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Tag: DOS

IBM Personal Computer

A handful of product names are so ubiquitous and defining they become synonymous with their industry: Coke, Aspirin, Band-Aids, Post-Its, etc. In computing, the IBM Personal Computer was that product. In the early days of the microcomputer revolution, tech enthusiasts and business insiders were curious if “Big Blue” would step outside its dominant position in business and university computer rooms and enter the nascent small computer market. In the 1970s, IBM rolled out the portable 5100 series of computers, showing that it could build machines designed for desktops, but these systems were expensive and niche at best. After the explosion of interest following the 1977 West Coast Computer Faire, the microcomputer industry was moving at a breakneck speed and becoming…

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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 Don 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 set the standard for business-class personal computing, and IBM quickly iterated and released the IBM…

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Harpoon

Harpoon is a naval strategy software simulation adapted from Larry Bond’s paper-based tactical miniatures game. A navy veteran, Bond was exposed to the classified Naval Tactical Game (NAVTAG) while serving aboard the destroyer U.S.S. McKean. But Bond was frustrated by NAVTAG’s vague rules. He contacted NAVTAG’s designer, Neil Byrne, and learned the unclear rules were purposeful, so players could improvise. Bond decided he could make a better all-purpose air, surface, and submarine simulation accessible to the general public. Using two unclassified sources, Combat Fleets of the World and Jane’s All the World’s Ships, Bond developed his own rules and calculations for Harpoon. Bond drafted the initial game in a week, and he and his crewmates tested the game over the…

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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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