Geeks of a Certain Age Will Dig These YouTubers Bringing 1990s Computing Back to Life

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I’ve recently discovered the straightforwardly pleasurable joy of retro computer videos on YouTube. I’m not talking about deep computer history, I’m talking about people on YouTube who will happily spend 20 minutes going through a detailed unboxing of a “brand new” IBM XT by YouTuber LGR

…or loving restoring an 8-bit Dragon 32 micro by RetroManCave (one of which happened to have been my first computer)…

Also, you can get hours of fun just seeing The 8-Bit Guy soldering microchips into a brand new 8-bit hobby computer: (This is wonderful, as The 8-Bit Guy happens to have colourblindness, so to sort out the resistors in his kit that he needs to solder, he carefully and slowly uses a multimeter to get the resistance of each. It’s the geek version of ASMR…)

One retro computing star, Perifractic — who may be my favourite tbh — even shows you how to create a brand new Commodore 64. Crazy.

I’ve found these videos so so relaxing and, if you’re of a certain age (*cough*), they’re a genuinely nice trip down memory lane.

What jumps out if you watch enough of these though, is that when we look back at the 1990s, there are just so many weird and wonderful products — a sort of Silicon Cambrian Explosion. The best of these can be found curated by LGR (the YouTuber linked first above), who has a series called “Oddware”. I remember back in the late-90s living in Phoenix and going into their (new) Fry’s Electronics and it being packed with just the most bizarre stuff, as companies tried to work out just how computers and the internet would end up being used.

Here’s some of the, um, oddities on LGR’s Oddware. You can see the whole set here, but these are some of my favourites.

Iomega Zip Drives

Iomega Clik! Drives — ultraportable storage, trumped by the rise of Flash

Datasonic Pereos — backup up to 1.25GB onto (micro) cassette table

IBM Model M13 Trackpoint Keyboard — keyboard with built in laptop-style navigation nubbin

IBM 5151 Monochrome display and Hercules graphics card

Those are just some I liked. There are tons more videos on Clint’s (LGR’s) channel, but as mentioned there are scores of other retro computing enthusiasts on YouTube.

(And, unlike most common uses of YouTube, all these videos are child friendly and not intended to shock and appal!)

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