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Do you want an EGA monitor?

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First post, by jarreboum

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I started with framing this topic about me, but I'm actually more interested in what you guys want.

Most EGA games were really CGA in resolution and refresh rates, but with the full 16 colours on display simultaneously. Those could be displayed on a regular CGA monitor. Unless I'm mistaken, games taking advantage of the hires mode (350 vertical resolution and the extended palette) were very few. Sim City and Flight Simulator 2 come to mind.

Given all that, would you still include an extra monitor in your setup? Or are you satisfied with displaying EGA on your CGA or VGA monitor?

Reply 1 of 40, by Errius

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If I had an EGA monitor I'd be scared to use it given how expensive they are. I know nothing about monitor repair.

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Reply 4 of 40, by Ozzuneoj

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I have an IBM 5153 (CGA, but can do lower res EGA, as you mentioned) and a Sysdyne! CGA (yes the ! is part of the name) and they look fine in EGA titles. I don't think I'm quite enough of a purist for that time period to seek out a proper EGA display with the intent of using it, since so few games really benefit from that. I'd probably be more inclined to just use a really old VGA monitor and one of the many VGA cards with good CGA\EGA backward compatibility that I've procured in recent years. That probably provides about the same experience in titles that really were meant for EGA (but not VGA).

Realistically though, my memories of gaming on an IBM-compatible PC only really go back to the early to mid 90s, so if it isn't something that works on my upgraded IBM PC 5150 (which can run 98% of CGA and EGA games), I would likely opt to play later versions of games that just used VGA, and run them on a 386.

If I found an EGA monitor for free\cheap, of course it'd be part of my collection! But with their rarity and the finite life-span of a CRT, I'd be even less inclined to use that than my CGA displays (which I already baby).

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Reply 6 of 40, by darry

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I don't believe I recall ever seeing an actual EGA monitor in action, at least not in person .
Does EGA really look different on an actual EGA monitor versus on backwards compatible VGA card ? Are there any compatibility issues ?

I always assumed that having EGA content on a VGA setup was pretty equivalent to having it on an actual EGA setup . Please correct me if Iam wrong .

That said, CGA is a different story. 15KHz RGBI monitors have a flavor that is characteristic and does not look the same on a VGA setup and CGA composite mode requires an actual composite monitor or a TV.

Reply 7 of 40, by Ozzuneoj

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SodaSuccubus wrote on 2021-02-22, 06:34:

I don't know where you'd even find one of those IBM EGA/CGA monitors in healthy condition anymore.

eBay I guess, but I sure as hell wouldn't trust shipping with one of those.

For what it's worth, the Sysdyne CGA monitor I have was shipped to me from a person on a marketplace similar to ebay, and it arrived intact. The person clearly was not accustomed to shipping computer equipment, but they used enough old couch\chair cushion foam that it survived the trip (yes... ewww).

Also, I only had to replace a few capacitors in my 5153 when the colors started getting uneven (after owning it a year... which started 25 years after it was last used). Other than that it has worked perfectly.

Capacitors that are exposed to high heat will be the first things to go, but assuming the monitor hasn't been exposed to the elements for years it will probably work fine. I think a lot of IBM-compatible stuff from the 80s was extremely resilient.

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Reply 8 of 40, by Jo22

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darry wrote on 2021-02-22, 07:26:

I don't believe I recall ever seeing an actual EGA monitor in action, at least not in person .
Does EGA really look different on an actual EGA monitor versus on backwards compatible VGA card ? Are there any compatibility issues ?

I'm also curious. I've always considered EGA to be a sub-mode of VGA..
However, I'm really glad now that I know old Super VGA cards do have dedicated emulation modes for HGC (aka MGA), CGA and EGA.

darry wrote on 2021-02-22, 07:26:

I always assumed that having EGA content on a VGA setup was pretty equivalent to having it on an actual EGA setup . Please correct me if Iam wrong .

