Somebody Bought YouTube Taking part in on a 40-Yr-Previous Pc

A few of the finest hacks don’t remedy any actual world issues or reinvent the wheel. They’re normally nothing greater than an train in making an attempt to make one thing work that’s both seemingly not possible or pointless: equivalent to getting YouTube to work on a 40-year-old pc with a hideously outdated show.

Though finest recognized for the extremely well-liked Commodore 64 8-bit pc that might go on to promote properly over 12 million items around the globe, Commodore was really based in 1958, lengthy earlier than the C64 arrived, and was partly liable for the private pc revolution within the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. In 1977, Commodore launched the PET pc (named in an try and make computer systems really feel like a part of the household and fewer intimidating) which appears to be like laughably outdated now however bought for properly over $3,500 when launched 45 years in the past.

Thorbjörn Jemander managed to accumulate a uncommon Commodore PET 600 which it seems was secretly a Commodore 8296 SK mannequin (with SK referring to a separate keyboard that may very well be eliminated) rebadged for the Swedish market a number of years later with a surprisingly first rate 128 KB of reminiscence. The machine’s most distinctive characteristic is a monochromatic vibrant inexperienced CRT show with the flexibility to show a whopping 80×25 grid of characters. To say it’s ugly by in the present day’s display requirements is an understatement, so what higher method to make use of this relic of the early desktop PCs than by getting YouTube movies to play on it?

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Watching YouTube on a Commodore Pet

Not solely was the PET 600’s display restricted to simply displaying characters (letters, numbers, punctuation, and so forth.) however the machines behind them have been impossibly gradual, typically taking a number of seconds to load and show lists of information or different information. There was zero likelihood a devoted YouTube app may very well be developed for Commodore BASIC which the PET 600 ran, so Jemander needed to take the lengthy street.

They created a mix of {hardware} and software program they dubbed the BlixTerm which took the type of a cartridge related to certainly one of the PET 600’s growth ports on the again. Contained in the cartridge is a Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W which connects to YouTube over wifi, hundreds a requested video, after which converts the 640×200 grayscale stream to an 80×25 grid of ASCII characters from the PET’s inside ROM.

A second interface card hundreds the generated frames from the Raspberry Pi into the PET’s video reminiscence, which is the bottleneck of the method given the vintage PC’s restricted processing energy, however by way of optimization, Jemander managed to realize a really watchable 30 FPS playback velocity. Watching YouTube on a 45-year-old desktop PC is much from straightforward on the eyes, however the truth that it’s even attainable is past spectacular.

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