The Story of a Rural Four-Eight-Six | Diit.cz

At the very end of the 1990s, there was a not very mobile rural family who longed for a computer. I wasn’t even eighteen at the time, I had a head full of technological ideals (and hair) and I agreed to somehow (read: as cheaply as possible). At that time, it was not enough to just go to the collection yard and pump up cheap components there (and today it is not possible again, because red containers, but it is a different story), because in the countryside even ten-year-old components were exchanged for money among the population. So I went to a factory, looked for a gentleman whose job was to instruct him to smash a discarded property with a club, and in liquid form asked him to look elsewhere for a while. As he did so, I selected things from a pile of scrap metal that, together with a little persuasion, could form a computer, stuffed them into a backpack, and ran to the proverbial Neutropher.

This is how the real country four-eight-six came about, my first computer built from garbage:

  • Desktop box and source originally from some 286 or perhaps 386, tightened in the first half of the 90s from Austria. Ugly, but tank-resistant.
  • Motherboard with SiS chipset and a nice graphical BIOS from AMI, which intentionally remotely resembled Windows 3.x. He already had such advanced features as autodetection of hard disks or shutting down the processor cache.
  • Cyrix Cx486-40 processor. Slow to the point of horror, but he didn’t heat up at all, so he was cooled by even 3 mm high ribs, which I then glued with instant glue – unaware of the existence of heat-conducting paste.
  • 8 (in words: eight) MB RAM in two different modules. I took more of them then, but the record didn’t want to talk to others, and it did the worst for me when I paired the modules according to all the general instructions.
  • AVGA 2.0 graphics card with Cirrus Logic GD5401 chip – just VGA, but no one was in the waste.
  • IDE + FDD + LPT + COM + Game controller with Acer chipset.
  • 3.5 “and 5.25” floppy disk drive with the appropriate tab to the motherboard.
  • An 1200 MB IDE disk, which apparently always had a partition of just over the first 500 MB, because DOS couldn’t do more and there was no one around to know that more partitions could be made. I guess that’s why he ended up in the collection – 1200 MB would be enough for an office desktop then, but half a gigabit was not enough.
  • 3Com Etherlink III network card. I admit that I thought it was a modem, otherwise I wouldn’t have taken it. In the end, however, as it turns out, she served.

This sin of my youth served the new owners for several years. First to the whole family – with MS-DOS, M602, T602 and of course the GAME directory, which contained everything that could be taken away from somewhere on floppy disks. Then they saved for a more modern machine and 486 traveled to the nursery. Since I was already a bit computer at the time, I stretched a network between the two computers and the newer machine shared a modem connection with this. At that time, Windows 95 and such modernities as ICQ or Netscape Navigator 4.x were successfully launched on the computer. With 8 MB of RAM, it wasn’t a hit, but it was free. Then, when nothing reasonable could be done on the computer except playing Prince of Persia or DOOM, and these old games didn’t take anyone for years, he wandered to the ground where he lay for fifteen long years.

Recently, I completely disassembled the machine, cleaned it and reassembled it. When working with it, I was not surprised what no one bothered then – for example, the external processor cache on the board is obviously inoperative, only the second bank is installed, the first is empty and in this case the BIOS turns off the cache completely, making poor Cyrix a complete retard . Although the disk was originally from a hair a bit better than the 486, it’s slow until it’s nice, the board probably works with it in some very old mode.

The box comes from the days when most disks and drives had a 5.25 “format, so there was only one 3.5” slot in it, which, however, required a special basket to store the disk. I didn’t have it back then, let alone now, so both the small floppy disk and the hard drive were and remained mounted in 5.25 “frames. sprayed black (front only) – to create a certain visually objective counterpoint to the panel with the display and buttons. Tuning always squeaked.

Since I do not suffer from a lack of similar hardware, I offered this piece after a few days together and successfully sold it. The new owner has already picked him up and I firmly believe that he will do him the right retrorad for some time. And I decided to publish his story here to keep track of the twists and turns of small home computing in a small Czech town in the late twentieth century. Maybe archaeologists will find it here one day.