Tag Archives: austin

The Goodwill Computer Museum

Goodwill Computer Museum

Last week I had a chance to visit the Goodwill Computer Museum, conveniently located (for me) here in Austin, Texas.

The museum is a small part of the Goodwill Computer Works, a computer and electronics recycling center operated by Goodwill.  The site accepts donations of both computer and non computer-related items, like clothes and household items.   To enter the museum, you first pass through the computer store.  Here you can buy used computers as well as cables, wall warts, keyboards, flat panel displays, wireless routers,  graphics cards, and even some software.  I’ve even seen some small pieces of surplus electronic equipment there, as well as some vintage computers, so I’ll be adding this store to the surplus wiki.

There is a lot of interesting stuff on display.  Along one wall, there is an assortment of TRS-80 machines, a Model 100, and some home video game consoles, including an Atari Super Pong and a Magnavox Odyssey.

Goodwill Computer Museum

The luggable TRS-80 PT-210 includes a built-in acoustic coupler!

Goodwill Computer Museum

Apple is well-represented as well.  There’s an Apple Lisa 2 on display.  Retail price in 1984: $10,000!

Goodwill Computer Museum

Standing tall near the entrance is a Data General Nova system.  Flickr user P^2 Paul points out that “Tracy Kidder wrote a great book about DG, the Nova, and the development of the Eclipse.  The Soul of a New Machine.”

Goodwill Computer Museum

I love the crinkle finish on this Dynabyte DB8/4.  I can’t find much information about this machine online, except this post about a DB8/1 that has a Z-80 CPU and an S-100 bus.

Goodwill Computer Museum

The Osborne 1, released in 1981, was designed by Lee Felsenstein.  I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with Lee on a couple occasions.  He has a lot of interesting stories and is still designing electronics.

Goodwill Computer Museum

What would a computer museum in Austin be without a shrine to Michael Dell?  Here’s a PC’s Limited Turbo PC (there’s one of these at the Smithsonian!)  PC’s Limited eventually became… you guessed it, Dell.

Goodwill Computer Museum

There’s a painstakingly-restored PDP 8/S (apparently ‘S’ unofficially stands for ‘Slow’) in one corner of the main exhibit area.

Goodwill Computer Museum

I was happy to see this Heathkit oscilloscope.  I had a far-uglier Heathkit ‘scope when I was in high school.  Mine had tubes inside.  I’m guessing this one does, too.

Goodwill Computer Museum

In 2007, Jon Stanley constructed a relay computer named RC-2.  It is on display here, and I got to see a preview of RC-3 in the back room!

Goodwill Computer Museum

Computer Terminal Corporation (later Datapoint) was based in San Antonio and made the Datapoint 2200 shown on the desk.  I’m pretty sure the rest of this equipment is CTC, but I’m not sure exactly what models are shown.

Goodwill Computer Museum

To see more of the museum, check out the photoset on flickr.

Ahh, that’s better!

About a month ago, I complained about Time Warner’s anemic upstream bandwidth cap on home cable modem service.  (512k!  Oh, the humanity!)

Well, a phone call to Time Warner and $10 a month later, my cap has been increased to 2 Mb.  They call this their “Turbo” plan.  (Turbo == fast, right?)

The asymmetry of my speedtest result below is still laughable, but the improvement in upstream AND downstream performance is very noticeable.  Now my uploads to Flickr don’t completely saturate the connection and more than one person can actually use the network without hosing everyone else.

I still suspect that my upstream bandwidth puts a cap on the actual download performance I can achieve.  I haven’t been able to find a rule of thumb to calculate how much upstream bandwidth is required to support a 20+ Mb/s download.

Surely there is a relationship between data coming down the pipe and the acknowledgements (or other handshaking packets) that are sent back?

Ahh, that's better.

Getting settled in Austin

Welcome to Texas

We made it!  Driving a moving truck almost 2000 miles across America was no picnic (it gets HOT in Arizona) but ~4 days of travel were relatively uneventful (only one flat tire!). Pretty much everything made it intact, including a few hundred pounds of lab benches and equipment.  (Note to self, next time get twice as many moving pads as seems necessary!)

My wife and I have been getting acquainted with our new city.  One of the interesting/unique things about Austin is the local trailer food scene.  One example, shown below, is odd duck, where you can purchase local, sustainable, gourmet wood fired food out of a trailer in South Austin.  Yum.

odd duck

The biggest downside to Austin I have found so far (aside from the lack of In-n-Out and Trader Joe’s) has been the pitiful upstream bandwidth that Time Warner provides with their Roadrunner internet service.   Check out these Speedtest results:

Time Warner Austin 8/2/10

Holy asymmetric internet access, Batman!

Compare those results with this test I ran before I packed up my computer in San Francisco:

Comcast San Francisco 6/30/10

Over 4 megabits!  If only I knew how lucky I was on Comcast when I could upload entire Flickr albums and HD videos in minutes!

Time Warner – 512K?  Really?

Ok, that’s enough for now – time to unpack the power supplies and oscilloscope.

PS. I almost forgot.  There are a few pictures of the move on Flickr.

MightyOhm is moving!

Austin, here we come!

I apologize for the slow updates as of late, but I have some big news that I would like to share with you:

MightyOhm is moving to Austin, Texas!

While the move should be pretty much transparent to anyone reading the blog, there will be a lot going on behind the scenes in the next few weeks.  Most significantly, orders placed after July 9th will not be shipped before August 1st. The move will continue to take time away from the blog as I figure out how to move an electronics lab across three states.  Don’t expect too many posts in the next few weeks!

I am sad to be leaving San Francisco (and the many friends I have made in this wonderful city), but I’m eager to explore a new city, meet new friends, and make Austin my home.  Once I get settled, I would really like to meet some other electronics geeks in the area.  If anyone who reads the blog lives in or near Austin, please send me an e-mail or comment below to say hello!

That reminds me: Does anyone know where to find surplus electronic parts in Austin?  If you do, please post a comment here or add it to the wiki.  As soon as I unpack, I’ll be looking for local substitutes for Silicon Valley’s HSC and Weird Stuff.

That’s all for now.  Time to pack up my soldering iron and oscilloscope!