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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Deja vu
by maxmalkav on Tue 7th Nov 2017 14:07 UTC
maxmalkav
Member since:
2016-01-22

I have spent some days doing something kind of similar this late summer: I revived the first computer I owned, a Pentium 166MMX from 1997 (originally with 32MB or RAM). The two main differences with the video: mine was a setup built from OEM parts, not a brand computer, moreover, I decided to actually install modern software.

I managed to upgrade the RAM up to 128MB of EDO RAM (from a stash of memories I got from cleaning a computer lab :-), I also replaced the PSU using a more modern one thanks to a ATX-to-AT adapter.

It happens P3 heatsinks nicely attaches to the old Pentium socket, so I also managed to replace the clumsy original heatsink with a chunk of solid copper I had laying around plus an AMD fan that I regulated by voltage (so, pretty pretty silent).

I got a SATA to IDE adapter and I managed to connect a cheap SSD, but the conversion killed any raw performance gain (but way lower latencies), so I ended using an old 80GB IDE HDD, way less noisy than the original one.

Finally the software. Most mainstream distros have already dropped support for i586 architecture, with a couple of exceptions (i.e. Alpine Linux). I ended up using the latest stable NetBSD release, from this very same summer. It worked really nicely and it had zero problems detecting all the hardware.

Personally, it was very awesome seeing a 20yo computer running a modern Unix system (with obvious limitations).

I documented the process with some pictures and numbers in a small forum from my country, but no fancy and well polished videos though.

Sorry for the long post :-)

Edited 2017-11-07 14:09 UTC

Reply Score: 2