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Vintage Computers Any vintage computer systems, calculators, video games etc., but with an emphasis on 1980s and earlier equipment.

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Old 25th Aug 2015, 9:29 am   #41
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Default Re: Old & still used 486

Originally Posted by Zelandeth View Post
That's a fantastic machine there, definitely the sort of thing that I'd love to find lurking in a dark dusty store room somewhere to add to what seems to be rapidly turning into a little vintage computing museum!
Thanks, I think it is too When I bought it, around 1992, it was merely "out of date" and a 286 was a suitable "low end beginner's PC". I got it for £100 and it was my first PC. It was from an advert in Loot that just said it was a 286, and when I got there there was this humongous thing to collect. Anyway, it was fine for running Wordperfect 5.1 and other DOS stuff, and Windows 3.1 ran on it too. I used it until 1994 I think when I got a bog-standard 486DX2 built by a friend with an IT firm from bits and bobs.

Nowadays it's gone from "out of date" to "vintage" and I couldn't bear to part with it. I just love the technology, particularly the IBM build quality.

I had a look around your website, you've got some wonderful stuff on display there! I like that big Toshiba "portable"
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Old 3rd Jan 2016, 4:03 pm   #42
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Default Re: Old & still used 486

I have a Pentium 2 running Windows 95 here at the moment. It's one of my friends, and he uses it (in a shed) with a plotter to cut vinyl for signwriting.

He still designs stuff on it with CorelDRAW
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Old 24th Feb 2016, 2:45 am   #43
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Default Re: Old & still used 486

Well, I'm still using an old 80486sx machine for one of my own 'jobs' - this machine is in a separate room from my main 'office', the same room where my Amstrad PCW with it's various non-standard disks operates. The PC is being used for CPM <--> PC disk transfers, the machine has 5.25 and 3.5" floppy drives, and has 22DISK on for reading/writing to various CP/M formats. Actually, the machine still runs pretty well, although one of the HDs inside makes a bit more noise than usual, maybe just because it's not fixed down properly?

I'm also still using an old Pentium 75, this one is in the 'office' next to my main PC (MUCH more powerful, with XP and Gbs of HD). The Pentium again has a special role, it's the machine with my Roland LAPC-I card installed (the card is an 8 bit ISA card, and my newer machine does NOT have any ISA slots). So the P75 is the 'midi' machine, the Roland card links to Yamaha and Korg sound modules (and others when I make space for them) and they in turn connect to a Fostex MC102 mixer/cassette unit perched on top of the XP machine.

Both the older machines are happily running MS-DOS 5.0, no Windows. Both are doing things the XP machine cannot do! The XP machine cannot work correctly with the floppy drives for the 22DISK system, and it cannot take the ISA card for lack of slots! As long as I can keep at least one of the old machines running, I'm OK.

I've also got a Windows 7 laptop. Barely used, more of a toy than anything.

Geoff Barnard
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Old 28th Feb 2016, 11:36 am   #44
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Default Re: Old & still used 486

Well, if you think using a 286 or 486 is bad, I work for one of the largest manufacture of aircraft avionics in the world and we are still using a 286/486 for testing many of the avionics computers on commercial aircraft, and the best bit is we still use 5 inch floppy disks to load the soft ware. The commercial world of aircraft is very behind the times and when we have people round the work shop they are always staggered by the old equipment we still use day in day out.
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Old 28th Feb 2016, 11:56 am   #45
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Default Re: Old & still used 486

I don't think I'm going to fly again

“The place where optimism most flourishes is the lunatic asylum” - Havelock Ellis
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Old 28th Feb 2016, 3:50 pm   #46
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Default Re: Old & still used 486

Very surprised at the above 2 comments.

I understand that the point of using any computer is to run particular software. So you need a computer that will run the software, properly, reliably, etc. How modern/fancy, fast even, the computer is, is quite secondary. Even irrelevant?

