VOGONS


First post, by jheronimus

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We all know that the first ATX motherboard is Intel Advanced/ATX aka Thor. Intel didn't sell that motherboard to customers directly, thus the magazines never reviewed this product, and even Intel's website didn't mention Thor at the time.

But what was the first ATX case? Gateway and other large OEMs bought Thor from Intel and made their own systems, but what about smaller companies (after all by 1995 Intel made more motherboards than Asus or even Compaq)?

It's not a very well known fact that Intel also made own cases and sold them to system builders. They've done so with LPX and AT machines, and since those were not retail products, there is no information about them on Intel's website. The only source of information I've managed to find is this page. There are 9 Intel-made cases listed here, and the only ATX option is an unnamed "Intel Tower ATX".

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I might get one in a couple of days, but in the meantime I am wondering — is this the first ATX case ever? My specific unit looks the same, but it originally came with a Pentium 2 (the case on the picture also seems to have either a Pentium II or Pentium MMX bage). It's a bit odd for a Slot 1 machine — for example, it doesn't have a place for a fan near the the CPU (and the Slot 1 CPUs don't really get cooled by the PSU fan). They also only have two 3.5" bays, so there can only be one HDD installed. They also look like contemporary "reversed" cases like DEC Celebris series, HP Vectra/NetServer and so on — the PSU lays on the bottom, the drives are also on the bottom, so the case isn't meant to be kept under the table. I'll make sure to post some photos once I (hopefully get the case).

What do you think? Does anyone have any info on Intel cases or an idea of what could be an earliest ATX case you could get from a computer shop or a small OEM builder?

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Reply 1 of 16, by PC Hoarder Patrol

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..yes, still around in the PII / PIII era

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https://web.archive.org/web/20011118064708/ht … vtid=SSE2BASEMT

Last edited by Stiletto on 2020-07-02, 04:01. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 3 of 16, by jheronimus

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Got the case!

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It's a bit smaller than typical ATX cases — see here compared to Palo Alto ATCX (basically the same case as Dell Dimension T500 or some Micron machines) and InWin A500.

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The coolest thing is how it opens. First, you slide off a top cover:

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Then you move two sliding locking mechanisms and voila. You open the case without a single screw:

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Another interesting thing — there's a single bracket that holds all the expansion cards. Bad news — you need to unscrew two screws to change a single card:

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The weird part is that the case is limited to a single hard drive. The case fan was installed by a previous owner — the whole system was meant to be ventilated by the fan on the CPU and the fan on the PSU:

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The model name is SSE2350MT64. I've also seen model names SSE2BASEMT, SSE2450MT64 and SSE2BASEMT. There are no differences as far as I can tell.

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The owner mentioned that the case used to host a Pentium 2 motherboard. Seems like it was a PD440FX — codename "Portland". Seems a bit low-end for 1999. Then again, PC Hoarder Patrol posted a link where a store sold this case with a SE440BX-2 in 2001.

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Still curious whether Intel would bundle Socket 7 motherboards (and Advanced/ATX in particular) with this case.

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Reply 4 of 16, by jheronimus

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Also makes me wonder — why did people like keeping their tower cases on the desktop so much in the mid-90s? Reversed layout wasn't uncommon for the period.

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Reply 5 of 16, by PC Hoarder Patrol

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Glad to see the case turned up in one piece. I have a generic ATX case with one of those screw-held single expansion card brackets and found it easier to use thumb screws instead of ordinary ones, tho I still don't think it secures the cards nearly as well as the normal one card / one screw method.

Always wondered about the 'Portland' thing as I have an Astor II server case (from my Data General Aviion 2300) which has almost exactly the same label, and I know for a fact that it left the factory with a L440GX+(Lancewood) motherboard.

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Reply 6 of 16, by Unknown_K

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Intel made one of the cases I have for a early Pentium EISA server sold by Zenith Data Systems ( A Zenith Data Systems Z Server EX). Those systems were not ISA or ATX and had the processor and RAM on separate cards from what I recall and you could have used a 486 or P66 card in that system. I forget the name of the Intel platform.

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Reply 7 of 16, by jheronimus

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PC Hoarder Patrol wrote on 2020-07-02, 23:51:

Always wondered about the 'Portland' thing as I have an Astor II server case (from my Data General Aviion 2300) which has almost exactly the same label, and I know for a fact that it left the factory with a L440GX+(Lancewood) motherboard.

