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New A working AT?
Heck, I've got a brand new original working PC (not an XT, a PC). It was turned on twice. I got it from a company that had no budget for new computers, but did have a budget for repairs. This is how I repaired it.
  • Jacked up the video card.
  • Slid the PC out from under.
  • Slid new 286 box under the video card.
  • Lowered video card into place.
  • Delivered to customer.
New pre-XT in mint condition?!
That is impressive.

I remember how happy I was to upgrade from the XT to the AT.
Then we got a Compaq.

Ah, the good ol' days of config.sys and autoexec.bat ("
New I started out on DOS 1.1 on 360K floppies on a real IBM PC
that belonged to a friend of mine. IIRC:
- DOS 1.1
- dual 360K floppies (pretty sure wasn't 180K)- full size 5.25"
- MGA with IBM monochrome green monitor
- CGA with IBM color monitor
- BASICA and
- Microsft Assembler! (with one of the worst manuals I have ever seen)

And, in college we had at least one IBM PC XT that was still in use -- up to 1991! (Of course, we were still using VIC-20's and Commodore 64's for the labs). Around 1991, we finally started getting some modern equipment such as 386's.

The physics department also had a really unusual machine -- a LISP machine that ran LISP in hardware. It was used to run Macsyma for the theoretical professors.

Who doesn't miss much about the original PC
New I started out on DOS 1.0 on 160K floppies on a real IBM PC.
That was before they figures out they could reliably format 9 (vs. 8) sectors per track on those 5.25 inch drives.

I also had the MGA and CGA graphic adapters with the monochrome monitor. Had to use an RF modulator and color TV with the CGA adapter. You may recall the monochrome monitor had to get its power from the PC. If the monitor was otherwise powered and was ON while the PC was OFF, it would self-destruct!

Viscalc was one the applications I bought at the time.

Full agreement on MS Assembler documentation. POS!

It wasn't until DOS 2.0 that you could have a "sub-directory". Zowie!

Only two things are certain: the universe and human stupidity;
and I'm not certain about the universe.
-- Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
New Well, nearly mint.
Alas, one of it's full hight 360K floppy drives was used to repair a Kaypro.

The PC differed from the XT in that the slots were fewer and farther apart, and the very original version (the one I have) had some odd restrictions on memory expansion (couldn't go the full 640K, if I remember correctly).

Businessland (the best known computer seller of the day) took PCs, put a hard disk in one of the floppy bays, put an XT sticker on the front and sold them as XTs. They left in the 65 Watt power supply (real XTs had 100 Watt supplies). Pure fraud as far as I'm concerned.

I still miss Businessland. If you walked in on a Businessland client it was wonderful. No matter how bad you screwed up you'd look so much better than they did.

Outfits like Businessland and Computerland were the premier business resellers by dint of seeing that all their people were tall, had good haircuts, dressed in really nice suits, and knew a few buzzwords. This greatly impressed the PHBs, who knew nothing about computers back then, except for having seen an IBM rep once.

As one guy back then told his friend the Businessland consultant, "You don't know a damned thing. You aren't worth anything close to what you're being paid. If they're paying everyone like that they'll be out of business in no time". Friend replied, "So what? If they fold I'll just go on to another job like this one".

Of course, when Businessland did fold, it was just like the Dot.Com bubble. For that next job it was necessary to learn to say "Do you want fries with that". Nobody was hiring ex Businesslanders.
New Re: Chuckle :-) - Businessland !!! remember em well ...

The one company you had to know next to nothing about computers in order to talk sense with the sales guys. But the computerland guys I knew tended to know a reasonable amount.

In those days I actually (admit to) selling Apple IIs as business machines for small business. I gave it up when I realised how easy it was for the business to lose all the data of their disks due to dirty contacts on the disk controller card.

Ended up selling what were known as SBCs - the low end models (prior to IBM/PC) where all-in-one units with 2 8in FDDs - later they included a 5 then 10mb HDD, the processor was an 8085. Ran CP/M as the OS, the brand I sold was Panasonic (Matsushita). Even went to Japan to learn about their next models (the HDD ones). We sold a lot of these machines & they were pretty good for what they did.

Ran MS's Basic for bus apps. Did word processing & simple spreadsheets, drove dot matrix printers, The 8in FDDs were the 1.2 MB versions.
(IBM's original 8in FDDs were single sided, single density with 256k store (I seem to recall one machine only having 128k but I may be wrong)).

The next machines I got involved with (1980) ran ZEUS & Xenix (ZEUS= Zilog Enhance Unix System) both based on Unix V7 with Berkley Enhancements. At the same time the 8-bit market was using MP/M then MP/M86. Then I got involved with IBM/XTs but didn't like them much because Xenix pooped all over DOS & MP/M86. And the Xenix machines were true multi-user instead of that clumsy bank-switched memory used by MP/M.

