First post, by trapflag
Nostalgia hit me very hard a few months ago, so I had to so something to scratch the itch 😀
A bit of history: My first computer was a Eastern-European ZX Spectrum clone, but the first "real" computer I ever used (and fell in love with) was our school's computer, a HP Vectra 486 machine with 8 MB of RAM. On that machine I learned Pascal programming and I spent countless hours enjoying classic games such as DOOM, Prehistorik, The Lost Vikings, Prince of Persia, Lotus III, Mortal Kombat, etc.
My second computer had a Pentium MMX CPU at 166 MHz, 32 MB EDO RAM, a 1.7 GB Seagate Medalist hard drive, a S3 Trio64V+ video card (1 MB, later 2 MB), a Panasonic (Matsushita Kotobuki) 24x CD-ROM drive and a Yamaha OPL3-based sound card. In '97, this was a fantastic computer for programming, but obviously less so for games. Still, I have very fond memories of that machine, especially around removing software copy protection mechanisms, unpacking/decrypting beasts such as HackStop, CrackStop, Protect!, etc., and writing tiny anti-virus programs.
Now, without further ado, I'd like to share with y'all my nostalgia fix:
It's an original HP Vectra VL5/200 Series 5, basically a combination of the HP Vectra I had a school (the case looks very similar) and my second computer, the Pentium MMX.
CPU: Pentium MMX at 200 MHz
Chipset: Intel 430 HX (Triton II)
Memory: 32 MB EDO RAM
L2 cache: 256 KB
HDD: Quantum Fireball, 2.5 GB, 5400 RPM
CD-ROM: HITACHI CDR-8335, 24x
Video: S3 Trio64 V2 DX/GX, 2 MB
Sound: HP MM Pro 16V-A PnP (seen as AZT1008 PnP Sound Device), based on the AZT2320 chip (a very pleasant surprise: good sound and excellent compatibility)
Network: HP Ethernet 10/100 BaseT Network Board, based on the AMD PCnet-PCI-II 79C971 chip
The setup couldn't be complete without an original HP keyboard & mouse pair and a HP 17" CRT monitor that I found NOS on eBay. The speakers are not period-correct, but they're Altec Lansing, a very desirable brand in the mid '90s (at least in my country).
- Memory: an upgrade to 64 MB makes a lot of sense. Above that it's difficult, because the 256 KB Level 2 cache cannot handle more than the first 64 MB, leading to a performance decrease. While the 430 HX is capable of caching up to 512 MB, and theoretically I can install a 512 KB L2 cache chip, the HP manual states that "the capability to cache more than 64 MB has not been enabled in the BIOS". I guess it'd be a fun project to add the necessary code in the HP BIOS 😈
- Disk: a CF-to-IDE converter and a 8GB CF card would cost me less than $20, so this is clearly an idea worth considering.
- Video: a Voodoo Graphics card, possibly even a Voodoo 2, would pair up very nicely with the S3.
- OS: the machine runs Windows 95 OSR2 (so DOS 7.10) with the Microsoft Plus! Pack.
- Antivirus: TBAV, F-Prot, RAV 6, AVP, various tools from the Slovak Antivirus Center, various other AVs made in Romania (all period correct)
- Shells: Norton Commander, DOS Navigator, Volkov Commander
- Programming: Borland Pascal, Borland C++, Turbo Assembler, WATCOM C/C++, DJGPP
- Reverse engineering: IDA, SoftICE, TR, plus my old collection of executable packers and unpackers
- Music: FastTracker, plus my old collection of MOD/S3M/XMs
- Demos/Intros: various
- Games: DOOM, Quake, Warcraft II, Blood, Heroes of Might and Magic II, Ignition, Worms, etc.
- Others: Norton Utilities, the Opera browser (but unfortunately browsing the 2015 WWW on a 1997 machine is not a pleasant experience 😒)
Some things to note:
- HP Support is amazing. I was able to find all the drivers, manuals, BIOS updates, etc.
- This isn't only a "nostalgia" machine. I actually enjoy working and playing on it. It seems to have more "soul" than current systems. 😘