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

Some of the best hacks really don’t fix any serious planet troubles or reinvent the wheel. They’re generally nothing at all additional than an exercise in seeking to make anything operate that is both seemingly difficult or pointless: these types of as having YouTube to perform on a 40-yr-old laptop with a hideously out-of-date display.

Even though best recognised for the extremely well-known Commodore 64 8-bit laptop or computer that would go on to sell well more than 12 million models around the planet, Commodore was actually launched in 1958, very long prior to the C64 arrived, and was partly dependable for the private computer revolution in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. In 1977, Commodore released the PET laptop or computer (named in an try to make pcs truly feel like element of the loved ones and less scary) which seems laughably out-of-date now but marketed for very well about $3,500 when introduced 45 decades in the past.

Thorbjörn Jemander managed to receive a unusual Commodore PET 600 which it turns out was secretly a Commodore 8296 SK design (with SK referring to a independent keyboard that could be taken off) rebadged for the Swedish marketplace a number of a long time later with a astonishingly good 128 KB of memory. The machine’s most distinct attribute is a monochromatic dazzling green CRT show with the capability to display a whopping 80×25 grid of figures. To say it’s unpleasant by today’s display standards is an understatement, so what superior way to use this relic of the early desktop PCs than by receiving YouTube films to perform on it?

Viewing YouTube on a Commodore Pet

Not only was the PET 600’s screen confined to just exhibiting figures (letters, quantities, punctuation, etcetera.) but the equipment driving them had been impossibly gradual, often having a couple of seconds to load and display screen lists of files or other facts. There was zero possibility a focused YouTube app could be produced for Commodore Primary which the PET 600 ran, so Jemander experienced to take the prolonged street.

They produced a blend of hardware and software package they dubbed the BlixTerm which took the variety of a cartridge connected to a single of the PET 600’s expansion ports on the back. Inside the cartridge is a Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W which connects to YouTube more than wifi, hundreds a asked for video, and then converts the 640×200 grayscale stream to an 80×25 grid of ASCII characters from the PET’s inner ROM.

A second interface card hundreds the produced frames from the Raspberry Pi into the PET’s video clip memory, which is the bottleneck of the system specified the antique PC’s minimal processing energy, but by optimization, Jemander managed to achieve a very watchable 30 FPS playback pace. Watching YouTube on a 45-year-aged desktop Laptop is far from effortless on the eyes, but the actuality that it’s even achievable is further than spectacular.