Still have fond memories of the era.

Cheers Doug M
New I worked on original PCs.
Well, almost original. They were the 'B' motherboard. The 'A' motherboard came with 4Kb and could be expanded to 64k. The 'B' came with 64kb and could be expanded to 256k.

I was at school when IBM "donated" 16 real PCs to us. They all had twin 5-1/4" FDDs, CGA cards and monitors, plus three of them had printer cards and one had a serial card. The printers were the original IBM "Graphics" printers. We were on DOS 2.11 for a long time.

I remember doing clever things with my disk. I made it a boot disk, including loading a RAM drive, and doing things with ANSI.SYS for colour. It was during this stage that I discovered PC-Write. Ah... I remember doing a few English assignments using PC Write.

I helped upgrade those PCs a few time. When we got them, the computer teacher upgraded them all to 128k. Unfortunately, she hadn't figured out you had to change the switches on the motherboard, so the BIOS still thought they had 128kb. I discovered this when we upgraded them to 256kb at one point. That was also when we discovered the POST could tell you if you'd flubbed inserting a chip! Fortunately, we didn't damage any of them. The next upgrade was with a card and that took them all to 512k.

I remember playing with Windows 1.0. On a CGA screen. Quite an exercise. No colour, 640x200 and no overlapping windows. Windows 1.0 would run without a hard disk, but it was a very slow process: you had the equivalent of the system directory on a second diskette and that stayed in the drive the whole time. 360K disks weren't really big enough for the apps, unfortunately. I had one diskette for Write (and the few documents I'd done in it), a second for Paint, and a third with both Write and Paint for the very very few documents that needed both... Can't remember how I managed that.

I also remember playing with IBM Logo. That was a cool language. Very powerful and very capable, too. For those of you who remember Logo, it is fairly Lisp-like, but without the need for quite so many parantheses. The big attraction was the turtle graphics, of course. I also remember a spot tinkering with a BASIC compiler... that was fun in a wierd way. Linking was a big big big task - you didn't to that on a whim. Most times linking took about 30 minutes!

Ah... the memories...


"All around me are nothing but fakes
Come with me on the biggest fake of all!"

New loved pc-write also brown bag software
Our bureaucracy and our laws have turned the world into a clean, safe work camp. We are raising a nation of slaves.
Chuck Palahniuk
New ObAOL Me Too
My programming environment was Wordstar on one floppy, Pascal(ish) code on the other. Soon we had 10Mb HDD XTs and Compaq greenscreen luggables. One of our guys had a program that preprocessed the Pascalish code into BASIC for compilation - he invented his own structured BASIC that looked like Pascal. We hit a relational database that he also homebrewed, before dBASE. Our product did automation of scheduling and record keeping for high schools. We had a contract for all the Atlanta public schools. We were ahead of our time, but way understaffed and underfunded. No VC for PCs in those days - they were "toys". IBM did support us eventually but it was too late. At the end we had some of the first ATs to come off the line, the ones with the flawed Seagate 20Mb HDD. We had a LAN believe it or not - IBM. No Novell yet.

Ah, that was a fun job. 8 whole dollars an hour in 1984. Then came the Real World. Hardware upgrades were fun. Remember alligator memory in the blue plastic tube?
New While I have no love for Seagate . .
. . those were not Seagate drives, they were CMI (Computer Memories Inc.). CMI took the money, shut the doors, turned out the lights and ran the moment the IBM contract was over.

Some of them lasted, though - I saw one still in use about 5 years ago.
New Re: While I have no love for Seagate . .
Could be later, but actually I thought the earliest drives were in fact Seagate - and they had an actual engineering design flaw in the positioning algorithm of the head on the tracking bar. This was done optically via black and white registration marks on the bar. After a while, magnetic dust kicked up by the head would collect on the bar and obscure one or more of the white marks. Since the positioning algorithm worked by counting white marks, a relative scheme, the firmware would lose track of the orientation of the head relative to the data tracks on the disk. A new scheme using absolute positioning was implemented almost overnight and Seagate was saved as a company.

At least, that's the story I heard. We went through 3 ATs in 3 months, all with failed HDDs.
New Seagate may have had problems too . . .
. . but CMI was IBM's primary vendor for the 20-Meg IBM PC AT hard disk, and their drives failed early and often.

One of the magazines did an informal evaluation of drives for the AT. The CMI failed the "table jiggle" test. On the other hand, they accidently knocked over the table and a Priam drive on it kept on working. They reported this and Priam sold a lot of drives for a while.

One drive maker promised to build an artificial reef off Florida out of CMI drives turned in for theirs (forgot who it was). They ran into trouble with the EPA, but did have some photos taken throwing CMI drives off a fishing boat.

