It’s 1984, And You Can’t Afford A Computer. Never Mind, Have This Pop-Up Paper One Instead!

It’s an oft-derided sentiment from a Certain Type of Older Person, that the Youth of Today don’t know how lucky they are with their technology. Back when they were young they were happy with paper and string! Part of the hilarity comes from their often getting the technology itself wrong, for example chastising the youngsters for their iPods and Game Boys when in reality those long-ago-retired devices are edging into the realm of retrotechnology.

But maybe they have a point after all, because paper and string could be pretty good fun to play with. Take the example presented  in a Twitter thread by [Marcin Wichary]. A pop-up book from 1984 that presents the inner workings of a computer in an astounding level of detail, perhaps it stretches the pop-up card designer’s art to the limit, but along the way it makes a fascinating read for any retrocomputing enthusiast. Aside from the pop-up model of the computer with an insertable floppy disk that brings text onto the screen we see at  first, there is a pop-up keyboard with a working key, a peer inside the workings of a floppy disc, a circuit board complete with a paper chip that the reader can insert into a socket, and a simulation of a CRT electron bean using a piece of string. A Twitter thread on a book is not our normal fare, but this one is something special!

Did any of you have this book when you were younger? Perhaps you still have it? We’d love to hear from you in the comments. It’s probably not the type of book we normally review, but we’ve been known to venture slightly outside tech on that front.

40 thoughts on “It’s 1984, And You Can’t Afford A Computer. Never Mind, Have This Pop-Up Paper One Instead!

        1. My daughter’s Nintendo DS had a flip the pages animation program, which she loved. But I was unable to get through to her that each following picture should be slightly (not completely!) different for the full effect!
          B^)

    1. How has reading these Twitter barrages to get information become an accepted thing?

      Why wouldn’t this person (not to single him out, I know many others are doing it) put this information into a more rational format? It’s bad enough so many people are now forgoing the written word in favor of 10 minute videos you have to sit through, but this is an insult on a whole new level.

    1. Cute picture. Although your description reminded me of an actual paper computer “programming guide” I got when young that once assembled actually let you step through writing and running a program.
      It was called “Cardiac”, aka “CARDboard Illustrated Aid to Computers”, a fold-up thing with sliders and cutout holes to visually see how a CPU would do its thing. It really helped me wrap my 10 year old brain around assembly language programming.
      I’d be surprised if scanned PDFs weren’t out there for the thing.

  1. How about a real paper computer called the CARDIAC? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CARDboard_Illustrative_Aid_to_Computation
    there is also a great new book available on Amazon that includes about the CARDIAC and other paper computers, as well as including one in the back of the book!
    The Paper Computer Unfolded: A Twenty-First Century Guide to the Bell Labs CARDIAC (CARDboard Illustrative Aid to Computation), the LMC (Little Man Computer), and the IPC (Instructo Paper Computer)
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1537421131

  2. GREAT stuff, all…
    Except, I do not twiy, nor those others, woise names.I oddly do not recall, suddenly… LOL! What an odd curious sudden mental block! Well, nothing lost, no harm.

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