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(Mental Floss)   How to buy a computer...1993 edition   (mentalfloss.com) divider line 128
    More: Amusing, OS/2, time machines  
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9749 clicks; posted to Geek » on 26 Mar 2013 at 8:33 AM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-03-26 11:57:29 AM

poot_rootbeer: 386 CPUs were already obsolete by 1993. If you were buying an entry-level PC, you were getting at least a 486SX-25, and paying at least $1000 for it.


That's exactly what my first PC was in 1993. Leading Edge WinPro486. SX-25 processor, 3-button mouse, hard drive just over 100MB, 1MB VGA video card, 2MB RAM, 3.5 HD floppy disk. In 1994, added 250MB drive, external 2400 baud modem to get onto Prodigy, 2 more MB of RAM, Sound Blaster Pro card, and 2X CD-ROM. Watched grainy videos on the interactive encyclopedia in very small windows.

/played a ton of Gorillas in Qbasic
//windows startup/shutdown sounds
 
2013-03-26 11:58:41 AM

sammyk: Which explains why I moved my career to infrastructure. It's a real pain in the ass talking to finance guys that think they know something because they figured out how to setup a home wifi.


Try dealing with software engineers.
 
2013-03-26 12:00:33 PM
I recall experiencing excitement at having a home computer capable of more than CGA graphics.

I feel old.
 
2013-03-26 12:03:16 PM
The very first system that was actually mine was an IBM Portable PC (where "portable" meant "weighs 30 pounds and is the size of a small suitcase"). It was basically a PC/XT motherboard in a special case with an amber CGA monitor. If I wanted to actually play games, I had to run a TSR called NOCOLOR to turn the vertical stripes into greyscale. As built, it had 256K RAM and two floppy drives, and it was being sold to students for the fire sale price of $1200. By the time I was done with it, it was 640K with serial and parallel ports, a hard drive (first 32 MB, then a whopping 65 MB), and a 286 accelerator card.

I've gone through so many different systems, and sometimes changed out motherboards, that it's hard to keep track of them all... only four of them actually died, while others simply became too obsolete to use.

All of the dead motherboards succumbed to capacitor plague: a Shuttle SN21G5 (loved the case, but it's not practical to use it with anything other than a Shuttle mobo), the infamous Abit KT7-RAID (one of the earlier boards to suffer from bad caps), and two Intel-branded boards. The scary thing is that both of the Intel boards had Japanese capacitors (assuming they weren't fakes) and they still puffed up like marshmallows. I can't help but wonder how many billions of dollars worth of electronic gear has ended up on the scrap heap because of bad capacitors.

I still use the case that first housed the KT7-RAID for one of my systems.
 
2013-03-26 12:08:35 PM
My first PC was issued by USMA. I think it was a 486/8Mb/10G Compaq. We actually picked these things up from Washington basement during Reorgy week if I remember correctly. It wasn't much of a computer but at the time usma.edu had just launched and the Internet as it existed was almost entirely unregulated. This led to a lot of cadets developing online relationships with folks well before social networking was blowing up. I remember using PowWow to talk to a girl from Stanford, a girl I completely did not know.
 
2013-03-26 12:15:10 PM

Smidge204: This "computer" thing is an interesting fad. I don't think it'll catch on, though. There's no reason for anyone to have a computer in their home.

=Smidge=


If only information processing required very little energy and materials and we could make it so cheap and small that even poor people could have several of them, sometimes even without knowing it...

Now 747s on the other hand....
 
2013-03-26 12:15:43 PM
My first PC was a 486 something or other. That's nearly 20 years ago, so I can't remember a damn thing about it other than I was very good at freecell.
 
2013-03-26 12:20:59 PM
Emerson 286 12 Mhz with a monocrome monitor.  MS DOS 4.0

Procomm software to run the 1200 baud modem.

Ran a 3 line BBS running TAG software and my most popular door game was LORD (Legend of the Red Dragon)

/off to find TAG and LORD to see how it runs on my Alienware

http://soundcloud.com/windytan-1/dial-up-modem-noises Takes me back.
 