Huh. So the case did not necessarily had a PD440FX but maybe a SE440BX or AL440LX. I did ask the seller whether or not his motherboard had AGP, but he couldn't remember, unfortunately.

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Reply 9 of 16, by jheronimus

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So far the earliest mention I could find — from June 1997, PC Magazine. Unicent line of PCs with a Pentium II and what seems to be a PD440FX motherboard after all:

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Reply 10 of 16, by jheronimus

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ShovelKnight wrote on 2020-07-03, 09:00:

Cool case. It looks like a version of those "upside down" BabyAT cases.

Yes! Someone on Vogons has posted a similar design for a 286 machine.

PC Magazine reviews and HP datasheets for Vectra series seem to refer to this design as "minitower"

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Reply 11 of 16, by hwh

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PC Hoarder Patrol wrote on 2020-07-02, 23:51:

Always wondered about the 'Portland' thing as I have an Astor II server case (from my Data General Aviion 2300) which has almost exactly the same label, and I know for a fact that it left the factory with a L440GX+(Lancewood) motherboard.

I suggest the obvious...maybe they were made in Portland 😉

Reply 12 of 16, by PC Hoarder Patrol

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hwh wrote on 2020-09-18, 00:38:
PC Hoarder Patrol wrote on 2020-07-02, 23:51:

Always wondered about the 'Portland' thing as I have an Astor II server case (from my Data General Aviion 2300) which has almost exactly the same label, and I know for a fact that it left the factory with a L440GX+(Lancewood) motherboard.

I suggest the obvious...maybe they were made in Portland 😉

Ye think!! 😀 😀

I did a bit of research after I made that post, and it turns out that SPM/Portland is indeed the supplier code for the part...believe it most likely refers to a plastics & injection moulding company, formerly called Grant & Roth, who were bought out by SPM in the early / mid 90s.

Reply 13 of 16, by zombie-opsd

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Hi. I was an intern at Intel's OPSD (OEM Platform Service Divison) which became the Intel Platform Divison (IPD) which then became probably two other things after that. In our environment in 96 and 97, we had a mix of LPX systems, ATX systems, and others.

There was an ATX variation of the Intel Tahiti chassis that was seemingly the first ATX chassis - it was all metal and very sturdy and I believe we referred to those as Intel Olympus, but I see no documentation to that effect. It's hazy, it's 25 years since then. The SSE2BASEMT was a good standard case and could be packed and shipped efficiently when unassembled.

SP/M did a lot of custom plastics for a lot of technology vendors. They had a large manufacturing facility in Hillsboro, Oregon, USA and also made parts for NORTEL and SILICON GRAPHICS (SGI) before they shuttered the location around 1999.

Being nostalgic, I tracked down one of these cases/systems and purchased it. It's fairly intact except it needs a plastic blanking panel to look complete. I'm looking for a single blanking panel for one of these chassis and was wondering whether any of you had any to spare (maybe you added another CDROM drive). Anyone have any to spare? They're easy to mail, at least!

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Reply 14 of 16, by the3dfxdude

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I have one of these cases with the original board. It was made in 1997. The first pics above from '99 seem to be a late run of them. I had another identical one that I gave away. Sorry no extra slot covers.

Reply 15 of 16, by Cosmic

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zombie-opsd wrote on 2022-05-19, 23:12:

Hi. I was an intern at Intel's OPSD (OEM Platform Service Divison) which became the Intel Platform Divison (IPD) which then became probably two other things after that. In our environment in 96 and 97, we had a mix of LPX systems, ATX systems, and others.

So cool to see someone with your knowledge here! I would love to read more of your stories.

With lidar becoming more accessible, I wonder if scanning old PC components (panels, blanks, feet, brackets, etc.) so they can be printed later will be a thing in the future.

Reply 16 of 16, by jheronimus

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zombie-opsd wrote on 2022-05-19, 23:12:

There was an ATX variation of the Intel Tahiti chassis that was seemingly the first ATX chassis - it was all metal and very sturdy and I believe we referred to those as Intel Olympus, but I see no documentation to that effect. It's hazy, it's 25 years since then. The SSE2BASEMT was a good standard case and could be packed and shipped efficiently when unassembled.

Interesting! I assume, it was a desktop case then? Was it this one?

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Edit: Realised Tahiti is a tower case, so probably not:

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