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Category: DOS/Windows

IBM Personal Computer XT

With Apple, Tandy, and Commodore’s early microcomputer success, the industry speculated how IBM would respond. The mainframe giant had dominated computing for decades, but its initial efforts to make a viable microcomputer had fallen flat. That changed when Bill Lowe and Dan Estridge set out to develop a micro outside the usual IBM bureaucracy. Just twelve months later, in August 1981, they unveiled the IBM Personal Computer (5150). The PC was made from off-the-shelf components with a custom IBM BIOS. Though it could run the popular CP/M operating system, it came packaged with BASIC and a new disk operating system from Microsoft. The early 5150s were a high-priced competitor to the 8-bit micros of the day, but IBM quickly iterated…

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Compaq Presario 3060

Compaq succeeded in getting the better of IBM throughout the 1980s. First, reverse-engineering the PC’s BIOS when creating the trailblazing Compaq Portable. Then, introducing Intel’s 80386 processor in the Compaq DeskPro computer. Finally, spearheading industry opposition to IBM’s proprietary Micro Channel architecture and developing the competing EISA bus. Though Compaq soared through the ’80s, it suffered when PCs were commoditized in the early ’90s. Lagging sales in 1991 prompted Compaq’s chairman, Ben Rosen, to orchestrate the ouster of long-time CEO Rod Canion. Rosen and Canion disagreed on how Compaq should respond to the industry’s race to the bottom, with Canion favoring in-house technologies and Rosen wanting to purchase off-the-shelf components. In June 1992, under new CEO Eckhard Pfeiffer’s leadership, Compaq…

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Gateway 2000 Nomad 325SXL

Known for its cow-patterned boxes and solid yet affordable equipment, Gateway 2000 (later just Gateway) was an early staple of the PC industry. Founded in 1985, the same year as its made-to-order rival Dell Computer, Gateway grew swiftly as the personal computer transformed from a hobbyist and gaming device into an essential business tool. The Nomad was Gateway’s first notebook computer. It was a rebadged Texas Instrument TravelMate–a relationship that lasted for a few years. Coming in either a 386SX, 486SX, or 486DX version, the Nomad was designed to support the DOS and Windows 3.1 needs of tech travelers. This Nomad was my first laptop computer. Purchased in the summer of 1992, it was my digital companion at college. Due…

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Compaq Deskpro 386s

Compaq was a bold and innovative company, producing some of the best computers of the 1980s. Founded by a trio of former Texas Instrument employees, the company famously (and legally) reverse-engineered the IBM PC and created the first successful portable PC. After making a name for itself, Compaq pivoted to the desktop. The Deskpro line of computers was known for quality, speed, and a steep purchase price. In 1986, the Deskpro 386 was the first computer with Intel’s groundbreaking 80386 processor, ushering in the 32-bit revolution. The later Deskpro 386s, manufactured in 1988, had an updated form factor and another first–this time, Intel’s new 80386SX processor. I was visiting a friend’s house in the mid-80s when I was introduced to…

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Dell Dimension V333c

Restoring vintage computers is certainly nostalgic, but it is also therapeutic. It feels good to clean something dirty, restore something old, and improve something so it lasts. I have a long history with this early Celeron computer, so awakening it from its long slumber was particularly satisfying. I bought this computer in December 1998 as a Christmas gift for my parents. It replaced the home-built 386 I assembled as a teenager. Now a college graduate with my first “real” job, I was proud to provide them a significant technology upgrade. When Dell created the Dimension V333c, it was a great value at an important time in PC history. The race between Intel, AMD, and Cyrix was neck and neck, and…

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