Old hardware and keeping it 'original'

Talk about non-Acorn classic computers/hardware/software here (including retro consoles)
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trixster
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Re: Old hardware and keeping it 'original'

Postby trixster » Sun Jul 09, 2017 10:24 am

Surely an ultra rare machine that works is worth far more to a collector and to history than one that's damaged beyond repair?

What is the worth of an admittedly original battery that has spewed its contents over those impossible to replace ic's and motherboard traces?

A machine that does not work is merely a conversation piece, and it'll be a conversation about what a shame it is that it's been lost forever, but a slightly modified machine that functions will be far more interesting and a piece of history which can be touched and experienced.

I would say do whatever is necessary to keep these old machines working but do it properly and do it sensitively. Money should be no object as you're preserving machines for years if not decades to come.
A3020 | A3000 | BBC B + 128K RAM/ROM + 20K Shadow + Pi0 + VideoNuLA
BBC Master Turbo + DC | Atom | A1200 060 | A500 | Jaguar | A420/1
A4000/040 060 | Atari Falcon 060 | Saturn | PS1 | SNES | CPC6128 | C64 | 3DO | MD

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jonb
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Re: Old hardware and keeping it 'original'

Postby jonb » Sun Jul 09, 2017 3:02 pm

1024MAK wrote:It pains me to say this, as I love a good political discussion, but this is a forum about Acorn and related computers.

So enough politics.

Everyone, please stay on topic. If you want to talk about politics, I recommend you find a more appropriate web site.

Mark



+1

(Even though I'm not a moderator!)

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Lardo Boffin
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Re: Old hardware and keeping it 'original'

Postby Lardo Boffin » Sun Jul 09, 2017 4:04 pm

:oops:
BBC model B 32k issue 4, 16k sideways RAM, Watford 12 ROM board, Retroclinic Datacentre + HDD, matchbox co-proc, Viglen twin 40/80 5.25" discs, acorn cassette
BBC model B 32k issue 7, turboMMC, Opus Challenger 3 512k, Pi 3 coproc, Acorn 6502 coproc

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vanpeebles
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Re: Old hardware and keeping it 'original'

Postby vanpeebles » Mon Jul 10, 2017 8:38 am

1024MAK wrote:Okay. Lets take this to the next level...

Classic cars: How many have the original engine lubrication oil? How many have the original brake pads? How many have the original battery? How many have the original light bulbs?

Mark


You can get new car batteries that look like old ones, and also alternators that look like dynamos etc.

Prime
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Re: Old hardware and keeping it 'original'

Postby Prime » Mon Jul 10, 2017 12:23 pm

Wow, what a can of worms I seem to have opened :)

Personally, I'd rather have a working machine than a broken one that's 'mint'. A computer is meant to compute, run programs play games etc, if it does not do so for a reason other than technical e.g. bust Electron ULA which are not available, then it is wasted and may as well have been thrown away :)
One of the reasons that I'm not that interested in buying "still shrinkwrapped, never opened" software to keep in that condition is that you never know if it works.

Having said that when I was bought a ZX81 kit a few years back, I got Lesley to get me two so that I could build one and keep the other as a Kit, however there is nothing to stop it one day becoming a fully functioning machine.

Something that ome would considder me mad for : I own one of 5 known to exist Dragon Professional prototype machines, when I got the machine the PSU had died, so I hooked up an ATX PSU to test and the machine worked. Now of the machines that exist mine is one of the earliest, and has a large plug in card that implements some of the logic in LSTTL. The later machines implemented this in an erarly programable logic device. So one of the things I did was partly disassemble this board including desoldering chips so that it could be traced. That way if the PLDs on the other machines died we would have a functional equivilent that would be able to be used to keep *ANY* of the machines running. And yes it continued to work when re-assembled :)

For anyone interested motherboard picturese here http://archive.worldofdragon.org/index.php?title=Motherboard_Pictures
Mine is the first Alpha board with the daughtercard.


Cheers.

Phill.

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Elminster
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Re: Old hardware and keeping it 'original'

Postby Elminster » Mon Jul 10, 2017 1:26 pm

Reminds me of a story told to me by Mark Hamill, plus loads of other people who watched it on you tube, he received loads of toys from star wars as he has a merchanidising deal as part of his contract. Later on he gave them to his kids to use and abuse. Decades later they asked him why he did that, if he had kept them mint they would be worth a small fortune, he replied something (paraphrased as dont remember the exact quote) like 'Toys are meant to be played with and he had no regrets'.

