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Your favorite vintage non-palmtop computer?

Posted: Tue Nov 29, 2016 11:56 am
by Kyodai
Mine is actually the "PC III VGA Plus" - on first sight a pretty shameless Compaq Portable III clone. Yeah even the name seems to be a clone... XD

But inside it's actually much of an improvement compared to the original Portable III. Unlike the Portable III it uses standard hardware (Minus the PSU and screen of course) - so you can install your favorite board. Mine came with a 486 board, but you can obviously also install newer and fancier stuff like a cool Socket 7 board. And the screen is finally 640x480 VGA - a big improvement over the weird 640x400 CGA the Portable III had to offer.

Simply love the monochrome red plasma screen...

(Image borrowed from a different forum, but same model as mine)


Here's a video of mine running Windows 95, surfing websites, playing games and watching video.

Re: Your favorite vintage non-palmtop computer?

Posted: Wed Nov 30, 2016 6:33 am
by wintermute
I have several old computers and I like them all but I would have to go with Amiga 600. Small footprint but has everything. Mine has an internal CF hard and the ACA 020 accelerator with 10MB of RAM (I think) + 501n expansion giving it 2MB of chip RAM. Since it's ECS and fat agnus chip, it can boot to PAL or NTSC which is important for max compatibility. And it can also boot from DF1 which is also valuable with external Gotek floppy emulator. It also has a composite output (no Modulator dongle needed) so it's easy to connect to any TV for a quick session (of course, nothing matches my Sony PVM CRT attached to it via RGB cable). It has a PCMCIA slot and it recognizes all CF cards I have. I even have a PCMCIA WiFi adapter for it! The only thing which is lacking to be perfect is the annoying brick of the power supply but I guess that's why it's so compact.

Among pocket computers, my favorite is SHARP PC-1360. Not as bulky as PC-1600 but still very capable and I love it's big screen.

Re: Your favorite vintage non-palmtop computer?

Posted: Wed Nov 30, 2016 9:04 am
by Kyodai
Ahh an Amiga 600... I always wanted to have one when i was a youngster (But got a 486 instead which was not really a bad trade-off).

So now your Sharp PC-3000 and the Amiga 600 have a fight about who can use the PCMCIA SRAM card, eh? :lol: More FastRAM for the Amiga or more DOS games for the PC-3000? Tough decision...

I still have my old Amiga 500 - not as fancy and powerful as the 600. Still using Kickstart 1.3. Slow, old but it was THE gaming machine here in Germany back in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Spent so much time gaming on the A500 back in the days...

My dream machine was of course the Amiga 4000 Tower - but it was too expensive back in the days and still is too expensive today... ;)

Ah the SHARP PC-1360 - i had one a loooong time ago and never really did anything with it. I guess I am just not a great BASIC programmer.

Re: Your favorite vintage non-palmtop computer?

Posted: Thu Oct 26, 2017 2:20 am
by Floopy
I may not have any palmtops, but I do have "portables".

Intel 80286 running at 10Mhz with windows 2 (for the 286) installed on a Compact flash card. This guy has been sitting on the work bench for almost 3 months now because of a lack of a hard drive. The bios only supported up to 46 types of HDD so I had to flash a new one in order to use a CF card, and that was just one of the many problems. It ways just under 32LB.

Re: Your favorite vintage non-palmtop computer?

Posted: Thu Oct 26, 2017 1:48 pm
by Kyodai
That's a wonderful machine. So you managed to get a CF card working in it? May I ask how you formatted/partitioned it to work in this machine? I got some XTIDE cards to use IDE disks in such old machines where the BIOS just won't accept a casual IDE disk, but yeah it sucks to waste an ISA slot for that so I'd be curious about other solutions... :)

BTW: WIndows 3.1 runs on an 80286 - but only in "standard mode".

Re: Your favorite vintage non-palmtop computer?

Posted: Thu Oct 26, 2017 3:56 pm
by Floopy
I think the XTIDE requires you to have a bios that supports the HDD you are using, but I may be wrong.
The machine I had, had large issues detecting any HDD that was not supported by the 1-46 formats. It took me along time to figure out that the issue was the BIOS and the HDD controller itself. I updated the BIOS using a newer one made by Quadtel, and set the jumpers correctly one my controller card.
The only issue (it isn't really one for me at least) is that you can only format the disk to a maximum of 2GB. I use a "32MB" CF card, thought the actual storage capacity is 121MB. I don't know why but they are cheaper when I buy them labeled as '32MB"?
Anyway if you have an EPROM programmer, a few chips, and some spare time. Then you could probably try to burn a new BIOS. (assuming you find a newer BIOS for your machine)
If this interest you I can post some of my other machines.

Re: Your favorite vintage non-palmtop computer?

Posted: Thu Oct 26, 2017 4:51 pm
by Floopy
Here is another that I go back up and running last year.
Tandy 1400 running on two 720KB floppy drives. I've managed to run windows 1.01, it took me a while to figure out how to run it on one diskette. The mouse even works with it too!

Re: Your favorite vintage non-palmtop computer?

Posted: Fri Oct 27, 2017 9:28 am
by Kyodai
Wow, that Tandy 1400 is really cool. Totally love the screen of it (I love monochrome screens anyways).

XTIDE Is actually more like a BIOS supplement. The whole point of it is to use large IDE drives even if the original BIOS does NOT support it.

You can even burn a ROM yourself if you got an EPROM programmer (XTIDE is freeware) - all you need is an old ISA network card - like 99% of these have a slot for an EPROM that will be initialised on system boot.

The XTIDE cards that i have are basically just an ISA IDE controller that contains the boot ROM. Wastes an ISA slot, but at least all IDE discs works with it.

Re: Your favorite vintage non-palmtop computer?

Posted: Fri Oct 27, 2017 5:25 pm
by Floopy
I don't have any spare parts, I started working with these machines because I found some that where about to be thrown away.
Where I live, I rarely find anything older than 1998, but someday if I find some I will definitely try it out.

What's so wrong with using and ISA slot? Aren't they their to be used in the first place?

Re: Your favorite vintage non-palmtop computer?

Posted: Fri Nov 03, 2017 1:39 pm
by Kyodai
Well the worst part of using an ISA slot is that you have one slot less for other options. Especially if the machine only has like one slot that can make it a tough decision, somewhere between "Hmmm, sound card or harddisc?" Then there are other useful cards like network cards, SCSI controllers and such. ;)