[vcf-midatlantic] Revised, My take on "what is vintage computing"

Herb Johnson hjohnson at retrotechnology.info
Wed Dec 23 19:25:48 EST 2020

>  Most computers built before 1980 have either been destroyed or lost, and of those that exist very few are still operational. ...  It thus makes perfect sense that new hobbyists are gobbling up 
post-vintage (my term) machines such as Intel 386/486 computers, 
Macintosh II’s, SGI’s, NeXT and DEC VAX boxes, etc. They’re obtainable 
and more familiar.

Well, Bill is right about the last point. 1990's computers are 
obtainable and more familiar to people who grew up in the 1980's and 
90's. Some might be cheap because they are plentiful, or just 
underpriced. But here's the problem.

Macs in particular, built with small surface mount components, are 
*failing left and right*. The capacitors weren't designed to last that 
long. Some of those components used inferior materials or methods. And - 
the components are more difficult to remove and replace on multilayer PC 
boards. Some of that applies to many PC-compatible boards too, depending 
on their era.

And the Mac plastics? Crumbling. That's what plastics DO, otherwise the 
world would be covered with old plastics. They were not designed for 30 
years use. Some pieces like reset buttons, lids, fasteners, bezels - 
like peanut brittle. Especially pieces around high voltage CRT's, it's 
the ozone. Fact.

Bill - I *sell* vintage Macs. They are mostly falling apart. Some even 
are blasted from corroding batteries, or just moisture and rust. Sorry.

Whereas (he he), those "destroyed" 1970's computers, were made in an era 
of owner-repair. They use large sized components on through-hole PC 
boards made for hand-soldering - because they were often built from kits 
by the owners. Translation - even "makers" that can solder Arduino kits, 
can figure out how to replace caps, pull IC's from boards. And the parts 
are STILL common, either old-stock or some new-stock.

Also: no plastics. S-100 chassis are mostly metal and even wood. The 
toggle switches, they are plastic. $20 for an IMSAI paddle? Wow.

S-100 boxes have been called "ugly boxes full of boards". Who's laughing 

"most destroyed or lost?" Better check eBay! I recently saw *well over 
one hundred* S-100 boards at auction. Several systems too. Thanks to the 
many grandpas who "hoarded" them, they have been preserved, and are now 
available for sale and restoration to use. Some good number of them, 
simply WORK. I sell those too, and that's my experience as well. They. 
are. repairable.

and: There are STILL S-100 board kits - parts, boards, all new-stock 
obtained TODAY. Bill and I know people who offer them! It's its own 
thing! I'd never build a Pentium S-100 board, but some people have! 
Scares even me, Dr S-100 myself. Bill, he mentioned modern replicas too.

You know, people have a right to do what's familiar, be wary of the 
unfamiliar. They don't know about the world before their childhood, 
unless they ask and look around. But ignorance can be a lost 
opportunity. And sticking with what you know, may get you stuck. It's 
all a matter of choices and opportunities, and the facts. There's enough 
for everyone's interests.

But don't count out the 70's yet! I'm still hereeeeeee!

Regards, Herb Johnson

Herbert R. Johnson, New Jersey in the USA
http://www.retrotechnology.com OR .net
preserve, recover, restore 1970's computing
email: hjohnson AT retrotechnology DOT com
or try later herbjohnson AT comcast DOT net

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