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Lardo Boffin
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Re: Old hardware and keeping it 'original'

Postby Lardo Boffin » Mon Jul 10, 2017 2:02 pm

Many years ago my mates were playing football and lost their ball (as was so often the case) and the only one any of them had left was one that had been signed by the whole of the Wolves team of the day (mid 80's I think). They used that.

By the end of the game the signatures were obliterated as they were playing on concrete. But they had a great game!

Ok so probably would not be worth a lot of money now but still a fairly unique item. They didn't have any regrets either.
BBC model B 32k issue 4, 16k sideways RAM, Watford 12 ROM board, Retroclinic Datacentre + HDD, matchbox co-proc, Viglen twin 40/80 5.25" discs, acorn cassette
BBC model B 32k issue 7, turboMMC, Opus Challenger 3 512k, Pi 3 coproc, Acorn 6502 coproc

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trixster
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Re: Old hardware and keeping it 'original'

Postby trixster » Mon Jul 10, 2017 5:57 pm

I'm not sure that's a solid analogy as they took something unique, had one game with it and then it was knackered. Making a change to a unique computer to keep it going for years is much more justifiable; changing it for a one off power-up after which it's then stuffed would be inexcusable.
A3020 | A3000 | BBC B + 128K RAM/ROM + 20K Shadow + Pi0 + VideoNuLA
BBC Master Turbo + DC | Atom | A1200 060 | A500 | Jaguar | A420/1
A4000/040 060 | Atari Falcon 060 | Saturn | PS1 | SNES | CPC6128 | C64 | 3DO | MD

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Lardo Boffin
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Re: Old hardware and keeping it 'original'

Postby Lardo Boffin » Mon Jul 10, 2017 8:06 pm

trixster wrote:I'm not sure that's a solid analogy as they took something unique, had one game with it and then it was knackered. Making a change to a unique computer to keep it going for years is much more justifiable; changing it for a one off power-up after which it's then stuffed would be inexcusable.


To be honest it wasn't meant as an analogy! It was just something that happened some years ago that kind of followed on from the previous post. Although the ball was no longer unique after the game it was still a good ball and was used afterwards.

If they had bothered to come round to my house I could have leant them my ball. Or they could have walked 500 yards to the nearest park with grass. There are always choices.

But back to topic I don't think it's possible to generalise what should and should not be done with old / unique hardware - each item should be treated according to its individual merits. ZX81s are old but far from rare so it makes sense to preserve some in an original as possible state while making as many as possible usable to be enjoyed. My issue one Spectrum has a low serial number and I think should be kept original if possible as there are many other spectrums that could be enjoyed - it's not stopping anyone from retro fun. Completely unique hardware should *maybe* be preserved until it is possible to fully understand it and recreate it when it is gone. To change it and risk breaking it before it can be reproduced or effectively repaired makes little sense to me. But then again it may be a very simple and safe change to make it work in which case go for it. As I said I don't think we can generalise.
BBC model B 32k issue 4, 16k sideways RAM, Watford 12 ROM board, Retroclinic Datacentre + HDD, matchbox co-proc, Viglen twin 40/80 5.25" discs, acorn cassette
BBC model B 32k issue 7, turboMMC, Opus Challenger 3 512k, Pi 3 coproc, Acorn 6502 coproc

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paulv
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Re: Old hardware and keeping it 'original'

Postby paulv » Mon Jul 10, 2017 8:38 pm

I've ranted about this sort of thing before.

For me, repairing a device to working order supersedes keeping it "original" unless there is something exceedingly special about the "original". For instance it's serial number is 0000001 and the damage to the perceived value would be significant if even one broken original part were to be replaced.

Other than that, retro computers are for repairing, tinkering and *using* IMO.

There is however a trend in the retro computing community to make things "look like new" by applying chemical solutions such as "retrobrite" which is a completely unnecessary procedure when taken in the context of whether or not it affects the functionality of the device in question. In the antiques trade and building trade where listed buildings are being "restored", the "patina" and visible history of repairs (if done well) often adds to the value of the item because it tells the story of that item and shows the life it has had. A retrobrited computer shows no history, no life, no value.

