Retro notebook collection

This year started as “The year of PC gaming” for my collection. I already possessed an old Acer TravelMate 290 with WinXP which I bought around 2004/2005 and never sold. This came handy when I discovered that e.g. Star Wars EPISODE I Racer does not run with Windows 7 x64 anymore.

In 2014 I got lucky on eBay and bought a Toshiba Satellite Pro 430CDS for ten Euros. This one got pimped with a 30GB ATA HDD and Windows 98SE. I used it for old DOS and Win95/98 games.

Some month ago I started watching LGRs Youtube-Channel and he re-kindled my passion for old DOS-Stuff. Therefore I tried to get DOS-Hardware which does not take up to much space but is authentic enough for the ‘real feeling’.

This led me to buying a Privileg NB8, Targa NB539 and a Compaq LTE 5001. The Compaq did get an old copy of Windows 95SE I still had on my shelf. For the Targa I got a sealed copy of MS-DOS 6.22 and Windows for Workgroups 3.11 on eBay. I even managed to get a copy of Word 6.0 for Windows and Excel 5.0 for Windows as well.

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The Privileg was a little hassle to equip with an OS because I didn’t want to spend more money on MS-DOS and my remaining copies of Windows 98SE and Windows NT4 were out of the question. I finally managed to install FreeDOS 1.0. This was no easy tasks because this machine has no CD-ROM and the installer of FreeDOS 1.1 crashed every time when run from floppy-disks.

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This leads to another matter: How do you copy huge amounts of data (meaning: everything larger than 1.44MB) onto these devices? Especially when there is no PCMCIA-Slot in the machine? The answer is: The infamous Iomega ZIP-Drive which came in a variant for the parallel port. Because these drives are known for dying on you (and disks are hard to come by) I bought three of these beauties with a bunch of disks on eBay.

To be able to install my old games I hunted down some PCMCIA-CD-ROMs and even a CD-ROM for the parallel port.

IMG_20160405_193818Access to the ‘modern world’ is granted by a USB-Floppy for small stuff and a CompactFlash-PCMCIA-adapter for big files.

A collection of old DOS/Windows-PCs would not be complete without the possibility to play IPX network games like DOOM, Warcraft 2 or C&C: Red Alert. Therefore I started hunting 16-Bit PCMCIA network cards which do work with DOS (Win95 and Win98 work really well). This was harder than it sounds because even if there is a ODI-driver for that card it is not guaranteed that the card will work with your PCMCIA controller or without PCMCIA management software for DOS.

Luckily these cards are quite cheap to get so you can afford to experiment…

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As you can see I got quite a collection of cards. The 28k modem came with the Compaq, the Longshine is still from my first notebook back in 1999 (sadly the adapter cable is missing), The Gigaset WIFI card was the first Wifi I owned, the other two Wifi cards are replacement cards for the broken Wifi in the Acer and the Iomega click! is quite an oddity I bought ~10 years ago.

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According to the BIOS date these notebooks cover a time range of approximately 11-12 years (Privileg: 1990, Targa: 1993, Compaq: 1996, Toshiba: 1999 and Acer 2001). Therefore I wanted to know how the speed of these lovelies compares. This is what I measured using Dhrystone and Whetstone:

  dhry1nd dhry1od dhry2nd dhry2od
Privileg NB8 1,88 7,03 1,96 4,91
Targa
TN539
12,65 45,42 12,47 54,37
Compaq
LTE 5001
23,68 142,73 24,22 100,51
Toshiba Satellite
Pro 430CDS
29,09 184,15 29,33 121,1
Acer
TravelMate 290
677,06 2609,29 685,73 2438,13
  whetcnd whetcod whetdcd
Privileg NB8 0,022 0,061 0,063
Targa
TN539
8,877 16,361 16,852
Compaq
LTE 5001
24,666 59,606 60,957
Toshiba Satellite
Pro 430CDS
31,466 79,456 81,225
Acer
TravelMate 290
562,385 1106,733 1150,803

dhry whet

 

All system information in this article was gathered using NSSI. All Benchmarks were created using dostest.zip.