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***Vintage PC Technology Mega Discussion Thread***

Hello and welcome to the nostalgia tech mega thread!

Have you ever been the owner of a 486? Or a Macintosh running System 7? Or know what the various cages that hold CD-ROM discs are for? Have you ever used a 1.44MB floppy drive? Or a punchcard? Or a 3DFX Voodoo 2? Well this is the place to discuss all things vintage PC technology! Reminder - keep things civil and avoid the GRAPES. As usual, all Tom's Hardware rules apply. This thread will be moderated.
Reply to g-unit1111
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  1. Oldest computer we have is some Dell or HP from like 2000. Wish I had more vintage stuff. I had a teacher who had some Mac from the 70s or 80s whatever (whatever the oldest one or second oldest was) and says he still boots it once in a while and it works; he can play a maze game on it.
    Reply to turkey3_scratch
  2. 1978 take your kids to work day at star market. dad was working in it. used punch cards and old teletype machine....was thusday afternoon trying to do the time cards on old tape and punch cards for the whole star market chain. the teletype was dead..full on fault ligjts...would not do anything. 4 techs and manager sitting around at 2:00 pm trying to get it to run. here go 10 year old boy pulls out end of a pencile and the system reboots and works. there 5 guys staring at me wanting to kill me....other times they had kids days i used to reshuffle the punch cards on them :)
    Reply to smorizio
  3. 1987 worked gte in needham mass in wire prep area. server at that time were sold old if you hit replay to all you used to crash the server as used to send your email to 18,000 people.
    Reply to smorizio
  4. Dell laptop from 1997 or so. Use it once or twice a year to connect to the truck and check the OBDII data.
    Running W2k.
    hmmmm....that reminds me.

    In original box but still working (last time I checked) VIC-20 and C64. I should crank them up and try to connect to the 60" Sony...:lol:

    Anyone remember the 4 CD changers? Fit inside a standard 5.25" drive mount?
    Reply to USAFRet
  5. USAFRet said:
    Dell laptop from 1997 or so. Use it once or twice a year to connect to the truck and check the OBDII data.
    Running W2k.
    hmmmm....that reminds me.

    In original box but still working (last time I checked) VIC-20 and C64. I should crank them up and try to connect to the 60" Sony...:lol:

    Anyone remember the 4 CD changers? Fit inside a standard 5.25" drive mount?


    Or how about these?



    :lol:
    Reply to g-unit1111
  6. Cleaning my garage today, I came across a box of 1.44 floppies. They will probably find their way to the trash tomorrow.
    Reply to USAFRet
  7. i have an IBM 5150 originally it had 2 5.25 360 floppys woooo This was the first computer I ever had. Upgraded the video to ega. Added a 20 meg rll hdd thought wow I will never fill this baby up.
    Reply to galeener
  8. i actually have one of these titan 2 m64 cards lying around i use for agp slot testing http://www.anandtech.com/show/393

    and yes sadly i still get pc's with agp cards come into my shop way too often. they like to wonder what card they can change to so they can play GTA V.
    Reply to Math Geek
  9. Back in 86/87 My Sperry XT weighed as much as a first Gen Thermaltake V1000 case ... 1.6mm steel. Putting 48 (54 actually) 6164 DIL RAM chips on the riser card to make it 640K took a while. I replaced one of the dual 36ok floppies with a 20MB HDD. Had to program the interface card ...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-EtrC32wrU

    The guy's next video shows him booting up a couple of old drives ...

    :)
    Reply to Reynod
  10. Math Geek said:
    i actually have one of these titan 2 m64 cards lying around i use for agp slot testing http://www.anandtech.com/show/393

    and yes sadly i still get pc's with agp cards come into my shop way too often. they like to wonder what card they can change to so they can play GTA V.


