[IAEP] The Guardian: PlayPower: 1980s computing for the 21st century

Martin Langhoff martin.langhoff at gmail.com
Sat Nov 7 20:56:49 EST 2009

On Sat, Nov 7, 2009 at 11:48 PM, Jecel Assumpcao Jr <jecel at merlintec.com> wrote:
> The non ASCII is a complication, but changing binaries was very popular
> in Brazil in the 1980s (the copyright law here was only extended to
> software in 1987).

I am argentine, and grew up "patching" binaries on the C=64. It's been
downhill from there ;-)

Anyway, the point is: within ascii, you can binary-patch to localise
(with some imagination and elbow grease). But non-latin scripts are...
very hard.

Even for th open source projects mentioned -- anything like utf8 text
handling on 8bit cpus is just going to be pain. They're more likely to
use cranky codepages. Ugh. I sure don't want to return to *that*

> The main factor for the low costs is Moore's law: you
> can either get twice the transistors for the same price in 18 months or
> the same transistors for about half the cost.

I don't think it's quite like that. Making chips is only cheap if you
have huge volume. Basic QA of chips and boards is costly. Assembly (it
has countless parts) is costly too. Financing a production run
requires a lot of money, and stocking all of that costs... lots.

It's very likely the they are just selling very old stock -- that's
the only thing that'd explain the price. As soon as it runs out, any
crazy entrepreneur that wants to make more will find out the real

Anyway, it's a great project, if limited.


 martin.langhoff at gmail.com
 martin at laptop.org -- School Server Architect
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