I went by BestBuy the other day, shopping for a new video card. I hadn't done any research but figured the guys there would know all the best products. I ran into a fellow in the parking lot that had a trunk full of really interesting computer parts - including this really big card made by IBM.
Now, he had some other stuff, one called a Hercules card, but I hadn't heard of it before, so I stuck with the name-brand. Heck, IBM - how can you go wrong? He wanted $60 for it, but I knew he was dealing outta his trunk, so I talked him down to $40.
Man, this is an impressive card. The thing is simply HUGE! And the chips on it are all larger than even the ones on my motherboard - they must really be powerful, eh? And it has a built-in printer port too!
So I followed the instruction book - I scanned some pages from it below. The book showed how to install it in a desktop case and I have a tower, but figured my case was bigger than the desktop anyway so it wouldn't be a problem. Well, that card is actually almost as long as my whole case!
The real problem came from fitting it into my PCI or PCI-e slots. I just doesn't seem to line up right. Is there a newer slot design than what I have now? I just can't figure it out.
Anyway, I'm sure you folks can help me. I tried going back to the BestBuy but that guy wasn't there anymore - likely sold out with his good prices. I just know this is a great card if I can only get it installed. Maybe I need one of those expansion unit they show on the last page?
You would think - if this is true - that he would have had a hint from the cover of the manual (even if too young to know what an IBM XT personal computer was) - which states MONOCHROME Dispay. I guess he was too busy negotiating a good price to notice.
Come on guys! I figured the mention of the "Hercules" card might clue some in. And with 160 posts here, hopefully I'm not that gullible.
Actually I used to sell these cards - I began selling IBM PCs in the summer of 1983. This is an ISA card, but we didn't use that term yet, usually PC or XT cards, to make the difference between them and the AT 16-bit cards.
And $40 would be a great price in 1983. I'm thinking it went for about $250. The typical PC system with 256K of RAM, 2 5.25" floppy drives and a mono monitor went for about $2000 I believe. A nice XT with a huge 10MB hard drive, add about $1000
The computers pictured there came standard with 16KB of RAM - you could fill up the motherboard and take it to 64K. The XT and original Compaqs held a max of 256K on the motherboard and the Compaq had the big advantage of using a Hercules-type technology for its graphics. All IBMs at the time had only the choice between this monitor and card or a CGA card with low-level graphics. This card supported only text, no graphics at all.
In fact, the ability of Compaq to integrate graphics into a decent monochrome screen is likely responsible for IBMs and their clones being what they are today. It meant an accountant (most of our customers) could run Lotus 1-2-3 (think Excel) and also run Microsoft Flight Simulator - the two top-selling programs on the market. You couldn't do that on an IBM with their supplied cards! That meant that IBM's "open architecture" became a success and despite their later desire, the genie couldn't be put back in the bottle. And Bill Gates fortune was made by his refusal to write MS-DOS for IBM, rather selling them a license to it and retaining the rights. This was totally new for IBM and the computer industry, actually publishing the design specs of your computers and software and inviting others to build for it.
Here's a nice Wiki on ISA with links to other "olden days" subjects. It's good to know sometimes where we came from with technology - like history of all kinds - tells us where we might be heading.
The typical PC system with 256K of RAM, 2 5.25" floppy drives and a mono monitor went for about $2000 I believe.
That sounds about right. It was around that time that I purchased my first computer - the Apple IIe. It was $1650 with a black and white monitor and a double upgrade - the memory increased to two sticks totaling 256K of RAM and twin 5.25" floppy drives. According to Wikipedia - "The Apple IIe has the distinction of being the longest-lived computer in Apple's history, having been manufactured and sold for nearly 11 years with relatively few changes. "
Well, I think your memory is a little off. The Apple IIe, which we also sold, came with 64K of RAM and many added the Extended 80 column card which added support for 80 columns of text (like the IBM) but also 64K more of RAM. I don't think any RAM beyond 128 was available until at earliest late 1984. The IIe also supported both graphics and text modes on their screen, but the text was the same low-quality found on the IBM CGA monitor.
I was at a national computer chain store called CompuShop from Summer of 83 until late Spring 84. Saw the PC and XT and the IIe become popular. And the introduction of the IBM PCJr (ugg), the Compaq Plus and the Mac.
And no sticks back then either. RAM was added to existing systems one chip at a time. Took nerves of steel to get those buggers in the holders. RAM was either 9 chips of 16K each (36 made 64K) or 64K each (36 made 256K). So it wasn't uncommon to see a memory expansion board with 9 rows of RAM on it, each row with 9 chips. Those were BIG boards and heavy too. The RAM came in anti-static tubes designed to hold the 'legs' in place.