Tag Archives: computers

Any off-air recordings of “The Famous Computer Cafe”–?

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Devin, who writes:

I am a game historian conducting research on early computer games. There is one radio program of particular historical significance called The Famous Computer Cafe that interviewed all the early movers and shakers of early computing, including Philip Estridge, Bill Gates, Bill Atkinson, Gene Rodenberry, and Stewart Brand. The show ran from 1983-1986 primarily in the Los Angeles area, but was distributed nationally over NPR starting in 1985. Only one recording is known to exist, along with a few transcripts, as the original tapes were lost years ago.

Here are more details on the show:

“There were several versions of the show, which aired on several radio stations, primarily in California. A live, daily half-hour version allowed phone calls from listeners. Taped versions (running a half-hour and up to two hours) also aired daily. The show started in 1983 on two stations in the Los Angeles area: KFOX 93.5 FM and KIEV 870 AM. In 1985 it began airing in the California Bay Area: on KXLR 1260 AM in San Francisco and KCSM 91.1 FM in San Matro, and KSDO 1130 AM in San Diego. [Note: KIEV ran 3:30-4pm M-F and KFOX 7:30am-8:00am and 6:00pm-6:30pm. I do not have information on the times for the 1 hour show.]

Also in 1985 a nationally syndicated, half-hour non-commercial version of The Famous Computer Cafe was available via satellite to National Public Radio stations around the United States, though it’s not clear today which stations ran it.”


I was hoping the Spectrum Archive might have some recordings within some of your files, particularly from the LA area. What additional information would I need to provide you in order to better locate some recordings?

Thank you for your help,


Thank you for your inquiry, Devin. I’m a huge fan of early personal computing and game broadcasts, but never heard the The Famous Computer Cafe. Unfortunately–as I mentioned via email–the Spectrum Archive nor the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive have any recordings of the program.

I’m willing to bet an SWLing Post reader may be familiar with the show, however.

Post Readers: If you have any information that could help Devin, please comment on this post. It would be brilliant if someone actually made an off-air recording of the show back int he day.

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Time for a new shack PC–any suggestions?

My trusty Gateway tower PC here at SWLing Post HQ is finally showing signs of wear–the boot drive is getting noisy, the cooling fans are being taxed and Win 10 can’t even complete the latest update. I purchased the Gateway in 2012 as a “shack” PC and loaded it with SDR applications, logging programs and very little else. It has an Intel core i5 processor 2320 which has handled running multiple SDR applications simultaneously with little problem.

I could tear apart this PC, try to find the issues and replace parts, but I think I might do better simply upgrading the whole system.

I no longer feel like I need a tower PC configuration–I’d rather have something with a smaller footprint–though I do appreciate the accessibility inside to swap parts and make incremental upgrades. I also like having a built-in optical drive and SD card reader which are typical features on tower PCs.

Since I connect no less than three or four SDRs and an external hard drive all at once, USB ports are a necessity.

Any recommendations?

I’m out of touch with current PC models, but here are a list of my needs and wants.


  • Recent generation Intel i5 or i7 processor
  • Minimum of four USB 3.0 ports
  • Quiet power supply (to minimize RFI, of course)
  • Affordable: $500-600 budget
  • Windows 10 operating system
  • Potential for longevity (6 years+)
  • 12+ GB of RAM (or the ability to add)


  • Solid state boot drive (or the ability to add later)
  • Dual display support
  • Optical drive (CD/DVD)
  • Small footprint
  • No bloatware to delete
  • Quiet

I’m currently considering:

Any other suggestions or advice?  Please comment!

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Raspberry Pi 3 Available

RaspberryPi3“Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water . . .” From the Raspberrypi.org Blog blog comes news of a new board with greater processing speed and integrated hardware.

“In celebration of our fourth birthday, we thought it would be fun to release something new. Accordingly, Raspberry Pi 3 is now on sale for $35 (the same price as the existing Raspberry Pi 2), featuring:

  • A 1.2GHz 64-bit quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 CPU (~10x the performance of Raspberry Pi 1)
  • Integrated 802.11n wireless LAN and Bluetooth 4.1
  • Complete compatibility with Raspberry Pi 1 and 2

“The 900MHz 32-bit quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 CPU complex has been replaced by a custom-hardened 1.2GHz 64-bit quad-core ARM Cortex-A53. Combining a 33% increase in clock speed with various architectural enhancements, this provides a 50-60% increase in performance in 32-bit mode versus Raspberry Pi 2, or roughly a factor of ten over the original Raspberry Pi.

“Raspberry Pi 3 is available to buy today from our partners element14 and RS Components, and other resellers. You’ll need a recent NOOBS or Raspbian image from our downloads page. At launch, we are using the same 32-bit Raspbian userland that we use on other Raspberry Pi devices; over the next few months we will investigate whether there is value in moving to 64-bit mode.”

At $35 these computers are a steal, and now with Bluetooth and Wireless built in, they are even more affordable. I have a Raspberry Pi 2 already, but I have a feeling one of these will end up in my shack before too long!

Robert Gulley, AK3Q, is the author of this post and a regular contributor to the SWLing Post. Robert also blogs at All Things Radio.

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