Traces of history
When I’m at a garage sale or thrift store, next to looking for remnants of the 8-bit era, I tend to browse through the many books that are for sale there for a few cents. It’s not just for the books, but it’s also for the little references that people have left in the books themselves that in a way transport you back to times long gone – Little scribbles that people have written on the inside of the cover, paragraphs they’ve marked as they held some significance to the reader etc.
Some time ago, I came across a tour guide dating back to the 19th century that explains (amongst others) to the “gentlemen” the places of interest in Paris and where you can get the best service when your carriage needs repair. A fun book to read as it talks about how people travelled and basically went on a vacation some 120 years ago, but what caught my imagination was a couple of admission tickets for the Paris museums that someone had used as a bookmark. Someone had indeed used the guide for a visit to Paris 100 years ago, and these tickets were the proof. They even visited one of the museums listed in the book and had written their findings and thoughts inside the book. The museum they visited, hence was linked to the book by these 2 tickets that stood the test of time and survived until they were picked up at a local garage sale…
Sometimes, something similar happens on the web as well… as a couple of days ago, I was looking at some references to Commodore and Microsoft (yes, the BASIC inside your PET, VIC, or C64 was written by Bill Gates) and I stumbled upon a knowledge base article on the Microsoft site that talks about the compatibility of the MS serial mouse and the Commodore range of PC clones.
The article states that the info of course is “as is” as it relates to products that are no longer supported (Windows 2.03 to 3.1) but it sure was a bit of a surprise to me that they would actually keep a knowledge base article online for this long… it goes back to the early early days of the web, and probably was put online in those early days when Windows 95 was the de facto OS for PCs but people still had their old 386-based computers running Microsoft’s earlier OSes (which would then still be on the supported software list).
A few extra searches on the Microsoft site yielded some more Commodore references, as I found two documents listing the Windows 3.0 and 3.1 hardware compatibility lists, featuring the Commodore PCs and laptops.
In a way, it’s similar to finding the old tickets hidden inside a 120 year old book. It’s an unmistakable reference to the history of the Commodore PCs, that were around at the time that Microsoft would set out and conquer the PC world with its Windows 95 operating system… it’s these little traces of history that make collecting the “old silicon” so much more fun!