Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Sphere I 6800 Computer from 1975!

1975 Sphere Corporation introduces Sphere I computer kit, with Motorola 6800 cpu, 4Kb RAM, ROM, keyboard and video interface. Selling price $650. We will be adding the monitor shortly. Not a whole lot is known about Sphere except they were based in Salt Lake City and had a nice offering to the business marketplace with their 68000 based machine. Please let me know if you have anything to add, as we need more information. Thanks to Carl Gochnauer in Iowa for holding on to this nice computer for all of us to enjoy.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Blast from the Past! For Computer Music Lovers!

A virtual friend of mine named Stewart sent me an amazing QuickTime file he created of an old obsolete computer that he programmed to make a music video of a song by Grandaddy! It's really quite an achievement and I strongly recommend your checking it out! Some people really are creative out there and can do some amazing things on computers- even the old ones!

I saw your listing on eBay. I just recently made a music video for the band Grandaddy using a 1979 Apple II+. It brings back memories for a lot of people. Check it out: It will bring back some nice old-time computer memories for you! Really good for Grandaddy fans!
The link is Jed's Other Poem listed to the right under my links or go to this URL.

Price Comparison of Hard Disk Drives!

Mark Metzler, longtime friend and former member of Heath Kline’s Priority One team sent this interesting comparison of how far we have come in the world of disk drive capacity. This analysis really breaks the Moore’s Law code. Mark said: I was in Wal-Mart last night (glad it was Mark in Wal-Mart as you will never see me in one!), and I swung by the Electronics area. I was curious as to how much a replacement drive would cost me for my PC at home, which has a 17 Gb drive in it. They had an 80 Gb drive sitting on the shelf next to the surge suppressors for $70. Never mind that it comes with the software to copy everything to the new drive. So I stood there trying to do the math on what it would cost to equate that volume of storage with the first Seagate 5Mb ST506 drives selling at $1995.00 a pop! My head started hurting, so I rounded the ST506 to $2000.

It would take 16,000 ST506’s to reach the memory of the 80 Gb drive in Wal-Mart (again sitting on the shelf, not behind a locked cabinet).
At $2000.00 a pop, it would cost me $32,000,000.00.

Now that would have been a nice sale, but would have been stolen by Jim Scharffe or Mike Daniel. Here is another perspective:

If stacked on top of one another, they would be as tall as a 667-story building.
If from sea level, they would stack high enough to top the tallest building in Downtown Denver.
If sold with a cabinet and power supply, Josef Rabinowitz would be retired.

Mark also said he found his son’s old 1988 Guinness Book of World Records that listed the Cray 2 as the fastest computer in existence. Many a water cooler conversations were had regarding the wonder of that machine and the speed of computers. The speed that it stated was 150 Megaflops per second and was, at that time, fodder for only the best Brainiacs around!

I understand today’s PC’s, they run from 600-900 Megaflops per second and are being operated by nearly every Soccer Mom in America.

A Megaflop is a million floating-point operations per second. Kind of a crude benchmark for processing speed as floating-point operations take more horsepower to calculate as opposed to straight binary operations. Nice fodder……

The Future? Projection Computing?

Immersed in collecting old computers I find it interesting to look at some of the new trends and developments in the computer world. Some day these items may be part of future computer collections and museums. Not sure if we sill see projection computer systems like these but the products sure look interesting. Especially if you like to work in the dark or happen to live in Alaska or Greenland. A friend of mine sent me these photos- not sure who is building these but hope you enjoy looking at them.

Friday, March 24, 2006

John Cleese or Billy Crystal

In February I saw Billy Crystal "700 Sundays" at the Wilshire in Los Angeles. Absolutely and amazing performer and what a production. His life story is incredible and everyone should see this show if they get a chance. Only problem was the venue as the acoustics were awful and many of his lines were missed.

Last night I saw the John Cleese Show "Seven Ways to Skin an Ocelot" (produced by his 22 year old daughter Camilla) at the Carpenter Center in Long Beach. He was on his "A" game. What a delight! Sitting back and taking in his life story with film clips from Monty Python, Fawlty Towers and more. He exited the show calling all of us Bastards and then for an encore he returned, sat on chair and took questions from the enthusiastic audience- nobody moved. It was engaging and really hilarious. Here is some information on John Cleese.

John Marwood Cleese was born Oct 27, 1939 in the "lost seaside resort" community of Weston-Super-Mare, England. John indicated there was no reason for anyone to visit this totally sleepy village. He said his real family name was Cheese but his father changed the "h" to an "l". Since his former wife called him Jack he would have been "Jack Cheese".

From 1953 to 1958 he attended Clifton College and then taught at his old prep school for two years while waiting to go to Cambridge’s Downing College. He began to study law and was invited to join Footlight in his first year. There he met his future writing partner Graham Chapman. He took a job at BBC radio, but then rejoined Cambridge Circus touring to New Zealand and to Broadway. On Broadway he had singing part was totally unable to sing so he just lip-synched and danced. While in New York he received a call from David Frost to work on the Frost Report.

Cleese decided to stay in the U.S. for a while and he appeared in a fumetti feature for "Help!" magazine, the assistant editor being Terry Gilliam. Unsuccessfully wrote for the "Newsweek" international politics section for a couple of months. After this, he joined "American Establishments Review" but soon returned to London.

Together with Graham Chapman (died on October 4, 1989 from pneumonia and throat cancer), Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin he wrote for "The Frost report".

Cleese married American actress Connie Booth in 1968. She is now a therapist and remains good friends with John.

Although he became restless after the second series of Monty Python's Flying Circus, he did not leave the group until after the third series.

In 1974 he wrote "Romance With a Double Bass", adapted from a Chekhov short story, together with Connie Booth. In December 1974 they shot the pilot for Fawlty Towers, the first series being done in August & September 1975. Even though Cleese and Booth where divorced in 1978, they created another series of six Fawlty Towers in the following year.

Cleese later married the American actress Barbara Trentham.

So check out Billy Crystal and John Cleese's one-man shows. You will be in for a real treat!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Altair 8800b with External Drives!

I really like the look and feel of the old vintage Altair computers from 1974-75. The Model 8800b was short-lived in the marketplace and not a whole lot of them were produced. You see the 8800 everywhere but not too many of these. This system is in immaculate condition and has a full set of S-100 boards inside. I am still looking for a complete set of documentation for the 8800b.

Attache? Altair 8800b?

Today we received a very nice vintage and rare S-100 computer. It is an Altair 8800b in an attractive case with power supply and keyboard. Moncolan Attache is the brand name and its logo is on the front panel. Inside there is a full complement of S-100 cards including the MITS 8080 cpu card. It is reported that Attache was created by Pertec while they were still building MITS systems. Their brand was Icom but this has a Moncolan logo? Evidently Moncolan was an OEM and had some kind of deal with MITS/Petec to repackage their computer in one self-contained case. I have never heard of the company or the computer. Inside the computer is all the parts to make an 8800b. The boards, power supply and the keyboard are all similar to an 8800b. If you know any additional information about this system please let me know? Here is a copy of an old advertisement for the Attache'.