Retrochallenge Day 21 — 75% Complete with Little Progress

The database called TapeStore is largely completed, built up from hundreds of audio and video recordings and comprising just under a terabyte of raw information.  I’ve worked a bit on getting everything organized, but in keeping with the Retrochallenge Theme I need to be able to locate and recall that information in a manner usable on a vintage computer system.  Sending streaming video to a Commodore VIC-20 over a serial link is probably impractical, given the low data rate and tiny memory, but can actually be accomplished if we treat the TapeStore server as a peripheral and transmit our program content using standard video and audio cabling to a second monitor connected directly to the TapeStore System.

What I envision at this point is sitting at the console of my VIC-20 (or any other 8-bit antique) and requesting a particular audio or television program from the TapeStore server.  TapeStore checks its table of contents, and if the program is available begins playback over a standard video and audio link.  It takes an extra monitor and some ancillary equipment but what we have is a version of YouTube circa 1984.

Right now, the plan is to move the TapeStore drives to a Linux system that supports serial terminals and allows shell access via a terminal program running on the vintage PC.  Server-side programming accepts the program request and begins playback using dedicated video and audio links to a second monitor located adjacent to the 8-bit console.  If I can figure out how to generate a plain-old NTSC video signal on TapeStore, the server software should be a small matter of programming.  In the end, all we have is a high-capacity and overly complicated VCR that runs under programmed control, but it’s a neat hack and worthy of the Retrochallenge.

I have nine days to implement this.  See you soon!