    *facepalm*
    Reply to turkey3_scratch
  11. my first pc at home was one of the old tandy 2000 units from radio shack (honk if you remember those pc's!!). was back when they were still called ibm clones and not pc's. think it was a 8086 chip if i recall right. was quite a long time ago so might be mixing it up. first one i bought myself was a packard bell 386 running at a blazing 18 mhz with a 20 mhz turbo button you could activate!!! put my first copy of windows onto that machine, v 2 if i recall right. i liked DOS better at that point. but by win 3.1 i was happy with it.

    few years later i got my first mouse and remember all the fun of getting that working. chasing down port conflicts and all that jazz dealing with manually setting what went with what port.
    Reply to Math Geek
  12. Found in my desk drawer yesterday
    Reply to USAFRet
  13. My Atari 512 ST still runs. Otherwise, my first real computer at home was Heathkit H89, There's also a Vic 20 sitting somewhere in the attic.
    Reply to CountMike
  14. USAFRet said:
    Cleaning my garage today, I came across a box of 1.44 floppies. They will probably find their way to the trash tomorrow.


    I still have a box of Zip discs.
    Reply to g-unit1111
  15. believe it or not i sold a 100 mb and 250 mb zip drive with a bunch of disks last year. my dad was using them and then lost them at the bottom of a box a long time ago. he found them again and i had them ut to play with a bit. a client saw the drives and actually wanted them for some reason.

    i got $50 for the 2 drives and a good 20 disks between them. feel like i won the lottery on that one as they should be totally worthless overall.
    Reply to Math Geek
  16. My first "computer job" we had a ZIP drive with the 100mb disks we had a lot of our group licensed software for our clients on it, so I would schlep that thing to their offices to install stuff. Or I would bring blank disks to back up data on a machine I was re-installing Windows on. It was faster than burning a CD, but running it through the computers parallel port was still slow as heck. I carried a PalmPilot back then for work notes and stuff it was funny, people looked at me and how that thing worked and you would think they saw a space alien.

    I copied anything useful off all my old 1.44mb floppies onto 1 CD years ago probably a bit before the time I moved out of my parents house (2006?) and tossed them all.
    Reply to Rogue Leader
  17. Math Geek said:
    believe it or not i sold a 100 mb and 250 mb zip drive with a bunch of disks last year. my dad was using them and then lost them at the bottom of a box a long time ago. he found them again and i had them ut to play with a bit. a client saw the drives and actually wanted them for some reason.

    i got $50 for the 2 drives and a good 20 disks between them. feel like i won the lottery on that one as they should be totally worthless overall.


    That's amazing. The funny thing is I remember when those things were state of the art. Now compared to the 200GB micro SD card I have in my phone those 100MB discs seem like nothing now. :lol:
    Reply to g-unit1111
  18. My 1st PC was an IBM XT in back of 1992. It had 2Mhz CPU and 10MB HDD. OS MS DOS, no mouse, no speakers, black & white monitor and 5¼-inch floppy drive. Had 1 or 2 games on it that i loved to play.

    Next upgrade was IMB AT since it was faster than XT.

    3rd PC i owned was 286 with CGA monitor.

    Big upgrade came with 386. It had turbo button for instant CPU Mhz boost, EGA monitor, speakers, 2 button mechanical mouse (no scroll wheel), 3½-inch floppy drive and OS in form of Norton Commander. My gaming era began with 386. One game that i still casually play while emulating DOS is Supaplex.

    Next PC was 486 with VGA monitor and faster CPU with more HDD space. OS Windows 3.1.

    After that i went on to the Pentium series. Pentium 1 133Mhz that got upgraded to Pentium 1 166Mhz. OS Windows 95.

    Next upgrade was Pentium 2 266Mhz with Windows 98SE. I still have it in running conditions with 2 PATA HHDs: 4.2GB for system and 6.1GB for data.

    Years passed until Pentium 2 got too old and i bought my current AMD build in 2011 (specs in this topic) that i'm constantly upgrading to keep up with time.

    Nowdays, PC building is very easy. Everything gets auto dedected and it doesn't matter witch way you connect your SATA drive.
    Back then there was no such luxury. You had to manually read from HDD label the values of Size, Cyls, Head, Precomp, Landz, Sector and insert them into BIOS in hopes for the PC dedects the drive. Also the orientation of PATA cable was importnant. Not to mention the Master and Slave drives. You couldn't install two Master drives on a single PATA cable in hopes that both of them will work.
    Reply to Aeacus
  19. PC XT, that was OLD in 1992!

