A Controversial YouTube Video

I thought this may be interesting: the (otherwise) renown YouTuber “The 8-Bit Guy” attempting to resurrect a rare IBM 7496 Executive Workstation, but with, say, mixed results and procedures.

Some trigger warning may be appropriate (butchered hardware, electrical safety):

For the full experience mind the comments at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wh2OCBZpzZ8

Besides obvious concerns regarding the procedures, my own thoughts about the machines are (a) if these are really prototypes, they may require a code on disk or additional (external) hardware to start up, and (b) as the machines do not have a serial number, they may have been discarded for not passing quality assurance tests and may have been deposited for recycling accordingly (I’d expect even a prototype to have some kind of individual identification for reference purpose).

For the obvious concerns, is this a document of destroying unique hardware, or is it not that bad after all, as the chances of getting these machines to boot are probably close to non-existent (compare my above musings)?

Also, please keep comments decent, in case you found that the video required indeed a proper trigger warning. :wink:


Usually the 8-bit guys makes interesting videos and nice restorations. For some reason, in this case he butchered the machine incredibly carelessly. He’s severely spanked in the comments for that, and his video probably has the most downvotes I’ve ever seen.

Now from some of the comments, it appears that these machines are probably not absolutely unique, are probably some sort of fancy terminals that are useless without the proper connection to their (now non-existing) big iron brain…

Yes, one comment mentions there having been an ad for these machines.

On the video and the comments: I found this really interesting. As you say, The 8-bit Guy is known for rather good videos and for showing true enthusiasm. It’s also interesting to see the comments calling him out on this video – quite notable, as YouTubers tend to have fairly loyal followers –, exposing a sense of independence, which is good to see.

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I did read that 8-bit guy took down some previous video where he’d showed himself in a bad light. So this might happen. Or maybe his youtube-funded lifestyle will be boosted by controversy!

I’m somewhat more inclined to ignore his videos now. He’s not very careful with his research, so you might learn something true, and learn something else that’s not true.


Yes I’ve quickly checked other videos, and he never had several thousands “dislike” like on this video. So his public is not amused.

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It is his hardware, he can do what he likes.

Depends on the license, it may be still property of IBM… :slight_smile:
(Breaking News: 8-Bit Guy arrested for attempting to jailbreak IBM Executive Workstation.)

There’s something, I learned from the comments:

and no knowledge that basically any PS/2 will only boot from a setup disk when displaying that screen.

(I’ve to admit, I shared this lack of knowledge due to a lack of exposure to PS/2 systems. I guess, this does apply just to first boot?)

In view of the “trigger warning”, I have expected something more brutal, but I find the video pretty reasonable. Hardware guys do a lot destructive tests, certainly overtest in voltage, temperature, overclocking to check out a design. And there is the infamous “workmanship shock & vib” on a shake table to make sure nothing come loose–always an eye-opening experience for young engineers. :wink:

I watched the video last night - Personally, I think he was a bit more “gung-ho” than he should have been but maybe he’s never dealt with old PSUs before (I have seen him work on a C64 though but don’t recall the PSU side). He says he spent a week on it - seems a bit quick to me but who knows what sort of pressure to get a video out might be.

And interesting bit of history if you’re into that sort of thing though.

As for the down-votes - they’re still votes as far as YouTube analytics go and don’t detract from the monetisation - I even watched one video recently where the presenter used them to gauge interest in 2 different topics for a future video IIRC.


I like The 8-Bit Guy due to the interesting things he presents and resurrects. I have however noticed that his electrical skills are somewhat rudimentary, and as soon as I saw the paper-clip I thought he’d disappeared down a dangerous road. Start with non-invasive testing every time, determine how the device is built, work out what you should expect to see from a reading at each point. They were definitely interesting boxes but I think someone with a little more knowledge of fundamental electrical theory might have had less impact on their future performance!

Yeah no. It was on loan.

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I was going to post this yesterday but I know Ed prefers positive things so I didn’t know if he’d keep it up. I’ve been getting more annoyed by David’s videos over time, and this just sealed it for me. I think he’s a hack. Man oh man I did enjoy the comments, though.

