Features that a vintage machine must have in order to spark your interest?

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Irinikus
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Features that a vintage machine must have in order to spark your interest?

Unread postby Irinikus » Fri Feb 02, 2018 11:21 am

What features must a vintage machine have, in-order for it to spark enough of your interest, for you to want to acquire it?

As far as computers go, my primary interest has always been graphics, and as a result, vintage machines that are graphically orientated greatly spark my interest. (I therefore, plan on limiting my collecting to this type of machine.)

This could prove useful in limiting the amount of collecting that I need do in this field, as there are only so many options, when it comes to graphically orientated vintage machines. (That being said, the list is still rather long and distinguished though.)
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Re: Vintage machine features that spark your interest?

Unread postby Raion-Fox » Fri Feb 02, 2018 1:59 pm

Irinikus wrote:What features must a vintage machine have, in-order for it to spark enough of your interest, for you to want to acquire it?


Most importantly is a wide range of software. Something like the Timex 2068 is pretty neat, but it also doesn't have but more than a handful of software for it, mostly boring stuff.

Second most important is a relatively pleasant experience. I don't like dealing with slowdown either from I/O or memory or CPU.

Third is size and application. If I don't have a role for it, it's useless to me.
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Re: Vintage machine features that spark your interest?

Unread postby SiliconClassics » Fri Feb 02, 2018 2:04 pm

Same, if it can't do graphics then I'm generally not interested. SGI machines will always be my favorite vintage systems but I'll probably never own a Challenge or Origin.

That said, I'm really not interested in modern systems either. The latest NVidia cards are incredibly powerful but for some reason they just don't fascinate me as much as an old 3DLabs Wildcat or Oxygen 402. There was a period of time during the 80s and 90s when CG had a distinctive, unmistakable look all its own - smooth chrome surfaces, sharp edges, vivid colors, the kind of images from the old Mind's Eye video compilations - what the kids today call "A E S T H E T I C." The industry worked hard to overcome the technical hurdles that limited CG to that visual style, and today it's indistinguishable from reality, but I do miss that old look. It was unique to the medium, kind of like a watercolor or a charcoal drawing.

Would love to see some new animated short films produced in that old visual style.
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Re: Vintage machine features that spark your interest?

Unread postby Irinikus » Fri Feb 02, 2018 7:37 pm

SiliconClassics wrote:Same, if it can't do graphics then I'm generally not interested. SGI machines will always be my favorite vintage systems but I'll probably never own a Challenge or Origin.

That said, I'm really not interested in modern systems either. The latest NVidia cards are incredibly powerful but for some reason they just don't fascinate me as much as an old 3DLabs Wildcat or Oxygen 402. There was a period of time during the 80s and 90s when CG had a distinctive, unmistakable look all its own - smooth chrome surfaces, sharp edges, vivid colors, the kind of images from the old Mind's Eye video compilations - what the kids today call "A E S T H E T I C." The industry worked hard to overcome the technical hurdles that limited CG to that visual style, and today it's indistinguishable from reality, but I do miss that old look. It was unique to the medium, kind of like a watercolor or a charcoal drawing.

Would love to see some new animated short films produced in that old visual style.


I agree, the 80's and 90's were a very exiting time for computers and graphics in general. (I'm very happy that I grew up in the 80's and 90's and got to experience game titles such as Doom when they were released, such exiting times!)

As a collector, today's systems just don't have the same appeal as older systems do, as they've become far too generic in my opinion.(The number of competitors in the market have also reduced drastically, which is rather sad in my opinion)

Today, going from one computer upgrade to the next is just more of the same, whereas in the old days, upgrades were far more exiting.

That being said, my greatest experience ever, as far as graphics upgrades are concerned was back in February of 2007, when I plugged the 8800GTX into my machine for the first time (It's performance was just unbelievable at the time). That was a very exiting time for me!

Since then, it's just been more and more of the same.

To me, one of the best and most notable examples of "old School" computer graphics to be found in a film, have to be those found in "The Lawnmower Man".
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Re: Vintage machine features that spark your interest?

