Osbone 486 DX2 66 VL-Bus (My 1st PC ever)

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Osbone 486 DX2 66 VL-Bus (My 1st PC ever)

Postby chinny22 » 2015-1-27 @ 16:50

Warning nostalgia overload if you want to skip the life history of the PC scroll down to the Hardware

History
The year was early 1995, Up till now we had an Apple IIe. I was starting to show a bit of interest in computers and one of dads friends work had over order and needed to get rid of the excess quick so these were going cheap. The deal didn't include a screen or keyboard but we did pay a bit more for a Osbornejet which was a Brother HJ-400 insides in What I assume was a Osborne designed shell. Nothing fancy but step up from the Apples Dot Matrix printer.

Osborne Australia started as the Australian distributor of the Osborne 1 but started manufacturing their own high quality systems till going bankrupt in the mid 90’s and Gateway taking over. Making our model one of the last although remember advertising for Pentium class PC’s.
We got 15” screen and a pre 95 keyboard (Win95 wasn’t out yet) I can’t remember if it came with PC Dos or MS Dos as I deleted IO.sys pretty early in its life and had to pay someone to come and fix it, later again I did something and a friend came round and fixed it. For the most part it was running version 6.21 of one of them. It booted into something called Osmenu their own menu system and preloaded with Windows for Workgroups, Works 3.0, MS Arcade and a bunch of Dos shareware games (No Doom sadly) To show off the fancy CD drive bundled software was Return to Zork, MS Bookshelf and Encarta 95.

In very early 96 a friend’s dad in IT sold us a spare copy of Win95 for $30 bit. Later I got an external 336 modem and connected to the internet.
First hardware upgrade was also 96 I think? I got a 1GB hard drive which was massive at the time. Next was a Creative 24x CD-ROM as the original was playing up, It been though a few more since then. A network card was added about this time for LAN parties but had a “server” by 98 made from spare parts to share the dial up internet!

It then got the RAM upgraded 16MB stick at a time over the next few years till maxed out at 64MB. The original power supply died at some time but canalised one from other PC’s I’d collected by that time.

It remained like this till 98 when I got my very own P2 400 and the Osborne was demoted to Dads word processor. I also installed NT4 which runs really well on this once booted up. In 99 Rest of the family got an updated PC so this went to my sister’s room and doubt it got used much. Not sure what really what it did after that. Starting it up shows a 95/NT4 duel boot system in 2003-04 but cant see any proof of it been used much and most certainly spent the last 5+ years in my parents garage. till this year when it followed me back to the UK ;)

Hardware
CPU: Intel 486 DX2 66 (Original)

M/B: Micronics Mpower4 plus. On board VL-BUS ATI Mach 64 and controller (Original)
Overall I like this board a lot. PS2 connections, Having the VL-BUS devices on board means they play well together. High speed serial ports were important back in dial up internet days. Down side is the Dallas real time clock (Mines still ok luckily) Only 1 IDE channel and BIOS has no configurable settings to speak of. Also looks like it’s having trouble booting to 8GB drives these days.

Ram: 64MB, Originally came with 8MB but lost these long ago in another system, I like maxing it out anyway

HDD: Conner CFS420A 420MB (Original) I put this back in but not sure if I’ll keep it in.

CD-ROM: Creative 2x CR-563 (Original) Panasonic interface, still reads Audio CD’s but struggles with anything else.

Sound: SB16 Value CT2770 (Original) No complaints but always wanted an AWE32 growing up.

Speakers: Cheap Creative job (Original) Nothing great but will hook up to my server for basic sound as they are unpowered.

Keyboard: Osborne branded but not the one we had back in the day. This came from a 386 at Dads work and doesn’t fail n key rollover tests. Our original one did but just the M key (Not bad)

Mouse: Osborne branded but not original. Original was a Osborne branded “Toe nail clipper” that mouse buttons died years ago. This is a serial mouse from the same PC as the keyboard, wont actually use. Also came with the strange mouse house thing.

NIC: Original 10MB that I brought all those years ago

Pics
PC as it is now
Image

Everything (accept the M/B manual and disks)
Image

Inside as it is now
Image

Motherboard
Image

Questions
First is a long shot but here goes. I've only seen 3 other similar PC's and they all had Osborne written in gold on a Black background. Anyone know why the change?

Second I would like to fill the 2 spare video ram sockets. The manual says to use 256k x 16-60ns modules. Can someone point me where I can get these in the UK?

Can anyone confirm memory chip labelled "9346 k usa mt4c1004jdj -7" is 70ns I've confirmed the rest is rated 60ns but not this last stick.

