First post, by athlon-power
As I approach a fully completed time-accurate build (a high-end 2008 build with a Core2Quad Q9550), I am now turning my attention back to my 1999 build (the first one listed in my signature). Specifically, I am now trying to ascertain exactly how you would obtain a computer in the way that you could, in say, 2003. While I do believe that you could order a system part-by-part, somehow, it doesn't feel right. I feel that most people would've either gone for a pre-built or would've had a system builder throw the parts together and sell it like that.
My confusion revolves around a few things:
1) Was it possible to purchase all computer components like you could a 2003 build, or something similar? If so, what websites would've often been used? (I mention websites because I like to be able to get a comprehensive time-accurate price on whatever I end up building. NewEgg from 2008 has been very useful. For instance, the 2008 build I have would've costed US$1,154.94 (it's still not complete, either- it needs RAM, HDDs, and potentially a GPU). Old scans of magazines don't tend to show prices of specific hardware pieces from what I've found- so finding parts for a custom built is a fair bit more difficult.
2) Even if you could build your own, what brands were available to use in the retail market? I know some brands and types of cards were only available in OEM situations, and it's very difficult to tell if what you're buying could've been bought on a website or in a retail store. For example, I can't tell if my Creative Labs CT5823 was made specifically for an OEM situation, or if you could buy it retail. It likely was retail considering the Creative Labs name, but things get somewhat murky easily.
3) Did most people use pre-builts that you can see in magazine advertisements? This would make finding a price for a computer very easy- just look up whatever model of computer that you want on eBay, and you'll likely find it with few modifications or no modifications at all (if it's a more obscure brand, that won't hold true, but things like Compaq, Dell, or Gateway computers should be quite easy to find).
That's where I'm sitting at right now. I also will be starting a new build from ~1993 once I get the 2008 and 1999 builds completed. There is also a chance that I will convert my 1999 build into a 1998 build, which would require me to only change out the processor and video card (and replace other things that were time-accurate, even when it was still a "1999" build).
Where am I?