The best hard disk story from back then was Miniscribe. Miniscribe ran into hard financial times, and hired a "turnaround artist" to put the company back on its feet.

Through rough treatment he actually succeeded. Then Miniscribe's board of directors made The Big Mistake(tm). They kept him on. Using his same turnaround methods, he destroyed the company.

Since he fired anyone who gave him news he didn't want to hear, he got only news he wanted to hear. It wasn't true, but the perpetrator got a paycheck for another week.

In the company's last audit (Price Watergate, I believe), management tried to get the auditors to consider a load of hard disks on a ship on it's way from Singapore as "shipped". The auditors wouldn't buy it, which was a good thing because neither the ship nor the drives actually existed.

The final act was to make a large shipment to major distributors - but they didn't have any drives - so thay packed a brick in each box (this was the era of full hight 5" drives). I talked to an Ingram sales lady once who actually saw the boxes being unpacked in the warehouse.

Well, if you're going out . . . you might as well go out a legend . . .
New Re: Seagate may have had problems too . . .
> One drive maker promised to build an artificial reef off Florida out of CMI drives turned in for theirs
> (forgot who it was). They ran into trouble with the EPA, but did have some photos taken throwing
> CMI drives off a fishing boat.

I think that was Emerald Systems, with their 20/20 & 30/30 drives [disk drive and matching capacity backup tape in the same box].
We used to ship them on NetWare/86 and NetWare/286 boxes.

Who had the first PC/AT on Long Island
New I seem to remember it was the 10 meg drives
The 10 Mb drives from seagate that were sold as upgrades and replaced one of the floppy drives. They were also sold with new systems (both IBM PC XT and various clone systems). It's been a long time though and my memory has holes like a swiss chees.
"When it crosses my mind to do something, I don't ask why, I ask why not. And usually there's no reason not to, so I just go ahead. It's given me the strangest collection of hats"
New Emerald also melted down.
They were popular with VARs for awhile bcause they supported Concurrent DOS.

I got pissed at them because they refused to upgrade the software for their 60-Meg QIC drives to include compression. They said they'd give me a trade-in for a new drive. The trade-in "deal" was considerably more than the distributor price for the new drive. All I needed was a bit more space on what my clients already had.

Then they pissed off everyone because the software for their new drives did a great job of backing up, but not such a good job of restoring.

May they roast in hell along with CMI (and hopefully, eventually, Iomega).
New Alligator memory?
Did you mean those DIL chips? "Alligator memory" - that's a new one on me!

I remember playing with TurboPascal 1.0 that someone gave me, though I didn't really like Pascal. It wasn't until some years later I learnt C.


"All around me are nothing but fakes
Come with me on the biggest fake of all!"

New Re: Alligator memory?
-because the contacts stuck out to the side like alligator legs. That stuff was expensive - and very sensitive to damage from static.
New I never damaged any. :-)

"All around me are nothing but fakes
Come with me on the biggest fake of all!"

New Sounds like some kind of surface mount stuff
like a PLCC with J-leads.

New Sheesh, you guys don't even know what you missed.
Back in the "good old days", to get 2-Meg into a machine (a lot of memory back then), we had to stuff 72 little black IC's into sockets, each with 18 little legs, 1296 little leges, each with a penchent for curling up rather than going into the socket.

Then, we got to figure out which of the chips had a leg curled under when the machine didn't boot.
New No, those are DIPs
which is an appropriate name for them. I've never heard it called alligator memory.

And although I probably don't have your wealth of experience, I've had fun stuffing DIP's of various sorts into sockets. It's also fun when you put in one backwards.

New That is most fun on an Apple II
You get smoke and exploding chips, and a game of "find the dead ICs".

And no, I never heard of alligator memory either, but I presume he had to mean DIPs,
'cause that's how memory came.

Another Apple II fun was to pull a card with the power on (no fan, so it was easy to do). Pull it a little tilted and it blew every board on the bus plus a few ICs on the main board. I used to know exactly which ones had to be replaced.

Since Apple IIs used the video retrace to refresh RAM, a problem almost anywhere on the main board could cause memory problems.

The Apple II design was pure hacker. If something could be done with obscure cleverness to make it cheaper, that's the way it was done, right down to a software disk controller. Even choice of the 6502 processor was based purely on price - the Intel chips were newer and way faster, so they cost more, so they were unnaceptable to Apple.

