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Are questions about the history of computer systems on-topic, even when there's no intent of running them now?

This site is about retrocomputing, not about computing history. But computing history is kind of inherent in retrocomputing, so… I don't know. Does it count as retrocomputing if a question is solely about a system's impact back when it was new, and not about making that system work in a modern context?

This would be a typical example (it's also on-topic where it is, on Unix & Linux; but is it on-topic here?).

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I think we should be inclusive of computing history questions here, there's no other real suitable place on the network and there's plenty to be learned from the history of various companies that can give insights into the hardware designs etc.

  • As long as it's related to retrocomputing, though. The issue with "what is history? what is news or too recent?" is going to pop up at some point. – Sklivvz Apr 20 '16 at 9:05
  • Agreed... if the 'history' is regarding machines that wouldn't fit on the site, then the history doesn't fit on the site. – Matt Lacey Apr 20 '16 at 9:57
  • By definition, this site is concerned with the application of historical artefacts (machines, software, etc.) and information. There are ways of placing history within context for the purpose of constructing good questions and answers. – user12 Apr 20 '16 at 15:28
  • I'd agree that retrocomputing history totally belongs. We're talking about the use and enhancement of historical objects, so not talking about their history would be like talking about classic art without talking about their context. – Eric Shepherd Apr 20 '16 at 20:31
  • I agree with this answer, and it's comments. I don't think you can talk about retro computing and not take the history of these machines into account. – Brian Blake Apr 21 '16 at 21:28
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It should be inherently on-topic as these types of questions are on-topic for our site.

But these questions should be made sure they are not like:

When was {product} first released?

or

In what year was the most retro machinery bought

and etc. I can't think of good examples so I'll let the community post some questions and decide for themselves what is on-topic and what is not. Of course, when that is determined, I will edit my answer to match that.

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Hmm, I would find it distracting myself and would prefer the community to focus on hardware and software. Plenty of history would be relevant along the way.

But just Q&A about history ... I think those are more like discussions with differing opinions and recollections, mis-remembered facts, other people filling in the blanks.

I would hope it has a home somewhere - and a more appropriate home than the SE format.

  • I have to take umbrage with the statement that history is all opinion or hearsay. If this were true, then most of what we consider, well, "truth" would be completely meaningless. What we want are reasonably verified and verifiable statements that put some specific piece of information in its proper context. Which is what historians do, and what we can do, too. – user12 Apr 20 '16 at 15:25
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    @jdv: No need to take umbrage. My point (an opinion) is that history may take debate to establish, and I feel SE is not a great format for that.I'm not saying it's not important - it is. Anyway, someone provided a Yes answer to vote on. It's necessary for someone to provide a No answer so that the community can decide by voting. – Nick Westgate Apr 21 '16 at 1:54

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