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Web Video / The 8-Bit Guy

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"Hello, and welcome to the 8-Bit Guy!"

David Murray is The 8-Bit Guy (formerly The iBook Guy), a YouTube personality who focuses on retro computers and other forms of technology coming from the seventies onward (he first focused on classic Apple products before broadening his focus).

His videos show repairs, restorations, and demonstrations of well-known vintage computers such as the Apple ][, the Commodore VIC-20, the Commodore 64, the Tandy Color Computer, and the ZX Spectrum, as well as more obscure vintage computers. He also produces long-form documentaries that delve into the history of notable computer systems.

David occasionally reviews homebrew games made for vintage systems, and he himself has also made his own homebrew games and software, notably Planet X2 for the C64 and Planet X3 for MS-DOS compatibles, with the latter funded on Kickstarter.note 


A related channel is 8-Bit Keys, which demonstrates vintage musical keyboards, mainly amateur and toy keyboards by Casio and Yamaha, and other vintage sound production equipment. This page will show tropes from both channels.

The official website can be found here, and the Patreon account can be found here.

The 8-Bit Guy contains examples of:

  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: During David's time in tech support, a number of his colleagues got reports of the memetic sort of incident where the user thought their CD-ROM drive was a cup holder, resulting in coffee being spilled onto the keyboard, and one actually played him a recording of one such call to prove that they were an Urban Legend only in extent. During the presentation, David admits that he's glad he never received a call like that because he doesn't think he would have been able to nicely explain what the "cup holder" actually was.
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  • April Fools' Day: In an episode where he unboxes donations given to him by viewers, he receives a box that supposedly contains the realistic wax bust of a programmer. Since the upload date of the video is April 1, that box is an April Fool's prank — the "bust" is just a real living head on a box, with conspicuous camera angles to hide the prank.
  • Artifact Title: The channel's original name "The iBook Guy", especially when David started focusing more on retro tech rather than just Apple products.
  • Christmas Episode: One episode focuses on the Commodore Christmas Demo, which was first released in 1982 for the C64. The demo is one of the forerunners of the Demoscene.
  • Crazy Enough to Work:
    • In a 2015 episode, David repurposes some old Pentium II heatsinks to cool down his microwave dinners.
    • In an episode where he restores a Macintosh LC II motherboard, David puts the motherboard in the dishwasher in attempt to clean off corrosion from leaking capacitors. He was initially skeptical about doing the procedure, not so much about damaging the motherboard but in how well the dishwasher would clean it; however, it did remove much of the corrosion, although he did follow up with alcohol in some spots.
  • Crossover:
    • David often brings in other YouTubers for assistance if he's stuck with a repair. He'll also ask YouTubers to record segments in their own styles to provide their opinions and insights on vintage computing and the systems he's restoring/examining.
    • Lampshaded by Techmoan at the end of the "How NOT to create MP3 music from cassette" episode.
    • Techmoan also appears towards the end of "How Speech Synthesizers Work", when David demonstrates a Prank Call using an 1980s era speech synthesis program.
  • Determinator: In an 8-Bit Keys episode where David reviews the Fisher Price "I Can Play" keyboard, he was determined to get inside the keyboard to see its logic board; however, despite taking out a lot of screws, the case halves wouldn't separate. Since he wasn't interested in saving the keyboard, he tried more destructive methods such as taking a Dremel to the case. He eventually found the last screws underneath the decal where the keyboard controls are, only to find the logic board contained only a system-on-a-chip epoxy blob.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Besides his early videos that focus on Apple products, a few of his other early videos are unrelated to technology, like this video on how to conceal a handgun, this video where he builds a wooden tower for his pet cats, and a few videos that focus on eco-friendly cars.
  • Edutainment Show: David goes in depth about the history of vintage computer systems and how vintage technologies work.
  • Everything Is Big in Texas:
    • David lives in Kennedale, Texas, which is within the Dallas-Fort Worth area. If he goes on a road trip to pick up a computer or a part, he'll show just how far distances are within the state. If a destination is away from the Super Charger network, he'll remark that the trip will test the limits of his Tesla.
    • As a Texan, David owns firearms and holds a concealed carry permit.
    • The "Amazing Tech from Texas" mini-series shows off various computer hardware and software companies, both past and present, that operate(d) in Texas. Companies David had highlighted or plans to highlight include, but are not limited to, 3D Realms, ID Software, Compaq, Dell, Texas Instruments, and Tandy.
  • Fun T-Shirt: David often wears t-shirts highlighting his favorite TV shows, films, and games. Sometimes, he'll wear t-shirts of his own design.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!:
    • He never swears due to the educational focus of his videos. In the video where he repairs the Casio CT-380, his reaction to the battery corrosion that has gotten so bad that it seeped through the keyboard's metal under-plate?
