back to article Beige pencil stockists on high alert as 'Colouring Book of Retro Computers' hits the crowdfunding circuit

Neil Thomas, host of the RMC vintage computing and gaming YouTube channel, is crowdfunding a colouring book of vintage computing hardware. Covering the 1970s through to the early 2000s, Thomas's latest nostalgia-grab – following a compact hardback collecting interviews carried out for his YouTube channel – asks backers to keep …

  1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

    Data centre

    When I worked for ICL in Reading in the 1980's, the servers were all in the big computer hall in Bracknell. A colleague called up the service desk about a problem on one he was using and was asked to identify it. He gave the reference, and the service person asked:

    "Is it the blue one in the corner?"

    1. goldcd

      Re: Data centre

      And was it?

      You can't just leave us hanging here.

      1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

        Re: Data centre

        I genuinely don't know.


        I hang my head in shame, and will wear sackcloth and ashes for eternity*, and ring a bell whenever I dare go 'outside' shouting "Unclean! Unclean!" to warn people wherever I go of my transgression.

        Can you ever forgive me?

        *Or until I get bored.

        1. Trigun

          Re: Data centre

          I'd say "Shame! Shame!", but you'd have to leave off the sack cloth and ashes and you might frighten the children lol.

          1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

            Re: frighten the children (that'll be the day)

            Trigun: "you might frighten the children"

            Children treat me with utter contempt, as a resource to be exploited. They take one look at me and decide that I am both harmless and malleable.

            TRUE STORY:

            I was in a shop, harmlessly looking at a low level display of various stationary items (staplers, I think). A man and small boy entered the shop. The man goes to a different display across the floor, the little boy walks immediately over to me and stands between me and what I'm looking at. I hold out my hands to usher him sideways so I can make my choice of stapler, and he literally grabbed hold of my hands and started walking up my legs.

            I mean, WTF???

            I had never seen him before in my life. I don't even look like Mr Bean.

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Data centre

        Just eject the cdrom to be sure

    2. PM from Hell

      Re: Data centre

      in the 80's that may have been the only blue box left in that data hall as that would have been a 1900 series machine, for the 2900 series we went 'Hot Tango' I did visit one user site after they upgraded and they were strident in their complaints that the new colour clashed with the data center decor/

      1. Admiral Grace Hopper

        Re: Data centre

        I worked on a site where the data centre had been painted to match and tone with the beige/hot tango of the 2900 machines that it was built for. Quite striking when you walked in for the first time.

        1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

          Re: Data centre

          About half way through my time at ICL, I recall being told that they had decided to go 'multi-coloured', on the finding that getting a replacement panel just the right shade of faded beige* to go with the old kit on their customer sites was well-nigh impossible. And that if all the machines were different colours it didn't matter.

          *Or, indeed, 'just the wrong shade of pink'. ;o)

    3. Smudged

      Re: Data centre

      Are they going to include a System25 in the colouring book though, that's the question?

  2. Mike 137 Silver badge

    Nice project

    I really hope this succeeds. The biggest barrier I've encountered when teaching ICT is the short vision of its history the students have - typically the last decade at best, and that leads to a fallacious view that "everything is changing so fast". In fact, the core principles of computer technologies haven't really changed much in half a century, and the circle has been run round several times in many cases.

    1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

      Re: Nice project

      The corners are changing fast.

  3. DJV Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Good for Neil

    I've been following his channel for a number of years now and it's amazing what he is putting together. One day, when all this COVID malarkey is history, I'd like to take a trip to Gloucestershire to view the Cave in person.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Good for Neil

      Don't know why you were downvoted, the channel is great and he's clearly living the dream.

  4. wolfetone Silver badge

    Shirley he could just make the images available on the internet so we can print them off on our 24 pin dot matrix printers?

    1. Chris Evans

      Pah! 24pins!

      Us mere mortals only had 9 pin printers. I wrote and sold a ROM (MultiFontNLQ) for the BBC that intercepted the printer output and converted it to two passes of graphics on a 9pin dot matrix printer to give Near Letter Quality print out.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Pah! 24pins!

