Computer Museum news about computers, microcomputers, hobbyist, robotics, computing, museums, Bugbooks, Computers at Bugbook Historical Computer Museum, Floyd VA - the history makers present and historical.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Computer Museum Visitors - love the retro game stations

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Sorry I have not written a post in the last several weeks . My wife and I got the flu bug about the time we returned from our mission trip to Dominica and it has really shut down our energy and ability to do hardly anything.  We are feeling better now but still very low on energy. I have not felt like this for years - in fact we always comment on how we hardly ever get sick - but this was different. Sure hope you don't get this - some of our friends have been effected for 4 to 5 weeks.

Had a great day at the museum with friend and museum donor Nathaniel Frissell.  Nathaniel brought three of his graduate student associates from Virginia Tech. I always enjoy telling the history about various computers in the museum and 2 computers really caught there interest.

Click on photo to enlarge
David larsen KK4WW N4USA
Autonetics REcomp computer 
The first one to stop them in there tracks for more information was this Autonetics Recomp 501 computer. More information here "CLICK"
This model is reported to be the first commercial transistor computer - 1958- and we have  serial number 003 and we may have the oldest commercial built transistor computer in the world.


bugbook historical micrcomputer museum
Datapoint 2200 programmable terminal 1971
The second stop for the group was the 1971 Datapoint 2200 programmable terminal. The story of this  terminal built around an 8 bit computer is a fascinating and many retro computer people do not know this important history --- This was the  origin  of the first 8 bit microcomputer - The Intel 8008 in 1972.

This story is well told in Lamont Woods book about Datapont. Read more here "CLICK"
I will be posting more about this fascinating and important story in future blogs.


bugbook historical micrcomputer museum
Bugbook and Blacksburg book display 


Hunter Burch (L) and myself by the Bugbook and Blacksburg series of books that I and several others produced in the 70's and early 80's. Hunter has a friend back home in Alburn Ga that has some of the books and asked Hunter to be sure to talk to me about the books.






david Larsen KK4WW N4usa
Nathaniel Frissell & reto game stations

Nathaniel Frissell is proud of this photo. He should be as he made a large donation of Commodore and  other computers to our museum. All three of the operational retro game stations we have in the museum are made from his donated computers.
The game stations are a real popular and everyone loves playing these computer games that are 25 to 30 years old.





bugbook historical micrcomputer museum
Visitors from Virginia Tech 

Here is Nathaniel and his friends from Virginia Tech in front of our Apple-l display.
L-R Brian Dowd - assistant museum curator, Nathaniel Frissell, Deirdre Beggs, Hunter Burch, Andrew Kinlz.  Brian is a student at Floyd High School and Nathaniel and his friend are all students at Virginia Tech. Virginia Tech(VT) brings back many fond memories of my 31 years as a faculty member their teaching "Instrumentation and automation".



Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
David Larsen
The  museum visitors from Virginia Tech were a real pleasure. Nathaniel donated a large group of Commodore computers last year and they were used to set up our retro gaming stations. He was very happy to see them in use and tell his friends about them. I am happy to greet all visitors however it is special when they are from Virginia Tech where I spent 31 years of my professional career.
           ."by David Larsen"  KK4WW Computer Collector Historian 



Saturday, March 7, 2015

Acoustic Telephone Modem for Radio Shacks first computer 1977

To enlarge "CLICK" on photo
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Radio Shack Modem 26-1171
I spotted this 'original still in the box'  first Radio Shack Acoustic Modem while browsing in my computer museum warehouse last week. Not a unique item but worth a little discussion.

Modems were developed to fill the need to connect a printing device to the telephone line. Devices with functions like modems were in use as early as the 1920's however the mass production of modems started in the 1950's. SAGE air-defense systems in 1958 used modems and the word modem to connect there large computers together in a network using telephone lines.

These early modems worked at slow speeds of 110 to 300 bits per second or as computer folks would say "baud" and not "bits per second".  These early modems had a very simple function of converting the tones that could be sent over telephone circuits into digital "One's (1) & Zero's (0).  This allowed two way digital communications over wires for very long distances.

Modems performance did not improve much until the microprocessor was embedded into the circuitry in the late 1970's.  Telephone modems were used by personal computer users & others until the World Wide Web or Internet became common use in the mid to late 1990's. With the use of embedded microprocessors the smart modem speed of data transmission over telephone circuits increased up to 14.4 Kilobits per second. Almost no one uses this type of telephone modems now except for Telephone/FAX machines.  FAX machines are dying out fast with the sending of text document over the Internet.

