Vintage Computing

My vintage computer restorations are chronicled on the CuriousMarc YouTube channel. Here you will find links to material related to the restoration videos.

This section is under construction some projects don't link to a page yet. The ones that do are at the top of the section. If you need some info about a particular item, just let me know , that's usually a good incentive for me to write up the page in question.

Restoring the revolutionary computer that put man on the Moon.

Conceived in the 1930's and in continuous use until the 1980's, these mechanical marvels are the first form of digital communication equipment.

The ASR 33 is an 8-bit ASCII Teletype that was meant to be used mostly as a terminal for the nascent computer industry. The ASR version is 5 instruments in one: a sender keyboard, a receiving printer, a tape punch, a tape reader, and a modem.

One of the most awesome (and expensive) widescreen terminal from the 1970's. Built around an Intel 8080. Can even play graphical games. The system that inspired Steve Woznyak while he was working at HP.

Restoration adventures with the IBM 1401 mainframe at the Computer History Museum

My first ever micro-computer-in-a-tin-can gets a new life.

One of the best all-in-one scientific and laboratory computers from the pre-PC era.

16-bit Desktop Scientific and Laboratory Computer/Calculator with HPL language. An early high end programmable calculator/computer for laboratory applications. Don't let its small LED display fool you: with its 16-bit n-MOS processor and 64k memory, it is much faster than some of its 8-bit successors, like the HP 85.

In an ocean of very mediocre and entirely forgettable 1990's consumer PCs, the sturdy, all-in-one luggable DolchPAC stands out as a beautiful piece of professional engineering. This is my main retro tool on the lab bench when I need to run DOS, Win98, WinNT, WinXP or Linux with a vintage serial, parallel port, or ISA or PCI interface card.

Magnetic 9-track tape drive from 1970, 140 lbs of beautiful sturdy hardware.

Also used in my ASCII art demo, connected to my HP-85

Magnetic 9-track tape drive that can easily connect to a PC via a parallel port interface.

And also running Linux. Just because I could.

We reverse engineer and power up a flown clock from a Soyuz TM spacecraft.

Xerox Alto

This seminal machine from 1973 that still defines modern personal computing to this day. Ours took 9 month before we got it to boot, which gave us a great opportunity to debug this mind-boggling design.

Mac 512, SE/30 and HD20 Restoration

When my kids saw the Mac SE, they asked: "what is that cute new computer"? Now, that has never happened for ANY of my other vintage computers. A fantastic design then, and still fantastic now.

HP 2631G

One of the first graphic capable matrix printers.

HP 2225A

The diminutive size of this HP-IB printer belies it's place in history. This is the first consumer inkjet printer, the one for which the infamous disposable print head and ink cartridge was invented. And which put HP on the trajectory of world inkjet printer domination.

HP Plotter Pen Restoration

How to restore and refill or replace the hard-to-find HP plotter pens

HP Mini Cartridges: DC100 and QIC Tape Cartridges Restoration

How to give a new life to the pesky DC100 and QIC tapes so essential to the operation of early HP computers and instruments.

IBM 705 Tube Logic Gate

We reverse engineer then power on an IBM logic gate from an IBM 705 mainframe.

IBM 214 Executary

A super premium IBM dictaphone for the EXEcutive and his secreTARY, styled after the IBM 1401.

IBM 360

The mainframe that defined the 1960's and consolidated IBM into computer world domination

IBM 3420 9-Track Tapes

Vacuum column tape drives from the IBM 370 era, 800 pounds each.

IBM 029 Keypunch

I resurrect a mighty 029 keypunch, a mainstay of the punched card era.

Documation 600 Card Reader

When you have punched your cards, you must now read them, as fast as you can. The Documation does just that.

Qualstar 1620 9-Track Tape Drive

These small, low cost, and very slow tape drives are nevertheless easy to interface with modern computers. But mine refused to work at first.

Panasonic Toughbook

This exploration of the CF-U1 Toughbook was triggered by a gift from YouTuber Rinoa Super-Genious. A tablet from before you could actually make one.

Facit 1131J Nixie Tube Calculator

A Japanese calculator disguised into a Swedish one.

5-1/4" Floppy Drives

Back to the time when disks were actually floppy, and deep dive into the non-standard formats and low level tools.