Testing software often involves fancy interface devices to link up with whatever is being tested. Many tests may be seriously time critical, and may not take kindly to - for example - a windows machine suddenly deciding to take a few seconds out to do a bit of housekeeping, or play with some fancy graphics screen.

The software being used here may well be highly sophisticated, developed and fine tuned over many years, and at great expense. The system may well just NOT run properly, if at all, on a modern machine. They may well be totally correct, for all our sakes, to continue to run the tried/tested system for as long as they can! If the software is loaded from disk, that may well because they have numerous variants, for different tests, and everything loads into memory so the test is not dependent on disk access (HD or otherwise).

Remember the old adage - if it ain't broke, don't fix it!

I think I'd be very comforted by this story if I was flying, and far more worried if testing was being carried out on ANY Windows system!

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Old 28th Feb 2016, 4:59 pm   #47
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I run my whole business on RISC OS. One real machine as a server for caller ID on the network and the others on PCs using Virtual RPC. For what I do, no PC can compare and the network caller ID seems unavailable at any price, on any other platform. I only use the PC side for web browsing and email really, I even do my DTP on RISC OS using !Impression.
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Old 28th Feb 2016, 5:08 pm   #48
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Default Re: Old & still used 486

Are the PCs 486 machines?
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Old 28th Feb 2016, 8:11 pm   #49
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Default Re: Old & still used 486

Several organisations I used to work with still have old 386/486-class machines in service. Albeit generally with IDE-to-SATA converters so they can run current-generation hard-drives. (It's odd though to see a 1Tb hard-drive where only a single 320Mbyte partition of it is actually being used!)

Two reasons why they do this:

Firstly they have a couple of decades of software written in x86 assembler to do all sorts of real-time stuff with custom-built ISA interface-cards that connect to the real-world.

Secondly, the 'downtime' to replace all the kit with modern stuff and transcribe all the programs into a modern language like C++ and then get the facility tested/recertified on the new platform would _not_ be acceptable to their lords and masters.

Alas, because of the realtime and real-world nature of the applications they can't run the x86 code in any kind of virtualisation environment like VMWare or VirtualBox either: virtualisation doesn't really cope with semaphores and interrupt-grading very well.

The predecessor of all this was based on CAMAC [ ] and used DEC LSI11 controllers.
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Old 3rd Mar 2016, 3:50 pm   #50
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Default Re: Old & still used 486

I still have a Compaq LT486 laptop that I was given way-y-y back in the mid-90's.

It has 8MB Random Access memory and 120MB hard disk drive. The resident OS is MS-DOS 6.22 followed by Windows 3.11 (I still have the installation diskettes somewhere ...).

There is also a 3rd party memory manager - MagnaRAM. Office products are Word 6, Excel ('Access' is also listed ... but I doubt it's anything like as heavyweight as the modern version).

The lift-up screen hinges are extremely stiff and I know from the experience of having dismantled a previous machine that it's due to the spiral friction springs 'biting' too hard into the spindle of the hinge. The strain is so bad that the plastic moulding of the screen surround is quite badly cracked ... one of these days I must dismantle it all and free the hinges off.

Not a bad little workhorse in its day; I used it for contributing to a preserved commercial vehicle forum (newsletter editor / subscriptions database admin etc.).

(thinks ... while it's out of the top of my cupboard, I might even try running the demo version of 'Terminal Velocity' on it, just for old times' sake ... )

Best wishes

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Old 11th May 2016, 10:28 pm   #51
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Default Re: Old & still used 486

I work for a data recovery company. I've personally been in the DR business for just over 20 years so I'm usually the guy who the younger engineers turn to when a vintage system comes in! ("Er.. what interface is that!?!").

You may (or may not) be surprised how many people are still using vintage systems in the course of their business.

Have just completed a recovery on a Western Digital FileCard 30 from 1985 with a Tandon ST506/RLL 30MB HDD and an 8-bit (IBM XT) WD1002-27X controller. The XT machine in question is used as a CNC milling machine controller.

