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. 

The 3M Whisper Writer Telex gets a new life after we develop a new modem card to turn it into a RTTY and Teletype tester.

Restoring the revolutionary computer that put man on the Moon.

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.

Ferrite core memory was the best way to make computer memory from the early 1950's to the mid 1970's, and is an amazing technology. We explore it in several videos, make it work, and battle with it on our Apollo Guidance Computer.

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

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.

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

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

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.

The HP 98035 repair got us into quite a repairathon, including reverse engineering a previously undocumented Texas Instrument LED watch chip and HP's little known Nanoprocessor.

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

A gorgeous executive dictaphone, styled like the IBM 1401, and uses the bizarre magnabelt tape format. We restore it, and recover a viewer's precious childhood recording from 1965. 

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

We restore a magnificent blinkenlight machine used to debug IBM peripherals from the IBM 360 era. And use it for something else.

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.

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

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

And also running Linux. Just because I could.

The following pages have not been completed yet. In the meantime, they just link to the corresponding video or playlist. Contact me if you need more info about the following restorations, that might give me enough incentive to complete the page!

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.

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. 

One of the first graphic capable matrix printers.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

A Japanese calculator disguised into a Swedish one.

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