Having recently acquired quite a few old IBM machines, I’ve been working at getting them all restored and tested. There was quite a variety of machines, from 286’s to Pentiums. However, the ones that interested me the most were the various different 486’s. These weren’t IBM MicroChannel, instead opting for industry standard ISA ports. That means it’s quite a bit easier to swap parts in and out of them
This particular beast is the PS/ValuePoint 433DX/Si. Just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? The ValuePoint series was IBM’s answer to the “IBM-Compatible” market. It’d be an article in and of itself to explain what was happening, but the short answer is that other manufacturers were beating IBM at its own game. The PS/2, while a hit with businesses, was very expensive and contained what was essentially a proprietary bus interface (the aforementioned MicroChannel). In the home and small business market, consumers couldn’t afford the PS/2. Companies like Compaq and Packard Bell swooped in and serviced that clientele. IBM wanted back in.
Note: This is a continuation of Building a new (old) PC – Part 1
This process brought back a lot of memories. Not all of them were good. I was expecting some warm and fuzzies. The “Getting Ready to Start Windows for the First Time!” kind of warm and fuzzies. What I got were lots of cuts on my hands, a few hours worth of research, incompatibilities, hardware failures…and the satisfaction of a job well done.
I built the board/CPU/RAM and video on my test bench first. To begin, I inserted the processor into the slot, tightening the retaining screws. Then came RAM (it was exactly like modern RAM). Finally, I plugged in the RIVA TNT and hooked up power and keyboard/mouse. A quick short of the jumpers and everything came alive. So far, so good?
For whatever reason, the system didn’t like the PS/2 keyboard I had plugged in. It didn’t throw a keyboard error, but I couldn’t use it to get into the BIOS. It wouldn’t even light up. I tried another and I had the same results. I finally switched to a USB keyboard (thankfully the 440BX has USB ports) and had no further issues. The mouse worked fine in the PS/2 port, so I guess it’s probably just a bad keyboard port.
Sound Canvas? What is this magical thing?
As I’ve begun to delve into the world of retro-PC hardware, I have found things both familiar and new. For instance, while I’ve been a fan of Doom since the original release in 1993, I had never experienced the soundtrack the way it was SUPPOSED to sound.
Now, when I first played Doom all those years ago, I didn’t even have a sound card. I fell in love with the way the game played and only later got to hear the soundtrack (and the effects), when I had upgraded to a Pentium 75 with a Sound Blaster 16. Somehow, adding music to the game made it a more visceral experience. Also, it’s no secret that Doom has some of the most iconic PC music ever written, instantly recognizable to (probably) millions.
If you’re asking why it’s worth building a 20 year old PC in 2018, I can understand. Between Steam and GOG re-releases of classic games, DOSBox, and virtualization, it’s easier than ever to play PC games from the 90’s. So, why go through all the trouble and headache?
For the same reason that I buy original consoles and cartridges when emulation would be fine. The same reason I buy CRT televisions and expensive scalers when I could play on a nice LCD. That reason? I’m an idiot.
In all honesty, I’m sure emulation is fine for most people. Hell, I use it for arcade games and the like. It’s got its place. But if you want historical accuracy, emulation doesn’t cut it. It bugs me when I have to deal with graphical artifacts and (especially) inaccurate sound in games that I fondly remember.
Another nice thing about vintage PCs? The parts haven’t gotten as expensive as vintage consoles (yet). If you want to get into retro, this may be one of the cheaper entry points.
No, this isn’t another bandwagon anti-EA post. It’d be a bit late for that, anyway. Actually, the idea for this post came up whilst mulling over that line one day. I know what it means in the EA context, but I started to examine what gave me a real sense of achievement when it came to gaming.
I couldn’t really think of too many recent games that I beat and thought I’d just accomplished something. To that end, I reexamined the games that I’d played since childhood to try to determine which ones were the ones that I was proud of completing. These are those games. They are not ranked in order of difficulty, but these are what I’d consider to be my “top five”.
By: Cody Kelly
I’m going to be honest: I had no intention of ever buying either of these consoles. From the moment they were first announced, I was pretty underwhelmed. I’ve been a console gamer since the days of the Atari 2600. I’ve watched each successive generation get more powerful and more exotic (from an architecture perspective). I was impressed by both the 360 and the PS3 and remember well my enthusiasm for both when they launched.
My lack of desire for either the Xbox One or PS4 stems from the perception that I had that both were low to mid-range PCs. Nothing fancy, nothing interesting. So, I held off. In the meantime, I purchased both a Wii U and a Switch. I’ve had a lot of fun with both consoles and I’m looking forward to what Nintendo has in store for us with the future of the Switch.
Last weekend, however, I came across a steal of a deal on both the Xbox One and PS4 at a pawn shop. Curiosity got the best of me. I took the plunge. I took them home, cleaned them up and factory reset them. What follows is my impression of the end user experience upon firing these up for the first time in 2017.
This is not a comparison of the hardware. I may get into that at some point, but this is primarily about the software, as that’s what I’ll be interacting with on a day to day basis. I also want to point out that I’m not a “fan boy”. I owned both the PS3 and Xbox 360 and loved them both for different reasons. I’m signed up for both PS Plus and Xbox Live Gold, so YMMV with either of these consoles if you’re not.
Without further ado… Continue reading