FAX machines may be in use for a long time as they have a different level of privacy then the Internet - not really private but also not as searchable as the Internet.

The word modem is still in use as a common device used to connect the Internet, DSL or other high speed data  links to computers and other digital devices.
To enlarge "CLICK" on photo
Computer Museum
Radio Shack Modem 26-1171



This Radio Shack Modem has never been out of the box until now - 37 years after it was sold.






computer Modem
Radio Shack Modem 26-1171
This Radio Shack Modem is acoustic coupled to the telephone line and no electrical connection were made direct to the phone line.  The Acoustic coupling was not real efficent because of the extra telephone microphone and telephone ear receiver being coupled to the modem over and air link. The next photo shows this link.
The art deco telephone was also in the museum warehouse - The green color could not have been very popular however I will sure keep as cool example of the old rotary dial up telephone.



computer museum
Radio Shack Modem 26-1171
Here you see how the telephone was placed into the rubber coupling of the receiver and transmitter on the modem - no electrical connection.  ATT had a monopoly and some government regulations did not permit direct connecting to the telephone line.

Of course many users ignored the regulation and made direct connections for a more efficient data transfer.


I expect Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs often made direct connection to the telephone line for some of their Blue Box calling to avoid paying the long distance tolls in the early 1970's.. The Steve's has a good little business selling their Blue Box's for short period of time.


Computer museum
Radio Shack Modem 26-1171 Manual 


The Manual was included in the box with modem and had a good description of the device and how it worked along with a schematic diagram.

Modem Manual Full Copy







TRS -80 Radio Shack Model 1 Computer
This Modem is most likely not made by Radio Shack but a private labeling of a general purpose Modem for the TRS- 80 Model 1 computer - the first Radio Shack computer - 1977.

 All the information you would want about Radio Shack from 1939 to 2011

Video of TRS 80 Model 1 advertisement 

Post update 3-17-15-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
This post created a lot of interesting comments and email for me - These brought back  memories for me as I indicated I used the TRS - 80 model 1 for  number of years. Here is a typical email from 

Mark Andrews
"I remember these well. The local RS had one on display with the TRS Model I. I wrote, debugged and ran my first program on that computer in 1977 at the ripe old age of 14. I coded it on pape first, then rode my bike to the store and typed it in. Several debugging cycles later (and about 2 hours) I got it to run. The manager liked the fact that I was there. Shoppers would come in and he would say "Look! It's so easy that a kid can use it!". "
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While in the warehouse finding the Radio Shack Modem I came across these switches -they have been out of sight &  stored for 20 or 30 years.

Looks like the same switch used on the IMSAI 8080 computer and perhaps a few others. If any of you retro computer folks need one please contact me.


computer museum kk4ww
Computer front panel switch 


computer museum
Computer front panel switch



Mostly red and a few black switches about 150 or so.







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Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
David Larsen
It is always fun to look thought the computer museum warehouse. I have more then 10,000 items on the museum data base "Past Perfect". This is not fully complete so their are probably twice this many total items and having been collecting for over 40 years I sure don't remember just what is in the warehouse. 
           ."by David Larsen"  KK4WW Computer Collector Historian 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Computers & Amateur Radio's selling on Ebay - How to keep up with the lastest offers.

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Computer Museum
Ebay Headquarters
I am always curious about what is selling on Ebay for my hobbies of  collecting historical microcomputers and ham radio.  These site's do a good job by listing the most popular 40                                        items every week.

computer Museum
Computers on Ebay    




Check this out for vintage computers on Ebay.








computer Museum
Ham Radio Equipment on Ebay





Check this out for Amateur Radio equipment on Ebay.







computer Museum
David Larsen
 Have fun but don't spend to much money.

           ."by David Larsen"  KK4WW Computer Collector Historian 










Saturday, February 21, 2015

Alexander Bell demonstrates wireless transmission of voice - 2 minutes of history


Bugbooks
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Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Alexander Graham Bell
Alexander Bell demonstrates wireless transmission of voice 4 years after inventing the telephone. Podcast story teller is Curtis Anderson N4ON curator of the Telephone Museum in Richmond, Virginia. Podcast made during his visit to the Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum in Floyd Virginia.





Alexander Bell demonstrates wireless transmission of voice 4 years after inventing the telephone.