Next its due a good hard clean and then I'm in 2 minds to take it back to original or give it the CF-card, gotek floppy, etc modernisation


Edit -updated pics URL
Last edited by chinny22 on 2018-6-13 @ 10:02, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Osbone 486 DX2 66 VL-Bus (My 1st PC ever)

Postby PhilsComputerLab » 2015-1-27 @ 17:28

With the memory chips you might find it easier looking for PCI cards that have that memory on it :)
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Re: Osbone 486 DX2 66 VL-Bus (My 1st PC ever)

Postby sliderider » 2015-1-27 @ 20:19

Osborne was still around when the 486 came out? I thought they went out of business long before that time because they unwisely discontinued production of their original luggable/suitcase computer before the replacement machine was ready.

And a Mach64 video chip on board was high end for a 486 class machine. That must have cost a small fortune when it was new.
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Re: Osbone 486 DX2 66 VL-Bus (My 1st PC ever)

Postby pewpewpew » 2015-1-27 @ 22:10

They did tank, and the name was sold.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osborne_Co ... orporation
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osborne_effect

I've still got one, and an equal weight of manuals & disks. The Kaypro is better in a number of ways, and what's often not mentioned is the Ossy's keyboard is really unpleasant to use. Heavy dead cheap keys. You just want to use /anything/ else pretty quickly.
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Re: Osbone 486 DX2 66 VL-Bus (My 1st PC ever)

Postby PhilsComputerLab » 2015-1-27 @ 22:15

I like these OEM machines. The motherboard reminds me a bit of my Acer. It's got an onboard ATI Mach 32 and ALI chipset. I can't see what chipset this motherboard uses though.
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Re: Osbone 486 DX2 66 VL-Bus (My 1st PC ever)

Postby retrofanatic » 2015-1-28 @ 00:19

Very nice classic OEM...it really looks nice...I can't wait to see it "fully restored".
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Re: Osbone 486 DX2 66 VL-Bus (My 1st PC ever)

Postby badmojo » 2015-1-28 @ 00:25

Great story and an interesting machine. I'm impressed and a little jealous that you held on to your childhood machine for all these years, and then lugged it all the way to the UK!

I like that you're going to clean it up and modernise it - please post more pics when done.
If it's broke, then fix it!
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Re: Osbone 486 DX2 66 VL-Bus (My 1st PC ever)

Postby chinny22 » 2015-1-28 @ 12:57

Yeh, were a family who get a bit too attached to things like first PC's, cars, and the like. No way would I ship it to the UK but wasnt using my luggage space for the flight back so thought why not?!
Chipset is Micronics own x30, cant find much about it accept the link below
http://www.thefreelibrary.com/MICRONICS ... a014842884
Which has a Mach32 on board so quite posibilly related to Phils Acer board.
I will scan and upload the manual in the next week as there really isnt much on the net about these PC's

Was expecting the answer to the RAM chips would be to sacrafice another card, seems such a shame :(
Any particular ones I should look out for? RAM wise this things always been picky so asuming I need to limit myself to 256k modules, doesnt say what type though
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Re: Osbone 486 DX2 66 VL-Bus (My 1st PC ever)

Postby Caluser2000 » 2015-1-31 @ 07:10

Being over the ditch from Aus I remember the Osborne brand. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osborne_%2 ... etailer%29 I bought discounted Obourne branded Windows 3.1 disks from their distribution outlet on Wellington.

It's a good idea to scan any manuals for future reference. Who knows someone else might pop in with one. Yeah the -7 will designate 70ns. Shouldn't bother the system terribly much though if the system is stable. As your running NT4 we can asume it is ;) It's pickier than Win9x when then it comes to hardware.

Use the two existing vram chips, just outboard of the empty vram sockets, as a guide for the type needed. I did a similar thing with my slimline HP 200mmx box by scavenging vram from a common as dirt S3 PCI card.

CF hdd update is sensable. As it can be networked you can transfer files that way. You can upgrade the cpu at some as well if desired as a few options exist in that regard.

Anyway, enjoy your tinkering. It'll be interesting to see which route you go.
Last edited by Caluser2000 on 2015-1-31 @ 16:52, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Osbone 486 DX2 66 VL-Bus (My 1st PC ever)

Postby tayyare » 2015-1-31 @ 11:46

chinny22 wrote:.......
Second I would like to fill the 2 spare video ram sockets. The manual says to use 256k x 16-60ns modules. Can someone point me where I can get these in the UK?



I of course don't know about UK specifically, but what you are looking for is "256x16 RAM in SOJ40 package"

Just like this one:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/390115110164?_trksid=p2059210.m2749.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT

They are not the cheapest things on earth when sold separately, so buying a dead cheap S3 PCI display adapter with socketed SOJ40 RAM on it, might be more cost effective.
Last edited by tayyare on 2016-4-14 @ 09:09, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Osbone 486 DX2 66 VL-Bus (My 1st PC ever)

Postby mwdmeyer » 2015-2-08 @ 01:46

Very cool!