      The 8-Bit Guy: Holy cow to the third power!
    • However, it is subverted in an video where he shows how to rebuild a laptop battery pack; while David doesn't actually swear, he has a "bullshit" graphic over an eBay listing for cheap Chinese rechargeable 18650 Li-ion batteries advertised as being rated for 6,000 milliamp-hours and explains that their real world capacity is a fraction of thatnote .
  • Iconic Item:
    • David often uses a '90s 13" Samsung TV as a monitor for his retro computers and game systems. He gives a brief backstory about the TV in an episode where he mods it for RGB output.
    • For sound output for his keyboards, David uses a vintage '80s Panasonic boombox with RCA line input. While the speakers and radio work fine, the tape deck does not; David attempted to repair the tape mechanism but was unsuccessful.
  • Insistent Terminology: David almost always refers to IBM PC clones as "MS-DOS compatibles".
  • Oh, Crap!: There are times when David's repairs do more harm than good, such as when he destroys a perfectly good faux-leather handle during retrobriting or when key caps reacted strangely to retrobriting and ended up streaky.
  • Once per Episode:
    • If the video involves restoring a dirty old computer or keyboard, his process for cleaning the case first involves window cleaner, then rubbing alcohol, then baking soda, and finally blasting it outside with the garden hose. David might skip later steps if earlier steps can sufficiently clean the parts in question. For stubborn label residue, David will use WD-40.
    • If said computer or keyboard has yellowed-out plastic parts, expect him to use the "retrobrite" technique that involves hydrogen peroxide and heat. Earlier videos used the "plastic wrap and salon cream" method while later videos use the submersion method. For smaller parts like keyboard keys, David will put them on the stove in warm (not boiling) hydrogen peroxide solution.
    • In 8-Bit Keys episodes where the keyboard he's reviewing lacks an integrated line output jack, he will add one in; even if the keyboard in question has a line out, David will open the keyboard anyway to see the logic board, especially if the keyboard needs to be repaired and/or cleaned. David records a multi-track song on the keyboard, hence the reason why he adds a line output.
  • Operator from India: Used in a skit in "Old Computers Did It Better", where he compares tech support from the 80s to today, using this trope in the latter.
  • The Perfectionist: Whenever David does a documentary on retro tech, he is a real stickler about showing the item(s) in question as close as to original as possible.
  • Playing Games at Work: David admits that he and his colleagues at AST played Duke Nukem 3D and Starcraft while on support callsnote ; however, he states that his bosses didn't mind so long as they did their jobs properly and helped customers in the end.
  • Special Guest:
    • Anders Enger Jensen, a Norwegian musician who has contributed much of the music in David's videos, guest stars in some episodes of 8-Bit Keys. David even challenged Anders to compose music using the featured keyboard. Anders also composed the soundtracks for Planet X2 and Planet X3 as well as designed their boxes.
    • In the "History of Commodore" mini-series, former Commodore engineer Bil Herd guest stars in the episodes covering the "TED series" (the Plus 4 and C16) and the C128, providing background on the development of said machines.
    • TX Dj, another DFW-based retro tech YouTuber, assists David in restoring an IBM PCjr monitor. DJ later guest hosts an episode where he restores and upgrades a NeXTStation while David and his family were on vacation.
    • David's older brother Mike Murray, who runs his own YouTube channel The Geek Pub, guest hosts for a July 2018 episode, demonstrating how to install a Raspberry Pi into the shell of a C64. David also used Mike’s shop to construct the previously-mentioned custom cat tower.
    • Other retro tech YouTubers such as The Obsolete Geek (who also lives nearby), LGR, Ben Heck, and Techmoan will occasionally appear and offer their insights or assistance. Both LGR and Techmoan did voiceover work for the teaser for Planet X3.
  • Surprisingly Good Foreign Language: In the video where he visits Germany for the Thomann Synth Reactor event, David can speak German pretty well. In his one million subscriber special, David reveals that he took 4 years of German in high school and was an exchange student in Germany in his senior year.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill:
    • In a very early video, David builds an iBook G4 from dead parts and demolishes it, first shooting it with pellet and BB guns, then using a grubbing hoe. David mentions that he would've used a real firearm to finish the job, but he didn't want to break the law by discharging a real firearm in a residential neighborhood without a good reason.
    • In a video where he reviews a Retraux cassette/MP3 boombox, David finds that the quality of the cassette to MP3 conversion was so terrible, he had a friend of his destroy the boombox with a steamroller.
    • In a video where he reviews the Nyko Worm Cam, a Game Boy Camera knockoff designed for the Game Boy Advance, David finds the camera is poor qualitynote  and suspects his unit may have been defective, so he smashes it with a sledgehammer at the end of the video.
  • Trekkie: David is a fan of the Star Trek franchise, and has made several references to the series when pointing out retro computers in popular culture, such as Captain Kirk owning a Commodore PET as an antique in The Wrath of Khan and Scotty using an Apple Macintosh in The Voyage Home.

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