Retro web tips: videos, 90s websites, iPod, Atari

Videos from the early days

The Computer History Archives Project is dedicated to the documentation of old computer technology. To do this, the computer historians are restoring old technical films and making them available on their YouTube channel. This includes videos about old IBM mainframes, the Eniac and Zuse’s computers, as well as topics such as vacuum tubes, transistors, microprocessors, telephones, television, telecommunications and networks. The channel also shows interviews with and talks from pioneers in IT such as Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.

In the look of the 90s

Facebook was “only” founded in 2004, Twitter in 2006, as was Spotify. But what would the homepages of the services have looked like if they had started earlier, in the nineties? This is the task the designers set themselves for the Zyro website builder: If 8 Popular Websites Existed in the ’90s. In addition to the social network, the short message and the streaming service, they have also taken on YouTube, Twitch, Airbnb, Disney + and WhatsApp – with convincing results.

Music classic

The front-end developer Tanner Villarete has built a virtual iPod Classic. He sees it as an homage to the “good old” days before streaming services, when MP3 connoisseurs saved their limited music collections on physical devices. Its version runs in the browser, connects to Spotify or Apple Music and displays their music in the user interface of the classic MP3 player – compared to the completely overloaded Spotify interface, some users will find this reduction to be very beneficial.

You scroll with the right and left buttons. You select an entry in the list with Return. The Escape key takes you back one menu level. Villarete has made its player expandable. It even contains the game Brick and can basically run other games. Perhaps Villarete wants to expand the player in the future, for example themes would be conceivable. If you want to put your hands on the code: It’s on GitHub.

Sound wizard

This issue offers the opportunity to pay tribute to one of the unjustly forgotten by many sound gurus of the 8-bit era: Kemal Ezcan, who is now called Yoda Zhang and is still active as a techno maker. At the time, he conjured everything out of the 8-bit Atari machine that the POKEY chip could produce – and that was quite a bit.

Kemal’s memory website is no longer online, but the internet archive allows you to browse the full contents of Kemal’s Atari archive. It’s like a journey into prehistory – also with regard to web design. Unfortunately, Ezcan’s music is not available in MP3 form on his ancient Atari archive website. But you will find it on YouTube.

Ezcan is not only a computer musician, but also a creator of his own games. A very special kind of experience is still directly online – namely online solo games programmed by Ezcan directly in the browser in Yoda’s Video Arcade, with the technology and the sound of the 8-bit Atari system. The wonderful POKEY music in it was of course programmed by Kemal Ezcan himself. Try a round of “Wild West Gunman”: walking with the cursor keys, shooting with Shift + cursor keys.

Windows story (s)

Dirk Makowski from Berlin has compiled an impressive collection of historical knowledge about Windows on his homepage He presents each release in detail in detailed articles. He explains technical details in detail in the text, a short profile summarizes some important characteristics, such as the supported CPU architectures. Those who want comprehensive information can also find links to specialist magazines.

But you can also just wallow in memories, admire the many pictures and play the different start tones. Makowski really provides information on all aspects, from Easter Eggs to the installation media – he owns more than 60 Windows versions in the original packaging – included games to useless knowledge, such as that Windows 2.1 did not support more than 127 printers. With a kind of emulator based on screenshots, every visitor to the site can get an impression of the user interfaces.

The good old days is a gold mine for gamers, which is really well and lovingly looked after in the editorial, and in German too. On the website you can find detailed descriptions and images not only of the usual earlier hits, but also of games from the eighties and nineties that are unjustifiably largely forgotten – for example the great role / strategy game “Magic of Endoria”. The review database is not really clear. All in all, you need a little enthusiasm for discovery on this site, but you soon get stuck and find it difficult to stop.

Commodore lives

Richard Lagendijk runs two large websites that revolve around the once extremely popular Commodore computers. The Commodore Info Page traces the history of the company, from the beginnings with the KIM-1 to the C64-DTV, a joystick with a C64 including 60 games. Lagendijk has compiled detailed information on every aspect of hardware, such as the legendary datasettes.

His other Commodore site, the Commodore News Page, illustrates that there is a very active Commodore fan base. The site provides information about wonderful hacks and handicrafts around the old CBM machines, but also about interesting software and emulators.

C’t Retro 2021 provides reading material for long winter evenings. We trace the path of notebooks from heavy monsters to super slim all-rounders and shed light on the beginnings of the Internet. Those who are nostalgic will find out how to get old hardware back on their feet, and fans of old games will find out how classics can be transferred to current PCs. We have created programming instructions in Python for the legendary Enigma. You can find the c’t retro edition from October 18th in the Heise shop and at the well-stocked magazine kiosk.


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