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HomeTechnologyGadgetsSomeone Got YouTube Playing on a 40-Year-Old Computer

Someone Got YouTube Playing on a 40-Year-Old Computer

Some of one of the best hacks don’t resolve any actual world issues or reinvent the wheel. They’re normally nothing greater than an train in attempting to make one thing work that’s both seemingly unattainable or pointless: comparable to getting YouTube to work on a 40-year-old laptop with a hideously outdated display.

Although finest identified for the extremely widespread Commodore 64 8-bit laptop that will go on to promote effectively over 12 million items world wide, Commodore was truly based in 1958, lengthy earlier than the C64 arrived, and was partly liable for the private laptop revolution within the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. In 1977, Commodore released the PET computer (named in an attempt to make computers feel like part of the family and less intimidating) which looks laughably outdated now but sold for well over $3,500 when introduced 45 years ago.

Thorbjörn Jemander managed to acquire a rare Commodore PET 600 which it turns out was secretly a Commodore 8296 SK model (with SK referring to a separate keyboard that could be removed) rebadged for the Swedish market a few years later with a surprisingly decent 128 KB of memory. The machine’s most distinctive characteristic is a monochromatic shiny inexperienced CRT show with the power to show a whopping 80×25 grid of characters. To say it’s ugly by at present’s display requirements is an understatement, so what higher manner to make use of this relic of the early desktop PCs than by getting YouTube movies to play on it?

Watching YouTube on a Commodore Pet

Not solely was the PET 600’s display restricted to only displaying characters (letters, numbers, punctuation, and so on.) however the machines behind them had been impossibly sluggish, usually taking a couple of seconds to load and show lists of information or different information. There was zero probability a devoted YouTube app might 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 they dubbed the BlixTerm which took the type of a cartridge related to one among the PET 600’s growth ports on the again. Inside the cartridge is a Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W which connects to YouTube over wifi, masses a requested video, after which converts the 640×200 grayscale stream to an 80×25 grid of ASCII characters from the PET’s inner ROM.

A second interface card masses 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 means of optimization, Jemander managed to realize a really watchable 30 FPS playback velocity. Watching YouTube on a 45-year-old desktop PC is way from straightforward on the eyes, however the truth that it’s even doable is past spectacular.

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