Unread postby Irinikus » Fri Feb 02, 2018 8:09 pm

Raion-Fox wrote: If I don't have a role for it, it's useless to me.


Sadly to say, I don't really have much "proper everyday use" for my vintage machines. (It's rather nice to take a trip back in time once in a while though, it brings back memories, as I grew up in the time when these machines were cutting edge.)

The thing that really does it for me, is the process that you have to go through in order to restore these machines to as perfect a condition as possible. (As we all know, this can be a real challenge.)

I really love restoring things, it brings me both great enjoyment and satisfaction. I also get to learn allot at the same time. (More important than what you have, is what it teaches you.)
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Re: Vintage machine features that spark your interest?

Unread postby pentium » Fri Feb 02, 2018 8:43 pm

Something that came with the machine that was not an option and certainly not something other OEM's were doing.

One thing that comes to mind is the Quadra 660AV with its integrated ViVo and DSP acceleration. Another is the Apricot Xen and it's trackball mouse and two line LCD with programmable buttons on the keyboard. more recently I can think of my Hewlett Packard Kayak XU with its cute little front LCD panel much like a Visualize PA-RISC machine of the same vintage. (note appropriate use of that word)

I never really wanted to get another Macintosh SE after I traded my last one away over a decade ago because it's just a Macintosh Plus with ADB and an expansion slot, however I was all over getting another SE with the PC 5.25" controller and drive included.
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Re: Vintage machine features that spark your interest?

Unread postby Irinikus » Sat Feb 03, 2018 2:12 am

SiliconClassics wrote:That said, I'm really not interested in modern systems either. The latest NVidia cards are incredibly powerful but for some reason they just don't fascinate me as much as an old 3DLabs Wildcat or Oxygen 402.


Confirm that the Oxygen 402 would work in my AlphaStation, as it appears to have a fairly large chip marked "digital" on it?

In time I will have to improve the AlphaStation's graphical capabilities to be in line with my collecting philosophy.

dynamic pictures OXYGEN 402, 1200.JPG
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Re: Vintage machine features that spark your interest?

Unread postby Trippynet » Sat Feb 03, 2018 3:30 am

For me, I guess the two main things are that it must have at least some use, and there has to be some nostalgia there as well. Now when I say some use, it doesn't need to be a unique use - everything I do on my Indigo2/Fuel I could probably do easily enough on my main PC - but I like finding modern-day tasks that are still feasible for old machines.

The nostalgia part is important too. As I've mentioned before, my Indigo2 is my favourite SGI, despite my Fuel being many times more powerful - because I have a stronger nostalgic connection with it (first ever SGI I saw in use). Similarly, old computers/consoles such as the BBC Micro, Acorn Archimedes, Atari 2600 and the Amiga have roots in my past, and hence are machines I'd consider picking up if I wanted to expand my collection somewhat. On the other hand, most vintage Apple gear does very little for me as I pretty much never used old Apple kit when I was growing up.
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Re: Vintage machine features that spark your interest?

Unread postby itsvince725 » Sat Feb 03, 2018 12:36 pm

I absolutely love floppy drives so those are always a plus. Having SCSI is a plus too.
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Re: Vintage machine features that spark your interest?

Unread postby vishnu » Sat Feb 03, 2018 3:01 pm

itsvince725 wrote:I absolutely love floppy drives so those are always a plus. Having SCSI is a plus too.

When I worked at Northern Telecom way back when we were designing and building our own automated test equipment that we controlled with Z80s running CP/M and booting from 8-inch floppies. Gosh, the memories... 8-)
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Re: Vintage machine features that spark your interest?

Unread postby squire » Sat Feb 03, 2018 3:03 pm

itsvince725 wrote:I absolutely love floppy drives so those are always a plus. Having SCSI is a plus too.

Seconded. ^^^

I have a weird preference for the pizzabox form factor. Even though in most cases the respective machines are very, very low-spec by today's standards (take for instance an HP 712), I just love them and think they look very stylish. Probably not a very rational reason to like them, but there it is.
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Re: Vintage machine features that spark your interest?

