Our friends over at Hack42 in the Netherlands decided to have some fun with their computer museum. So far, they’ve been able to display the Hack a Day retro site on three classic computers — including an Apple Lisa, a DEC GIGI, and a run of the mill DEC VT100. We had the opportunity to visit Hack42 last October during our Hackerspacing in Europe trip – but just as a refresher if you don’t remember, Hack42 is in Arnhem, in the Netherlands — just outside of Germany. The compound was built in 1942 as a German military base, disguised as a bunch of farmhouses. It is now home to Hack42, artist studios, and other random businesses. The neat thing is, its location is still blurred out on Google Maps! Needless to say, their hackerspace has lots of space. Seriously. So much so they have their own computer museum! Which is why they’ve decided to have some fun with them… To get Hack a Day Retro on these old computers they are using an old Debian Compaq machine as the host computer for the DECServer90m. The DECServer90m is a remote serial port server with 8 configurable serial ports. It’s used as a terminal server for VAX, nicorVAX or other similar computers. It connects using coax Ethernet to be configured. The serial ports can be setup for printers, modems, or in this case, dumb terminals like the DEC VT100, or an Apple Lisa.
The Lisa was one of the first systems to use a mouse and a graphical desktop!
The DEC GIGI VK100 is a strange beast. Even DEC did’t know what to think of it and couldn’t properly market the machine, thinking it was just a dumb terminal with color support and some extra gizmo’s like basic and graphics. It looks like a over-sized Commodore C64 but it has some nice connectors on the back, like a current-loop (for serial connections to even older computers than a VAX like a PDP8 minicomputer and three BNC connectors for component color output.)
They’re currently working on an even more complicated method to get some really old computers to display the page!