    That said my friend had one and we still played games on it even then.
    Reply to Rogue Leader
  20. Rogue Leader said:
    PC XT, that was OLD in 1992!

    I know that it was old but it was the best my family could afford at that time.
    Better that than nothing at all.
    Reply to Aeacus
  21. Aeacus said:
    Rogue Leader said:
    PC XT, that was OLD in 1992!

    I know that it was old but it was the best my family could afford at that time.
    Better that than nothing at all.


    100% agree. We lived with my 386 far longer than we should have because we could not afford an upgrade. Then I got a job, and spent all my money on it lol.
    Reply to Rogue Leader
  22. Aeacus said:
    My 1st PC was an IBM XT in back of 1992. It had 2Mhz CPU and 10MB HDD. OS MS DOS, no mouse, no speakers, black & white monitor and 5¼-inch floppy drive. Had 1 or 2 games on it that i loved to play.


    Yeah I remember learning how to play Doom on those machines. And of course my parents hated it at the time because they bought into all the anti-violent video game propaganda that was being spread. So no Doom, no Mortal Kombat, but you know what? I played the hell out of those games anyways! But you gotta love the days of the floppy drive.
    Reply to g-unit1111
  23. think us older folks have a bit more appreciation for the new tech having dealt with the old stuff. i hated using a mouse early on as i was very good at navigating windows with the keyboard. most of those old commands are still there and i use them all the time. younger folks are usually amazed at how quickly i can move through windows without touching the mouse.

    that and being able to work with dos command prompt. that's all we had for a long time before windows. funny to see younger folks bash linux as "command line nerd stuff" when that's what we started with and learned on. i can still man handle a pc with command line stuff rather easily despite it falling out of favor.

    odd was that my dad actually got into games on the pc before i did. he fell in love with catacomb abyss and spent many hours playing it. i preferred to do other things such as spend time on those new fangled bbs dial in boards. that was quality time well spent :)
    Reply to Math Geek
  24. Still have a working AMD K6 system with 24Mb of RAM..
    Came preinstalled with windows 95 and I upgraded it to windows 98. :D
    Newest thing I ran on it was probably age of empires 2.
    Reply to Faux_Grey
  25. Did anyone else see @midnight last night? They went all out for a 90's episode and made fun of vintage internet. I like how the prize was an extra 400 hours of AOL time and any time they got a graphic it took forever to load because of 14400 modems. :lol:
    Reply to g-unit1111
  26. I think the processor speed on my 5150 was 4.77 and the memory was 640 but was populated on the mother board and an add in memory card.
    This thing is built like a tank i think I could probably drive my truck up on it and it would hold.
    Reply to galeener
  27. Heh, I have a Dell PC from 2000 with 4 operating systems on it (because I got bored..)
    Used much older stuff, don't own anything old.
    Reply to XxD34THxX
  28. Was cleaning out my parents attic and dug this up:



    I got excited for a second thinking maybe the board and processor were in the box but it was just the manual and a couple old IDE cables. I tossed it in the trash. I think this motherboard is from like 3-4 builds ago, and may have been the reason I hate Gigabyte. This system I built with it always was buggy and ran like crap.
    Reply to Rogue Leader
  29. Rogue Leader said:
    I got excited for a second thinking maybe the board and processor were in the box but it was just the manual and a couple old IDE cables. I tossed it in the trash. I think this motherboard is from like 3-4 builds ago, and may have been the reason I hate Gigabyte. This system I built with it always was buggy and ran like crap.


    Gigabyte's come a long way since the K7 days. The Designare that I have now is running pretty flawlessly.
    Reply to g-unit1111
  30. g-unit1111 said:
    Rogue Leader said:
    I got excited for a second thinking maybe the board and processor were in the box but it was just the manual and a couple old IDE cables. I tossed it in the trash. I think this motherboard is from like 3-4 builds ago, and may have been the reason I hate Gigabyte. This system I built with it always was buggy and ran like crap.


