Okay, so the summation of the nights speculation:
1. Building an ESP8266 or Arduino based PC would probably be more complicated than worthwhile, mostly because of the work that would need to be done to enable video output.
2. SymbOS exists and supports Amstrad CPC 464, 664, 6128, 464+, 6128+ and is just really neat looking.
3. ESP8266 based serial wifi modems for vintage computers exist and are pretty neat and a good idea.
4. Ultibo exists and is pretty neat. "Ultibo core is an embedded or bare metal development environment for Raspberry Pi. It is not an operating system but provides many of the same services as an OS, things like memory management, networking, filesystems and threading plus much more. So you don’t have to start from scratch just to create your ideas."
Ultibo could be used as a base from which one could implement a modern spiritual successor to the micros of the 1980s.
5. SD card interfaces exist for the c64 (emulates a floppy drive) and Compact Macintosh's that had HDDs (via SD to SCSI adapter). CF to IDE adapters and CF to PCMCIA adapters exist for computers that use IDE or PCMCIA for their HDD.
6. vintage computers are unlikely to be able to handle SSH or other applications that require encryption.
7. Nothing that actually approximates the experience of a vintage 8bit micro is actually on the market today, as far as I can tell.
8. Building any of the things we've been discussing would take a lot more time than I have available, but what else is new?
9. Before I put any more brainpower in to this concept, I need to more closely define what I mean by "A Modern Successor to the 8-Bit Micro" so that I can clearly differentiate this from a minimal linux distro on a small computer.
Beyond that, I also need to fully define the activities that I would want to do with this machine, and rank them by importance and complexity.
Some additional thoughts:
- I like the idea of specialized devices almost as much as I like the idea of one device that does everything well enough.
- Doing everything well enough is impossible, which means that there is good reason to embrace specialized devices.
- I miss weird formfactors like the compact macintosh or the apple IIc or IIe with the attached monochrome monitor or the Tandy 100 or the HP 200LX
More additional thoughts:
- I'd be happy with adding some modern abilities to weird form factor 8 bit and 16 bit PCs.
- I need to figure out what I mean by "modern abilities" because honestly I think I just mean BBSs, Gopher, and telnet to a local machine from which I can do email and web browsing.
- I loved MS-DOS as a user. I understand that it had limitations that I shouldn't have loved, but it was my primary OS well in to the mid 00s.
Thoughts about DOS:
I loved DOS because it mostly felt fast! and there were a ton of interesting programs available all over for free! and I could run the same software on literally every computer I had access to (from the Pentium II to the 386 to the HP 200 LX to the computers at my school via DOSbox and a flash drive.)
I rarely felt like I was limited *by* DOS. Sometimes the software available wouldn't be as well maintained, but I didn't view that as a problem with DOS.
In 06, I was connecting to the internet via DOS on dialup, and running arachne as my web browser. I was using Myspace via DOS. I was using AIM via DOS. I was writing webpages in Edit. I loved Edit.
VGA DOS applications were pretty! They looked nicer than Windows applications. And weirder!
No multitasking. I did one thing at a time. If I was writing a paper, I was just writing the paper. I outlined beforehand. I researched ahead of time. And then I got things done.
So, I'm calling DOS my baseline for magic microcomputer.
I want the thing I am using to feel like DOS, without the limitations that made DOS a pain in the ass (which, honestly all came down to memory management and TSRs.)
I used DOS well after I no longer needed to, because I liked feeling close to the computer. Because Linux made me feel like an interloper (even once I knew what I was doing.)
Don't get me wrong, I love bash, but it rarely feels *fun* (on a single user system.)
It looks like there is some form of modern Solid State storage available for just about every microcomputing platform. Where these devices vary is on price and ease of use.
It also looks like my plans to rig up a wifi modem wold not only work a treat, but have been done by many people already.
Also, I'm being introduced to the joys of RISC OS on ARM for the Raspberry Pi, which is kind of exciting!
So now the discussion circles back to the following:
What were the most interesting computers of the 80s and (early) 90s?
What were the most portable computer of that era? The most power efficient?
What should I spend my time looking for/talking the lady in to letting me buy? What should I make space for in my ~500 sqft home?
Speaking of trying out all the emulators, I'm a bit of a fan of those which run in the browser. Full-screen the browser and you get the feeling of just having the machine to yourself. There's a hundred or so catalogued here, from the usual 8bit suspects, to early Unix capable machines, even earlier machines, 16 bit machines - you name it!
"I appreciate SDF but it's a general-purpose server and the name doesn't make it obvious that it's about art." - Eugen Rochko