Click on photo to enlarge 
Curtis Anderson at N4USA
amateur radio station

Curtis Anderson N4ON at the amateur radio station N4USA in our "Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum" in Floyd, Virginia

Here is an audio description of our N4USA radio station








Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
David Larsen
Thank you for the visit Curtis - it was fun to talk about vintage computers, ham radio and old times during our careers of 30 or more years ago.
           ."by David Larsen"  KK4WW Computer Collector Historian 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Amateur Radio - Morse Code - it could save your life - you won't believe this use of code.

To enlarge "CLICK" on image
Bugbooks
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Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Morse Code
I always try to  convince folks that Morse Code is still useful - This is a story about code in a song that helped hostages. Actually their are many unusual examples of people using code in various ways - blinking eyes, tapping on a prison wall, medical conditions when patient is not able talk or move the list is long.

This probably won't convince many to learn the code but is one of most interesting uses I have seen. A lot of work went into this song

                                                         Take a look the whole story "CLICK"

                                                       
                                                        Here is just the song "Better Days" by                                                 Natalia Gutierrez Y Angelo "CLICK"


Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Morse Code




Here is the code - ease to learn.









Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
David Larsen
Yes their are many reasons Morse code. It can be useful and it is not hard to learn - what does seem more difficult is to learn to send code at high speeds - I had to practice a good bit before I could pass the 20WPM.  

           ."by David Larsen"  KK4WW Computer Collector Historian 


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Computer & Ham Radio Help - President of Guyana "Dr.Cheddi Jagan" invites us to Georgetown


Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Dr.Cheddi Jagan's
Presidential Flag
Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
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Dr. Cheddi Jagan, President of Guyana SA visited Virginia Tech in 1993 with the goal of obtaining consulting assistance for his country. I had already been making official visits to Universities in the former Soviet Union  teaching computer automation and arranging exchange agreements. This earlier work provided invitation to be member of the group to meet with President Jagan.

This was the first and only time the head of any country visited Virginia Tech (VT) making it an exciting experience. The US Secret Service is always in charge of security for heads of state -- this made for interesting dinner meeting with the agents running around looking a little crazy.

"CLICK" more info about this photo
Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
photo credit "John F. Kennedy Library"
and "Robert LeRoy"
When I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Jagan I told him I would be glad to visit Guyana and help with computer training however I also wanted to help the amateur radio operators with training for disaster communications. His response was a surprise and he replied "That would be just fine and I know an amateur operator near the capital --Raj 8R1RPN--.

Always liking a new venture I quickly made plans for a visit and invited two of my friends in the college of Business to join my my wife Gaynell and I to check out the possibilities in Guyana.  

The visit turned out to be more then First Class - We were the guest of President Jagan and WOW - we were met at the Airport by the Presidents "Chief of Protocol" and taken to the presidents  guest house as residents for the visit.

CLICK on photos to enlarge
Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Meeting Dr. Cheddi Jagan ,President of Guyana


Here we are at a Virginia Tech meeting L-R, VP International Development, David Larsen - (Me) VT faculty member, Dr. Cheddi Jagan - President of Guyana SA, James McCommas - Virginia Tech President, Guyana Ambassador to USA,  Dean.




Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Team breakfast at guest house
Having breakfast at the presidents  guest house in Guyana. L-R Dr. Rodney Thompson, house staff, Gaynell Larsen KK4WWW, Dr. Jim Littlefield.  Rodney &  Jim are professor's in the College of Business at Virginia Tech.

I had some VT grant funds for international travel and  invited Jim & Rodney to join the team  and provided part of their expenses.



Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Amateur Radio Operator Cleo 8R1CJ

We did meet and work with amateur radio operators - here is Cleo Qushie 8R1CJ. Cleo was our host for all the radio operations during the first visit. Cleo and his wife are still good friends & retired in  Florida.





Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Visit to Kaieteur Falls

We had some time to expore Guyana & here we are chartering a small plane for visit to Kaieteur Falls.  The falls is deep into the Rain Forest with a small dirt landing strip.





Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Kaieteur Falls 

I made this photo - the travel in small  plane was thriller - I  wondering  what would  happen if we went down in this jungle. See Map and photos "CLICK"


Kaieteur Falls is a waterfall on the Potaro River in Kaieteur National Park, central Essequibo Territory, Guyana. It is 226 metres high when measured from its plunge over a sandstone and conglomerate cliff to the first break.

Expand this photo and you can see the dirt landing strip to the right of the falls.


Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Gaynell Larsen at Kaieteur Falls

It is natural at the falls with only natural infrastruture - no stairs or guard rails.

