Sorry if this has already been answered. I haven't really figured out stackexchange yet. But what time period is retro computing? From the beginning to the 80s? 90s? Early 2000s?


This is a question that comes up every now and then - in fact, one of the very early ones on Meta.RC.SE already asked "What Constitutes Retro". And while the most favoured answer back then focuses on the fact of real, every day usage of otherwise outdated systems, todays concensus incooperates a wider range of outdated systems, but especially theoretical and research questions about old software, hardware and culture in general.

While age does not scale as well as a first thought may imply, there is a general notion that systems less than 20 years old do need a good reasoning to be on-topic. Also, questions involving main stream architecure like a 1999 PC will have a harder time than obscure offside developments like a Motorola Marco.

The defining point is also less the exact date of a certain hard or software, but rather the intention and focus of a question. Emulators are eventually the best example here: Questions that would have been the same, with the original hardware (*1) are without any doubt on topic. Further some about the emulation could be on-topic (*2,3). But questions about handling of an emulator and interaction with modern hardware (*4) are complete off-topic.

Bottom line: RC focuses more on content than any arbitary time stamp.

(For a wider perspective, try a search for "topic" on Meta.RC.SE)

*1 - "How to save a source in BigMac to be read later on by AppleWriter"

*2 - Like asking how a certain instruction should be emulated.

*3 - I wouldn't even mid questions about emulation techniques, as they, even while targeted and tied to modern software development, are relatable.

*4 - "How to operate my USB3.0 hyper reaction time joystick with MAME on Windows"

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    Note for future readers: the emulator thing is a little controversial (not very, but a little), so this information might be out of date in two or three years' time. – wizzwizz4 Nov 22 '18 at 7:25
  • @wizzwizz4 Hmm... I'm puzzled, do you mean we will exclude Emulators at all, or are there secret plans for an unfriendly take over of SuperUser.SE? – Raffzahn Nov 22 '18 at 13:58
  • I can neither confirm nor deny such rumours. – wizzwizz4 Nov 22 '18 at 16:25
  • I think I get it, but j just to clarify, would old software be considered retro computing? Or only hardware and emulators? – Shadow Nov 26 '18 at 17:57
  • @Shadow Well, ignoring the 'emulators hint' in your comment, it's very simple: yes. Except, here the borderline between on and off topic is even more defined by focus. Gerneral programming issues are most definitly off topic and belong to Stackoverflow. Even when done on old computers. They are timeless modern. On the other side, if it's about some weired ancient syntax, a seriously different API style, or history and historical developments, it will be very wellcome here. – Raffzahn Nov 26 '18 at 19:51
  • @Shadow Now, having said that, it still may be more useful to bring active development questions for like old(er) game systems or computers to their respective off-site forums. RC.SE won't become a Stackoverflow for such. Picking a specific community for the respective system and ask there will be the sensible solution. – Raffzahn Nov 26 '18 at 19:56

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