I've been talking about weird DIY computer experiments and systems and platforms a lot over the last few years here on The united federation of social media, and I keep coming back to one idea:

We need a new Homebrew computer club.

I might come back later and talk about what I mean by this or I might let it live on it's own.

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@ajroach42 the problem: who can afford it these days? home computers took off cause large numbers of (mostly white) people had a lot of disposable income. repair components weren't that hard to get, and easy to repair things with. the 70s and 80s are long over.


I think this comment is trying to be helpful, and not cynically dismissive, so I'm going to respond as if it was an attempt to be helpful at not an attempt to be cynically dismissive.

First, prices of most electronics components have fallen at a rate that far outstrips inflation. A DIY computer could be assembled using something like the ESP32 and a simple monitor for less than $50.

The parts zilog and Motorola designed in the 70s are still available, and often very cheap.

@lyliawisteria It's true that not a lot of people could afford to tinker with RISC-V right now, or whatever, but small experiments with cheap off the shelf components are useful. We can find the edges of what is possible and demonstrate to whoever is interested that computing doesn't have to be expensive.

@lyliawisteria My point is more about consolidating resources, giving presentations, and sharing ideas.

Right now, a lot of cool experiments happen in a relative vacuum and a lot the websites where people used to gather to discuss these projects are floundering in one way or another.

@ajroach42 i'm saying that people are burnt out and don't have money, regardless of how cheap you think it might be to get into electronics. i don't currently have $50 to spare on that kind of thing. if it doesn't cost $0 and i can't eat it, smoke it, or wear it, i don't buy it.

it's the end of the month, and i just got my disability cheque. it will be gone by the 15th of August, like clockwork.

in 1981, i was barely 2yrs old when my dad, a new homeowner, bought a used Atari 400.

@lyliawisteria I'm not sure what you hope to get out of this conversation.

The US economy is fucked, and actively antagonistic to poor people, I'm sure it's even worse now than it was when I was young and didn't know when my next meal would come. I am sympathetic to that plight, but it's not what I am currently talking about.

I'm talking about organizing the people who are already working on electronics projects in to a coherent group that publishes how-tos, presentations, and sells kits.

@lyliawisteria This won't solve our economic or political problems, and it won't make the world a tangibly better place for people who are not working on electronics projects or interested in working on electronics projects.

Nowhere have I claimed that it would, or that it would be universally applicable or accessible. Hell, I haven't claimed anything other than that talking about small computing projects on the fediverse makes me want a new homebrew computer club.

@ajroach42 the fact that you don't consider economic factors as to why these clubs no longer exist, is why you're getting frustrated right now.

i'll say it again: my dad could afford a house with a large yard, a car, a newborn child, *and* an Atari 400, after going to school for electrical engineering and securing himself a job at Bell Canada that lasted 20 years.

i have nothing, compared to this. i can only go 15 days without begging for money. electronics are expensive.

@lyliawisteria maybe I'm just misunderstanding you, but it sounds to me like what you're saying is: poverty exists, therefore any attempt to organize efforts and resources towards making computers less bad are futile and should be abandoned.

In other words, I feel like I am being told not to work on a small problem that I have the means and the knowledge to contribute to, becuase a large problem that I can't directly impact exists.

I'm not sure how or why to respond to that.

@ajroach42 nope, none of that. you're not paying attention. i'm telling you that you have a lot of privilege if you're wondering why the kinds of computer clubs of the 70s and 80s don't exist today. those clubs require people with disposable income.

you think it's a matter of "just spend $50", but who has $50 to spend on things that aren't necessities? it would break my bank. and if you've got $50 to blow on electronic toys, why don't you send it here:

@ajroach42 i'm telling you, as a person who has watched all of these things collapse in real time, that a sharp increase in poverty, largely due to very stagnated wages, has put a pretty huge damper on anyone having the resources to form a computer club. i live in poverty, and could not join your club. there are many like me.

my parents were able to have stable jobs, own a home, raise children, *and* spend money on hobbies. i have none of this. i beg on the internet so i can eat.

@lyliawisteria I did not wonder why the kinds of computer clubs of the 70s and 80s don't exist today.

They died as much due to the increased commercialization of computers as they did to stagnant/falling wages.

I recognize that I am speaking from a position of privilege, I'm just irritated that you're intentionally misunderstanding me.

Lots of people are currently working on electronics projects in silos. I'd like to help those people share resources and educate others.

I can't solve poverty, but I can help people working on computers to get more organized.

I did not ask you to participate, or indicate that there was any reason that you should.

Your personal financial situation doesn't enter in to it. If you're not actively working on a non-traditional computing project, you don't enter in to it.

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