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PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2017 3:52 am 
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In sweden, abc 80 (meaning advanced basic computer for the 80s) was a fairly popular home computer which also saw use in schools and business. Libraries had manuals and software cookbooks for ABC BASIC. Launched in 1978, it was z80 based and made by the same tv company (luxor ab) who made a local version of Fairchild Channel F called "Luxor Video Entertainment Computer".

If you lived near Stockholm, you could download applications to tape via radio; broadcast by "the ABC club", a bit like the BBC/Acorn partnership but on smaller scale. Its schematics were published in a book called "the ABC of microcomputers". It was superseded by the largely backwards-compatible ABC 800 in 1981, which introduced a c64-style colour mode by halving the x resolution. There was an external graphics card which let you have both 8 colours and 'high' resolution, by remapping external video memory when it needed to be accessed. Otherwise, the 64kB addr space was divided half and half between ROM and RAM. Luxors' advertisement boldly asked "Who needs to be IBM complatible?"

In reality, a program called W ABC was used to convert and transfer files to diskette.

They released ABC 1600 in 1985 which used Motorola 68008 and an OS called "ABCenix" which was based on DNIX. Its most notable feature was its 90 degree rotating screen which could be configured as either portrait or landscape, at a resolution of 1024 x 768. I don't think this computer saw much use among hobbyists.

Ericsson, later more known for cell phones, made a suite of business computers; including laptop models. Their screens were red phosphor monochrome. I suspect this was for branding/style reasons, because i cannot imagine red phosphor being relaxing to stare at hours on end at work.

Then there's the infamous "Compis" computer (a play on words, meaning both comrade and COMputer In School). A state funded private/public partnership to raise the competence by introducing high school students to a computer made for the specific purpose of teaching computer science. A bit like BBC micro. The trouble being that noone in business or the industry was using "compis", so students would be taught a system they'd never use outside school. From a performance standpoint, it was up to date and all right, but it wasn't ibm /ms-dos compatible and came too late in this regard.

It's also infamous for its delete key. It reads 'utplåna', which means "obliterate" or "destroy" as much as it does mean "delete" or "erase". Very menacing. Who dares press it? Its placement next to seach almost implies "search and destroy".
Image

It did have $ at shift+4 though, unlike the modern swedish keyboard layout... :roll:

What quirky computers did your corner of the world see?

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2017 6:20 am 
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FrankenGraphics wrote:
What quirky computers did your corner of the world see?

My region had developped "Smacky" computers, they were developed about 50m next to where I work right now.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2017 7:08 am 
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FrankenGraphics wrote:
It did have $ at shift+4 though, unlike the modern swedish keyboard layout... :roll:
Oh yeah, the ¤ character. I just looked it up and it's a "currency sign" according to Unicode. I can't remember ever having seen it used as a currency sign. The only, very niche, use of it that I've encountered was in a Finnish-developed Java online game collection that was popular in my school in the early '00s, called Jippii. (I'm from Sweden, not Finland, btw.) It was used in the chat as an escape character for encoding colored text. So you would enter something like ¤00ff00 to get green text.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2017 7:25 am 
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Quote:
¤00ff00
- This makes sense, i think. Shift+4 would've produced a $ on another keyboard, and since $ commonly denotes hexadecimal mode... the programmer/s might perhaps have let the chat application accept both ¤ and $ as escape symbols?

Makes me wonder if cc65 can be made to accept other symbols than $ for hexadecimals...

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2017 7:53 am 
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Growing up in Ontario, Canada, all of our school computers were Unisys ICON systems up to a depressingly late date. The Wikipedia article says that it "disappeared" after the late 80s, but that's not true - I remember programming in Logo on it in Grade 5, and that was the late 90s!

For whatever reason at my school someone had made the login screen a charmingly amateurish vector illustration of Samus blasting a metroid. I wish I knew more about that or had a picture or anything.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2017 10:18 am 
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HA HA HA the ICON yeah those were funny. My High School still had 2 computer labs full of them until I think 1999 when they replaced the whole lab with Pentiums. We did typing exercises and some other stuff on them when I was in Grade 9.

http://www.old-computers.com/museum/computer.asp?c=971

They had a trackball that was sort of built into the desk, and if I recall correctly the trackball didn't have buttons and you had to use keyboard keys to do the "mouse click".


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2017 1:37 pm 
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Wow... no wonder you didn't do much else than typing on it if all it had was basically a word processor and a spreadsheet program :shock:

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2017 6:01 pm 
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My elementary school (N. Vancouver, B.C.) had era-appropriate Commodore PETs that we used for LOGO programming during the very occasional "computer class", which in the late-80s were replaced with era-appropriate Mac 512Ks.

