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…you’re hunched over your cassette recorder, fingers hovering over the buttons in feverish anticipation. A quiver of excitement runs through you as a voice from the radio announces: “and now the moment you’ve all been waiting for…” There’s a satisfying clunk as you press down on play and record simultaneously, and moments later the room is filled with strange metallic squawks and crackles. “SCREEEEEEEEEEE…”
“In the day”, the Datarama show on Radio West in the UK featured the first attempt to send a computer program over local radio. Joe Tozer, who co-hosted the show, recalls how it all began: “I think it was just one of those ‘ping!’ moments when you realise that the home computer program is just audio on a cassette, so why not transmit it over air? It just seemed a cool idea.”
The article goes into the details of receiving computer programs via radio for various hardware platforms and what the programs did. So, would we want to do this today?
As Codemasters employee Simon N. Goodwin concludes: “If we were to try to broadcast GRID for PS3, Windows or Xbox 360 in TRS-80 cassette format it would take around four years… So next time you get frustrated at how sluggishly a game is downloading, just be thankful you’re not taping it from the radio.
See the whole article and this accompanying video below of the loading sounds. Are you doing vintage computing? Let us know! We love to feature these articles!! Post in the comments below. Thanks!
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