Well, EGA is normally displayed withing one of the default resolutions of VGA. 640x350 do fit in 640x400 or 640x480..
To do so, the VGA card centers the EGA image and adds black bars. In simple words. It may also simply blank the unecessesary lines, not sure.
The EGA emulation mode in Super VGA cards might be more sophisticated and use a more native resolution, not sure.

darry wrote on 2021-02-22, 07:26:

That said, CGA is a different story. 15KHz RGBI monitors have a flavor that is characteristic and does not look the same on a VGA setup and CGA composite mode requires an actual composite monitor or a TV.

CGA runs too fast on a VGA card, I reall. Since the x by 200 modes often run in 70Hz on VGA (except in separate emulation mode, maybe).
On a CGA card, all resolutions are in 60Hz only. Otherwise, they wouldn't be viewable on a TV set. Which an 15KHz RGBI monitor simply is, after all. A hacked TV set. 😉

Composite CGA is more interesting, IMHO. A quality NTSC video monitor (-listen, I call it monitor now; not TV set 😁 -) with comb filters or a good screen mask can add quite to the atmosphere.
Depending on the type of CGA games (colours of 4 colour games), a good old green monitor or amber monitor can also prevent somone from getting his/her eyes hurt.
If such a classic monitor is not around, a simple monochrome AV monitor can be used as a subsitute.
Or a pure PAL/SECAM colour monitor without support for NTSC, but knobs for V/H hold adjustment.

Lastly, an old TV set may also do. Some of the early RGB/SCART TVs can't do NTSC also.
Or if they have a separate S-Video input, the CVBS (Composite) signal can be fed into the Luma-In pin.
- SCART is out of question, because it has no separate, pure Monochrome/Sync pin. It uses Composite for this (yuck).
The result is not the most pretty due to the unwanted colour information, but still better than seeing the horribly colours of certain CGA games. 😉

Edit: I do have a CGA RGBI monitor, too. 😉 I'm using it only for testing purposes, though.

Edit: Never mind. When it comes to CGA, I'm into a love/hate relationship. 😉

Edit:

jarreboum wrote on 2021-02-21, 18:14:

Given all that, would you still include an extra monitor in your setup? Or are you satisfied with displaying EGA on your CGA or VGA monitor?

That's a though question. Some free games like EGATrek, CD Man or most of the interactive fiction games, like from Magnetic Scrolls (Wonderland) or Legend Entertainment (Gateway, Spellcasting etc) use EGA in its native resolution of 640x350.

If I had a chance getting a real EGA monitor, I wouldn't want to miss it.
Except if was very pricey or very broken.

Ideally, the monitor would be a Super EGA compatible monitor with 640x480 or 800x600 pels resolution.
Not sure of early multi-sync monitors had digital inputs (TTL), though.
If the inputs were analogue, I would be slightly confused.
Because I wouldn't be sure how the final result would look like.
I mean, the source signals would still be digital (predefined) / binary (powers of two), but noise might sneak in, because an analogue monitor wouldn't filter them.

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Reply 9 of 40, by VileR

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darry wrote on 2021-02-22, 07:26:
I don't believe I recall ever seeing an actual EGA monitor in action, at least not in person . Does EGA really look different o […]
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I don't believe I recall ever seeing an actual EGA monitor in action, at least not in person .
Does EGA really look different on an actual EGA monitor versus on backwards compatible VGA card ? Are there any compatibility issues ?

I always assumed that having EGA content on a VGA setup was pretty equivalent to having it on an actual EGA setup . Please correct me if Iam wrong .

That said, CGA is a different story. 15KHz RGBI monitors have a flavor that is characteristic and does not look the same on a VGA setup and CGA composite mode requires an actual composite monitor or a TV.

EGA monitors treat 200-line modes just as a CGA monitor would, i.e. 15KHz/60Hz RGBI. So in terms of "flavor" they behave the same as CGA, rather than VGA; they don't double-scan these modes as VGA does (EGA is out of spec for that anyway). The EGA-specific modes are a different story of course.

