More Fun with Old Hardware

This is an unusual claim as to what is actually fun, but calling it a pain in the ass would be harder to explain and justify.

We have lots of old computer hardware because we save old stuff, and upgrade whenever we can. We also have a habit of collecting old stuff. Can’t bear to see what might be computer equipment hit the dumpster.

As a result we have plenty of old computer cases, drives, motherboards, sound cards, modems, video cards, assorted memory, floppy drives, CD drives, DVD drives, video capture cards, keyboards, mice, and even some trackballs (upside-down mice).

Most of this stuff still works and much of it works flawlessly. Trouble is that it is not fast enough to compete in the multimedia field with even a mediocre 1.5ghz pentium 4 (which by the way is also obsolete).

So here we are trying to make as much use as possible of old technology involving several 125mhz processors on perfectly good motherboards and everything from 486DX’s to P1s,2s,3s, and P4s.

So far we have four complete systems running Win98SE and one really old system running DOS3.2.

Very surprizing to see how fast the DOS3.2 is even though it is running a P1 processor. This thing is mainly useful for implementing the PICSTART plus programmer.

One of the other five systems is housed in a large tower case. Plenty of room for all kinds of drives (actually only 6). It sports USB ports (which need special drivers for use under Win98). As slow as this one is (233mhz CPU and only 98meg of ram), it still has the potential for being a medium power server.

It has three hard drives in it. All under 10 gig or so because its motherboard bios does not handle larger drives. But still, 30 gig is plenty for storing some data for distribution over the network.

Until recently only two of its hard drives showed up in the My Computer window. It has been that way for over a year now and I never bothered with it because I did not need the computer. Now that I have re-visited my needs, I discovered that the drive which is unrecognized by Win98 does not have a partition and, of course, no format.

I created a FAT 32 partition and formatted the drive. Did a thorough checkdsk and the drive now appears in My Computer and is error free.

The only other redeeming grace of the tower system is that it is only one of two systems that still use hard drive trays.

Hard drive trays are plug-in trays which hold a 3.5 inch hard drive making drive replacement and swapping a simple and fast proceedure. Helps mainly in testing new software. Primarily new (and old overlooked) versions of Linux.

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