE : About recreating the experience in these modern times ("hardware vs emulation", etc)

    Zorro imsome factis expelliarmus et ceterahh et ceterahh
    ................
    ..........
    ........
    ...
    .
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2021
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  16. OP
    OP
    elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    Good stuff!

    I feel like DOS gaming is a substantially larger set of stuff to cover, so I thank you for starting this. There's a lot of variety to cover, but it will be very much appreciated on forums like these, and hopefully go a good way towards helping younger PC gamers discover the history behind their platform.
     
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  17. Pierre32

    Pierre32 Member

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    Great work biting this huge chunk off, CRTified. I've looked at this thread several times wondering if I could contribute, and honestly found the depth of the PC topic too daunting to wade into.

    While I will take credit for being prolific on the forum of late, there are definitely many members with deeper knowledge! I'm playing catch-up on an era I missed chunks of. But that does bring the advantage of a lot of fresh & recent experimentation. Happy to assist if I can, as time allows.
     
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  18. baronbaldric

    baronbaldric Member

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    I agree that it’s a huge area to cover. To me personally 93-94 is a fascinating transition period. Apogee still releases CGA titles, but DOS adventure games are at their peak, sim games get more and more elaborate, but look like something from 1991, doom is released, cd-rom multimedia craze kicks of, ps1 gets released, system shock, and 3d ultimas get released. So much variety in look and feel and performance. From CGA slow-scrollers to full fledged 3d worlds.
     
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  19. CRTified

    CRTified Member

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    Cheers! yes time is the limiting factor. I've had a few short stabs at it so far. Of necessity it will be somewhat of a skeleton document, or hub of relevant info perhaps.

    Here's a piece everyone can help with : Section 6, The shortlist of notable games. I've created, hopefully not stuffing it up in the process, a what-should-be publicly editable spreadsheet of modest doom, link follows. Feel free to add some titles of your own liking :
    [cheers, removed as it's served it's purpose now]

    I'll leave it floating for around a week then compile whatever's there for the article.
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2021
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  20. CRTified

    CRTified Member

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    Excuse the verbosity. Posting updates helps with my sense of progress. Just reporting that I've done another couple of hours work on the FAQ, which isn't really a FAQ because there are no questions as such; it's more of an executive summary. May end up simply releasing it as a perpetual beta thread in the not too distant future, to be refined by ongoing suggestions & input over time from the forums.

    Here is a quick thread asking the forum for suggestions of notable DOS software (non-games), the results of which I will incorporate as a section.

    30th Sept
    Don't wanna spam so I will ninja edit here. Over 12hrs in now, like everything in life don't ask me where the time went, non-trivial things simply take a long time and are inevitably measured in >hours and days rather than minutes. Even then, what I've written is still only the barest outline of the scene, can't help but miss a ton of stuff, and is not hugely educational to most here (preaching to the choir-ish).

    Anyway, got a real drive to get it done and move on before the family gets annoyed at (the escalation of!) Sequestered Nerd Syndrome. :D The vast majority of a draft is done now and I'm starting to hit a brick wall. Chances are I'll publish it soon as a beta, as mentioned above.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2021

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