Comments on Digital Retro
the work you have clearly put into the content and presentation of the book. It was a very exciting era, and you have created a record that
captures that excitement in a very accessible way"
Steve Furber, Acorn 1981-1990, principal hardware architect
of the BBC Micro, Electron and ARM microprocessor. Now Professor of Computer
Engineering at the University of Manchester and Fellow of the Royal Society.
book is a terrific technical museum. I didn't know all the stories about the
contemporary machines. He got the story straight on the ones I worked on"
Joe Decuir, Atari 1975-1979, Amiga 1982-1984, system &
chip design for Atari 2600, Atari 400/800 & Amiga 1000. Now at MCCI, an
officer of the IEEE Seattle Section, a voting member of IEEE 802.15, and a
contributor to Wireless USB.
Digital Retro FAQ
Q: Where did you get the photos from?
A: We took new pictures of every single machine featured in the book.
It's all new photography!
Some of the machines had scratches or marks which were digitally retouched.
Q: Where did
you get all the machines from?
A: A handful came from private collections - for example the CBM-64 on
the cover is my own. The vast majority came from two museums in the UK:
The Museum of Computing and The
Computer Museum at Bletchley. We're eternally grateful for their help!
Q: Who did you interview for the book?
A: I was lucky enough to speak with many of the people responsible for
bringing us these machines, including Sir Clive Sinclair, Chuck Peddle,
Jack Tramiel and Hermann Hauser, along with many of the original engineers
and designers. There's a full list in the back of the book. If you're
interested in how the book was researched, check out this article
from The Age and Sydney Morning Herald.
Q: Why isn't Apricot in your book?
A: We wanted to concentrate on home computers and non-IBM compatibles,
so rejected several business machines on these grounds, not to mention
space and ability to source models in good condition for photography.
Sirius, Olivetti, Enterprise, Memotech and Sord, along with the Xerox
Alto and Star didn't make it into this edition for similar reasons. If
you're interested in the history of Olivetti, Sirius, Apricot, the Xerox
Alto, Elan Enterprise, Memotech and the Sord M5, these were covered in
my Retro column in Personal
Computer World magazine, Oct 04, Nov 04, Dec 04, Feb 05, Mar 05, Apr
05 and Jun 05 issues respectively. If I write Digital Retro Volume II,
these machines will definitely be included. If there's any others you'd
like to see featured, please email me.
Q: Why have you included games consoles in a book about computers?
A: Like several of the business machines in the book, key games consoles
were included as landmarks to show how they were developing at the same
time. Since the products are arranged in chronological order, it's interesting
to compare the technology and prices of specific home computers against
key consoles of the same era.
Q: Which was
the hardest machine to track down for photography?
A: The NeXT Cube was actually one of the hardest. The problem was finding
one with a matching monitor, keyboard and mouse in good condition. The
original Apple Mac was also surprisingly tricky. In the end we had to
use the slightly later Mac Plus model which had a numeric keypad section
on the keyboard, and of course a badge which gave the game away.
Q: Where's the
A: You got me there!
I'm afraid I didn't know about the Microbee when I was writing the book,
but have since heard from many fans of this Australian
classic. One such person actually knew some of the designers involved,
so kindly put me in touch with them. This lead to me writing an article
Age and Sydney Morning Herald which I hope does the machine justice!
If there's ever Digital Retro Volume II, rest assured it'll be in there,
along with the other systems listed above.
||About Gordon Laing
Gordon Laing is the former Editor of Personal
Computer World magazine in the UK.
He regularly wrote for leading UK technology titles including PCW, PC Pro,
PC Advisor, Computeractive, Digital Home, and MacUser, and was "Techie,"
the London Evening Standard's IT agony aunt.
He is also an established broadcaster, having guested on "Buyers Guide"
on Sky's [.TV] channel for two years, and co-presented "The Lab"
every week on London talk station LBC radio.
Since 2005, Gordon has run Cameralabs, which features reviews of the latest digital SLRs, compacts and lenses.