You know you’ve lost when Jason Scott from the internet archive goes out of his way to mention this.

One other super annoying moment from David a few years ago was when he said if he started to work on the problem, he could develop real AI in a few years.

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Isn’t this the kind of inspiring optimism that we do love so, when it comes from a billionaire? :slight_smile:

On the more serious side, I think, it’s really the comments that are starring in this story – and also, why this is still a positive story (especially, with almost everything negative about the clip already been said there.)

It’s kind of amazing how much attention this incident is getting. I just saw some tweets from several twitter nerds I follow. Tube Time just posted about it.

Regardless, he can still be judged a careless negligent idiot.

And apparently, it was not his.

Besides, I think the argument “his hardware, his rules” does not carry water well.

Let’s say this would have been something even more historically precious, let’s say an Enigma, or an Apple I, whatever, that he bought fair and square. Would it be “okay” for him to damage it? I do not want to start a discussion about property principles here, just leave this question here for everyone to ponder.

Ideally, a museum is staffed with careful and well-trained curators, and they know the value inherent in a unique or rare item, and how to proceed slowly and take care. At the other end of the spectrum, even past the less competent collectors who don’t know how to store things, and end up with water damage or battery damage, we have the show-offs who just want to do their thing. Arguably, it’s entertainment. Arguably, it’s setting a bad example. Sometimes, it’s damaging rare things, which from a historical perspective is damaging the legacy we pass on to the future. To view rare things as merely personal property is a very different perspective. (And still sometimes there are fires, even in museum collections, so deliberate or incompetent damage isn’t the only case.)

Of course, I take the historical perspective. But please let’s not argue or challenge each other over their perspective. That could get tedious quickly, no-one will win, and this thread will have no value.


Regarding rarity, apparently it’s a cut down version of the PS/2 Model 30 packaged as a smart terminal by a third party corporation in collaboration with IBM. A commenter recalls the figure of “1000 units” made. So for what it seems to be, it’s nothing outstanding, more like a POS terminal. On the other hand, as people are throwing away such items, the few surviving items become rare objects. As Jason Scott pointed out, this is, how things become rare. Are these “invaluable items”? I don’t know.

On the other hand, what is the purpose of this sloppy display? What does it tell about the relation to those who loaned the item? What does uploading this video tell about the relation to his audience? (This is probably the most puzzling aspect, just recording a botched attempt along with some negligent comment, like “already lost too much time and I do not care”, and dumping it on the Tube. Also, there’s this proud display of ignorance, like not doing any research on the object or completely ignoring the manual and the startup disk that comes packaged with the machine. – Compare this with Marc Verdiell (CuriousMarc) or Ken Shirriff and the kind of respect they show. The outrage that may be observed is probably much related to this, especially as he should definitely know better.)

I’d hesitate to put Ken or Marc into the same sentence. Or even an adjacent one.

One might even need a paragraph break before mentioning this YouTube guy. He has enthusiasm and he’s built up an audience, but he’s never in my viewings shown any great depth of knowledge or understanding. And that’s fine, in an entertainment medium, always provided that no-one gets hurt and nothing of value is lost. Which is where the line may have been crossed (perhaps on a slow news day.)

Edit: I might add, we could think twice before posting something viral or constructed as clickbait: we might be serving other interests than those we share.

On YouTube, we take what we get. :wink:

More seriously, what caught my attention is really the discrepancy in what is still deemed good enough for an entertaining, commercial video, which also still earns a recognisable amount of likes, and what the feelings of the community are, at least, of the outspoken part. Also, producing YouTube content on a regular schedule is apparently an exhausting business and The 8-Bit Guy clearly shows some wear in this one. However, from a business perspective, is this still a proper product? (Guessing from YT suggestions, it still provides the channel some boost because of engagement metrics.) Where does this dynamic lead us? The least I can say is, I’m glad there’s still a correcting factor in this and not everything is automatically taken at face value.