Fun computer facts

Any fun facts about computers you would like to share?

Share them in this thread. But they must be factual.

I’ll start it off with this fact.

ARM CPU’s are used in smart phones, tablets, and even servers.
The reason I bring this up is, Apple have announced they will drop Intel CPU’s in their desktops and laptops, and start using ARM based processors.

But what does ARM stand for?
Acorn Risc Machine

Acorn, the inventor of ARM from Cambridge UK, first produced computers way back in the early 1980’s. They won a contract from the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) to build a PC for schools. The idea was that every school classroom in the UK would have a PC.

The PC that Acorn came up with was the BBC model B computer. At the time it was state of the art.
Acorn went on to release their own PC named the Acorn Atom.

Acorn invented the ARM RISC architecture, and released a PC known as the Acorn RISC Machine. RISC stands for Reduced Instruction Set Computer in 1989.

They found if you reduced the instruction set, then the core could execute these instructions very quickly.

So there you have a brief history of ARM.


This is a more personal fact relative to me. I still use daily a Northgate Omnikey keyboard I bought along with a 486 CPU computer back in 1992. I remember the salesman persuading me to buy it and telling me this would be the last keyboard I would ever have to purchase. I paid a whopping $130 for it which was quite a sum in 1992 for a keyboard. It has worked flawlessly over the years needing the occasional tear down and cleaning. I have a nephew who just graduated college who has requested I give it to him when I am done using it so it will live on after I am gone. I wonder, how long it will serve him too?

The best thing about the Northgate Omnikey was the omni mechanical switches, I believe they were the first mechanical switches made in keyboards and copied by almost every gaming keyboard today. When I was working we cleaned out an old Lucent Lab building and they left 100s of old Northgate Keyboards, this was in 1994. Yes, we threw them away. But our best find was Plextor Premium ( with gigarec ) CD players that we found in 2005, in older computers but in perfect condition and we sold them for 10 dollars each as they were used. I wish I still had them. Sorry for going off-topic Wendy, but when UTR mentioned old computer keyboards I had to chime in. LOL

The keyboards that came with the original Tandy 8086 and 8088 machines and many of their early Pentium boxes were very good clicky keyboards too. Maybe they were made by Northgate. I know the original IBM keyboards were supposed to be bullet proof as well. I really tried to keep at least one decent Tandy keyboard around till I started going wireless. I don’t think any of them are as nice as those old ones were but I have a few that still work and I’ve had for probably 10 years.
In the early days you could turbo charge those early machine by swapping out the 8086 or 8088 chip with a NEC V20 or V30 depending on which chip you had. They were completely compatible and gave you about a 20 percent increase in speed for a very good price.

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Expensive keyboards are very much back in fashion, but I laugh every time I see an advert promoting use of ‘genuine Cherry mechanical switches’.

Back in my day (early to mid 1990s) Cherry keyboards were universally reviled because of their horrible spongy membrane switches. They were really bad, even compared to other membrane keyboards. :rolleyes:

A bit of computing trivia: Contrary to what many people used to think, there was an Intel 80186 processor. But you were unlikely to ever come across one, as it was always intended for use in embedded systems - not a replacement for the 8086.

In the world of general computing (as opposed to industrial machinery & other embedded systems) they were most likely to be found in early RAID controllers, and possibly a few laser printers.