With the uptake of broadband internet, cloud services, and hard disks terabytes in size, the concept of placing stuff onto optical discs has become as popular as building a new coal-fired power station. Maybe Blu-ray discs are the exception given their capacity, but then again it can feel you’re the only person who does it.
Not along after posting about using PCem 11, version 12 was available for downloading literally a few days later. Due to this, I’ll briefly go over the changes before delving into setting up a virtual 386 PC with Windows 95.
Why a 386? Windows 95 required as a minimum a 386DX to run. Back in the day when a 386 was rather common, I’d only see them with 4 or 8 MB of RAM running Windows 3.1. However, in more recent times I did see someone who had a highly-spec’d multimedia 386 build with 64 MB of RAM on YouTube, and the performance of Windows 95 wasn’t that bad considering the hardware involved. This is an attempt to mimic that virtually.
As someone born in 1985, much of my pre-teen years were spent playing various games designed for DOS or Windows 95. With little pocket money, most games acquired came in the form of someone else purchasing a used PC and using several floppy disks to copy them, or demonstration versions enclosed with a magazine. Normally it wouldn’t be until Christmas or my birthday that I could go out and purchase a new game, though in hindsight really should have spent the money upgrading the hardware.
Here’s my ten games that I enjoyed and spent a large amount of time playing during the decade in no particular order.
For trialling out pcAnywhere32 with the parallel port cable, with me are two ThinkPads for the exercise. The one on the left is a Pentium II 380Z running Windows NT 4.0, and beside it is a Pentium 380D running Windows 98 SE.
For this I’ll be using the 380Z as the host, while the 380D will be the remote. Well so I thought…
eBay Purchase Price: $25 AUD
Country of Origin: Australia
Condition: Very Good
Just recently I picked up a complete copy of pcAnywhere32 7.5 remote access software. The good news is the manuals are in excellent condition, and the original parallel port cable is included which can often go missing. The bad news is that out of the four floppy disks for the software itself, the second disk couldn’t be imaged due to bad sectors. Fortunately I could retrieve this elsewhere.
Symantec’s strategy in the late 1980s and early 1990s had been one of company acquisitions. One such acquisition was announced in August 1990 with the purchase of Peter Norton Computing Inc. who had a stronghold in the DOS disk utilities space. Symantec retained the Norton branding and had done so for a number of years.
I came across an image of a CD from the internet recently titled Microsoft Windows: A Vision for the Future that dates back to 1997. Unsure who this would have been distributed to, though I suspect it was circulated around with IT professionals, partnered vendors, and so forth for the UK market. The purpose was to show Microsoft’s strategy with their Windows product line over the coming years in a nutshell.
It’s the year 1993. You have a 386 PC (or were fortunate enough to have a 486 DX), and you just spent several hundred on a multimedia kit. To make it worthwhile, you craved finding stuff that would take advantage of those new bits inside your PC even if it was just your favourite rock album to play for the novelty.
What was a multimedia kit? Back in the early 1990s, a multimedia kit consisted of an internal CD-ROM drive, a sound card, speakers, a few CD-ROM titles, and possibly other stuff like a microphone. Kits from Creative Labs were probably the most popular. These transformed your PC from only emitting “beeps” and using floppy disks, to a world of CD-ROMs, motion picture, and quality audio. Multimedia was certainly the buzzword at the time, very much like how cloud computing is today.
“The Windows 95 kernel team got kind of jealous of all the attention the shell team has been getting from its PowerToys, so they decided to polish off their own personal toys and make their own web page.
Mind you, the kernel folks aren’t experts at intuitive user interfaces, so don’t expect to see jumping icons and friendly things to click on. (These are the people who do their taxes in hexadecimal.)”
That’s from the README.TXT file that comes with Kernel PowerToys, with a good dose of humour.
Similar to PowerToys, the Kernel PowerToys was the smaller sibling adding a few other enhancements to your Windows 95 system. This pack however was aimed at power users.
Windows 95 was the first to receive PowerToys, a collection of free tools created by some of the developers at Microsoft though was officially unsupported and testing wasn’t as thorough. In its day many users had the opinion that what PowerToys had brought should have been in Windows 95 to begin with.
At just 205 KB in size to download, over a dozen enhancements were included with various levels of usefulness. To install it’s just a matter of extracting all the files into an empty directory (folder), and running install.inf by right-clicking the file and choosing Install so it doesn’t use the default option to open in Notepad.
Unlike my previous post, setting up Windows 95 is considerably different. Again I’ll be using Oracle VirtualBox 5.1.4. While it can be made to work in a useable state, it wasn’t offered the same support to the likes of Windows NT 4.0 or 2000.
There were a few revisions of Windows 95 since product launch generally offered for the OEM market, the latest being OSR 2.5. My personal preference is OSR 2.1 as it didn’t come preloaded with Internet Explorer 4.0, which had a tendency to bloat the general Windows interface with web orientated options akin to Windows 98. OSR 2.1 came instead with Internet Explorer 3.0 which kept to itself and more inline with the original Windows 95 interface. Not only that but I found IE 4.0 on real hardware of the time (e.g. a Pentium 100 with 16MB RAM) to be fairly sluggish in comparison.