Should we stop using retrocomputers to save them?

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Por ray2day

Paladin (743)

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12-07-2022, 11:40

Maybe when you use Commodore... Wink My good ol' MSX for now seems to be unbreakable!! LOL! Tongue

Por Takamichi

Hero (638)

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12-07-2022, 11:43

No, a floppy disk drive belt unused for a while melts and jams the drive therefore poses much more threat than when being loosened by use.

Por S0urceror

Master (210)

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12-07-2022, 11:48

I am using everything MSX. Emulated, FPGA and original hardware. Original hardware comes with slower load times and it's share of problems but that is also what defines it as MSX. Probably nostalgia plays a lot here and I'm not ashamed of it.

I'll continue to use the original hardware. And when it develops a problem I have a reason to repair it which is not a big deal. Big smile On Commodore with all their custom chips this is a bigger issue. Especially with the original MOS designs which tend to fail fast.

On MSX we have no custom chips except of the MSX Engine. The rest is pretty standard stuff and still available today in large quantities. Only HW extensions with dedicated chips like SCC, Yamaha synthesizer chips is a bigger issue.

Por Micha

Expert (103)

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12-07-2022, 15:00

I think most of the existing and working MSX computers are not used, but sit somewhere in storage. A lot of MSX-users probably have multiple machines that are in working order, but only use 1; and there are also lots of former MSX users that still have their machine(s) but never use it.
And I wouldn't be surprised if (even in 2022) the number of msx-machines that are simply thrown away after cleaning the attic exceeds the number of msx-machines that break down by using them.

Por NetNomad

Resident (51)

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12-07-2022, 15:52

As someone who didn't grow up with the MSX and has no nostalgia for it, I still think that original machines are the best way to play if you can afford them. A big part of that is because an MSX is easier to use and more reliable than the host machine you need for an emulator (i.e. your PC) at least to me. It's lucky that we're all alive when original MSXes are around, but whether or not we use them they won't be around forever, so I think we should enjoy them while we can while also supporting community efforts like software and FPGA emulators. That way we can keep going once the last 20th century MSX powers down for the last time, as well as provide options for people who can't or won't get their hands on an older machine. Plus, software development would be a heck of a lot harder without openMSX!

Por AnsiStar

Master (141)

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12-07-2022, 16:33

I only use the original Hardware. Otherwise it does not make any sense to me. If someone had told me 35 years ago that in 35 years there will be still new software and the old mashines still be working... I never believed this. I buy a new game and plug it in the Hit Bit... Well, that`s ist. And I guess, if i had any trouble with an old 8 Bit, there will be someone who could fix it. Greetings! Wink

Por Pokun

Expert (72)

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12-07-2022, 16:54

I also think using them is the best way to preserve old hardware. The more love and use it receives the more knowledge of its look and feel as well as how it works will spread and be easier to find, and the interest for it will be preserved for the future. Emulators and FPGA-clones are part of that knowledge.
Using the hardware is the best way to find faults in it and allows us to repair it before more damage is caused.

And as some other people here also said I'm not sure that using the hardware (with care) is really any worse on it than just letting it sit and rot until it breaks down under its own weight.
The main exceptions are probably mechanical parts like joystick springs and keyboard membranes which are what is most prone to wear from usage.

I'm all for preserving old hardware on museums, but hardly all our machines will go there, and a good number of them are already on the scrapyard. Using them will make sure they are not thrown away.

I don't think interest in the MSX will disappear just because everyone that grew up with it are dead, it will probably go down some and up again during every MSX renaissance. Just look at about anything else collectable, did the interest go away from 10000 years old ceramic? Nope! Old tin toys? No! Old furniture? Not a chance! What about old cars? Hobbyists are still kicking!
So why would old computer be the only exception? I don't think it will.

And what do people do when they find a rare antique chair missing a leg? The opinions are divided some but most preservationists seems to agree that the leg should be replaced so that the chair at least can still be used. But you are not to replace parts of it that are working correctly. So old things are still to be used and loved with care, that's the best way to preserve them and get the most out of them.

Por Uninteresting

Champion (352)

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12-07-2022, 17:14

I haven't used the original hardware after it broke and haven't taken it to be repaired yet. Mostly the enjoyment I get out of MSX is more about playing within the limitations, a bit like sudoku.

Por retro69

Resident (38)

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12-07-2022, 22:30

I appreciate all your comments.
Just for my background: I mainly use original hardware but for development (assembler) I prefer using an emulator and cross-assembling. I also think that emulators are extremely helpful if you want to dip into retrocomputing without spending a lot of money or time. So I appreciate that there are good use cases for FPGAs or emulators.
Personally, I think that we should continue actively using the original hardware. In contrast to other industrially manufactured objects which you may find a museum it is hard to understand how it feels using a historic computer as you can hardly get an impression just by looking at it. In addition, using a classic computer is so different from contemporary ones. You can now argue that it is well possible to experience using the computer through an FPGA or an emulator as the main experience comes from the software (a term which I use broadly here, it includes the built-in BASIC, for example). However, for me, the experience is only complete if you have the look and feel from the original hardware. One aspect that otherwise you lose completely for example is using the original keyboard. Every model has a different one, which feels different, sounds different, and even the layout is different - this can go to the extreme: try using a ZX Spectrum ! I also think that it is easier to raise interest in retrocomputing by actively using the original hardware. When I showed my VG-8235 on a general (non-MSX-specific) retrocomputing event in March here in Germany a lot of people have shown interest in the computer. I do not think that it would have been the same if I had used an FPGA or an emulator.
Last but not least I doubt that preserving the hardware would get easier if we do not use the classic computers any more. Yes, you may get an advantage on wear and tear. However, this comes at a cost: the less people use the original hardware the less is the potential that you have people with the expertise to maintain / repair it. Bottom line I think that the chances for conservation are better with active use.
So from my perspective we should enjoy using the old computers as long as possible.

Por foody

Champion (469)

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13-07-2022, 01:53

santiontanon wrote:

This is a tricky question! I have also thought many times that original hardware should be preserved as much as possible, and minimize wear and tear. That being said, as tfh points out, the 80s-generation computers will not receive much attention in a few decades. So, as long as enough hardware survives this period I think we are fine. I personally use emulators 99% of the time, but I think that as long as these old machines are treated with love and care, and with proper maintenance, we should be able to use them if they cause us joy (as that's what they are for anyway haha).

Me too!!! I INTEND TO USE THESE HARDWARE UNTIL THEY BECOME DUST...then get another one and another one...either I die first or it dies first. Which one goes first.

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