VOGONS


First post, by dave343

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I've always been fascinated by the availably of a CPU generation vs what people were actually running due to the realistic affordability for a given time period.

According to Wikipedia page for the 386, 486, & Pentium systems (for both AMD & Intel), there is a lot of cross over of release dates between the late 1980's to the mid 1990's. The 386DX may have officially been released back in 1988-89 but I doubt everyone and their grandmother were running out to buy one due to the high cost. And while the 486 was "officially" released in 1989, Intel only released the DX4 in October of 1994 so I also can't imagine many people were running a shiny new 486 in 1990.

For example; In 1992, my father bought a AMD 386DX 33 that had the Cyrix FasMath FPU chip, he upgraded the ram to 8MB at time of purchase, and if memory serves me it had a 120MB Hard drive, but no sound card. I believe the PC cost around $3000 in 1992 and the only reason we were able to get it was the company he worked for covered most of the cost. Before this, we had a Commodore 64 up until that point! We skipped the 486 generation and moved to a Pentium MMX in mid 1997.

I use to always assume that if the 386 was officially out in the late 80's that was the norm, and if the 486 was around in 1990 everyone was must have been running one. It wasn't until much later I realized the super high cost of these systems and how long people actually held onto their 386 / 486 systems.

So I'm curious to know what system you were running in the very early 90's (Say 1989-1994) When did you buy your first 386/486 system, and how long did you keep running it as your main/only computer?

Last edited by dave343 on 2020-12-31, 15:57. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 1 of 52, by mpe

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1988 - C64
1992 - 386DX-40
End of 1995 - Pentium 75

I later upgraded the P75 with 200 MHz IDT C6 upgrade and used it until Celeron 300A in 1999 or so.

Both were budget self-assembled PCs, but I remember both PCs were quite high spec compared to what people around me usually had.

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Reply 2 of 52, by RobertJ

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I got my first 386 in late '91, because Wing Commander 2 ran like crap on my then 286. I probably got my first 486 in '93, but I don't recall exactly. I started working in IT at that time and back in those days got to have "take home" machines.

8-bit Collection: 4 64Cs, 6 1541-IIs, 1 C128, 2 1571s, 1 C128DCR
Vintage DOS: Dell Optiplex G1, ATI Rage IIC, Sound Blaster CT4520, Thrustmaster FCS Mark II, Gravis PC GamePad
Monitor: Dell 20" 2007FPb

Reply 3 of 52, by rmay635703

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$399 - Tandy 1000RLX -Dec 1992
- Single Floppy 512k VGA DMP136

$999 - AST Adventure Advantage 4/66D All-in-one - Nov 1995
- Cyrix 486DX2 / 8mb / 540mb hd / CD / Vibra 16 / Cirrus 1mb SVGA / Faxmodem / Brotherhl660 / Windows 3.11

Around here Early 1990’s it seemed like a lot of folks had recently bought a computer and kept the same machine many years

Everyone seemed to have a 386sx or 486sx (high end) but still no SVGA Throughout the mid 90’s
One of my friends fathers had build a fancy 386DX-33 1989 era with full multimedia, oddly that machine was better than the Packard Bell 486sx25 with its gimped vga graphics and no Cd and very little memory.

Folks that had a PC in the 80’s usually were 286 and they continued using those through 1998

I had one friend who had an old rich programmer father that bought an IBM P60 in 1993, he also had an Atari Jaguar. Besides him no one had a Pentium until after 1995, my DX2 in 1995 was the envy of my friends playing NFS and Duke Nukem

Last edited by rmay635703 on 2020-12-31, 16:48. Edited 3 times in total.

Reply 4 of 52, by Anonymous Coward

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386DX was largely skipped over by non-professionals until after 486 prices dropped in 1992. That's why most of the 386DX motherboards you see in the scrap bin are the tiny ones with 486 class chipsets. My family purchased their first x86 PC in late 1992, a 486DX-33...it was a pretty powerful computer for the time. I guess it would have been about $2000USD (I'm Canadian). Of the people I knew, I remember C64s, XTs and 286s. I think one family had a 386SX. A lot of them upgraded to DX/2-66 in 1994-1995.