2013-03-26 12:21:56 PM
LOL.... 'With a PC, you have to mess around with autoexec.bat and config.sys, dip switches and jumpers, IRQ's, stuff like that'.

Jesus dude, even with early versions of Windows you didn't have to fark around THAT bad unless you really wanted to, and if you didn't add anything to the computer itself, you didn't have to  do it at all. What an Apple shill...
 
2013-03-26 12:27:44 PM
 
2013-03-26 12:40:46 PM
http://www.michaelv.org/

If you need a Windows 3.1 fix
 
2013-03-26 12:44:14 PM
I had a 486/33 that I bought through Computer Shopper.

The most awesome feature is that it had a TURBO button next to the RESET button.

/really
 
2013-03-26 12:51:00 PM
So what were you driving in 1993?

I don't know, it was my roommate's computer, but I could play some games on it and check out basic porn, was there really anything else I needed to do at the time? I was unsophisticated, and AOL was all I needed...
 
2013-03-26 12:52:00 PM
My first family computer was an Apple IIgs. The first PC that was actually mine was a Compaq Presario I got for my high school graduation in 1995. A friend and I had gone to a Microsoft presentation on Windows 95. I ended up getting a PC instead of a Mac because of that.

Pentium 75
8 megs RAM
725mb HD
Quad-Speed CD-ROM

Later that same year I bought another 8...cost me almost $400. But afterwards it ran extremely well.
 
2013-03-26 01:04:21 PM

sammyk: madgonad: sammyk: To this day my Mom says its the best $100 she ever spent. Both my brother and I have very successful IT careers and it all goes back to that primitive little device we got when we were 14-15. We were at the perfect age brimming with curiousity and all we wanted to do is see how far we could push that thing. My childhood hobby became my career and I have not truely worked a day of my life.

Which explains why I have never dealt with an IT person that does anything right or knows their own systems and networks better than me and I just work in finance.

Which explains why I moved my career to infrastructure. It's a real pain in the ass talking to finance guys that think they know something because they figured out how to setup a home wifi.

What makes everyone think they can do the IT guys job? I've been doing this shiat for +30 years. I forgotten more than you will ever know about computer technology.


It is so cute how indispensable it monkeys think they are.
 
2013-03-26 01:12:28 PM

Mikey1969: So what were you driving in 1993?

I don't know, it was my roommate's computer, but I could play some games on it and check out basic porn, was there really anything else I needed to do at the time? I was unsophisticated, and AOL was all I needed...


Amiga 3000 with 12M of RAM (2M chip RAM W00T!), 120M of SCSI HD goodness (thanks to Chico for getting me a decent price), Opalvision 24 bit graphics buffer, 386 Bridgeboard (an actual PC on a card to run PC software), a Mac emulator, video capture thingy (Digi View gold?) and a B/W camera, external 14.4 modem, 24 pin printer, multisync monitor and hooked up to the stereo.

I was doing morphing and image stuff and running some sort of fractal landscape generator and I animated a F-15 wireframe going into a canyon. I was also big into the local "warez doodz" thing and had shiatloads of floppies in many donut boxes.

Why the hell didn't I continue that instead of going into electronics??? I was the only idiot in college who handed in papers all printed out, other people were still hand-drawing their oscilloscope waveforms, I took pictures of my scope CRT and tossed them into the word processor. No one laughed at my Amiga after that...

/How the hell did I even get all that money?
//Why the hell do I even remember all this shiat?
///Why didn't I put as much effort into women???
 
2013-03-26 01:14:42 PM
Darn kids......

I bought a 286 16 MHz from Gateway when they advertised in Computer Shopper with the slogan "Computers From Iowa?" 40M HDD, 2M of RAM and real VGA graphics. The build slip for it was hand written.

Before that it was a VIC20 with a 16K cartridge, then a Commodore 128.
 
2013-03-26 01:23:12 PM

flaminio: Don't you even think about stepping on my lawn.

