Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 6th Nov 2017 15:25 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems

There really is no rational reason to restore a late 90s NEC-manufactured Packard Bell computer. Which is exactly why I'm doing it. Join me in getting this unloved machine back to factory fresh condition!

LGR is one of the best and most entertaining technology channels on YouTube, and his latest video from today hits home particularly hard, since these kinds of crappy, low-budget late '90s PCs defined my early teens. Nobody in my family, town, or school had Macs or other types of computers - it was all PC, as cheap as possible, fully embracing the race to the bottom which for many people still defines the PC today.

It's good to see that there are people willing to preserve these otherwise forgettable machines for posterity. They may objectively suck, but they did make computing accessible to an incredibly wide audience, and they served an important role in the history of computing.

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I wonder...
by PJBonoVox on Mon 6th Nov 2017 21:44 UTC
PJBonoVox
Member since:
2006-08-14

I wonder if we'll ever see an SFF hardware re-implementation of a machine from this era (or a little before that). Like with a Pentium Pro, a 2MB Cirrus Logic video card etc...

I like to play DOS games from time to time, but there's nothing quite like playing it on a piece of hardware from the era.

Seems almost crazy that I've thrown away almost every piece of PC based hardware I've owned since 1995.

Edited 2017-11-06 21:45 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE: I wonder...
by The123king on Tue 7th Nov 2017 12:19 in reply to "I wonder..."
The123king Member since:
2009-05-28

Funny that, because the only piece of pc hardware i've thrown out was a horribly broken IBM Thinkpad. Thing was a sack-o-crap.

However, now i own more machines made before 1995 than after (probably including white goods and other home appliances). The newest machine i own is probably my release-day PS4...

Edited 2017-11-07 12:20 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE: I wonder...
by Morgan on Tue 7th Nov 2017 17:10 in reply to "I wonder..."
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

That would be a fantastically fun project! I wish I had held on to my old Netpliance iOpener machines; I had converted three of them into Linux based thin clients and a fourth in to a Windows 98 machine; I sold two and gave the other two away. They didn't have a ton of GPU power but they had enough for most RTS and RPG type games, as well as any DOS game of the era.

I can definitely see a market for a Mac mini sized (or smaller) UCFF machine based around the PII or an equivalent CPU, just based on the popularity of "retro" consoles as well as sites like GOG.com.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: I wonder...
by zima on Wed 8th Nov 2017 15:11 in reply to "I wonder..."
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

a 2MB Cirrus Logic video card

Cirrus Logic? Matrox Millenium II or Number 9 Ticket to Ride! (Beatles names! ;) ) And in the soundcard department, Aureal Vortex SQ2500 - its positional 3D audio is probably still unmatched.

Seems almost crazy that I've thrown away almost every piece of PC based hardware I've owned since 1995.

Not me, I've got a coffer of old PC junk (large part of it broken ;) ...expansion cards typically work, but motherboards can be problematic, and PSUs even more) (oh, there's also my first computer, Commodore 64 ...also broken ;) / but I have no heart to just throw it away); one day I'll get to building a retro PC ...well, moe retro than a dual Pentium2 or an Athlon XP 1700+ (my last stationary PC ...the PSU gave up the ghost 2,5 years ago; and it's on its 4th motherboard)

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE: I wonder...
by Doc Pain on Wed 8th Nov 2017 22:22 in reply to "I wonder..."
Doc Pain Member since:
2006-10-08

I like to play DOS games from time to time, but there's nothing quite like playing it on a piece of hardware from the era.


I have a DOS PC exactly for that purpose, initially built in 1994, with a few changes in the following years (better graphics card, better sound card, more RAM). But it's probably safe to say that this particular machine has been in use for approx. 20 years, from time to time, at least once a month. And it's still working. Only one of the hard disks died a few weeks ago and got replaced by another "garbage" disk. Now everything works again. It's impressive how fast this system boots, and using an analog joystick, a parallel port scanner, a laser and a dotmatrix printer, and even networking (!) is easily possible. Direct hardware access to serial magnetic and chip card readers works as flawlessly as directly programming the many different ports it has. One CRT has builtin speakers and an amplifier with volume control and headphone connector, the other CRT is MDA (see "Hercules"). It can read 3.5" and 5.25" floppies as well as CDs (at 16x speed), and TR-1 and QIC-80 tapes. Of course the whole system resides in a big tower so you can easily notice it.

This specific system will still work when the PC I'm writing this text on has been gone for a long time. Even the IBM model M keyboard will live longer than I will... ;-)

Seems almost crazy that I've thrown away almost every piece of PC based hardware I've owned since 1995.


We don't call it a "throw-away society" for nothing, do we? :-)

Reply Parent Score: 2