This is Gaynell looking over the edge --- IT IS 1000 feet down to the bottom. Gaynell made the comment - don't tell my dad about getting this close to the edge.




Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Larry Vogt N4VA Teaching radio operation
Following up on our commitment to help with training for disaster communications we returned a few months later with team.

Here is team leader Larry Vogt N4VA teaching a group about radio operation and how to obtain an amateur license. One member of the students was Peter Denny. He had a dream sense childhood to become an amateur radio operator. Peter was licensed as 8R1WD and became a life long friend.


Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Peter Denny 8R1WD at Dayton Hamvention
Third from left is Peter Denny 8R1WD and next to him is Mr. Chi Pin from China.  It was at this meeting I ask Mr. Pin about a license to operate in China for our visit in a few months. Mr.Pin had our license ready when we reached Beijing that summer. See blog for China story.

This meeting was at the Dayton Hamvention - a gathering of about 25,000 amateur radio operators in Dayton, Ohio. We have attended and represented our "Foundation for Amateur International Radio Service" (FAIRS) for more than 25 years.


Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Guyana Ambassador to USA speaking on
Ham Radio station at Embassy
Follow up activities from the Guyana consulting visits.
Peter Denny was a part of the Guyana Diplomatic Core for many years including Ambassador assignments in Moscow and Beijing.

Peter arranged for a group of us amateur radio folks to operate from the Guyana Embassy in Washington D. C. Here is the  Guyana Ambassador speaking on our radio. Many radio operators we talked to did not believe we were operating from the embassy. This was an  honor and a lot of fun.

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
David Larsen
Peter Denny 8R1WD has been a good friend for 20 years now and we have visited him in Guyana several times and he has been a guest at our house here in Floyd,VA. I talk to Peter 3 times a week on our ham radio schedule - 14,318.5 Mhz at 1200z Sunday,Tuesday and Thursday's.  Helen Goncharsky UR5WA from Ukraine will be visiting us here at FAIRS headquarters for the month of May. Never a dull moment here in Floyd VA. Many life long friends from the dozens of FAIRS mission trips.







Saturday, February 14, 2015

Alexander Graham Bell - he was making a hearing aid & instead got the telephone - 90 seconds of history.


Bugbooks
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Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Alexander Graham Bell
Here is 90 seconds of how Alexander Bell invented the telephone while working on a hearing aid for a friend. Podcast story teller is Curtis Anderson N4ON curator of the Telephone Museum in Richmond, Virginia. Podcast made during his visit to the Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum in Floyd Virginia.




     Bell invents the telephone on way to making hearing device for hard of hearing.

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Curtis Anderson N4ON
Curator of the Telephone Museum


Curtis Anderson N4ON  looking at a 1972 Intel "Intellec 4" -- this computer is an  Intel 4004 microprocessor developement system. Not very many of these computers in collections. 

Here is video I made in 2010 - a look inside the Intellec 4 computer.





Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
David Larsen
Thank you for the visit Curtis - it was fun to talk about vintage computers and old times during our careers 30 or more years ago.
           ."by David Larsen"  KK4WW Computer Collector Historian 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

"QSO Today" How Amateur Radio & Computers provided exciting opportuinties -KK4WW on Eric's 4Z4UG's Podcast



Click on Photo to enlarge 
Bugbooks
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Bugbook Historical Microcomputer MuseumI had a great time being interviewed by Eric 4Z1UG about how ham radio has opened many doors for me during my six decades of ham radio on his Podcast "QSO Today". Take a look listen to the variety of exciting stories of amateur radio operators on his podcast network.


Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Eric 4Z4UG producer of QSO Today


Here is how Eric describes his podcast network "QSO today"
A QSO is a conversation between amateur radio operators. Listen to our podcast conversations between Eric, 4Z1UG, and Amateur Radio operators, "Hams" about their journey through the exciting hobby of ham radio




Episode 027 "From QSO Today"
Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
David Larsen KK4WW Computer Museum Curator
Amateur Radio opened many doors for David Larsen, KK4WW, that began in high school, followed by the US Navy, a front row seat to the burgeoning computer industry, a career at Virginia Tech, World travel, and a visit to the White House.   David joins Eric, 4Z1UG, in his QSO Today to discuss his ham radio life and all of the wonderful opportunities and relationships that amateur radio created for he and his family. Now as the historian and curator of the Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum, David has his perfect vehicle for preserving his unique past for future generations.