[Atari 800 pic]


+1. I still have my working 800. Still programming it just for shiats and giggles. Finally learned assembler after all these years.
 
2013-03-26 01:23:49 PM

lilplatinum: sammyk: madgonad: sammyk: To this day my Mom says its the best $100 she ever spent. Both my brother and I have very successful IT careers and it all goes back to that primitive little device we got when we were 14-15. We were at the perfect age brimming with curiousity and all we wanted to do is see how far we could push that thing. My childhood hobby became my career and I have not truely worked a day of my life.

Which explains why I have never dealt with an IT person that does anything right or knows their own systems and networks better than me and I just work in finance.

Which explains why I moved my career to infrastructure. It's a real pain in the ass talking to finance guys that think they know something because they figured out how to setup a home wifi.

What makes everyone think they can do the IT guys job? I've been doing this shiat for +30 years. I forgotten more than you will ever know about computer technology.

It is so cute how indispensable it monkeys think they are.


Don't hate just because we make more money than you.

If it was easy everyone would do it because pays freaking great.
 
2013-03-26 01:25:02 PM

StoPPeRmobile: [csdb.dk image 384x271]


so many nights with this, a box of 5 1/4 disks and the double side cutter.
 
2013-03-26 01:25:52 PM

flaminio: Don't you even think about stepping on my lawn.

[www.vintage-computer.com image 400x252]

centipede on this was insane.
 
2013-03-26 01:32:05 PM

Quantum Apostrophe: /How the hell did I even get all that money?
//Why the hell do I even remember all this shiat?
///Why didn't I put as much effort into women???


My problem is that after 3 years of programming in High School(Graduated in '88, so it was BASIC), I fell  off the radar for the most part with computers for the entire 90's. I am now hopelessly behind as far as programming goes, although I plan to go back to school to rectify that, but I still missed out on some major changes throughout the 90's. All I really used computers for during that decade was surfing and games.

/I DID have a roommate who developed mapping software for USGS that is probably what led to Google Earth, so that's pretty cool...  https://oracleus.activeevents.com/connect/speakerDetail.ww?PERSON_ID= 3 A6795BFDAEA6377BF1FF65AF4473129
 
2013-03-26 01:39:25 PM

GoldSpider: dukeblue219: //The day we upgraded to an AMD K5-133 / 32MB / 800MB was unbelievable like "who needs this much computer??"

I'm really sorry... early AMD x86 processors were notoriously temperamental.


A friend of mine has a triangular scar from the corner of one of those. Damn they ran hot.
 
2013-03-26 01:41:38 PM
I had an Packard Bell 486/50 of some type for my first machine, it came with Windows 3.11 for workgroups. I was ready to chuck it out the window when I attempted to install a 33.6k modem in it. It was a good learning experience though. Don't remember the exact cost but it wasn't cheap.

My second machine was a Gateway Pentium Pro 200, for a stripped down machine and monitor it was $2200.. I remember dropping another $450 for two 4.3GB drives.

Sad thing is I just built an i7 based machine for $750..
 
2013-03-26 01:42:45 PM
Ah, memories of the good ol' days .

To add to the CSB fest, I'll tell my own story...
( warning, long CSB follows )

In '93 I was a couple of years into my first home built box: a 386SX-20. I originally had 1MB of ram 4x256Mbit SIMMs  though I had a combo board that supported another bank of 4 rows of  1Mx9 DRAMs... (don't forget parity!)  and a 40MB Plus Hardcard that my grandfather gave me when he got rid of his old IBM XT.  I remember freaking out at the pricetag for hardcard.. he payed $1200 for the drive (in 1987ish). Almost the same price  as my whole barebones system.

By '90 IDE hard drive price wars were on  and the average price/ MB had already plummeted... I bought a 120MB Quantum IDE drive (Fastest around with 8ms average access access time... funny how one remembers stuff like that! ) for something like $250.   ( I do appreciate the irony that last year I accidentally dropped a 2GB micro SD card on the floor of my car and left it there for several weeks because "meh..." )

Somewhere along the line I upgraded to my motherboard's max of 8MB of RAM. My motherboard allowed you to adjust the timing of your memory, and the ISA BUS timing freely... which resulted in hours and hours to find the sweet spot in overclocking. I had read about CPU overclocking on BBS's, but I would have had to solder a new clock for my board so that was out of the  question.