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V'Ger XT|Upgraded AT|Ultimate 386|Super VL/EISA 486|SMP VL/EISA Pentium

Reply 5 of 52, by fosterwj03

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My first pre-built computer was a Gateway 2000 386Sx-25 that I purchased new in early 1993 (basically the end of the 386 era). I still love the Gateway 2000 aesthetic from the early 90s!

I bought a Compuadd 486 DX2-50 (Cyrix processor) for college in the summer of 1994.

After that, I built my own computers using Pentiums (and later processors).

Reply 6 of 52, by OSkar000

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Our first 386 was bought early 1992 if I remember correctly. It was a 33mhz DX with 64k cache, Trident 8900c and a 100mb conner cp3104. I dont know if it had 4 or 8 mb ram when we got it but it was 8mb when I had it as my own computer 1996.

It was replaced by a Pentium 133 in the beginning of 1996.

Reply 7 of 52, by alvaro84

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As a poor student in Eastern Europe I played catch-up with technology in the 90s. I had a (very local) 8-bit micro until late '93 when I got my first XT from parts. Then came a 286 (board from a classmate) then a 386sx-33 (also from a classmate) in, maybe '95? First with 2 megs of RAM then I saved money for a good while for 2 more. I acquired a free 20MB MFM drive then a non-free 120MB IDE WD and an EGA/VGA capable Tseng ET3000 for my basically CGA monitor in the meantime. I hacked the living 5h1t3 out of it to finally see VGA 😁

The turn of 96-97 was my switch to a then cheap Am5x86-133 which of course I ran at 150-160 MHz. With 8M of stolen RAM to make my story look even better. But it was enough to run Quake, OMG. My school got new P100 boxes that year, btw. But my 5x86 wasn't too shabby, I made nice Doom wads on it. It was much better at Doom than at Quake, after all.
In '97 I worked for a month for a 14" SVGA btw. Then I could finally get rid of the CGA 😁

Last edited by alvaro84 on 2020-12-31, 16:28. Edited 1 time in total.

Shame on us, doomed from the start
May God have mercy on our dirty little hearts

Reply 8 of 52, by 386SX

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When we bought here in EU our first home x86 computer (beside previous Z80 based game consoles) it was probably late 1994 I can't remember exactly but it was an Intel 80386SX-20 (plastic soldered cpu) based slim machine and not even new it was a second hand computer of a guy that sold it to upgrade. 1MB of ram later upgraded to 4MB, 50MB more or less of disk drive (big size like double the usual 3,5" hard disks), Oak OTI-37C vga, no sound card and both sizes floppy disk drives plus a Philips CRT color monitor probably the most interesting part cause having good specifications. Also an old big printer with it.
But probably a year before that a friend of mine bought a brand new Compaq Presario 433 that was really expensive for those times, impossible to even consider something like that but I also remember around the same time I began to hear about the "Pentium" brand for the first time but I knew only a person having that and not even sure about true or not. Most people I knew still had 386's machines, some even time later still had what was still calling "high end" a 80486DX4@100Mhz. Around those times in the IT lab I remember they still had 286's machines with monochrome monitors and 386's ones and also many Texas Instrument probably TI-30 calculators we studied on. 😁
The next config maybe late 1998 was an assembled K6-2 350Mhz one, S3 Trio3D AGP, 64MB of ram and 6,4GB of disk, a middle-end new config that should have been great but considering all the configs I skipped since the 386SX-20 I would have preferred to save those money with any previous older Pentium MMX machines even second hand but with a Voodoo or Voodoo2 card. Buying that config sure was a wrong choice.

Last edited by 386SX on 2020-12-31, 17:08. Edited 4 times in total.

Reply 9 of 52, by Namrok

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I have a recollection of my dad finally getting the family's first computer around 1994. It was a $2000 486/66, and ostensibly it let him work from home. That price really stands out, because he'd yell at us kids about breaking it citing the cost regularly.

Reply 10 of 52, by Caluser2000

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First x86 system was a brand new 286/16 with vga and ide hdd-1990
Upgraded with second hand mobo with 486DX33-1994
Upgraded it to a Pentium 133 with second hand mobo-1997

Missed the 386 class systems all together but was given a 386DX25 system. It was left under my car port with some other old parts.-2014

There's a glitch in the matrix.