    Gigabyte's come a long way since the K7 days. The Designare that I have now is running pretty flawlessly.


    These days I would say all the brands quality wise are pretty interchangeable, now that the FSB, memory controller, etc, is part of the processor (among other things). Back then the motherboard could make a real difference in performance. Now its really just how many features you want (fancy sound, ethernet, pcie lanes, etc). This board is a relic from the end of a time you needed to buy a card for everything. It did have integrated sound which I remember was not on every board at the time like it is today.
    Reply to Rogue Leader
  31. Rogue Leader said:
    These days I would say all the brands quality wise are pretty interchangeable, now that the FSB, memory controller, etc, is part of the processor (among other things). Back then the motherboard could make a real difference in performance. Now its really just how many features you want (fancy sound, ethernet, pcie lanes, etc). This board is a relic from the end of a time you needed to buy a card for everything. It did have integrated sound which I remember was not on every board at the time like it is today.


    This was the first Gateway I PC had after years of using Macs, and the funny thing is after adding a ton of expansion cards - sound, modem, 3Dfx, the system became so unstable and unusable that it turned me off PCs for the longest time:



    It worked fine until I added the Voodoo 2, but when I bought my first CD burner and added the SCSI expansion card the thing went to crap.
    Reply to g-unit1111
  32. Yep that was computing back in the day, 8 expansion bays, and every single one filled. At one point I had a PC that had an ATI 3D Rage II as the primary GPU, a PowerVR PCX2 PCI graphics accelerator, Creative DxR2 DVD video card (connected to the 3d rage by a vga cable), Soundblaster AWE 32 (or may have been an Audigy I forget), and a PCI ethernet card. 5 cards lol
    Reply to Rogue Leader
  33. Anyone remembers the riser card?

    The 386 and 486 that i had were all with desktop case and used riser card. When i looked inside the PC, everything was cramped up like hell.

    Reply to Aeacus
  34. Yeah the slim line Compaqs and Dell, etc computers used to have those so you would still have full height slots in thin cases lol.

    Proprietary motherboards at their finest!
    Reply to Rogue Leader
  35. Aeacus said:
    Anyone remembers the riser card?

    The 386 and 486 that i had were all with desktop case and used riser card. When i looked inside the PC, everything was cramped up like hell.


    Yup! I remember those. Funny that my Silverstone Raven actually has one! :lol:
    Reply to g-unit1111
  36. We have a box of those xD
    Reply to XxD34THxX
  37. Don't trash old floppies! Sell or Recycle them. http://www.floppydisk.com/recycle
    Reply to edowave
  38. Or use them to copy the MBR's on your PC
    Reply to XxD34THxX
  39. My first built PC was a Duron 700, with an ECS K7S5A. I did get some old parts, from school, and had an AMD K6-2 500 system for a little while too.
    Reply to logainofhades
  40. Well, I've used a lot of old tech over the years. Our first Wintel machine was one of the IBM clones, with a 486DX chip in it. Those were the days, when you had to set up the batch file to access the full 4MB of RAM so that X-Wing would run. That was a machine my parents bought, though. The first PC I bought after I was married was a prebuilt eMachines from Best Buy. It was rocking an AMD K6 300MHz chip (later, after messing with the jumpers on the board, I replaced with a 500MHz K6-2 chip).

    But the first "PC" that we ever actually owned wasn't even a Wintel machine. It was Christmas of 1983. My parents decided to get the family our first color TV (13" one) to replace the Philco 19" B&W TV we'd had....& they decided to pair it with a Coleco Adam. I thought the daisy wheel printer sounded so cool (like a turbocharged typewriter), & loved playing the included Buck Rogers tape game. Yes, that's right: primary storage was a tape drive (supposedly they later made a 5.25" disk drive, but we never had it), & it had a port to play all of the ColecoVision cartridges, so we could go to the local library & check out games to play (still remember how there was a "glitch" in my sister's Cabbage Patch Kids side-scroller game, where if you went left instead of right you actually went backwards through the game).
    Reply to spdragoo
  41. My very first computer was a commodore 64. I splurged for 2 disk drives, and a killer accelerator card that had a built in hex editor. It allowed me to edit the disks directly - it was the ultimate hack tool, back in the day. People today talk about all the protections that Maxis includes in their software. Much of that protection was first developed on, and for, the commodore computer.

