Building User Communities (long)

From: Benedict Chong <>
Date: Fri Jul 4 15:30:40 1997

On Fri, 4 Jul 1997 10:54:05 -0700, Uncle Roger wrote:

%The biggest hurdle facing the general public in putting older
computers to
%work is the lack of support. (P.S., Cliff Stoll is an idiot
%They can buy a PC at Circuit City and half their neighbors will be
able to
%set it up for them or answer questions. (Etc.) Not so with machines
%quite so mainstream.
%But if user groups made the effort to become known and to support
%computers, they could do a lot of good. Maybe even working with
teachers or
%youth programs to make the computers available, and the kids *WILL*
%them. I've seen it happen and I know it makes a difference. (My
%room is loaded with older Macs -- until school starts again.)
%Anyway, sorry to blather on so long, but I think that "obsolete"
%are still useable, valuable, and beneficial. So lets talk about
%people on to them!

Personally, I don't think a lot of people will want to use older
machines. Let's put it that way(perhaps speaking for myself): some of
us are spoiled by multi-megabyte operating systems and programs we are
familiar with. When I switched from the Atari ST to a 286 PC, I
thought that Norton Commander sucks. Now, when I run Linux, I run
Midnight Commander, an NC clone. When I turn on a 3B1 (aka Unix PC), I
am lost because I cannot see all the files at once.

However, as a nostalgia freak, I think that a user group like Abacus
can do a lot of good for the future.

One of the best things Abacus can do, is to get as much of the source
code and rights to the source code as possible.

I'm talking about source code to TOS (Tramiel's OS) in the ST and even
the firmware in the 8-bit Ataris (I have an 800XL).

There's a CP/M cdrom out now, and I think some people were talking
about trying to compile all the CP/M source code they have and give it
to Caldera so that the latter can do a general CP/M source code
release a la OpenDOS.

I think the Sinclair Spectrum people have managed to get at least one
of the games companies to release its old Spectrum software to the
public domain (or at least for public and free distribution).

Abacus and other Atari user groups may want to work towards this aim,
so that the day all the hardware die, we will still have software to
run on the emulators.

The other thing is to collect as much technical information on the
machines as possible eg. hardware pin outs, the different video
circuitry etc. Possibly even the original design plans of the
integrated circuits.

This is so that at least some of us can continue to maintain the
hardware or even do some hardware hacking.

Received on Fri Jul 04 1997 - 15:30:40 BST

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