Reply 11 of 52, by douglar

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Here a brief history of PCs that I owned. I worked in a lot of academic computer labs up to 1994, so I had PCs with lan/darpa access for many hours a day up to 1994 even if I didn't own one.

1982 - C64 - $600
1983- 1541 Floppy Drive - $250
1990 - 16mhz 386sx, 2MB Ram , 3.5" Floppy, 512KB WD Paradise VGA, 14" Monitor - No hard drive, booted from floppy, used the campus Netware server for storage - $1300
1991 - WD Caviar 280 Hard drive - $425 - 17ms seemed so fast - 80 MB, Never going to fill this up
1991 - 1MB Trident VGA - $110 (believe it or not, it was faster than the paradise and did high def fractals in 256 colors)
1992 - 14" Sony Monitor - $600 - I used the hell out of the monitor for years & years. Wish I'd kept it.
1992 - Added 2x4 MB simms for OS2 - $300
1993 - 200MB Seagate HD - $600 -- Never going to fill up this drive
1993 - 486DX 33 CPU, 2 x 4mb sims and Mobo - $600
Early 1994 - ISA Speedstar 24x - Never did work right with OS2 because of custom Diamond ramdac
Late 1994 - ISA Mach 32 - Much better
1995 - 486dx4100 - S3 864 VLB - Soundblaster 16
1996 - 1GB hard drive - $600 - Never going to fill this up
1996 - Pentium 133 - S3 Virge PCI - 32MB Ram
1998 - Celeron 300a

After that starts to become a blur, because I was upgrading so frequently and I had 3-4 computers going at any time.
Things slowed down in 2009 with Core2. I upgraded to wolfdale Core 2 Duo E8400 CPUs and then there just was no need to upgrade anything for a long time. I eventually upgraded to Haswell, and then to Ryzen, but there's not been a lot to drive upgrades in the past 10 years from the CPU side of things other than the solid state storage jump and to swap out the video card every 3 years. ( ATI x800xl --> 4850 --> 470 --> 5600xt)

Last edited by douglar on 2020-12-31, 17:53. Edited 2 times in total.

Reply 12 of 52, by AlessandroB

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1989 - Amiga 500 1 Mb ram
1992 - 486DX2, 4Mb, 250HD, Trident Svga VLB, SBPro1
1994/2007 - a lot, VERY LOT of PC: Pentium 133, 166, 200, 233MMX, PentiumII 266, Celeron300A, Duron, AthlonXP, Barton, PentiumD...
2007 - Macmini G4 (just to test the SWITCH")
2007 - Today MacBook Pro, Macbook Air, MACPro

I was totally in love for the computing.

Reply 13 of 52, by chinny22

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Depending which country you lived in will be a factor, in my case Australia

For us we upgraded from a Apple IIe to a 486 DX2/66 in early 95.
Think it was $1000 AUD which was very cheap as it was from a pallet of computers that went missing and had been claimed on insurance and the company just wanted the PC's gone. Still have that PC 😀 Osbone 486 DX2 66 VL-Bus (My 1st PC ever)

My mate upgraded from a 386 something to a DX4/100 couple of months later

School had 486 Dx33's from 93/94 all the way though till I graduated in 98

Reply 14 of 52, by clueless1

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In 1991 I got a Packard Bell 386sx 20 system as a college graduation gift. This was my first PC after being on Apple IIe since 1983. It was this system that I beat Ultima VII and Wing Commander I and II. Good memories. It had an Aztech sound/modem and Cirrus Logic integrated VGA. It came with Win 3.1 and probably 4MB RAM. It cost around $1100 including a 14" monitor.

I'd say within a year I started building my own systems, starting with a 486sx 25 -> 486dx2 66 -> 486dx4 100, before moving to my first Pentium, a P54C 133Mhz.

The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don't know.
OPL3 FM vs. Roland MT-32 vs. General MIDI DOS Game Comparison
Let's benchmark our systems with cache disabled
DOS PCI Graphics Card Benchmarks

Reply 15 of 52, by dave343

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AlessandroB wrote on 2020-12-31, 17:06:
1989 - Amiga 500 1 Mb ram 1992 - 486DX2, 4Mb, 250HD, Trident Svga VLB, SBPro1 1994/2007 - a lot, VERY LOT of PC: Pentium 133, 16 […]
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1989 - Amiga 500 1 Mb ram
1992 - 486DX2, 4Mb, 250HD, Trident Svga VLB, SBPro1
1994/2007 - a lot, VERY LOT of PC: Pentium 133, 166, 200, 233MMX, PentiumII 266, Celeron300A, Duron, AthlonXP, Barton, PentiumD...
2007 - Macmini G4 (just to test the SWITCH")
2007 - Today MacBook Pro, Macbook Air, MACPro

I was totally in love for the computing.