One elementary school in the same area had it good -- their computer room was stocked at the time with Amiga 1000s, on which they had paint & artwork lessons, a classmate once told me when we were all together in the same Jr. high school.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2017 7:01 pm 
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My K-12 was almost all Apple. Elementary school was mostly IIGS that they must have bought just before I arrived. Middle school was Apple IIe, with two classrooms' worth of computer labs, one full of IIe Platinum (enhanced version with a numeric keypad) with color monitors and the other lab full of original (not enhanced) IIe with green monitors. Except a lot of kids preferred the original IIe lab because Pinball Construction Set games bound Command (open-Apple) to the left flipper and Option (solid-Apple) to the right, which the Platinum reversed to the Mac/IIGS layout. This, combined with the Apple IIe computers in the public library, gave me a distorted sense of the relative prevalence of Apple II and Commodore 64/128 product families. But interestingly enough, I don't think I ever saw an enhanced non-Platinum IIe.

In high school, they went to Macs.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 23, 2017 1:23 am 
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FrankenGraphics wrote:
Wow... no wonder you didn't do much else than typing on it if all it had was basically a word processor and a spreadsheet program :shock:

I don't know why you've made that assumption. There was a bunch of software on them (or rather on the network, they used a shared central server), probably at least 15 different programs, but I don't remember what there was with much detail. There were games and drawing programs, etc. just they were mostly using these computers to teach us typing.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 23, 2017 1:49 am 
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Sorry, i might've been confused by this (source: the link you posted)
The "any teacher can create lessons" model was rejected by the Ontario MOE in favour of courseware they funded and controlled, and the hypertext project was cancelled before the ICON shipped, leaving only the Watcom language interpreters, the native QNX command-line interface, and the Cemcorp-developed text editor.

It does'nt necessarily mean that was all, i realize. It seems to have had several small games, sims and educational games. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unisys_ICON#Software

But no mention of a math lab tool? Maybe that list isn't too comprehensive. I suppose you could do that via any of the compilers that were included.

This comment on the site you linked amused me
Don't really remember playing any games on them, but I do remmember making a sport of spinning the trackball forcefully enough to get it to jump out of it's socket and fling accross the room. That and shoulder-surfing the Teachers SuperUser password so we could create our own SuperUser accounts on it.

There was a cool little animation program on it too that you could draw sort-of frame-by-fram line graphics with which we inevitably used to make dirty animations and add them to students .login files so when they logged in the teacher would give them crap. That and adding 'logoff' to other students .login script so when they logged in they'd get logged right out again.

I remember when the teacher found out that some of us had a SuperUser account on the machine the only thing he did was tell us to never type 'frel .bitmap' at the root prompt since that would erase the entire file allocation table of the hard drive. Good times.


Apparently, its OS is alive and well in navigation computers and blackberry devices.


As for Compis (apparently also used in Norwegian schools), it had a graph plotter, measurement and steering software making use of the one serial port, database software... Can't find any mention of any notable games so far, though students must've programmed some.

ABC 80 / 800 was all about games as far as cookbooks were concerned. It was affordable and relatively commonplace in homes, so kids would've had time to spend with them. I especially remember a turn based deploy your troops-type of game because i eventually converted it to qBasic.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 23, 2017 9:28 pm 
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FrankenGraphics wrote:
Their screens were red phosphor monochrome.
These red plasma displays (yes, like the TVs) had the advantage that they were 1- as thin as LCDs 2- a much better contrast ratio, and 3- no ghosting.

Unfortunately, they were really quite power hungry, so were only appropriate for the period of time when Luggable computers were a thing, before being battery life was even the least priority.

I never saw any when I was growing up, but they did show up in business contexts.

Bregalad wrote:
My region had developped "Smacky" computers, they were developed about 50m next to where I work right now.
I was randomly in Zurich in this past november and attended the Vintage Computer Festival there. They had several of these early computers from EPFL, which was a neat alternate view on computing history compared to what I'd seen in the USA.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 24, 2017 3:16 am 
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"Utplåna" eh? How brutal, haha!


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 24, 2017 5:12 pm 
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FrankenGraphics wrote:
It's also infamous for its delete key. It reads 'utplåna', which means "obliterate" or "destroy" as much as it does mean "delete" or "erase". Very menacing. Who dares press it? Its placement next to seach almost implies "search and destroy".
:D


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 24, 2017 9:54 pm 
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It's interesting to me how computers really had their own identity back when, even if largely due to a lack of cross compatibility. I've had to use Dell Optiplexes since I could go to the computer lab in 1st grade, which would be 2005. The old GX270's are probably all in a landfill somewhere. :lol:


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