Thanks to Stacker and a pirated copy of QEMM, I was able to keep playing all the awesome video games out there at the time ( Ah the glory days of  video games with the Roland MT-32  and with Soundblaster combo ... Wing commander II, Rise of the Dragon, Space Quest 4   )

But 1993 killed all of it... DOOM.  Suddenly my 256KB no name VGA card  was worthless. I was able to play at the tiniest screen resolution ( physically 320x240, but rendered with borders so the play area was something like 200x180 )

I was rescued by a 1MB ATI Mach 32 that I got from a guy selling them on Usenet. He wanted $180. I offered him $120. He took the offer. Immediately after I sent the check, my heart sank and I thought I was suckered.. (they were going for around $200 at the time), but he sent a package.  After opening the box assuming it would be a dead card, I was shocked to find out it was completely NIB and working. ( and in retrospect I think was probably stolen.)

I kept that box for years and years after it was past its prime.  Used to run FreeBSD on it and use it as just an X Server workstation to connect to other stuff. It met its end in 2003 when I gave up all my computer junk  ( got married )

I still have the motherboard pin layout and dip switch poster on my wall in my office at home.

/Good times.
 
2013-03-26 01:54:19 PM

huntercr: funny how one remembers stuff like that! )


Tell me about it. I can still picture the stupid HD in my mind's eye and how I bought it. It was a time when SCSI was already starting to feel the pinch from ATA and drives were getting harder to find. Had to track down a specialized store. I still walk by the place that had the store in it.

It's a whey protein store now.
 
2013-03-26 02:00:04 PM

huntercr: Ah the glory days of video games with the Roland MT-32 and with Soundblaster combo


I once shelled out close to $300 on a Mediatrix Audiotrix Pro sound card for that reason.  I had no idea it was a professional MIDI sound card; I didn't care; General MIDI on games that supported it sounded freaking amazing!
 
2013-03-26 02:03:56 PM

asciibaron: flaminio: Don't you even think about stepping on my lawn.

[www.vintage-computer.com image 400x252]
centipede on this was insane.


i, still, have a working atari 1200xl. all the games for these machines were insane. circa 1983
 
2013-03-26 02:05:38 PM
i.imgur.com

Well, one thing hasn't changed in 20 years, the Middle Aged White Guy Business Casual Uniform: Khakis, blue button-up shir, dress belt and shiny watch.  Steve Ballmer has three closets full of these.
 
2013-03-26 02:10:54 PM

What_Would_Jimi_Do: asciibaron: flaminio: Don't you even think about stepping on my lawn.

[www.vintage-computer.com image 400x252]
centipede on this was insane.

i, still, have a working atari 1200xl. all the games for these machines were insane. circa 1983


High fives all the way around! Do you have a SIO2USB interface for it? You hook it up to your pc and the Atari thinks it's talking to a disc drive.
 
2013-03-26 02:11:38 PM
Ahh another my first computer thread.

Spectrum 48k, Atari ST 520FM, 386sx33. Pentium 166, K62-300, K8-800 Athlon XP 1700+, Pentium 4M laptop, C2D laptop, MacBook Pro, Hackintosh.

I don't generally ride the bleeding edge of anything and if I'm honest the Atari ST is the longest serving machine I've owned... it's still in use.
 
2013-03-26 02:13:40 PM
Oh, and for posterity my "first computer" was a Commodore 64; above was just my first x86 PC, I suppose you could say.
 
2013-03-26 02:16:06 PM
"We're going to a COMPUSA store with an expert..."
Whoa, whoa, whoa.  Stop right there.
 
