retrocomputing

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retrocomputing /ret'-roh-k*m-pyoo'ting/ /n./ Refers to emulations of way-behind-the-state-of-the-art hardware or software, or implementations of never-was-state-of-the-art; esp. if such implementations are elaborate practical jokes and/or parodies, written mostly for hack value, of more `serious' designs. Perhaps the most widely distributed retrocomputing utility was the `pnch(6)' or `bcd(6)' program on V7 and other early Unix versions, which would accept up to 80 characters of text argument and display the corresponding pattern in punched card code. Other well-known retrocomputing hacks have included the programming language INTERCAL, a JCL-emulating shell for Unix, the card-punch-emulating editor named 029, and various elaborate PDP-11 hardware emulators and RT-11 OS emulators written just to keep an old, sourceless Zork binary running.

A tasty selection of retrocomputing programs are made available at the Retrocomputing Museum, http://www.ccil.org/retro.


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