As for compatibility, VGA does EGA much better than it does CGA, but the timing is still different - it runs EGA and CGA modes at 70Hz instead of 60, so that's going to be off. And more complicated stuff like IBM's Fantasy Land demo won't work properly either... but then it probably doesn't play nice even with EGA cards that aren't IBM's. 😉

The XT we had at home when I was a kid got an EGA monitor at one point. It lasted a couple of years until it fell on its face and got a nasty gash in the glass coating. Still worked, but pretty soon that whole setup got canned in favor of a 386/VGA...

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Reply 10 of 40, by imi

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why stop at one x3

my first gaming experiences were EGA, so it has a big place in my heart.
I still have my original EGA/VGA monitor and since got a s econd one just like it.
all the ones I have are mulstisync monitors though that do both TTL and analog

Reply 11 of 40, by darry

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Thank you to everyone for educating me on EGA .
I do wonder, however, if it might be possible to force a VGA card to output EGA and CGA at 60Hz using a program (or even a TSR, if necessary) to do CRTC manipulation (maybe VGA240 would work as is ? ) while still using a VGA monitor .

Also, did the chipset specific mode setting utilities that allowed switching some VGA compatible cards into an explicit CGA or Hercules mode (I don't think any had an explicit EGA mode, correct me if wrong) that still displayed properly on an analogue VGA monitor ever actually use 60Hz (EGA or VGA) or even 50Hz (Hercules) ?

EDIT : Edited for clarity, addition is in bold text

Last edited by darry on 2021-02-22, 16:52. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 13 of 40, by darry

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weedeewee wrote on 2021-02-22, 16:46:

darry ? considering the signal levels of EGA/CGA are different from VGA, that suggestion would be extremely unlikely.

I think you misunderstand me . Sorry if I was unclear . I did not mean to imply using an EGA monitor on a VGA card. I was suggesting to use a TSR to force a VGA card into 60Hz when running EGA or CGA software while displaying on a VGA monitor .

Reply 14 of 40, by maxtherabbit

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weedeewee wrote on 2021-02-22, 16:46:

darry ? considering the signal levels of EGA/CGA are different from VGA, that suggestion would be extremely unlikely... nah, just impossible.

impossible to drive a TTL monitor directly sure, but it could work for a multisync display that works with analog RGB

Reply 15 of 40, by maxtherabbit

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darry wrote on 2021-02-22, 16:50:
weedeewee wrote on 2021-02-22, 16:46:

darry ? considering the signal levels of EGA/CGA are different from VGA, that suggestion would be extremely unlikely.

I think you misunderstand me . Sorry if I was unclear . I did not mean to imply using an EGA monitor on a VGA card. I was suggesting to use a TSR to force a VGA card into 60Hz when running EGA or CGA software while displaying on a VGA monitor .

VGATV does this

Reply 16 of 40, by weedeewee

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darry, ok sure, that should be doable.

maxtherabbit, VGATV ? got a link ?
edit: nevermind, found it I think http://mirrors.arcadecontrols.com/VGATV/pwp.n … bo.pt/pscoelho/

Reply 17 of 40, by darry

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maxtherabbit wrote on 2021-02-22, 16:53:
darry wrote on 2021-02-22, 16:50:
weedeewee wrote on 2021-02-22, 16:46:

darry ? considering the signal levels of EGA/CGA are different from VGA, that suggestion would be extremely unlikely.

I think you misunderstand me . Sorry if I was unclear . I did not mean to imply using an EGA monitor on a VGA card. I was suggesting to use a TSR to force a VGA card into 60Hz when running EGA or CGA software while displaying on a VGA monitor .

VGATV does this

Thank you, but unless I am misunderstanding, VGATV is meant to use a VGA card's output to drive a monitor that is 15KHz capable . I don't see how it would work to drive a standard VGA/SVGA monitor, unless one also uses a scan doubler like an OSSC .

I was wondering about a way to get EGA and possibly CGA backward compatible modes on a VGA card to actually output directly at 60Hz to a VGA or SVGA monitor while maintaining the VGA card's native line-doubling (when required for 320x200 or 640x200) .

EDIT : As a bonus, if 50Hz could be maintained in Hercules mode, that would be great, though I do not think I even still own a VGA card with Hercules graphics compatibility .