What it's like to use a 5″ Black and White TV as a computer monitor

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/07/23/what-its-like-to-use-a-5.html

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Once it is determined that a thing can be done, we must next ask if it should be done…

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Well, you know, not brilliant.
I did that once with a C64 and a teensy-weensy portable TV, more out of curiosity than anything else. Something for young eyes.

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I dunno why he spent over a hundred bucks on multiple layers of adapters.

I guess maybe because he’s not aware you can jam legacy PCI cards into most modern motherboards, and that old PCI video cards sometimes come with RCA plug outputs?

There’s also ample cheap VGA > RCA adapters. I used to do it that way. Same deal, (not even that old) of a video card. Bigger problem maybe is finding drivers, and convincing it to output at a low enough resolution.

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The filters in an old TV cut out high frequency elements. You can think of it as free analog anti-aliasing that makes your text super blurry.

I used to have a 9" amber screen TV, it still took normal composite input not TTL. So you could, with unpleasant results, watch VHS tapes on it. (no tuner, so you’re limited to things that output composite). The monochrome displays, even the analog ones, were sharper than the color displays of the era. Text was pretty usable, 40x25 was more usable than 80x25.

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My first computer (actually owned by me) was an IBM “Portable” PC, which had a 9" amber screen that was inexplicably a composite monitor hooked to a CGA. The problem with that combo was that any games that used color graphics modes would show everything with lots of vertical stripes. There was an MS-DOS TSR called “NOCOLOR” that I found that was quite a lifesaver; it would, with some hocus-pocus, turn such output into proper grayscale.

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That misses a step. From the RCA video, it need to go an RF television signal to plug into the TV. (Odds are there’s some point inside the TV that’ll take composite video, maybe even a test point, but that’s a different class of solution.)

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Over a hundred bucks? He spent about $10 plus the Display Port to HDMI cable, which, if he’s like me, he already had on the shelf. He even gives links to the items he bought.

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TFW when you see a headline in the BBS view and immediately KNOW it’s a @beschizza post :slight_smile:

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Did he remember to use a fresnel lens?

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I would have just been happy to have it and the Super Nintendo working nicely and would have stopped there.

IBM-5000-Portable-Computer

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Mine was the 5155, basically a PC/XT (sans hard drive) in a suitcase. By the time I got rid of it, it was purely a desktop with a VGA card, a 286 accelerator card, and a whopping 65 MB hard disk.

On the other hand, the machine I lusted for in my high school days was the Heathkit H-11, which was a DEC LSI-11 in Heathkit packaging. Of course, the family budget wouldn’t support such a system, so an Apple II+ (great fun in its own right!) was what we had. We had both a 13" color TV with RF modulator for color, and a 10" green screen that was much nicer for text.

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27tguj

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There ARE models like this out there with a composite input, so let’s eliminate all the adapter and hoops to jump though and get to the crux of the thing - Modern PC on a 5" B&W TV.

Love how ‘portable’ get redefined based on the technology of the day.
image

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Ooh, I’ve still got one of those lying around. On of these days I should check whether it still works.

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I started “computers” with a Sinclair ZX81 (Timex 1000 to you on the other side of the pond) with a b/w portable TV. I once brought it to school, and a friend brought a portable TV/cassette/radio thingy with probably a 2" screen. I had to program my three or four lines of basic to create some patterns on the screen essentially blind, because the text was too small to read, but the shortcuts on the ZX81 keyboard made it possible. Ahh, those were the days…

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I got tons of SuperCalc, WordStar, dBase II, and 300-bits-per-second modem work done on my 1981 Osborne 1’s 5-inch green screen with 52 character width (character-mapped display, no individually addressable pixels). A big move up from the single-line 24-character LCD display of my Radio Shack Pocket Computer.

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I ran into a problem trying to use the SVGA port on a laptop when I discovered that Windows 10 doesn’t think NTSC is a valid display format anymore. It literally wouldn’t let me select anything lower than 800x600 on the port. So dumb. I never managed to get the laptop to spit out a valid NTSC signal.

I probably could have gotten it to work on Linux, but I was just doing it to see if it was possible anymore, it wasn’t for a practical need.

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