They charged a whole lot of money for this pile of crap, and worked hard to build a "mystique" to support the price. Even so, it was VisiCalc, not Apple, that made the Apple II a success (Bricklin wouldn't do a CP/M version because he couldn't copy protect it effectively on such an open platform).
New Twas the Wozniak mindset.. in replication. Cute/dumb overall
New After watching this discussion...
... the name does come back to me. And I remembered why I didn't use it, too. I had spent time dabbling in electronics - ICs were DIL* for a long time before the surface mount revolution quite caught on. But if you hadn't dabbled like I had, you wouldn't have seen what DIL chips looked like before they were inserted. Whoever coined the term "alligator memory" obviously hadn't!

Fortunately on the old IBM PC motherboard, if you put on in backwards, it simply didn't work. Turn it around, and it was fine. If you also missed a pin, or missed one side, the same thing: fix it and it worked like a bought one.


*DIL = dual in-line, sometimes dual in-line legs. The other term, DIP, was for dual in-line pins and meant the same thing. Two rows of pins down the long sides of a black rectangle of plastic or ceramic. They went through the circuit board (unless you used a socket) and were generally wide enough apart to be able to solder individually.

"All around me are nothing but fakes
Come with me on the biggest fake of all!"

New Spent a summer in high school soldering components on boards
Working for my Dad, who ran a Printed Circuit Board shop.

One of his customers was making full-length 8-bit 512K RAM boards. My job was to insert components (caps, resistors, and sockets for the RAM chips and supporting logic IC's), trim the leads, solder into place and test.

This was early 80's when wave solder and solder masking technologies were rapidly advancing, leading to the surface mount processes we see today. They were also among the first shops to produce multilayer boards in the area.

Unfortuantely, due to the high costs of compliance with EPA regulations and disposal of the waste (primarily potassium cyanide IIRC) from the etching and plating processes, they decided to cease that portion of their business. I'd would have loved to seen firsthand how those technologies developed.
New DIPS and Tweek\ufffd
Problem with inserting was - friction.

Tweek is a 'contact enhancer' and lubricant as a bonus, came out ~83 (a friend, partner at Sumiko tm'd the name, bought the very expensive active ingredient from a weird Canadian guy - who didn't know how to market it).

In brief - it *really* cures intermittents, especially in sockets, switches handling lo-current, lo-volt signals. Under pressure of the contact forces: substance actually conducts. I always use it on any board slot, chip, etc. I have to deal with (sometimes just putting a drop on already installed ICs and wiggling slightly - works too).

The lube made it easy to insert the DIPS - whose legs were always formed just a bit wide.. for the spacing of the socket.

(Hi end audio shops often stock this - it's same active surfactant as in 'Cramolin Red' - but not same as the also useful Caig cleaners and nostrums)

     THE IBM PC was introduced to the world 20 years ago today - (brettj) - (30)
         On whose doorknob can I hang the dead chicken? -NT - (Ashton)
         Ooh, I remember her - (altmann)
         Re: THE IBM PC - as often with historic reports - simplifies - (dmarker2) - (1)
             Re: Investor history: Tech sector could learn from the '80s - (brettj)
         A working AT? - (Andrew Grygus) - (25)
             pre-XT in mint condition?! - (brettj) - (24)
                 I started out on DOS 1.1 on 360K floppies on a real IBM PC - (tonytib) - (1)
                     I started out on DOS 1.0 on 160K floppies on a real IBM PC. - (a6l6e6x)
                 Well, nearly mint. - (Andrew Grygus) - (21)
                     Re: Chuckle :-) - Businessland !!! remember em well ... - (dmarker2)
                     I worked on original PCs. - (static) - (19)
                         loved pc-write also brown bag software -NT - (boxley)
                         ObAOL Me Too - (deSitter) - (17)
                             While I have no love for Seagate . . - (Andrew Grygus) - (5)
                                 Re: While I have no love for Seagate . . - (deSitter) - (4)
                                     Seagate may have had problems too . . . - (Andrew Grygus) - (3)
                                         Re: Seagate may have had problems too . . . - (dlevitt) - (2)
                                             I seem to remember it was the 10 meg drives - (DonRichards)
                                             Emerald also melted down. - (Andrew Grygus)
                             Alligator memory? - (static) - (10)
                                 Re: Alligator memory? - (deSitter) - (9)
                                     I never damaged any. :-) -NT - (static)
                                     Sounds like some kind of surface mount stuff - (tonytib) - (7)
                                         Sheesh, you guys don't even know what you missed. - (Andrew Grygus) - (6)
                                             No, those are DIPs - (tonytib) - (4)
                                                 That is most fun on an Apple II - (Andrew Grygus) - (1)
                                                     Twas the Wozniak mindset.. in replication. Cute/dumb overall -NT - (Ashton)
                                                 After watching this discussion... - (static) - (1)
                                                     Spent a summer in high school soldering components on boards - (Steve Lowe)
                                             DIPS and Tweek\ufffd - (Ashton)

Gotta catch 'em all!
96 ms