back to article WEB@30: The Register pokes around historical hardware of the WWW

Double-u, double-u, double-u. "The World Wide Web is the only thing I know of whose shortened form takes three times longer to say than what it's short for," as the great Douglas Adams once said. But for those who fancy eyeballing exhibits from acoustic couplers and coffee-cams to dot-matrix printers and cartoon badgers in the …

  1. Yet Another Hierachial Anonynmous Coward

    Wot, no FX-80 ?

    A Star LC-10, but no FX-80 ? Goodness me.

    Hopefully it doesn't have an acoustic hood so visitors can bask in the full glory of all those pins hitting the paper. Maybe it might even shake itself off the table.

    A place I worked in 1991 had a lovely old daisywheel printer. great for doing text only system documents, though we tended to fill it with paper and set it on its way when we went for lunch.

    1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

      Re: Wot, no FX-80 ?

      Those were the days of the Qume Sprint 10 - a daisy that ran like a big clacky clickety wobbly foundation-cracking thing. :-)

      Not as fast as the huge 132 column band printer we inherited from the council billing department. Even watching the steel band at full speed made you wish for something safer - like an untethered grizzly bear. The noise it made and it's speed were something to behold. One rotation of the type band was three complete character sets ... ASCII art just flew through :-)

      Then there was the wide format drum printer - the stainless type drum must have weighed 30Kgs - but was perfectly balanced and whisper quiet so seemed somewhat sedate as it whirred up to speed ... Then the hammers started - an oscillating bar of 44, each servicing three columns of characters, which potentially could smack the page all at the same time so one line per 3 rotations of the drum - that thing just ate paper.

      1. John Sturdy

        Re: Wot, no FX-80 ?

        I remember the drum and chain printers the university had when I was a student (just before laser printers took off). For the older generation of them, the control unit was in the mainframe room, in the next building, and a huge bundle of thick wires ran between the buildings; I think it must have been a wire for each of the 132 hammer solenoids, with the driver circuitry at the computer end.

    2. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      Re: Wot, no FX-80 ?

      a lovely old daisywheel printer. great for doing text only system documents

      In the days when I was an academic one of our brighter postgrads programmed up graphics for the daisy wheel printer, using full stops and the ability to fine position text. Worked wonderfully(*) until fatigue set in, at which point the petal with the full stop would snap off and fly across the room.

      (*) But needed ear defenders.

    3. John Sturdy

      Re: Wot, no FX-80 ?

      The Diablo daisywheel printer had a self-test sequence that included a test of carriage alignment; it would print an H at one side of the page, then one at the other side, then one next to the first H, one next to the second H, and so on, until they met in the middle. So as it worked its way through that, the distance, and hence the time, the carriage travelled before changing direction became shorter and shorter... being sure to hit the resonant frequency of the table it was standing on at some stage.

  2. batfink Silver badge

    What - an exhibition of stuff I used to use?

    (Shudder) I've put those days behind me now...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What - an exhibition of stuff I used to use?

      Used to use?

      I visited the London Science Museum in late 1990's - saw a floppy disk drive, the same exact model that the previous week my colleague was trying to repair for a customer....

  3. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Can still recall the SKWERRRK SKWERRRRK of an Epson LX printer doing graphical dot-matrix printering.

    Good memories. And had a lot of fun too.

    Those days them purdy compootas was more personal. And hands-on, unlike today's Fisher-Price things. *sniff*

    Today you can just plug it into power, start it up, give it an username and password for your account, and away you go.

    1. adam 40 Silver badge

      Dot matrix? Luxury!

      When I were a lad I had one of those QL printers, that used some sort of electric discharge to deposit stuff on the paper.

      Each row of dots was done one at a time back and forth, leading to a distinctly wavy quality to the printout. And a faint smell of ozone.

      1. Antony Shepherd

        Re: Dot matrix? Luxury!

        Electrical discharge? You don't know you're born.

        I had a small printer/plotter which used a roll of paper slightly narrower than a bog roll and four small ballpoint pens, so when you printed out a program listing it had to write every individual character!

        To be honest, it was kind of fascinating to watch it writing stuff out. For a while, at least. Less so if I was printing a long listing!

        It was badged as ORIC but I believe it was made by Sharp.

  4. Red Ted Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Colour me interested

    A week at home with the kids suggests that a impromptu trip to Cambridge may be in order!

    1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      Re: Colour me interested

      I was going to the market tomorrow anyway, so will take a detour through the Grand Arcade.

  5. John Robson Silver badge


    Since it takes so long in received pronunciation I've always the phonetic `w` - the labio-velar approximant... as in the /w/ from "one"

  6. aregross

    That is a very small...

    ..fax machine. The first one I encountered was around 1988 and was the size of a LJII!

  7. andy gibson

    Prestel & Micronet 800

    Nothing about Prestel and Micronet 800?

  8. 1752


    acoustic couplers are no longer required?

  9. SU

    Wish I could make it up there…

    This is one of the few things that makes me want to come back and visit post brexit Britain (oh and a good pint) after giving up and leaving 16 years ago.

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