VIC-20 The friendly computer

Domenica 15 Agosto 2021, 17:26

2021-08/vespacommodore.jpgIt’s been a long while since my last post on this blog. This boring era made of real time social things and dynamic digital networks full of contacts and followers (my optimal number of social interactions is far below the Dunbar’s number!) is eroding the time once devoted to write something more well-finished.

Anyway, a new post in the end, 5 years from my last one here. I will write again about retro-nerd-things and restorations I usually make during holidays, when I am far from everyday duties.

This year, also due to the home relocation we started months ago and which is still unfinished, I dedicated my time to fix and restore my first computer, yes the first one I have ever, ever had in my hands. All of my so long forgotten knowledge about it is deeply buried in the mist of my childhood memories, back to early 1984 if I am correct.

In that year Piaggio (my father then worked for them in a big bike dealership in Bologna) launched an ad campaign focused on a Commodore VIC-20 given away as a gift for customers purchasing a Vespa PX125. I can clearly remember those coloured boxes lying on the shelves, in the customer care area of BeMotor (the dealership’s name, today oriented in selling cars only).

Scritto da Silicon_Simon | | Un commento | Tag usati: , ,

Cray-1 - The home supercomputer

Giovedì 01 Dicembre 2016, 20:50

Cray-1AIt took me almost a year to complete the Cray-1 project during my spare time. When I decided to build a physical copy of the first supercomputer ever, as faithful as possible, I found on the web a lot of inspiring examples (just like this one by Chris Fenton). In 1975 the 80 MHz Cray-1A was announced. Excitement was so high that a bidding war for the first machine broke out between Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory, the latter eventually winning and receiving serial number 001 in 1976 for a six-month trial. Since then, the Cray-1 supercomputer reigned as the world’s fastest from 1976 to 1982 (source).

My personal 1:8 Cray-1A was made laser cutting some plexiglass sheets after a careful drafting process of the main vertical framework, which originally hosted over 60 miles of wire with no segment longer than 3 inches, to minimize signal delays. Amazing! My Cray-1A is equipped with a Rasperry Pi 2 board (out of 12 possible parallel slots) running a customized Os: a dedicated I2C controller drives a 16x2 characters LCD blue display while wi-fi and bluetooth interfaces guarantee wireless connections.

Scritto da Silicon_Simon | | Sei commenti

New retro-arrival at TC Labs!

Venerdì 29 Giugno 2012, 13:23

iMac G4

Destinata a Luisa non appena "revamped" alla versione 10.2.8, è arrivata una vera chicca Apple ad arricchire il retro-museo, un iMac G4 del 2002: la "palla", o "lampada"! Dotata di tastiera, mouse e diffusori originali: un oggetto di design davvero affascinante. Di seguito un po' di info tecniche...

Scritto da simon | | Nessun commento | Tag usati: , , ,

SGI VW540 @ TC Labs

Venerdì 11 Marzo 2011, 13:08

SGI 540 On january 11 1999, Silicon Graphics Inc. (SGI) announced a new line of "desktop workstations for visual computing" which could take advantage of the power and flexibility of Microsoft Windows NT.
These workstations, the Silicon Graphics 320 and the Silicon Graphics 540, were custom-designed for high end "visual computing" applications such as video production, 3D medical imaging, Computer Aided Design (CAD), film and television special effects, and topography mapping. They were the first SGI machines hosting Intel Pentium III Xeon CPUs and executind an operating system different from IRIX.
A 540 visual workstation arrived some days ago at TC Labs, enriching our SGI TC Project collection. Now we have an Octane, an O2, a Fuel and of course the new VW540 beast. The system comes from Germany and, although in good conditions, has not any OS installed. This is the running commentary of how I tried to revive it from the ashes.

Scritto da simon | | Un commento
  • 1


Dal 2004 questo piccolo angolo di rete raccoglie gli interessi di ricerca e i lavori di sperimentazione digitale di Simone Garagnani in materia di cultura geek, ma soprattutto di Building Information Modeling, rilievi digitali ad alta risoluzione e computer graphics legata al mondo dell'architettura, dell'ingegneria e delle costruzioni. TC Project, è presente anche sul social network Facebook.


Welcome to these pages that host since 2004 Simone Garagnani's personal blog, a collection of nerd notes and geek experiences focused sometimes on Building Information Modeling, terrestrial laser scanning, digital photogrammetry and computer graphics applied to the AEC world. The TC Project is also available on Facebook.

Segui le attività in TC Project: Registrazione
Follow TC Project activities: Registration/login



GreenSpider plug-in for Autodesk Revit

Free download here (latest release)



  • English (23)
  • Italiano (4)
  • Ingegneria (9)
  • Architettura (13)
  • Design (0)
  • Ricerca e sviluppo (27)
  • Eventi (24)
  • Pubblicazioni (8)
  • Materiali didattici (5)
  • GreenSpider (10)
  • Berkeley (15)
  • Pixar (4)
  • Retrocomputing (4)
  • SGI (5)
  • Keio (3)
  • Serious fun (8)
  • Archivi

    Ultimi commenti

    Trevor Dwyer (VIC-20 The friend…): Hi there, I feel your pain on updates and the internet not being the same these days – well since 199…
    SiliconSimon (Cray-1 - The home…): If someone is interested in my little Cray’s files, please PM me since I do not often read comments o…
    SiliconSimon (Cray-1 - The home…): Of course Mike, I sent you a PM!
    Robert (Cray-1 - The home…): If it’s possible, I would love to get the files from you for this project. I have a Cray-1 chip sitti…
    Mike (Cray-1 - The home…): Are the files still available?
    MojaMonkey (SGI VW540 @ TC La…): Hi Simon? This is a long shot but I was wondering if you have a copy of the SGI drivers required to…