Monday, August 23, 2021

Custom Game Boy Design - Revitalizing Broken or Hard to See Portable Systems

It is a fact that the original Game Boy, its four widely available successors and its contemporary competitors had many excellent games but some truly awful screens by modern standards.  Handheld screen technology has advanced extraordinarily far since the rose-tinted glass days of 1989.  Today modding kits are available to fix or "upgrade" these machines with replacement screens, so let me discuss my own experiences with one.  

Friday, August 13, 2021

Digital Joysticks and the Apple II

The Apple II had thousands of games released during its long life-span, and from its first game, Breakout (later known as "Brick Out" and "Little Brick Out"), many of them used analog controllers like paddles and joysticks.  Other home computers and consoles used digital joysticks, which were often better for single-screen games than analog devices.  During the Apple II's commercial life, there were a few attempts to bring digital joystick support to the computer.  When it became a retro-computing machine, there have been a few more homebrew hardware efforts to bring digital input to older games.  This article will give an overview of attempts both old and new.

Monday, August 2, 2021

Bad Keyboard Switch Designs & Quirky Keys of the Past

Having good switches in today's keyboards is taken for granted.  Except for laptops, any computer can be blessed by a keyboard with mechanical switches or good rubber dome switches.  In the old days of computing this was not always the case.  There were many fine keyswitch designs back in the day, IBM buckling spring, Alps switches, leaf spring switches, hall effect, beam spring, magnetic reed.  But this blog post is not about them.  The 70s and 80s also had many bad keyswitch designs too, so let's identify some of them and where they reared their ugly heads.

Additionally, some keyboard had keys which functioned unusually given the keyboards of today.  We'll take a look at some of those as well.