When Windows’ Calculator Won’t Do: Mathcad PLUS 6.0 Professional Edition

mathcad6-1For simple addition or knowing the square root of a number, the Calculator within Windows has always sufficed. Once you want to do something more complex requiring a surface plot or the use of vectors, you need something a bit more specialised. Some may attempt using Excel, or pull out their graphing calculator. Alternatively there’s Mathcad.

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eBay Purchase #24 – Maxis SimCity 2000 Special Edition

simcity2000-introeBay Purchase Price: $31 AUD

Country of Origin: Australia

Condition: Excellent

For the most part my software collection comprises of mostly operating systems and productivity applications. Games are a bit of an afterthought for me but I guess to some people more desirable. Let’s face it, most with an interest in retro computing would rather an original copy of DOOM, than Microsoft SNA Server.

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eBay Purchase #23 – Micrografx Designer 4.0

micrografx-designer4-introeBay Purchase Price: $19 AUD

Country of Origin: Australia

Condition: Excellent

When it comes to illustration and vector graphics, Adobe Illustrator and perhaps to a lesser extent CorelDRAW spring to mind as the main contenders in this segment. Much like other software from the 1980s and 90s, there were other commercial offerings out there though over time were succumbed to corporate acquisitions. Micrografx was one such vendor.

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eBay Purchase #22 – XTree Pro Gold 1.3

xtreegoldpro-introeBay Purchase Price: $3.30 AUD

Country of Origin: United States

Condition: Good

When it came to managing your files, many were in one of two camps – XTree or Norton Commander. I was in the XTree camp; probably from someone purchasing a used computer and creating backups of whatever happened to be on it. Early DOS users only had the command prompt to navigate through files, which had been fine when PCs were still sold with only floppy disk drives. The introduction of hard disk drives despite being meagre by today’s standards brought about a desire to view and manage the contents of such drives in a better way.

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Macintosh Files in a Windows World: MacOpener 2.0

macopener20-1Prior to the turn of the century, it was generally considered an outright nuisance sharing files between Macintosh systems and well everything else. Apple provided Apple File Exchange and later PC Exchange in the early 1990s, system utilities that allowed PC-formatted floppy disks to be used initially with System 7.0. Whilst having the annoying habit of creating hidden files, it was good enough for moving around Office documents and JPEG images between platforms.

Users of DOS, Windows, and OS/2 were left neglected in the ability to read Macintosh-formatted disks, and consequently if you were frequently moving across files between platforms it was best to leave them formatted for PC. If you were determined to read Macintosh disks directly on your PC, you were left with no choice but to purchase a third-party utility. Whilst not the only option, this is where MacOpener comes into play.

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The “New” XP Gaming PC

xpgamingpc-1As I regularly do, I went for a walk at lunch time to get out of the office. Around the corner was a computer store who left a basket beside their front door with items to give away. Usually there wasn’t much of interest, however on one occasion there were three identical motherboards wrapped up. They weren’t in their original boxes but appeared complete with CDs, cabling, and back plate. Not giving it much thought I decided to take a chance with them and took two. None of them appeared used but considering they looked to have been over ten years old they could have been complete duds.

When I got the motherboards home, a more thorough inspection indicated they were Socket 775 motherboards, though older than expected. They were the Intel D945GTP dating back to 2005 supporting the Pentium 4 ‘Prescott’ and Pentium D ‘Presler’ processors. The later Core 2 processor family were not supported. Nevertheless, for what they were I decided these could be the basis for a Windows XP-era gaming machine.

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Windows for Pen Computing 1.0

mspencomputing-1The notion of using some form of stylus or pen for interaction has been around since the earliest days of computing. Rewind back to 1957, there was the Styalator using a stylus for hand writing recognition. In 1964 the IBM 2250 was provided with a pen for vector graphics that was sensitive to light against a CRT monitor.

By 1987 Go Corporation was founded with a focus on pen computing, and consequently developed an operating system named PenPoint OS with this in mind. Intel invested in Go, causing angst at Microsoft for supporting a competing product.

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eBay Purchase #21 – Apple Macintosh G3 M3979

apple-g3desktop-1eBay Purchase Price: $150 AUD

Country of Origin: Australia

Condition: Excellent

The Power Macintosh G3 marked the end of an era – the end of beige computers and rainbow coloured logos at Apple. The G3 came about at a challenging time; demand slumped and profits nosedived to the point bankruptcy was in their sights. By the end of 1997, Steve Jobs returned and warmed up to Bill Gates seeking solutions. Consequently Microsoft invested $150 million USD in stocks and remained committed to developing a new version of Microsoft Office for the Mac. From the G3, the concept of what a computer should look like has arguably not been the same since.

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Sandy Bridge Renaissance

SandyBridgePC-PCbuildAfter selling off some computer components from previous systems owned which I somewhat regret, I later decided to keep what was leftover. Before my current AMD Ryzen 7 PC, I had a Sandy Bridge (second generation) Intel i5-2500K-based PC that served me well for several years. It lasted me so long as I never was at the forefront with gaming. When timing allowed for it, I’d end up playing a title that was already a few years old. Blending old and new I ended up assembling this PC for a modest sum of $520 AUD; aiming for cheap without skimping too much given this isn’t my main PC at home.

Whilst I enjoy assembling PCs, I tend to like being able to re-purpose older hardware that may otherwise be taken down for e-waste recycling. I’m rather dubious given the recent crisis on recycling programs globally, where it had only been shipped over to China. At a later date, I’ll be posting on assembling Socket 775 systems which are great for Windows XP to 7 gaming. For now, it’s this PC running Windows 10 viewing the components, getting it running, and finally some benchmarking. Prices mentioned are from early 2019, and new components were purchased from Scorptec Computers in Melbourne, Australia.

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eBay Purchase #20 – Apple Adjustable Keyboard M1242

appleadjkb-1eBay Purchase Price: $230.50 AUD

Country of Origin: Australia

Condition: Excellent

A recent purchase that happened to be from the same seller I bought my Macintosh LC II. I don’t see too many of these around, and even more so complete with box and no missing items. This keyboard dates back to 1992 when it was priced at $219 US, a couple of years before Microsoft released their Natural Keyboard, both aimed at improving ergonomics for touch typists.

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