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10 Years Ago.. My (Legacy) Dream Machine '96.

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December 19, 2006 12:48:53 AM

Thought this was interesting today.. and still trying to pick my jaw up off the floor from the hit to my wallet.

In '96, I built my first machine for myself after putting together a dozen for family/friends. While shredding massive amounts of old paperwork, I came across my order list with prices.. unreal how expensive a lot of this was back then.. circa late summer/early fall 1996. Surprisingly enough, this was by far a top-end machine at the time.. especially the RAM and 1600x1200 resolution monitor. It looks pre-historic now.

CPU: Pentium 166MHz $390
Mobo: Asus P55T2P4 w/512K pipeline burst cache $190
Memory: Corsair 64MB EDO PC100 (2x32MB) $275
Hard Drive: Maxtor 2.0GB $360
Video Card: Matrox Millennium 4MB WRAM $270
Sound Card: Sound Blaster 32AWE $175
Speakers: Altec Lansing ACS500 "Surround Sound" $330
Monitor: Mag Innovision MXP17F 17" 1600x1200@60Hz $725
Modem: US Robotics Sportster 33.6k External $175
CD Drive: Teac 12X Internal $160
Floppy Drive: Epson 3.5" $40
Case/PSU: 9 Bay Tower w/digital MHz display & 250W AT PSU $110
Network Card: 10baseT Ethernet $30
SCSI Card: Jaz Jet $100
External Backup: Jaz 1GB Drive $395
Printer: Epson Stylus 600 $320
Scanner: Mustek Paragon SP1200 $320
Keyboard: Microsoft Ergonomic $100
Mouse: Microsoft Mouse $50
Joystick: Microsoft Sidewinder Pro $60

A few upgrades came along soon..

A CD Burner in 1997:
Sony 2X SCSI CD-R $350

And 3D graphics in early '98!:
Diamond Monster 3D II Voodoo2 12MB 3dfx $150
Diamond Monster 3D II Voodoo2 12MB 3dfx (2nd for SLI) $150

For a grand total of:
$5225.00

Judging that was roughly 10 years ago, or 3650 days.. how much would that be if I had invested it with average 10% yearly returns (compounded daily)?
$14201.10

That's enough cash for one (or 4!) slick machine(s).. unfortunately it's been salvaged apart to various destinations over the years, and the only remaining pieces in my possession are the monitor (sitting in the attic) and floppy drive (in a working linux box!).

It lasted me long enough to get me to the Athlon 1GHz t'bird w/Geforce2 Ultra days.. ok.. $14k gone.. time to make this Core2Duo last till 2015. :) 

Moral of the story? Computer equipment has by far the highest depreciation of any consumer product.. don't blow money every 6 months for every upgrade stage unless you're driving a Ferrari.. or your "video" business/habit depends on it.
December 19, 2006 12:52:43 AM

I would get that order sheet framed.
December 19, 2006 12:58:01 AM

Yeah I'm not shredding that.

I was working in high school and took over a year to save up for it.. now that I've got a career in programming & investing, I should have started saving much earlier in life. :)  The earlier you invest, the more time you allow for your money to work for you.. if I knew then what I know now, I would have bought that Gateway 2000 Pentium 66 for 1/3 the price and invested the rest...
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December 19, 2006 2:07:46 AM

Quote:

Diamond Monster 3D II Voodoo2 12MB 3dfx (2nd for SLI) $150

A subtly inserted joke, right? :?

-john
December 19, 2006 2:20:20 AM

How is that a joke? SLI was around during Voodoos control of the GPU market. Nvidia resurrected the tag when they bought out Voodoo.

Or am I missing something?
December 19, 2006 2:30:51 AM

NVidia had SLI available in 1996? You are kidding, right? No?

Sheeeesh. And this was implemented using video cards on ... what? ... the PCI bus?

(I may be old, but that doesn't mean I remember that far back)

-john
December 19, 2006 2:32:54 AM

I don't know if you are being sarcastic or not but...

"The name SLI was first used by 3dfx with its Scan-Line Interleave, which was introduced in 1998 and used in the Voodoo 2 line of graphics accelerators. 3dfx was later purchased by NVIDIA, who ended development, and then sales, of the Voodoo series cards. NVIDIA reintroduced the SLI name in 2004 and intends for it to be used in modern computer systems based on the PCI Express (PCIe) bus. However, the technology behind the name SLI has changed dramatically." -Wikipedia

he said he added the voodoo 2 and SLI in an update (I assume 2 years later)

Ugh, and I keep calling 3dfx, voodoo.
December 19, 2006 2:40:35 AM

Yeah, I always wanted a SLI solution back in the days... maximize FPS in Jedi Knight 8)
December 19, 2006 2:45:08 AM

Quote:
I don't know if you are being sarcastic or not but...

No, not sarcastic, I'm just totally clueless. Thanks for setting me straight.

People actually plugged two graphics cards into the PCI bus. Wow. And I thought I was placing a strain on the available PCI bus bandwidth by using a PCI IDE controller card in addition to the existing IDE controllers.

-john
December 19, 2006 2:54:34 AM

Quote:
People actually plugged two graphics cards into the PCI bus. Wow. And I thought I was placing a strain on the available PCI bus bandwidth by using a PCI IDE controller card in addition to the existing IDE controllers.


The Voodoo 2s were an add in card, so you had you main graphics card plus the two 3D cards. That is a lot of real estate for your graphics especially when you only had 5 PCI slots and the other two were taken up by the sound card and nic.
December 19, 2006 3:04:23 AM

Quote:
People actually plugged two graphics cards into the PCI bus. Wow. And I thought I was placing a strain on the available PCI bus bandwidth by using a PCI IDE controller card in addition to the existing IDE controllers.


Yeah... you can still do that today.

If you can find PCI graphics cards, you can plug as many in as you have slots for. But... in this case it is not "SLI"; each card generates a stand-alone video signal.
December 19, 2006 3:40:40 AM

Quote:
Yeah I'm not shredding that.

I was working in high school and took over a year to save up for it.. now that I've got a career in programming & investing, I should have started saving much earlier in life. :)  The earlier you invest, the more time you allow for your money to work for you.. if I knew then what I know now, I would have bought that Gateway 2000 Pentium 66 for 1/3 the price and invested the rest...


I saved early and invested. I lost 10K. Not true at all. I should have used the money to build a kick-A$$ computer.
December 19, 2006 4:26:23 AM

I think that quote should have ended "and invested the rest wisely..."

time to change investing strategies?
December 19, 2006 5:42:48 AM

I'd make two changes to that setup...

USRobotics HST
Anthem Eagle NIC

Now that would have been a killer system.
December 19, 2006 6:05:10 AM

those voodoo's had SLI with a kind of bridge cable, no sh*t
maybe you slept that day in school
3Dfx rocks, it wasn't microsoft so it had to go, stupid micro...

http://www.planetquake3.net/tweak/lod-4.jpg

this what you could pull out of a pentium 1 200Mhz and 1 voodoo, image what you could do with SLI
it took Dx until version 7.0 on a pentium 3 500 Mhz and a geforce 4 before it looked better than the old pentium 1 with a 3DFX voodoo card :cry: 
December 19, 2006 6:47:25 AM

u could also add more memory to the card or cards with memory chips that snapped in like old bios chips.
December 19, 2006 6:57:07 AM

Huh? I thought that went out when 286's came in... But I'm never too old to learn.
December 19, 2006 6:57:17 AM

A friend of mine back then had an SLI system... We used to gather round his 1600x1200 monitor watching him play "Unreal" (yes... the original!) WOW that was awesome. Real lighting effects! Volumetric smoke! "Photo-realistic" water! (well.... sort of!) If I remember rightly, he had one of the first Celerons that could be REALLY overclocked... And there was me with my K6-233 and Matrox Mystique 64MB! :( 
December 19, 2006 7:03:19 AM

Quote:
u could also add more memory to the card or cards with memory chips that snapped in like old bios chips.


Anyone remember "COAST"? Cache On A STick? Waaaaay back in the day when the L2 cache was on the motherboard! Most computers that had a COAST slot didn't have it populated... you had to buy it extra! Imagine that... a 166MHz processor with no L2 cache! Hahaha.... And we all thought those processors were bLaZiNg fast! I remember upgrading my P200MMX machine with a 128kb COAST board. I used to use Bryce 3D to benchmark! Adding the cache decreased render times by about half, if I remember correctly!

Great days :) 
December 19, 2006 7:39:33 AM

about 2 years ago i opened up a newer looking Micron case to find cache on a stick w/pentium 2 and sdram memory, the dam this had an agp slot, lol.
December 19, 2006 7:58:17 AM

Quote:
Huh? I thought that went out when 286's came in... But I'm never too old to learn.


Oh no. You weren't a hacker unless you piggybacked chips, (stacking an identical chip on top of another and soldering thier legs together), to double the cache and the video.

Voodoo cards didn't have a VGA out. You ran a 3 or 4" ribbon cable to a video card that could accept it and could then rock Wolfenstien's world.
December 19, 2006 8:52:31 AM

got to ask the question. how out of date do you think our dream systems of today will be in 10 years time. i think that things are slowing down a bit and our systems will still be capable of a lot more than the one the OP posted i.e they could be used as file servers, Web servers, firewalls/routers but then again a 8 year old 800Mhz system could do that with a Linux Distro.
anyone got any opinions
December 19, 2006 9:54:13 AM

My almost 10 year old system is still running 24/7 as a web server. It is a Dell XPS400R which I purchased in 97 or 98. Originally had a PII400 and 128 MB ram, 15GB hard drive, and some kind of 8mb vid card made by ATI. I used this machine for general duty until 2002 when it became a server.

I have upgraded the ram to 512mb, the processor to a PII650, hard drives total 220 GB and run Redhat linux on it. I have it plugged into a fairly large UPS and it NEVER....knock on wood.....needs to be shut down.

[code:1:8240a3b08e][guest@********* guest]$ uptime
06:45:29 up 256 days, 23:57, 5 users, load average: 0.00, 0.00, 0.00[/code:1:8240a3b08e]

This last shutdown was for hardware upgrade....A new UPS....

This machine serves up around 10 different domains to the internet and a whole bunch of media to my HTPC....The media server aspect is being phased out and moved to my HTPC, which is my old gaming rig.

I spent about 3 grand on that Dell....Still going strong. I even still use the monitor for my current gaming rig...Needs upgrading though....16X12 is nice but I want widescreen....
December 19, 2006 10:02:31 AM

Quote:
got to ask the question. how out of date do you think our dream systems of today will be in 10 years time


I reckon very out of date as Intel is forecasting 32 Core chips for 2010.
December 19, 2006 10:02:41 AM

I think the PC architecture as we know it will be a thing of the past in 10 years. I don't know what'll replace it, but I'm absolutely certain of two things:

1. It'll be a scalable architecture and the word "legacy" will be a distant memory
2. It'll be obscenely fast

And I'm pretty sure Intel and AMD will still be producing chips, though I think they'll also have an entirely different architecture, probably more like the architecture of the 8800 than current CPUs. And I think speeds of 200-500GHz will be the order of the day.

And I'll say to my daughter (who's now 2) "When I was lad, we had 1MHz Z80s! And we thought we were lucky!"
December 19, 2006 10:09:21 AM

Quote:

Monitor: Mag Innovision MXP17F 17" 1600x1200@60Hz $725


That's still a higher resolution than my LCD! (although that moitor would probably resemble a fisbowl).
December 19, 2006 10:45:23 AM

Quote:
those voodoo's had SLI with a kind of bridge cable, no sh*t
maybe you slept that day in school
3Dfx rocks, it wasn't microsoft so it had to go, stupid micro...

http://www.planetquake3.net/tweak/lod-4.jpg

this what you could pull out of a pentium 1 200Mhz and 1 voodoo, image what you could do with SLI
it took Dx until version 7.0 on a pentium 3 500 Mhz and a geforce 4 before it looked better than the old pentium 1 with a 3DFX voodoo card :cry: 


I have to agree. The 3dfx graphics were far superior to anything else. I can remember playing games in 1997 which looked so much better than anything that didn't use glide, ever for a few years after.
Even Grand Theft Auto looked good!
December 19, 2006 10:55:12 AM

Voodoo 2 had a VGA pass through system, since they couldn't do 2D graphics.
This made the signal often a bit blurry but overall they were great.
Ironically, SLI killed 3Dfx, with the lame Voodoo 4/5 generation, which relied on SLI to match the performance of the first GeForce 256 (but without T&L).
The faster cards, with 2 chips in SLI (Vodoo 5 5500) were already power hogs, and they never managed to bring to the market the "nVidia killer" 4 chip beast, Voodoo 5 6000 (due to hw failures)
Gosh, i feel old.. :?
December 19, 2006 10:58:54 AM

December 19, 2006 11:20:01 AM

They should have included a picture of a power station next to that card instead of a powerpack! (well... maybe that would be more appropriate with the 8800 range!)
December 19, 2006 12:29:55 PM

The Most Power Full System I Owned Back In The Day Was (Circa 1999)

AMD-K6/3 500MHz @ 600MHz
768MB PC100 SD-RAM
10GB Western Digital
24x CD-ROM
Windows NT 4.0/Windows 98 Dual-Boot
December 19, 2006 12:31:39 PM

Quote:
My almost 10 year old system is still running 24/7 as a web server. It is a Dell XPS400R which I purchased in 97 or 98. Originally had a PII400 and 128 MB ram, 15GB hard drive, and some kind of 8mb vid card made by ATI. I used this machine for general duty until 2002 when it became a server.

I have upgraded the ram to 512mb, the processor to a PII650, hard drives total 220 GB and run Redhat linux on it. I have it plugged into a fairly large UPS and it NEVER....knock on wood.....needs to be shut down.

[code:1:efad39a691][guest@********* guest]$ uptime
06:45:29 up 256 days, 23:57, 5 users, load average: 0.00, 0.00, 0.00[/code:1:efad39a691]

This last shutdown was for hardware upgrade....A new UPS....

This machine serves up around 10 different domains to the internet and a whole bunch of media to my HTPC....The media server aspect is being phased out and moved to my HTPC, which is my old gaming rig.

I spent about 3 grand on that Dell....Still going strong. I even still use the monitor for my current gaming rig...Needs upgrading though....16X12 is nice but I want widescreen....



Dells from the late 90s were quality machines! Things sure have changed... I still have a XPS300S (i think) from 97 going strong.
December 19, 2006 7:31:28 PM

SLI was around in the Voodoo days, but I think it was called something else. You also needed an addtional Local Bus card just for the 2D video. So there was 3 video cards inside! I think nVidia was able to shrink that down to 1 card with the TNT & GF 256.
January 7, 2007 8:36:08 PM

Interesting replies..
Yes, I bought the 3dfx Voodoo2 cards in '98 for use with Red Baron 3D, GTA2, Need for Speed, etc..
They required 2D processing by the Matrox Millennium 4MB video card as well since they were not standalone graphics cards. I don't have the mobo anymore, but I believe it had 5 PCI and 2 ISA slots - with the Sound Blaster & NIC on ISA, and the 3 video cards & SCSI card on PCI. The sound card could have been PCI - it's been a long time so I'm not so sure about that one.

The monitor COULD run 1600x1200@60Hz, but that was WAY too flickery for my taste, so I ran it at 1280x1024@72-80Hz. Games were slick, and graphics destroyed anything a console was capable of back then.. until the Dreamcast came out..
!