Brand New Retro-Technology?

Here’s the idea: That Apple II, C64, Newton, 486, whatever. Can we make a brand new Thing now and maybe add a few newer things? I ask because it seems strange to me. Early era home computers, consoles seem to have lasted thirty or so years. New material? My nook touch got a six inch drop and bumped against the kitchen table and breaks permanently.

Plus older era technology has simpler architecture and at least to me tends to have a more tactile feel to it a greater solid feel and heft.

I’m not saying ‘build a brand new thirty year apple I’. I’m saying ‘can we take the things that were good about what purpose built technology existed back then and make something new?’

Think of the MIT DiY phone and apply it to other things. I dunno really I guess sort of the anti ‘everything in one’ concept. Don’t get me wrong I love all-in-one as a concept, but what about those that don’t want everything in one? Why not a wifi enabled terminal picture frame for pictures/weather/rss? Or an e-ink PDA type thing?

Is there even a market for this? I know there’s a healthy hobbiest thing for barebones hack your old stuff to do something interesting. What about something purpose built taking advantage of newer things? IE a 486 on a chip that runs from a box the size of a router that has USB so you can plug a thumb-drive in and use an sd card as an internal harddrive so you can have something to run REALLY Old Things. I know dosbox, but that’s just an example.

Look at the alphasmart keyboard. Purpose built technology that is a keyboard that you can type on away fro ma computer then hit a button after plugging it in to send the text to… whatever. No need for a windows thing or an osx thing and that’s genius, it’s OS independent (granted windows does get a special program to do something to do direct file transfers but still base functionality can work on ANYTHING (even smartphones and tablets)

Is ther a market for this concept? Any interest at all?

You’re unlikely to be able to compete in a market where people are conditioned to desire crap and both wages and production are set up to sustain entrenched amoral players.

I have a 1973 electric garden tractor. Why? Because it’s better than a modern one. Unfortunately, if you built one just like it today, you’d go out of business, because it’d cost over $6000 and you can get a shitty John Deere gasser for $1000. The fact that the electric is more than six times as valuable won’t matter. How do I know this? Because somebody did it - the METI guys, now out of business despite their superior product. That JD won’t exist in 40 years, but it won’t surprise me if my tractor is still in active use; it’s more economical over time, built like a tank, and better for the environment and my land - but who has $6000 up front for a glorified riding mower? Nobody’s going to buy… although they might spend $30,000 for a car… that’s just the way the wages and production and expectations are set up.

This doesn’t mean you can’t do what you want, it means you can’t do it inside existing markets, which are distorted by captive governments in order to sustain existing powers, and still make a living wage. Which is kind of why things like Make magazine and linux exist - they had to go outside the existing playing field.

Sorry to post and run, but it’s time for bed.

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Well there is stuff like Bunnie Huang building his own “open source” laptop, which is fun:


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