Is it on-topic if the programming question is specific to a retro computer or CPU? Examples: Apple II, or Zilog Z80.

What about an obsolete, platform-independent OS or programming language? Examples: GEM, Pascal, or BASIC.

  • 1
    The consensus at retrocomputing.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/476/… suggests that conceptual retroprogramming topics are ok, but debugging-type questions aren't. This may vary for technologies that are more retro than the marginal of MSDOS running on x86 PCs, but honestly for something that was as widespread as Z80/6502 development only 20-30 years ago, I'd expect to see good support for questions about debugging in these environments at stack overflow. If you're trying to get a program to work on an IBM System/360, perhaps not so much.
    – Jules
    Sep 30, 2017 at 0:40
  • @Jules Don't underestimate the number of old farts like me :))
    – Raffzahn
    Oct 3, 2017 at 21:57

2 Answers 2


As already mentioned in comments, there is considerable overlap between this question and Are x86 programming questions on-topic? from a few months ago. Indeed that question attracted comments saying that it shouldn't apply to just the x86 range.

I would say that the answer is the same as the consensus reached there. Any question that seeks to understand retrocomputers and their processors through programming is on-topic. I would include in that the tricks used to get code into the small amounts of memory available. Tricks rendered largely obsolete by cheap memory.


It needs to be judged on a case to case base as it's not a strict black and white issue but a continuum.

Just being no longer sold or in less use doesn't make something RC. The 8086 discusion Chenmunka mentions is a good exxample - and it even extends to Z80, as ofsprings like the eZ80 are still used for new development.

The question about a C64 BASIC problem is a another great example. The OP didn't use any classic hardware or tools and the problem was not even related to any, but a basic BASIC error. Still, noone flagged it as off-topic or moved it over to Stackoverflow. So, would this make a missing comma in a printf() on topic, just because the poster is using ORCA/C for the Apple II?

I do not belive that certain keywords (like C64) trigger automatic on-topicness.

Neither will some still in use technology create a general exclusion.

  • noone flagged it as off-topic or moved it over to Stackoverflow because BASIC is perceived as a retro-language. Along the same line, IMO, questions about Algol-60 or Algol-68 should be on-topic even if a modern re-implementation is used to experiment with the language.
    – Leo B.
    Oct 13, 2017 at 1:48
  • @LeoB. The same logic could be used to to validate any question about basic Javascript, Python or Ruby beahvior. All of these languages are by now more than 20 years old - like older x86. BASIC is still one of the Tiobe top ten programming languages, while Algol can be considered dead.
    – Raffzahn
    Oct 13, 2017 at 8:28
  • BASIC is nowhere to be seen on the Tiobe list. Visual Basic .NET and Visual Basic are different languages, both different from BASIC. Similarly, Delphi/Object Pascal is on the 11th place, but Pascal is on the 117th.
    – Leo B.
    Oct 13, 2017 at 16:15
  • Saying Visual Basic (.NET or not) isn't Basic is like telling C11 isn't C, just because it developed a bit further. In total you comment proves my point. Just because something is somehow related with something classic, it isn't automatic on topic here.
    – Raffzahn
    Oct 13, 2017 at 16:34

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .