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What was your first self-build and how long ago?

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March 21, 2007 8:57:35 AM

I was sitting back reminiscing about how long I've been 'into' computers and I was struck by how simple machines were and yet so annoyingly complex to get running well. Now it seems they are much more complex but so easy to get up and running. And with that thought I smiled at the memory of my first build.

Back in the 1970's 'The Open University' in UK ran a Microcomputing course and my grandmother signed up for it. (she was one of those real go getter types that has done just about everything) Now being a dutiful grandson I helped with building the machine that came with the course in a well packed box. As the course went on bits were added and tests were run and eventually the machine was complete.

It looked like an awful mess of wires, breadboard and silicon but it worked. At the end of the course the machine could be transferred from breadboard to a motherboard and placed in a case with built in keyboard.

That was the birth of a 'BBC model A' which we then added 16k extra memory to to bring it up to the 48k of 'model B' spec.

A little later my parents bought a Commodore VIC20 with a full 3.5k of memory! This I expanded in short order buy acquiring a 'motherboard' (a bit like a docking satation with 5 cartridge slots in it) and a memory upgrade of 8.5k.

So what and when was your first build?

Q

More about : build long ago

March 21, 2007 9:19:15 AM

My first build...
ehh. It was along time ago, maybe around the t7h grade. I just put together some parts i believe.....pentium 3, 256 ram, uhm, an old pci 8mb video card, which was my baby til around 8th grade =] Then i just used some old cranky cd drive. Im 16 now, but that first computer was a trucker, it never broke on me. Even the 2.1 gb hard drive works. The parts are long gone now, but it was a beauty.
March 21, 2007 9:25:17 AM

I still have a machine like that running in the corner of the room as a router. (well it was until a few weeks ago when I got a new router)

Q
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March 21, 2007 11:16:36 AM

Man, it was probably a year or to ago. At work we needed a few servers put togetherand I was the only one there so I had to do it. We needed like 5 of them from scratch if I remember correctly. Anyway, since then I have built well over 100 servers and workstations. A few for myself as well.
March 21, 2007 12:00:13 PM

My 1st build was the age old, Apple IIE with Dual Disk Drive. I remember getting it all apart and having to insert the cards into the motherboard (already built into a plastic case). I also remember laughing at those people who bought the Apple IIc who kept having to swap disks to do anything.

Since that time, I have built 8088's, 286's, 386 (sx & dx), 486, K2, Pentium 66, P, PII, PIII, PIV, K4, K5, K6, AMD64, and in the next few months (depending on what AMD does) E6600. I have tried pretty much all video brands also, to include Trident, ATI, nvidia and a few others I will not admit too.

I pick the best processor at the time I am building.

currently
AMD3700+
2Gig Ram
EVA 8800GTS 640meg (picked up for $269)
2x80gig HD Raid
1x320gig HD
March 21, 2007 12:14:43 PM

I remember the AppleIIe, a friend had one; although I think it was actually his father's. He replaced it with a Mackintosh single box with built in monochrome screen and floppy slot. I remember he lost the eject icon once and used a screw driver to get his disc out!

Q
March 21, 2007 12:36:31 PM

I built my first PC when I was 14. I'd been exposed to the early Apple and IBM-clone PCs of the day, and my parents had picked up an Apple IIc+ to use as a home computer. However, I decided that I wanted a beast of a PC. I built a 486 DX4-100 (overclocked to 120) with 16MB RAM, an 850MB HD, an SB16 sound card, and 4x CD-Rom. Loaded it all up with DOS 6.22 and WFW 3.11. Blazing fast 28.8Kbps modem. And who could forget the Voodoo Banshee card (came a little later, started out with a Trident 4MB). Ahh, those were the days. Windows on a RAM-disk anyone?

-J
March 21, 2007 12:56:58 PM

Although my first computer was a C64, my first real "build" was a 25mhz 386 w/math co-processor, 1MB RAM, original SoundBlaster, and 100MB HD back in 90'. Since I was only 13 at the time, I put it together with the help of my dad and a neighbor who ran a small IT consulting business. It was a huge invesment for my family at the time and I remember money was rather tight - my father had been unemployed for a few months and just started a new job - but my mother was in school at the time and needed Word, my father wanted Prodigy and Compuserve for news wires, and I had been pestering them both for about 2 years to get a PC. My parents were always very conservative spenders and made me work hard for anything I wanted: "freebees" weren't in their vocabulary. I couldn't understand why they had decided to drop so much cash on what, I, even being a 13 year-old kid, "knew" was a frivelous item. Heck, I wasn't complaining... I was the first kid on my block who had a modem!

The build process went relatively smoothly (although there was some shouting and throwing of manuals). After I finished building it and installed Windows 3.0, first thing I did was install Wing Commander, and then Ultima VII. My dad took one look at what I was doing and grumpily said "I just bought a 1500-dollar Nintendo".

15 years later my dad visited me in my good-size Manhattan apartment. I had partially put myself through 4 years of undergraduate and 4 years of grad school tutoring fellow students in MS Office and coding html for local sites. Since graduation, I had been working at a large financial institution managing a team of technology trainers and developing market data systems. We visited the enormous building where I work and I showed him my office overlooking Times Square. Looking down at the ant-size tourists, he said "maybe it wasn't such a bad idea buying all that computer junk when you were growing up."
March 21, 2007 1:23:59 PM

My first build was in my senior year of high school (2001). It was an Athlon Thunderbird 1.2 GHZ, 512 MB RAM, GeForce 2 MX 64MB Video, SoundBlaster Live X-Gamer Audio (came with 4-5 great games including Deus Ex and the original Unreal Tournament) and a 20 GB HD. It originally ran Windows ME :(  but later was upgraded to Windows XP :)  . Unfortunately, this systems life was cut short due to the use of a cheap power supply. You live and learn, eh?
March 21, 2007 1:36:45 PM

I wanna say around 97 or 98. I was sick of my store bought pentium mmx 200mhz. I couldn't get credit from dell, and a friend had just sent me the link for toms hardware. I decided to build my own. Went with a 600mhz athlon on an asus board with 128 ram. Such a sweet upgrade. That thing has gone through multiple owners and is still running with the original parts(somehow). A friend and I built identical machines and fried his by wearing socks on the carpet as we built, but thats another thread... :lol: 
March 21, 2007 2:10:24 PM

I was about 11, and it was an 8Mhz 8086, with 640K RAM, 2x 5.25" floppy drives, and a CGA monitor (4 colors at a time at about 320x240, from a pallette of 8 colors, including black). It ran MSDOS 3.1.

While normally they'd come fully assembled I bought the parts from my friend as I could afford them, so ended up assembling the whole thing myself. I even learned how to use DOS before I could see what I was doing, as it took a while to get the monitor.

Later I managed to get a 30MB hard card for it (a 3.5" MFM drive mounted on an 8bit ISA card) that saved no end of messing around with floppys. Played a fair bit of Elite on it.

I even managed to sell the thing £150, after upgrading to a 386SX33.

I did everything by myself, as no-one else in the family is remotely computer literate. It was pretty easy though as I'd got a fair bit of experience by then. Although I didn't have to assemble my Spectrum 48K, I did need to take a soldering iron to it a few times for repairs, like replacing fried chips from a donor (lost the key from the connector of the joystick expansion thing, and plugged in wonky), back when I was just 8.
March 21, 2007 2:46:12 PM

I did have both 386 and 486 but I pretty much did my p166 myself. It was '96 or '97(and hey i'm in Turkey, there wasn't much choices to begin with at that time). Can't remember exact dates. Had 800 mb Western Digital, PCI graphics card, Windows 95. And 32 mb ram and Creative SB(The first version that had no volume at the back) as I recall. I had to get a 1mb graphics card because the second FIFA(96) required one. And I had to buy the very first 3dfx Monster add-on to play Tomb Raider well !!!

Was it simplier those days ?
March 21, 2007 3:21:41 PM

After my Pentium 90 died I wanted to build my own computer... and for whatever reason (at the time it made sense) I opted for a Cyrix 686-166+ with 32 MB of RAM and a Tseng 6000 video card for blazing 2D and a 3DFx Voodoo 1 3D add-on card. This was the first CPU that physically burned me when I touched it and had virtually no headroom for overclocking. At most tasks it was faster than a comparable Pentium at the time (seriously, it was!) but the game Quake really exposed just how weak its FPU was... Quake on my Cyrix was actually a downgrade from my Pentium 90... the 3DFx Voodoo 1 was the only thing that saved Quake for me, but that's another story for another day.
March 21, 2007 3:23:36 PM

my fist build was about 3weeks after i got a computer for the fist time,i got a hole lota secondhand parts it was about 3 years ago and i was poor it was a P MMX 200Mhz 256Mb 6.7 Gb hd on a old compact motherboard i loved it untill i found it was slow next to other computers
a b B Homebuilt system
March 21, 2007 3:40:33 PM

Year: 2000
MoBo: Abit KT7-RAID
CPU: AMD Athlon 800MHz
RAM: 128MB PC100
VGA: 16MB 3Dfx Voodoo Banshee (AGP 2X)
Sound: Sound Blaster Live! X-Gamer
HDD: 15GB Maxtor ATA66
OS: Windows ME

I built this to replace a Pentium II 300MHz system that I received as a college graduation gift. I finally sold it last year, it had been upgraded to 512MB RAM, 32MB ATI Rage Fury, 40GB WD, and WinXP. I still have the Sound Blaster though.
March 21, 2007 3:48:33 PM

:arrow: 1999 - DEC P90 (put in overdrive chip to get to 180MHz)added ATi Ragepro PCI 4MHz,loaded it up with an unheard of 96MHz of RAM,sound blaster ISA card.By the way it played Command&Conquer Red Alert real good.
March 21, 2007 4:03:16 PM

8th grade (I'm 21 now) my dad's computer couldn't run Mechwarrior 3 so I decided to build my own.

Abit BE6
Pentium III 450Mhz
64MB of Crucial RAM
16MB TNT2 video card from Xentor (try finding them now)
Diamond Monster Sound MX300 (based on the Vortex 2 chipset from Aureal)
10GB hard drive
40x CD-ROM
cheap-ass case that got demolished by a friend a few years back
250W power supply
15" Sony Trinitron monitor that my parents gave me when they replaced theirs

Ahhh those were the days.
March 21, 2007 4:09:59 PM

My first actual self build was back in summer 2005

Athlon64 3700+
Geforce 6800
1gb corsair ddr 400

The first build I designed but had help on was xmas 2002

celeron 1.7ghz
geforce 2mx400 later upgraded to fx5600
256mb ram later upgraded to 768mb

First home built computer I ever had in 1998 was

AMD K6 450mhz
some gfx card i dont remember later upgraded to geforce 2 mx400
128mb ram

man that thing was beefy
March 21, 2007 4:28:49 PM

wooaah...that was in '93-'94 maybe?

it was a 386dx40 with about 4mb of ram , 212 WD caviar hdd, a 3 1/2 floppy and a trident 1mb vid card and a 15" monitor.

which was replaced about 6 months later by a 486 dx4 100mhz with 32mb of ram, same crappy vid card, a 270mb quantum fireball hdd,

all of that because of my "play-doom-in-full-screen-attempt" by fiddling with the jumpers...
March 21, 2007 4:51:04 PM

Heathkit based on a 1605 processor w/ 1k of RAM. `75ish
March 21, 2007 5:03:08 PM

After getting a Pentium 166 MMX lemon from MicronPC back in 1997 (?), I decided that enough was enough in 1998. From that point on I've been building my own PCs.

-I sold off my P166 MMX in piecemeal.

-Built a PC around the PIII 450. - Donated that to the salvation army.

-Built a PC using the Athlon XP-M 2600+ as my main computer. - Gave that and a Radeon 9800Pro to my cousin.

-Built an HTPC around another Athlon XP-M 2600+. - Still using it, but it's days are numbered.

-Current main rig is built around the E6600. - Thinking about switching the E6600 to a new HTPC build later this year. Perhaps drop a Quad Core into my primary rig?
March 21, 2007 5:15:24 PM

My first rig I built by myself... (which excludes piecing together Apple 2e parts)

It was a Celeron 300A that I overclocked to 450MHz, when the best pentium chip available was 350-400MHz, so I felt pretty proud of myself. I bought all of the parts one by one as I could afford them on my part time job while in college. If I remember correctly it was a 12x CDROM, 10GB? HDD (I may be way off here), standard modem, matrox graphics (forget the model), but I recall upgrading to a Canopus (anyone remember them?) Voodoo2 card which was an amazing leap forward for me.

I was a Quake2 monster with my $250 USRobotics X2 modem upgrade that gave me LPB pings of ~90. Those were the days.

I have not built a 'whole' computer for myself ever since them. Each generation morphs into the next as upgrades come and go. A motherboard here, HDD there, upgrade the graphics card a few months later, etc.
for this reason it is hard to accurately point at any specific "build" I ever had, but it has been quite a few in the past 12 years.
March 21, 2007 5:29:04 PM

wow, only a couple here that go as far back as I do, at least so far.

High school, probably 17 (I am 44 now), a z80 based single board beast that had a whopping 2k of ram, and used a cassette for storage.

used the cpu to actually shift the video data out to the rf modulator so that when it was running a program, the screen blanked. the programs had to 'pause' for some reason (input, our could be written into program to pause for a short time), so you could see the display.

this was circa 1980
March 21, 2007 5:31:39 PM

Actually, the very first machine I built myself from the ground up wasn't all that long ago, about 3 years past; it's still the main machine that sits on my desk, though it's obviously showing its age by now.

Obviously, I'd wanted to build one for many years; I was often frustrated with the low capabilities of any machine I had; they were all also non-OEM, being assembled by my grandfather, a retired engineer who's really into computing. Around the time Compaq managed to make the first IBM clones, he had built some of the very first homebrew x86 machines... And then proceeded to produced some of the first overclocked x86 PCs.

At any rate, the machine I'd previous had since Christmas 2000 was another machine he had built: an AMD K6-III, which was designed to run at 333MHz, but had been OC'ed to 500MHz, with 128MB of RAM and a 15GB, 5400RPM ATA100 hard drive. Later on, I upgraded it to 256MB of RAM, and added a Radeon 7000 video card. (the best I could find at the time for the PCI-only motherboard) It handled Unreal Tournament pretty well at 1024x768. (it was CPU-bound, obviously)

However, it wasn't too long after I first got it things became clear that it was weak. However, I simply didn't have the money.

The opportunity finally came, many years later, in early 2004. Thanks to leftover scholarship money (I was just finishing up my first year) I had the funds I needed, so I set my plan into motion; I'd long kept a running total of the parts I'd have wanted, so I dug up the current version of the list, pored over it, and got to work. At the time, TigerDirect was showing better pricing for the bulk of the parts, so I decided to just go entirely with them; once shipping was added in, it would've been more expensive to have gone with NewEgg for the few parts they were better for.

The machine itself took a long time to assemble; over 2 hours, partly because it took so **** long to manage to get the large heatsink assembly to clip on. For the time being, I was "borrowing" the old Radeon 7000 as a placeholder card; a while later, I replaced it with a Radeon X800XT. (well, first a GeForce FX 5200, then a Radeon 9600XT, THEN the X800XT)

Eventually, after about 48 hours of work, the machine was finished, and running. To my surprise, Morrowind actually ran WELL, thanks to the Athlon64 2800+. (which I later OC'ed from 1.8GHz to 2.0GHz)

Today, it plays a variety of things, possibly one of the widest ranges of games of any machine, stretching from earlier DOS titles all the way to Oblivion, and it runs them all well. Thanks to the multi-boot system I use, I can run just about everything.
a b B Homebuilt system
March 21, 2007 5:50:13 PM

Four years ago I picked up a magazine and decided to build my own. I was scared I would fail. I studied the manual over and over again, down to each pin. I found out it was a lot easier than I thought. Things could be plugged in one way only. My first build was a success, except for that Maxtor hard disk that was plugged in incorrectly.
After that and seeing that my computer was working fine and lasting a long time, I just took off to build more for myself and family.
For me building a computer is a great satisfaction. All of them present new challenges. Every motherboard is different. It is great to see a computer work out of that bunch of parts and I'm getting better at it every day.
March 21, 2007 5:52:18 PM

Quote:
First build hmm....

P5 200MMX, 16mb EDO, 4mb Ati video, 1.4gb hdd, 200w AT power


Ummm...

Shouldn't that be the P1 or simply Pentium 200MMX?
March 21, 2007 6:00:27 PM

While I helped my Dad upgrade our 286@8MHz (16MHz in "Turbo" mode) (wrt music card and math co-processor chip), and I personally completed several upgrades to my 486-DX2@50MHz (wrt RAM, HD & audio), the first computer I built from scratch (in 1999?) looked like this:

CPU: 2x Celeron (Mendocino) 433MHz OC'ed to ~470MHz
MOBO: Abit BP6 Dual socket 370
RAM: 64MB PC66 SDRAM (soon upped to 320MB?)
HD: Quantum 15GB HD PATA-66
CD: Kenwood 40x True-X CDROM
GRAPHICS: Matrox G400 (Dual Head) <--- This Card Rocked!!
NIC: D-Link 10-base T (w/ RJ-45 and Coaxial connects)
MONITOR: Viewsonic e790? (similar to the v95 of the day)
CASE: InWin Mid-ATX w/ removable mobo tray

Eventually, the MOBO, HD*, CD and GRAPHICS card all died. :( 

The CASE, NIC and MONITOR are still in use today ... although not by me. :) 

*Note: While the original HD failed ... the RMA'ed replacement is still in use today!
March 21, 2007 7:33:20 PM

Quote:
So what and when was your first build?Q


In part, I think this depends on how the first build is defined:

1. Upgrading a present computer with a new video card, sound card, etc

2. A major build using only a few parts from an old computer, such as hard drive, sound card, and disc drives

3. Starting with a box of parts and nothing old whatsoever.

Using definition number one, my first build would have been back in 1992, adding some ram chips that brought the ram up to 512 kb, a Turtle Beach soundcard, 1 gig hard drive and a 2 mb video card. I later added a Voodoo card for some better 3D graphics.

Using definition number two, my first build would have been in 2003, when I rebuilt my Alienware computer and retained only the hard drive, sound card, and disc drives.

Using definition number three, I'm just starting now, and finding a few annoying things that cause some delays. Like yesterday, the computer turned on ok, but then the screen said it couldn't find a boot drive. Turned out the cd drive was defective. Now I have wait for Newegg to send a new one. Other than annoyances, everything is going together and it will save me hundreds of dollars, which will then be used to pay the Infernal Revenue Service its taxes.
March 21, 2007 9:00:02 PM

1996 - My first "computer" build was actually a 286 based voicemail system....
a Rolm Phonemail system running a proprietary OS via a system I/O card. It didn't use a keyboard or VGA - you "talked" to it with a dumb terminal (or emulator) at 1200, 8, 1, none via a RS232 serial cable!

1998 or 99 - For personal use I built a cheap Celeron 450 system that I overclocked to 570 Mhz. Still runs great but without the original power supply as it died a resistor burning death.

I've built countless PC's around here for use as terminal enulators to "talk" to switches, etc.

I'm planning a new personal PC build with at least a 3.0 Ghz CPU and 1GB of RAM.
March 22, 2007 8:32:47 AM

One thing I've noticed so far is that there are recent starters and old hands but there is a gap in the early nineties.

I should say that although my first build was a non-PC machine I had hands on 'take apart and put together again' on a a genuine IBM Personal Computer (pre-XT) as my father was at that time working for Big Blue as an Office Products salesman and one day he brought home this thing and had it for a whole week to get to understand it so he could sell it to his customers. I had the screwdriver to it the first day he was away on a call to see the insides. Thankfully it still worked after it went back together, as it was only a few days after that when he told me that it was worth over £5,000 - which in those days was more than half a year's salary.