2013-03-26 02:26:45 PM
First computer was a VIC 20 Christmas gift. Didn't take me too long to figure out a C64 was much better. Didn't have the money at the time, but I managed to buy just a C64 main board with a missing sound chip. It didn't need it to power up, just the paddles wouldn't work. So I shoved that into the VIC's case. I think I got more VICs after that, and painted the case bright orange. I actually hauled a VIC to school as the PCs in the hardware lab had CGA monitors that displayed NTSC video just fine. I used the VICs 8 bit IO user port to make all kinds of junk with the DAC chips we were given to play with.

The VIC was the Arduino of the time. I remember writing a few lines of BASIC that poked 256 values into RAM (for t = 0 to 255: poke ram + t,sin(t): next*) and then hand coding a loop in assembler that read the bytes out to the user port. Instant digital function generator. Then I hooked up the DAC to an op amp to control the REF pin of a linear voltage regulator. Instant digital controlled power supply.

*well, it needed some converting between radians and my addressing, and converting the -1 to 1 range to -127 to 128, you get the idea...
 
2013-03-26 02:29:29 PM

Do the needful: What_Would_Jimi_Do: asciibaron: flaminio: Don't you even think about stepping on my lawn.

[www.vintage-computer.com image 400x252]
centipede on this was insane.

i, still, have a working atari 1200xl. all the games for these machines were insane. circa 1983

High fives all the way around! Do you have a SIO2USB interface for it? You hook it up to your pc and the Atari thinks it's talking to a disc drive.


had no clue about that. i haven't had mine hooked up in many years. i have like 40 games for it tho
 
2013-03-26 02:48:18 PM

Gordon Bennett: Here you go.

[www.amigahistory.co.uk image 506x359]

Problem solved.


Most Amiga guys were abandoning it by '93. My oldest brother wrote Terminus for Amiga and still has the emails of all the broken hearted Amiga fan-boys when he abandoned the platform.
 
2013-03-26 02:54:04 PM
First computer was a wang my dad got at Walmart around that time don't remember the specs on it but I do remember 2 weeks after he got it he signed up for compuserve I went to boysout camp for a month came home computer was gone because my brother ran up a 3000 phone bill with it
 
kth
2013-03-26 03:00:27 PM
286 PC. I don't recall any detail except for the dot-matrix printer. I was an English major (then law school). You would finish your paper, tell it to print, and then leave the house for beers. If you were lucky, it didn't get off track while you were gone.  But it was too loud to be used in a house with people.
 
2013-03-26 03:03:10 PM

likefunbutnot: In 1993, I was in high school and doing techie service work on PCs so I could afford one of my own. That year for my birthday I bought myself a dual 486DX/50 (two CPUs and none of that clock multiplied bullshiat), 8MB RAM, a 1768MB SCSI2 drive and a 17" monitor.  That rig was a hair under $4500. I ran OS/2 on it, but I switched to Linux in early 1995 because it was easier to do my CS homework that way.


A nearly 2GB hard drive in 1993?  Sure that wasn't 768MB?
 
2013-03-26 03:22:27 PM

Quantum Apostrophe: If only information processing required very little energy and materials and we could make it so cheap and small that even poor people could have several of them, sometimes even without knowing it...


Wow. I didn't think you'd even show up in this thread, let alone take the bait. Rest assured this quote will haunt you at every opportunity.


DanZero: //windows startup/shutdown sounds


Holy damn they got a lot of use out of that trumpet sound.
=Smidge=
 
2013-03-26 03:23:34 PM

stovepipe: sammyk: pfft! My 1st computer. 16k of RAM and I had to hack a cassette tape deck for storage.

/whats a cassette?

[encrypted-tbn1.gstatic.com image 295x171]

My dad brought one of these home from K-Mart in the early 80's and that was one of the happiest memories of my childhood.  Learned BASIC on that thing and played the hell out of 4 or 5 cartridge games we had.  Munch Man FTW!


Hunt the Wumpus!!!
 
Ant
2013-03-26 03:25:18 PM
In 1993 I was still using the IBM XT that some guy gave me. It had CGA graphics and a 10 MB hard drive!
 
2013-03-26 03:26:25 PM

Gordon Bennett: Here you go.