Unread postby jpstewart » Sat Feb 03, 2018 4:55 pm

I'm interested in just about any system that runs Unix. I try to limit myself to Unix workstations, but a couple of headless servers (Origin 300 and Sun T5240 ... so far) have found homes here. What interests me most are the different approaches that the various vendors took. Whether it's the CPU itself, the graphics card, the operating system, even the look-and-feel of the GUI, or the technical specs of the expansion bus (SGI's GIO vs Sun's SBus vs DEC's TURBOchannel), I'm always fascinated by studying the diverse ways the vendors handled similar problems. Since the dawn of the PCI era there's been a lot less hardware differentiation, but there are still a few interesting machines from that time frame. It's mainly stuff with a proprietary hardware architecture that I like.

So basically I'm fascinated by anything that's "not what I already have".

I know I could get into some really different stuff if I started looking at VMS, OS/400, MPE/iX, and other proprietary operating systems and the hardware they run on. But by limiting myself to Unix a new machine is always at least somewhat familiar. I'm never totally lost for what to do. The 'man' command is always there; a shell is a shell (to a large extent); the basics of the filesystem layout like / and /usr and /etc are always there (though they contain slightly different things). So with the various Unix varieties, the big picture is familiar while I get to study the little details that differentiate one system from the next. And as a very detail-oriented person, I love that!

Oddly, unlike many of the other posters here, nostalgia doesn't really play a part in it. For me it's more about the history and studying the evolution of operating systems and the hardware they run on. It's about seeing what led to the current point. The evolutionary dead-ends are just as interesting (to me) as the paths that did work out. The historical context from which things developed helps with understanding both the good and the bad aspects of current technology.
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Re: Vintage machine features that spark your interest?

Unread postby Irinikus » Sun Feb 04, 2018 12:31 am

Trippynet wrote:The nostalgia part is important too. As I've mentioned before, my Indigo2 is my favourite SGI, despite my Fuel being many times more powerful - because I have a stronger nostalgic connection with it (first ever SGI I saw in use).


Although the Indigo2 IMPACT wasn't the first SGI machine that I ever saw (in my case it was the O2), it could very well be the coolest in my honest opinion!

The Indigo2 has one of the most solid builds that I've ever come across and it's packed with features and almost unlimited expandability.

What the Indigo2 IMPACT lacks in speed, it definitely makes up for in coolness.

It has one of the coolest and most interesting graphics card assemblies ever created, and that interests me a great deal!

Where the Octane fails to be the coolest SGI in my opinion, is the fact that it doesn't have an expansion slot for an internal CD-ROM as the Indigo2 does, considering that the CD was probably one of the greatest storage mediums during that period! (I do however understand that considering it's form factor and how packed it is, this was not possible, but it would have been nice feature though.)
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Re: Vintage machine features that spark your interest?

Unread postby SiliconClassics » Sun Feb 04, 2018 5:56 am

Irinikus wrote:Confirm that the Oxygen 402 would work in my AlphaStation, as it appears to have a fairly large chip marked "digital" on it?


According to the User's Manual it should be Alpha-compatible.
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Re: Vintage machine features that spark your interest?

Unread postby guardian452 » Sun Feb 04, 2018 8:43 am

SiliconClassics wrote:Same, if it can't do graphics then I'm generally not interested. SGI machines will always be my favorite vintage systems but I'll probably never own a Challenge or Origin.

That said, I'm really not interested in modern systems either. The latest NVidia cards are incredibly powerful but for some reason they just don't fascinate me as much as an old 3DLabs Wildcat or Oxygen 402. There was a period of time during the 80s and 90s when CG had a distinctive, unmistakable look all its own - smooth chrome surfaces, sharp edges, vivid colors, the kind of images from the old Mind's Eye video compilations - what the kids today call "A E S T H E T I C." The industry worked hard to overcome the technical hurdles that limited CG to that visual style, and today it's indistinguishable from reality, but I do miss that old look. It was unique to the medium, kind of like a watercolor or a charcoal drawing.

Would love to see some new animated short films produced in that old visual style.


Part of the reason why most video games except nintendo have awful graphics nowadays is the simple fact that you don't need 10 teraflops to show 16 different shades of grey-brown. What a waste.
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