This, of course, piqued my interest in all things computing even more but I didn't get the chance to build a machine of the PC type until the late 80's when I needed a data logger for a vibrational analysis project I was working on. That one was based on a machine that was lying unused in the lab which if memory serves was an 8088 with 256k memory and a HUGE 8k graphics card. I added in a rather expensive data capture card acquired for me by the department head with 32 sensor inputs. That card fried the power supply so I had to get one of the elec eng students to jury rig a new one for me. There was no hard drive in it, only a single 12" external floppy drive - yes I said 12" not 5 1/4"

Sweet memories.

Q
March 22, 2007 10:02:50 AM

Quote:
Heathkit based on a 1605 processor w/ 1k of RAM. `75ish


Weren't those sold through Maplins?
March 22, 2007 12:39:17 PM

I have never seen 12" floppy drives - but I have some 7 1/2 inch floppy drives made by mitsubishi - and, believe it or not, they are still used to keep old Rolm 8000 and 9000 series CBX's running. They are required for backing up the config and for loading software.

I started with a TI99/4A in 1980 - I learned basic on it. Then I had a C64II in the mid 80's. Then I got married and had a child in 90-91 and I didn't start to even think about getting a pc until about 94-95 - then I got a freebee IBM XT/PC with monochrome monitor 20 MB hd, etc. from a relative who "upgraded" to a 486 DX/100 machine :lol: 
That was the first one I took apart - but it wasn't really good for anything and I evntually trashed it.

I also had some 154MB hard drives that weighed like 80 pounds and had platters with a 2 foot diameter. These things were boat anchors for sure - And a maxed out Phonemail 3.7 could have 10 of them installed!
March 22, 2007 2:31:16 PM

My parents got a PC back in the late 80's, when there was only DOS. I was only interested in playing games but my dad wanted me to learn DOS and the other boring stuff, but I just quit playing games so I didn't have to listen to him complaining anymore. They then upgraded to a 386 and then a pentium something, and then something else, but I still didn't have any interest in doing anything but games so I just didn't mess with any of them. It wasn't until I was 21 when I got a job at a local PC repair/system builder shop and started getting interested. I couldn't even shut one down right but they showed me how to build a computer from scratch and I'll never buy a premade system now. The boss gave me an old Compuke with a Pentium 100 chip which I upgraded to a 233 that was laying around and 96mb ram with an 8mb SIS PCI card. MY first PC that I totally built was a Pentium 2 450 Slot 1 CPU and 512 ram and a Rage 128 32mb card. That was all around '00 or '01. I built hundreds of new computers working for that local shop, and I continue to do it for friends and family or whoever else wants me to just because I like to.
March 28, 2007 3:18:06 PM

Sorry for posting again but I just remembered my 2nd graphics card back in '98 or something. It was Diamond Stealth 3D. Some candy name for s3 eh :p 
March 28, 2007 4:12:21 PM

Quote:
Using definition number three, I'm just starting now, and finding a few annoying things that cause some delays. Like yesterday, the computer turned on ok, but then the screen said it couldn't find a boot drive. Turned out the cd drive was defective. Now I have wait for Newegg to send a new one. Other than annoyances, everything is going together and it will save me hundreds of dollars, which will then be used to pay the Infernal Revenue Service its taxes.


Thought I'd give an update on the last build I did over the weekend. I used XP64 for the OS, as it had a Vista Premium upgrade coupon with it. Got everything running easy enough, but then ran into trouble with the browser. Seems that it doesn't like 64 bit systems. After being merely slow for a couple days while I did driver upgrades, it quit entirely. Everything else is working fine.

As of yet, I don't know if I did something wrong or XP64 is at fault or if the internet browser is the problem. Going back to using XP home on the computer for the moment and see if everything works fine with that.
March 28, 2007 5:06:11 PM

late 94 early 95
amd 586 133
trident 1 mb pci video card
500 mb hd
24 mb ram
14 in ctx monitor
played red baron and R.O.A.star trail duke nukem 1&2 and lots of tetris :) 
March 28, 2007 6:22:51 PM

Must have been back around 2000 or so (maybe '01). I believe it was an Athlon T-bird 1.2GHz with 512mb SDRAM and a GeForce 256. Unfortunately, I used a crappy Epox motherboard and a bad PSU/case, so it always had some problems, but it was still a good system.
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