[www.amigahistory.co.uk image 506x359]

Problem solved.


Not really.  The Amiga 1200 was a woefully underpowered computer.  It would have been cutting edge in late '89, but by late '92 it was something of a joke.  There are several accounts of how Commodore farked up the design of two chipsets (Ranger and AAA) prior to the release of AA/AGA, which was nothing more than a quick and dirty design to keep the platform alive.

It also didn't help that Commodore allowed an ecosystem of bad software to develop.  A lot of software would break on anything other than a 7.1MHz 68000 for the simple fact that Commodore never offered anything else for the previous seven years, save for their high end systems.  And I remember a handful of games for AGA systems that could only be played from a floppy disk since so few A1200 owners opted for a hard drive.

Just before the end in '94, Commodore was working with HP to design a replacement that was centered on the HP PA-7150/125.  It could do 1280×1024×24bpp with 3D rendering on par with the Playstation.  That would have been interesting against PPC Macs and Pentium systems.
 
2013-03-26 03:28:48 PM

Smidge204: Wow. I didn't think you'd even show up in this thread, let alone take the bait. Rest assured this quote will haunt you at every opportunity.


Haunted by truth and reality. How ever will I cope. Tell me, do you see any lightspeed 747s around you?
 
2013-03-26 03:31:40 PM

flaminio: Don't you even think about stepping on my lawn.

[www.vintage-computer.com image 400x252]


www.s100computers.com

Step down, noob.
 
2013-03-26 03:34:00 PM

Quantum Apostrophe: Smidge204: Wow. I didn't think you'd even show up in this thread, let alone take the bait. Rest assured this quote will haunt you at every opportunity.

Haunted by truth and reality. How ever will I cope. Tell me, do you see any lightspeed 747s around you?


www.trilobite.org
Pathetic troll is pathetic.
 
2013-03-26 03:36:42 PM

Rhames: The PC Jr II.  My first childhood experience with computers.  Had one of those big floppy disks for Megaman 3. It would run in black and white at a snails pace.  What power.


A friend of mine had a PC Jr. What a feculent bucket of hyena offal.
 
2013-03-26 03:43:22 PM

huntercr: I do appreciate the irony that last year I accidentally dropped a 2GB micro SD card on the floor of my car and left it there for several weeks because "meh..."


Just realizing that even my crappy old J2ME-based cell phone (never mind the shiny new Android smartphone!) has vastly more computing power and storage than any early PCs makes me laugh. 32 gigs or more in a card the size of my pinky fingernail is just insane.

Buried in storage at work, there's an old 486 system with a full-height SCSI hard drive and a VL-Bus graphic card. When it was last in service, it was running Windows 95 on a coax Ethernet... I'll have to fire it up and see if it still works.

Coax Ethernet sucked, especially when the boss insisted that 93-ohm RG-62 cable for IBM 3270 applications would work just fine (it even has the same connectors!) when thinnet is really supposed to use 50-ohm RG-58AU. Even with proper cable it sucked; nothing like having the entire network go blooey because of a badly-crimped connector or adding/removing a system. UTP was a godsend.
 
2013-03-26 03:59:55 PM

Ed Grubermann: Rhames: The PC Jr II.  My first childhood experience with computers.  Had one of those big floppy disks for Megaman 3. It would run in black and white at a snails pace.  What power.

A friend of mine had a PC Jr. What a feculent bucket of hyena offal.


How dare you insult hyena offal like that. You apologize.
 
2013-03-26 04:15:30 PM

Ed Grubermann: Quantum Apostrophe: Smidge204: Wow. I didn't think you'd even show up in this thread, let alone take the bait. Rest assured this quote will haunt you at every opportunity.

Haunted by truth and reality. How ever will I cope. Tell me, do you see any lightspeed 747s around you?

[www.trilobite.org image 400x220]
Pathetic troll is pathetic.


Legitimate question. You nuts think that because electronics got better that everything got better by the same amount. So, how fast do 747s fly compared to the first one from 1969?
 
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