The stepper motor actuator had failed causing loss of mechanical alignment. After 5 or so days of patient effort, recovered the data (bar a few unreadable sectors) and helped the customer get their system running again with an XT-IDE card and an old IDE drive - so at least they have now progressed a little further towards current technology
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Old 26th May 2016, 8:30 am   #52
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Default Re: Old & still used 486

486? nothing quite so modern!
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Old 29th May 2016, 8:28 am   #53
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Default Re: Old & still used 486

I am still using AST 386 tower cupid architecture was top of the range when I bought 2 systems, I stupidly took to desktop to the recycling yard could have done with some bits out of it. The whole system comprised of tower, desktop, laser printer plotter with cad, publishing software, accounts £ 13k back in the early eighties, still use tower with cad and 2 plotters 1 x A3 and a big A0 both from the eighties.

Had a blip when I came to use the tower after being Idle for a few months the dam thing could't find hard drive, operating set up had to go into the bios and do complete set up, the small 4.5v battery died causing havoc.

Also still got my very first Apple 11e with robo cad and plenty of big floppies and I treated myself to a greengate music keyboard software for doing all sorts some of the loop tracks can still be heard on the the radio today that were used back in the early 80's

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Old 15th Jun 2016, 5:17 pm   #54
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Default Re: Old & still used 486

We resurrected one a couple of weeks back. Usual problem, dead cmos battery and all the ribbon cables worked at first then just died one by one.. odd..

Nice Packard Bell 486DX at the blazing fast 50MHz

It's windows 3.11 has survived on the original 340mb drive, but just for a laugh I booted up windows 1.01 from a floppy
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Old 18th Jun 2016, 3:27 pm   #55
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Default Re: Old & still used 486

We're just about to pension off an Apple Quadra 650 bought new in 1994. It ran software dating from 1990 so this comparatively pacey machine stormed through the tasks hooked up to a long out of production Apple printer. The printer was, fortunately, based around a Canon engine so whilst the Apple branded items have long since been unobtainable, consumables are still available if you know the right Canon item to ask for. Unfortunately, I haven't found any way of hooking this printer to a modern Mac, which is sad as it has been ultra-reliable and very economical to run.

Aware for a while that we were likely to be marooned once any of this failed, the data has been transferred to a dual boot (OS9/OSX) Apple G4 that dates from about 2002 and that is still in daily use. Whilst everything is intact there are niggles with running this 1990 software on the G4 but thanks to some ancient conversion software I have a means of converting files that retains the guts of the information if not the cosmetic stuff.

So things carry on as before. Old files can be read and tasks are now undertaken on a Mac or PC using public domain software which should make the system future proof (for at least the time we will require it).
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Old 19th Jun 2016, 3:05 pm   #56
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Default Re: Old & still used 486

Just a thought. If anyone was looking to replace (or get hold of) something to replace an old '486 but not with something completely brand new then one option might be to use a companies' old cast-off thin client.

It won't help you if you're having to use hardware such as ISA cards and the speed won't be as low as a 486 but apart from that these are a possible source of older computers to try to use. Ebay ususually has several old thin clients for sale.

Two points though; first of all if you're paying hundreds of pounds you are being ripped off - don't do it. Also, don't buy anything with "sun" written on it - these devices use their own standards so you can't repurpose them very easily. And avoid zero clients!

This website is a good place to start. Quite often with most thin clients all you need to do is;

- Find a power supply (not all, but most use a completely normal power supply, e.g. 12V)
- Make a USB stick with some sort of OS installer on it
- Wipe the internal storage (usually a DOM, or disk on module) and install.

Some thin clients can have their memory increased and a lot seem to use a device called a disk on module or "DOM". These tend to be small in size though, usually 512MB or 1GB. They can be replaced as they are essentially IDE based devices and with a short 2.5" cable, IDE to CF (compactflash) coverter and card you can replace the DOM with a CF card of your own choosing!

My first one was the T5720 though there are plenty of others! It even still has some older ports such as serial/parallel ports and PS2 ports.

Hope this helps someone out there!


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