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How Powerful Must it Be?


The Commodore 64 was first sold in 1982. It allows me to do all my computing work on and offline excepting streaming media. Most features of this web site look the same on my Commodore 64 as on my Explorer 5.5 equipped pc. Many homes and schools could be increasing the number of people who are simultaneously computing by pulling out of the close "obsolete" Commodores, Apple II's, and other old pc's.

I have written elsewhere about the uses of "computer orphans"

What is true of the western world home and school is also true of the third world. Eight bit computers in some numbers exist in the third world and could be used for all the purposes I find relevant- including online work. I know of people off a power line in both Alaska and the American mid- west who run their Commodore 64's from a car battery. So even the lack of a power grid would not limit the use of these older computers.-- Or new computers designed like them.

Surround Sound

For several years I appreciated Star Trek TNG in surround sound without a surround processor. I linked the outside poles of my front stereo speakers by speaker wire to the outside poles of two rear speakers (borrowed from an old phonograph). I linked the two inner poles of the rear speakers. So long as my cd player or cable television system played a surround signal, my system gave me a "matrixed" surround sound. In addition to stereo left and right, I had a single surround sound coming from both rear speakers.

I later bought a remaindered Dolby Surround system which has a few more features than my homebrew approach. Interestingly, some surround fans are using the above approach to get 6.1 channels from a 5.1 Dolby Digital system. They use an extra Prologic processor to extract a middle back surround sound from the back right and left of their Dolby Digital system.

A McBee Database System

I was shown once a large file card with holes around the perimeter. Each hole had a label, such as male, female, husband, wife, son, daughter. Each member of a church congregation might have their own card with that and other information. If Mary Jones were a wife and a daughter those holes would be cut to the exterior of the card. All daughters in the congregation could be sorted by running a darning needle through the daughter holes and shaking over a table. Cards of those who were not daughters would remain on the needle. On the table would be daughter cards. A second sifting of those cards would reveal daughters who were also wives.

Someone recently told me he used that system for inventory for Bell in the 1960's. Those who do not have access to a computer might find the above system an appropriate technology. I don't know if McBee cards are still available of whether we would have to construct our own.

In education, this would be a concrete demonstration of a concept before a computer is used. It might also be appropriate technology for smaller data bases.

Why Bother?

Many things do not get done because we do not have modern equipment. Often what is modern is not necessary.

Advantages of Appropriate Technology

  • We often have the materials already
  • Our technology will break down less and be easily repaired
  • We will have a better concrete understanding of the process
  • The cost will be less

These points are true of home, school and the third world where appropriate technology was

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I can be reached at:
John Elliott
126 Burnyeat St.
Truro Nova Scotia
B2N 4R1
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