Getting back to Acorn, there were so many official "Field Change Orders" that described alterations and modifications to the original production hardware, and in the case of some of them, the motherboard was never fixed so the FCO was applied at the factory when the final fix was made official. Many of the machines I have where FCO's apply and they haven't been applied when I get them are then done to correct the faults and bring the machine up to the original manufacturers recommended state of operation. Some of the FCO's were recommended to be applied even if the user who was having the machine serviced/repaired didn't take the machine to the service agent for that particular issue so I don't think modifying hardware in this way is an issue at all.

Regarding other upgrades, I prefer to have upgrades that are sympathetic to the original machine and if possible allow the machine to be restored to the original state as closely as possible if someone decides they want to do that after I've done with my machines (which isn't going to be anytime soon).

Acorn had a habit of not populating headers and jumpers where they could get away with TCW links or a trace on the motherboard that needed cutting and replacing with a jumpered header. I don't see a problem with fitting headers in these circumstances, the PCB was designed to take them and when necessary, you are cutting a track that was intended by the designer to be cut at some point in the future.

Paul

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sweh
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Re: Old hardware and keeping it 'original'

Postby sweh » Sun Jul 30, 2017 2:12 pm

Is it possible that Acorn users have a more pragmatic view because our machines were _designed_ to be modified?

Whether it's a DFS upgrade, or an Econet upgrade, additional languages or service ROMs, Kenneth Kendall... a "manufacturer original" Beeb is a boring Beeb :-)
Rgds
Stephen

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1024MAK
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Re: Old hardware and keeping it 'original'

Postby 1024MAK » Sun Jul 30, 2017 2:42 pm

The Acorn BBC range is not the only 1980s computers that were designed with possible internal upgrades in mind.

And various devices have a PCB (or PCBs) where provision was allowed for alternate options.

Again, various manufacturers of electronic devices have issued service instructions that include changing components, altering the existing wiring/components or adding additional components/wiring, or any combination, when a design issue has come to light after manufacture.

Further, some "collectors" will not open the case, or do not have sufficient understanding of electronics, so will not even know the details of what has, or has not been done.

It's a bit like asking a car sales person to explain in general how the microcontroller in an engine management system works... Let alone asking if it has a different software version compared to the first cars of the type that rolled off the production line...

You don't get it that often on this forum, but on other forums that are about 1980s and 1990s computers, it's not uncommon for a member to obtain a machine, open it up, see a/some patch wire(s), or patch component(s), then ask on the forum about "this upgrade". Then for someone to respond "that's a manufacturer approved modification" or "that's a modification fitted during manufacturing"...

Mark
For a "Complete BBC Games Archive" visit www.bbcmicro.co.uk NOW!
BeebWiki‬ - for answers to many questions...

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Wouter Scholten
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Re: Old hardware and keeping it 'original'

Postby Wouter Scholten » Sun Jul 30, 2017 10:53 pm

paulv wrote:There is however a trend in the retro computing community to make things "look like new" by applying chemical solutions such as "retrobrite" which is a completely unnecessary procedure when taken in the context of whether or not it affects the functionality of the device in question. In the antiques trade and building trade where listed buildings are being "restored", the "patina" and visible history of repairs (if done well) often adds to the value of the item because it tells the story of that item and shows the life it has had. A retrobrited computer shows no history, no life, no value.



Patina in/on metals and wood or leather can have appeal because it shows use and usually it doesn't get ugly. However, fixing rust and repainting is often done (e.g. old cars). Why keep it 'original' in respect of how it yellowed? Who is interested in that? I took care of a monitor and 2 BBCs and they look much more appealing now. As in previously "yuck it's ugly and yellow" when I got one out of storage, to "nice original" after treatment. Later when I got used to it, the colour didn't stand out any more whereas yellowed plastic is just plain ugly and stands out in that way. This is contrary to what can happen with leather and wood. Making some historic artefact look like new makes no sense, but making a computer that you want to use look as original makes sense as it's much more satisfying to use.

In art, (almost) nobody says about paintings "the varnish should not be messed with even though it dulls the original colours". Often paintings are made to look much better, brighter, and as they were originally, by removing and replacing the varnish and/or other surface treatments. It's all about the purpose. I don't give a damn about a supposed history of an old computer from its yellowing. It shows actually very little 'history' (just how much it was out in the sun and/or heat as it's not just from the sun that this yellowing occurs) and it's just plain ugly.


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