    For $1000, I became the proud owner of an original IBM 4.77MHz 8086 computer, complete with 640K of RAM, a 170K 5 1/2" floppy drive, a 10Mb hard drive, a hercules monochrome graphics card, a 'green screen' monitor, and a super cool 9 pin dox maxrix printer.
    It was my first IBM. The day I got it home, I started looking at all the wonderful toys that came with MSDOS 1.1. That's how I discovered that one can wipe out the hard drive without realizing it. Lucky for me, there was a guy in town who could put it back together for me, for a small fee.
    And naturally, the very day I got it back home, I did the same thing again.
    On the third trip to his workshop, he sat me down and explained what the various programs do. He taught me how to not crash the hard drive, but also how to put it back together if I do.
    I was hooked.
    From there, I bought all the OSs. Zenith DOS, IBMs PC DOS, MS DOS, and Digital Research DR DOS. All had their quirks, bugs and merits. I started combining versions and utilities to get the best of them all.
    Now, the thing about these computers is that only 256K was on the motherboard. The rest was on a separate memory card. And the clock crystals were soldered onto the boards. It was nothing at the time to buy faster crystals and solder them in. I managed to speed up the bus to just under 6MHz before the first board failed. I remember it was my memory expansion card that failed first. I didn't know it at the time, but I was overclocking before overclocking was a thing.
    After reviewing all these versions of DOS, I recall telling my father that if he gave me $10K, I would retire a millionaire. Even as a teen, I knew MS was going to win the DOS wars and become big... real big.

    But eventually, all my friends started joking about me literally turning my computer on and going for a cup of coffee in the time it took for my machine to boot up. So I splurged for a 12MHz 286. What was funny is that the 25MHz 286 was the latest and greatest. And I remember a quote from a rep at the computer convention in Vegas that year. He said "The 25MHz 286 was more computer than most people will ever need"
    My 286 sported 1Mb of memory - which introduced me to upper memory. And I eventually expanded it to 2Mb, which introduced me to expanded memory.
    This was about the time I started getting "The computer shopper" delivered to my door - by that time it was bigger than even the biggest telephone books.
    Then I bought myself a 25MHz 386sx with 2Meg of extended memory. By this time, the only DOS still in business was MS. 3.11 was the standard, and 4 was on the way. At this time, I became a self taught expert in Quarterdecks QEMM and Qualitas QMax. I got pretty good at combining the two and even wrote a basic program that optimized the creation of upper memory blocks, and finding the most efficient order to load programs and data into them. Then I fell in love with Deskview386.
    At the time, I was heavy into electrical engineering and Pspice. So I paid a premium price for that Cyrix 387 mathco. It was the ultimate math chip. And it was a miracle worker. But, as luck would have it, a buddy of mine pulled it out one day to look at it. He never grounded himself. When he plugged it back in, it was DOA. I still had all my electrical designs and simulations, but simulating a single cycle went from a few minutes back to half a day.
    I was not all that impressed when Windows 1 came out. I heard it called "the most expensive solitaire game ever", and I agreed. But then W.2 came out. Once Windows 3 came out, I knew DOS was dead, even if Deskview worked better than W1 and 2.

