The PC from The Wimmera

wimmera-pcintroOne weekend I went for a drive up Horsham way, a good two hour drive from home along the main highway between Adelaide and Melbourne. It’s a sizeable regional centre popular for stopovers. Usually when I’m there the only things I might pick up is fuel or a burger from McDonald’s on the way to somewhere else, so picking up a PC was a rare occurrence.

Stored in a dusty old tin shed, the person I bought from had several identical PCs stacked away, presumably scored from a local e-waste depot. Originally these had been used by what was known as the Wimmera Institute of TAFE in the mid 1990s, later merging to what became the University of Ballarat (now known as Federation University since 2014). For those overseas, TAFE meant Technical and Further Education, and operate in a similar nature to colleges in Canada and the United States.

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eBay Purchase #26 – Apple Macintosh LC

maclc-introeBay Purchase Price: FREE

Country of Origin: Australia

Condition: Good

“Announcing something you’ve never seen before in an inexpensive Macintosh. Colour.”

Those were the words from a TV commercial for the Macintosh LC. The original LC released in October 1990 sat in-between the low-end Classic and the relatively more expensive IIsi, making it the most affordable Macintosh with colour display capabilities.

Most of these saw their time in educational institutions. As I later discovered, this particular LC used to sit within the Zoology department at the University of Tasmania.

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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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eBay Purchase #19 – Onkyo DX1015A4 Netbook

onkyonetbook-2eBay Purchase Price: $143.77 AUD

Country of Origin: Australia

Condition: Very Good

Although not the first time small form-factor laptops have come about, the years between 2007 through to about 2012 became prime time for netbooks. Touted as being ultra portable and inexpensive, most netbooks were rather much alike with their specifications and offered little point of difference. In the end, their lacklustre performance contributed to their demise, and were largely replaced with tablets.

This is where the Onkyo gets more interesting, released only for the Japanese market originally for a fairly pricey sum of over 70,000 yen (~$650 USD, ~$850 AUD). Many netbooks were only half that price. It is effectively a re-badged Kojinsha DZ.

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My ‘Ultimate’ 486 Build Revisited

486pcbuild-1

Back in 2014 I began a project to build myself a 486 PC. It proved to be slow going, not just to get the right components, but also spending time troubleshooting. Two years later I finally had it all functioning. Initially the aim was just to have a usable 486 without getting too fussy over the hardware. Maybe with a DX/2 66 processor, 8 MB of RAM, an entry-level ESS sound card, and so forth. However, as things accumulated over time it proved to be better than I had imagined. ‘Ultimate’ can be subjective – no doubt some other enthusiast has one with more RAM and thrown in a TNT 3D video card, but my aim was to keep it fairly period correct.

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eBay Purchase #16 – Apple Macintosh LC II

maclc2-1eBay Purchase Price: $200 AUD

Country of Origin: Australia

Condition: Good

It’s been years since owning a beige Macintosh, and I had an itch to own one again. A little while ago I picked up this Macintosh LC II off eBay, from the state of Queensland. Getting a Mac from the LC series wasn’t my first choice, having preferred finding a Quadra or Performa instead. Between price, condition, and the models out there to choose from it’s hard pickings. Nevertheless there was some sentimental value towards this model – it was the model I experienced using a Macintosh for the very first time.

The LC family began with the original Macintosh LC released in October 1990, and the  series continued up until 1997 with the Power Macintosh 5200/75 LC in an all-in-one form factor. The earlier LC models were commonly referred to as pizza boxes, given their slim design, and in hindsight could be seen as the then Mac Mini. I’m not fully certain on officially what the LC represented, whether it was “low cost”, “low cost colour”, or from the name of Project Elsie in which the objective was to build a more affordable Macintosh with a colour screen. Whichever it may be, the LC was aimed for families and the education market as a lower cost alternative to the Macintosh II.

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