Helping out a friend with a picture or two of the Astec UM1233 RF Modulator’s inner workings. If you’re curious, it’s a device which was incredibly popular in the 80s and 90s in home computers, and takes video and audio as an input and turns them into either VHF or UHF (depending on country) radiofrequency signals – the same signals as analogue TV tuners expect to receive. If you crack open a ZX80, ZX81, Spectrum of almost any model, Commodore 64, ORIC, Newbrain, Dragon – almost any 80s microcomputer aimed at the home market – you’ll probably find one of these.

Franklin Ace 100 Manual ExtractI spotted this post on Boing Boing a while back, and meant to write something about it at the time but kept putting it off.  It’s been languishing at the bottom of my Google Reader Starred Items ever since, and as I’m in the mood to clear out some old stuff I figured now was as good a time as any to put it up here.

Basically, professional photographer David Friedman found a selection of old Franklin Ace 100 and Ace 1000 documentation from back in the early days of home computing – and there’s some absolutely awesome sections hidden therein, covering such topics as why breaking DRM is the best thing you could ever do and why end-user licence agreements are the spawn of Satan.

The latter section includes the following:

These [end user] licensing agreements typically stop just short of requiring you to sign away your life, your house, and your first born child.  Nobody in his right mind would sign one of them.  But personal computerists do it.  Are they of unsound mind?  Possibly, but signing a licensing agreement doesn’t prove it.

The section on DRM is even more shocking, with the writer not only encouraging circumvention of copy protection in order to produce backups of your purchased software, but even advising on how to do such wicked things:

All you need is a weapon, a program called a nibble copier.  It’s a cute name, but its purpose in life is malevolent.  It’s designed to copy uncopyable programs.
Two examples of high quality nibble copiers are Locksmith 4.1 TM and Nibbles Away TM.

The full manuals are available for your edification in PDF format from David’s site, Ironic Sans.