        I had a Tandy dot-matrix printer that had just 7 pins. OK for text but nothing more. I persevered for a while and wrote a routine that could print a screen dump from a BBC or Electron. It was an assembler routine called up in BBC BASIC (which, those of a certain age will recall, whilst BASIC was an interpreted language, it was able to compile blocks of assembler on the first pass). Did what I needed but soon swapped the Tandy out for a Star color one. Had that for several years, only replaced when the Laserjet III made anything better affordable.

        1. Skiron Bronze badge

          Re: Pah! 24pins!

          I had a 7 pin dot matrix also - it used to bloody annoy me when printing ᵍ's as the tail didn't fit right in a 7 x 5 character block.

        2. DJO Silver badge

          Re: Pah! 24pins!

          I persevered for a while and wrote a routine that could print a screen dump from a BBC or Electron.

          I, in an attempt to vibrate the table to pieces wrote a routine to print images using the full stop and micro-positioning in a Diablo daisy-wheel printer.

          It was slow, noisy and of inevitably low resolution but kind of worked. In a way it was a one pin matrix printer.

    2. Flightmode

      There's a digital-download-only option available...

      1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge


        Will there be an ascii art version?

    3. NXM Bronze badge

      I've still got an 8-pin Epson in the Dead Format Museum! Along with an RCA Selectavision player, Philips N1700 vcr's, BBC computers, a Nixie voltmeter, Atari computer, original Laserdisc players, etc etc. Young uns don't appreciate how difficult and expensive it was to do anything such as store & replay media then.

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge

        a Nixie voltmeter,

        I have a couple, even one in the common multimeter form factor, about the same size as an Unigor (of which there are also a few around).

        The electronics lab at the University had digital counters/frequency meters with four or five digits (not sure there), with columns of numbers showing the value by lighting a filament bulb behind the number for that digit.

  5. Sam Therapy

    Spectrum colour scheme

    Only the very first of 'em had grey keys, subsequent issues had blue grey, similar to the centre section of a 60s Dalek. Yes, I am a geek.

  6. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

    Oh, I wish...

    ...I had had the foresight to have taken some photos in our mainframe room at uni.

    I do still have one blank punchcard with the "University Computing Center" imprint.

  7. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

    Clash of the titans

    If you use more than one colour when filling in the Spectrum pic, does it go all blocky with colour clash?

  8. harmjschoonhoven

    no colouring required

    My Torch XXX UNIX System V desktop (1986) was white - the only colour available.

    1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

      Re: no colouring required

      By now it must be beige.

      1. David 132 Silver badge

        Re: no colouring required

        Fun trivia fact*: Most of the 70s/80s computers that we think of as beige were actually designed as pure white.

        Alas, the designers didn't take into account the fact that everyone in the factory and on the assembly line smoked.

        *actually not a fact

  9. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Apple ][

    It always amused me that the Apple ][ series came in beige but the HiRes mode could only produce black, white, purple, green, orange, and cyan. Adding to that, selecting purple/green or orange/cyan was at the byte level so they could not be blended. Single pixels always produced a color.

    Having an Apple ][ show a picture of itself required some creative coloring and shading.

  10. Mike Richards

    Maybe they can find lots of SGI machines which came in pretty much every colour other than beige.

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge


      PDPs weren't that wild, but the 8 and the earlier 11 models would have the filler front panels in black, the topmost panel half red, half purple, and of course the CPU panel with a row of red and purple toggle switches. The DEC10 and early VAXes were mostly light beige but with blue accents, the DEC20 was beige with reddish orange. Later VAXes were beige/brown (ugh). And then Bob (spit) Palmer changed the filler colour in the [D][I][G][I][T][A][L] emblem squares from blue (and it had been black before that) to burgundy (more ugh).

  11. Trigun

    Hey! No BBC Micro yet? Hmmmpph!

  12. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Colour me quite interested

    RMC is a terrific YouTube computing channel.

    Well worth a look in.

    Now, where did I put my box of 72 Derwents?

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