    I had been out of the game for a couple of decades. I missed the whole pentium revolution. So once I got the chance, I decided to see what I could do. I built my own last year.
    Windows 10 - free, of course
    Asus maximus VIII hero mb
    4.0GHz 6700 processor
    32GB 4400 DDR4
    Geforce 980Ti graphics card.
    4x SATA3 SSD RAID 0
    Nothing is world record breaking, but it's a ton more computer than I'll ever need. (seriously, I'm a half century old, and the most processor intensive games I play are Stellaris, Civilization, and SimCity. I must admit - I just don't see why so few people use 4 drive RAIDS. The bus between memory and drive is clearly the most common bottleneck these days. SSDs are a bit better, 2 drive RAIDS are OK but they really miss the big benefit of RAIDs. But imo, a 4SSD RAID0 makes everything lightning fast.
    Reply to jdlech
  42. Quote:
    He said "The 25MHz 286 was more computer than most people will ever need"


    The first PC my family ever owned was a 386 SX 25 with a 340mb hard drive, at a time that 100mb was normal. I can't tell you how many times I heard "340 megabytes?!?!?! You will NEVER fill that up! It will last FOREVER!"
    Reply to Rogue Leader
  43. Famous components I've owned/worked with
    "true blue" 4.77MHz 8086 (even had the IBM logo on the desktop case)
    Hercules monochrome graphics card (several years ahead of its time).
    Paradise VGA card - back then, everything supported it.
    And the 'world famous' cyrix 387 math coprocessor - it was the ultimate chip for engineering. Fellow engineering students marvelled at it in action. Some fellow students claimed I had an "unfair advantage" because of it.

    But let's be honest about something. It took IBM computers many years to develop VGA and finally exceed the graphics capabilities of the humble commodore 64.
    Reply to jdlech
  44. jdlech said:
    Famous components I've owned/worked with
    "true blue" 4.77MHz 8086 (even had the IBM logo on the desktop case)
    Hercules monochrome graphics card (several years ahead of its time).
    Paradise VGA card - back then, everything supported it.
    And the 'world famous' cyrix 387 math coprocessor - it was the ultimate chip for engineering. Fellow engineering students marvelled at it in action. Some fellow students claimed I had an "unfair advantage" because of it.

    But let's be honest about something. It took IBM computers many years to develop VGA and finally exceed the graphics capabilities of the humble commodore 64.


    Yep. I remember a lot of games supporting EGA which was decent compared to the Commodore, but not really better.

    I had that famous Cyrix 387 Co-processor I installed into that aforementioned 386 SX PC. I remember it came in a big flat rectangular box almost the size of a small modern laptop. Stupidly I thought it would help games. It did not lol.
    Reply to Rogue Leader
  45. You know what I really miss?
    My ATI 8500DV All in Wonder card.
    That was the most beautiful graphics card ever - because of all the things it could do.
    It was a graphics card, a TV tuner card, a video capture card, and a hardware converter. It was the first card that allowed me to extend the desktop to 2 monitors, or a monitor and a TV. I could hook up my camcorder to it and convert everything to DVDs. Hook it up to a TV and watch movies while still using my monitor. It even came with a wireless remote - like a tv remote.
    Geez, the stuff you have to buy these days to do everything that one card could do...
    I still have it, but, it's an AGP card. Nothing comes with an AGP anymore.
    Reply to jdlech
  46. i had a 9600 all-in-wonder and agree it's the best card i ever bought. am putting together a parts list for a small htpc to replace cable completely and wish there was such an option now. gonna take multiple parts to get all the options this one card had.
    Reply to Math Geek
  47. Yea TV tuners today, I do believe are often USB based units.
    Reply to logainofhades
  48. still doing research but hopefully i can get a small case and have it all inside. need dvr for the antenna and ability to organize and search through media library we have. i had an hp laptop from around 2008 or so that had a pmcia digital antenna and good old windows media player gave me local channel guide once it scanned for channels and dvr abilities. so hopefully it won't be too hard to get what i want inside a nice small case through a software/hardware combo.

    we're done with cable really and sticking with streaming services. the playstation vue cable is rather nice for $30 a month. we are loving it so far with it's channel line-up and cloud based dvr. don't miss cable at all but do want over the air channel dvr which needs some new stuff and gives me an excuse to build a new pc :)

    before i go too far off topic. i do miss my old all-in-winder card :D
    Reply to Math Geek
  49. logainofhades said:
    Yea TV tuners today, I do believe are often USB based units.


    Anyone remember that old Mac that had that built in TV tuner? I think I saw it on a list of the worst Apple products. :lol:

    Reply to g-unit1111
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