A DX2 in 1992! that machine must have cost 2 kidneys in 92 haha.

Reply 16 of 52, by LewisRaz

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My first PC was a 486dx4 but that was 2nd hand ~96
That lasted till 01/02 I think. Then I was given a 450mhz P3 that didnt work. It was just a broken power switch.

So the dx4 probably lasted up to 6 years (actually longer as my sister used it for a while afterwards too). That was daily use for gaming/internet!

Reply 17 of 52, by douglar

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LewisRaz wrote on 2020-12-31, 17:48:

My first PC was a 486dx4 but that was 2nd hand ~96
That lasted till 01/02 I think. Then I was given a 450mhz P3 that didnt work. It was just a broken power switch.

So the dx4 probably lasted up to 6 years (actually longer as my sister used it for a while afterwards too). That was daily use for gaming/internet!

DX4 was a usable device as long as Windows98 stuck around. Had a pretty good run until XP took over.

Seems like those "top speed" processors stuck around a long time if you were lucky to get them at the beginning of their life span with a couple exceptions and held their value --

  • 286 12Mhz lasted until you actually needed to do something in Windows 3.1 other than solitaire or mine sweeper
  • 386 33Mhz (or AMD DXL 40) were golden until you out grew ISA and serial ports.
  • 486 100Mhz (or comparable AMD/Cyrix) were adequate performers for most people until XP took over
  • Pentium 166 might have been the sweet spot for Socket 7 since MMX instructions were so slow on the uptake, but XP probably killed Socket 7 too.
  • Pentium II 450 Deschutes stuck around a long time, even though Slot 1 eventually went faster. XP was fine with these if you could stick enough ram in your PC for SP2.
  • Athlon 3200+ ( or comparable Northwood P4) worked fine until the late windows 7 days.
  • Opteron 180 (Socket 939) still sell at a pretty penny. My youngest ran windows 10 on one of these until 2017. (The Prescot P4's didn't age well, IMHO)
  • Wolfdale Core 2 LGA 775 crushed the competition like Julius Cesar
  • Sandy Bridge I7 2600K LGA 1150 lorded over the next 5 generations like Augustus's ghost.

Reply 18 of 52, by Caluser2000

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chinny22 wrote on 2020-12-31, 17:25:
Depending which country you lived in will be a factor, in my case Australia […]
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Depending which country you lived in will be a factor, in my case Australia

For us we upgraded from a Apple IIe to a 486 DX2/66 in early 95.
Think it was $1000 AUD which was very cheap as it was from a pallet of computers that went missing and had been claimed on insurance and the company just wanted the PC's gone. Still have that PC 😀 Osbone 486 DX2 66 VL-Bus (My 1st PC ever)

My mate upgraded from a 386 something to a DX4/100 couple of months later

School had 486 Dx33's from 93/94 all the way though till I graduated in 98

Still got still got the Osbourne branded MS Windows 3.1 disks I got for around a 3rd of the current retail price at the time. Osbourne was quite a popular brand over here in New Zealand as well. Worked fine with DRDos 6 on my 286/16 with 4megs of ram with a 40meg and 240meg ide hdd. Ran some form of Win3.x/Dos combination until 1999 when I got the second hand mini tower IBM PC300GL with MS Windows 98 on it which saw service for around a decade.

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Last edited by Caluser2000 on 2020-12-31, 19:18. Edited 3 times in total.

There's a glitch in the matrix.

Reply 19 of 52, by imi

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1988 - 386 DX20
some time later upgraded to a 386 DX40 system

1996 - upgrade to a Pentium 90...

I too completely skipped 486, so I have a pretty big soft spot in my heart for 386 because that was my first PC and have been using it for a pretty long time too ^^
afaik we didn't even have a sound card until very late probably around 1995-1996?