I have a similar system. I also previously had a DX4/100 model but the motherboard died.

My system is running NT4 and has 40MB ram I think.

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Vogons Wiki - http://vogonswiki.com
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Re: Osbone 486 DX2 66 VL-Bus (My 1st PC ever)

Postby chinny22 » 2015-2-12 @ 17:03

yeh see You have the gold on black sticker! I've seen maybe 5 of these cases and everyone only ever gold on black!
The restoration is going well if slow (real life takes wayyy to much of my time).

I'm still not confident on what memory to max out the Video to 4MB. only as the motherboard is very picky on RAM and most defintly doesn't like EDO. I'm betting the Video card wont either? So looking for DRAM modules. cheapest MAch64 card I can find on ebay is £20 from USA. lucky I can continue with out it.

The HDD controller definitely doesn't like 8GB drives. It auto detects drives no problem (Something my Abit AB-PB4 Rev 1.3 fails at) but hangs just after "Starting MS-DOS" or Win95 or whichever OS is loaded. I've tried different drives and all do the same. Again no big deal I've got a 6GB drive I can use.
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Re: Osbone 486 DX2 66 VL-Bus (My 1st PC ever)

Postby chinny22 » 2015-2-17 @ 15:41

As promised here is the manual. If you want to laugh check out pages 16 & 18 in the PDF, that's all options in CMOS (basically nothing)
May upload a higher res one to vogons drivers one day, but this should be OK for most people and easy to find

Also answer to the most common question "What the key combination to enter CMOS?"
Press Ctrl Alt Esc
Attachments
MPower4Plus.pdf
Micronics MPower 4 Plus Manual
(3.92 MiB) Downloaded 66 times
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Re: Osbone 486 DX2 66 VL-Bus (My 1st PC ever)

Postby chinny22 » 2015-4-04 @ 23:33

Its complete :happy:
Completely stripped the PC but the thing wasn't that dirty sitting high in a garage, nothing a wet rag couldn't clean up and a bit of surface rust to "add character"
Quite a few years ago I messaged this guy on youtube asking him for a copy of "osmenu" as I lost mine when I installed Win95
http://youtu.be/rsafkVGWWYQ
He very kindly sent me a image of his entire HDD! which included a program to create recovery disks including PC Dos 6.3 I remember our PC ran a version of PC Dos for a while so its safe to assume this was the version we had before I broke it and someone came round and installed MS Dos 6.21
Also had all the shareware games, some classic like Zone66, Halloween Harry and some not so good like hangman and a game I got stuck playing of guessing the country's in Europe, with a few countries that have changed names since 94.

Not really sure what I was going to do with the "old girl" as I have a PCI based 486 at my place but as I currently I live more or less full time at my girlfriends so for the time being this is my sole retro PC at hers so it serves a job for the time being.

In the end I went with 2 builds and swap the HDD depending on how I feel (Mostly the 6GB drive will stay in)
The Original build is based on the original Conner CFS420A 420MB HDD and has PC Dos 6.3, WFW, MS Works 3.0 and all the original shareware games.
My preferred build
Based on a Western Digital AC26400-54RT 6GB With Dos 6.22, WFW, Office 4.3

I brought a 4MB PCI Mach 64 card and stole 2MB to put into the empty slots on the motherboard, I'm not sure they are actually working though. Need to check that out. Also got a 586-133ADZ from the same seller for the 486 PCI :cool:
Common between the builds
Added a 4GB Sandisk CF card as 8GB drives hang the controller. This is where the games are kept but I keep the sound of the HDD on bootup. The CF card is mounted on a bracket to easily swapped out like console cartridge style if I fill it up.

I had to keep the original floppy for the same reason, start up sound and the gotek just didn't look right but did use the gotek to run up the systems.

I'm 99% sure the Creative CD-ROM is dead, tried a number of Panasonic interface drivers including the original but they don't detect the drive. Which most definitely powers up on boot. I'll try Win95 down the track but its been dying for years now so wasn't surprised it no longer works. It does leave the PC without a CD drive but 10GB of HDD space to No-CD games and using WFW to transfer files over the network means I have no need for one anyway.

As the 2nd IDE is now used for the CF card I took out the 2nd IDE CD-ROM, Lucky I kept the blanking plate all those years!
Swapped the IDE/Floppy cable with round ones (cheapest I could find as its not a windowed case) and a exhaust fan near the only air vent in the case (just cause I can)

Replaced the 70ns RAM with a 60ns module

This will also be the new home for my Sound Canvas 55, which so far pairs up nicely with the original SB16 CT2770 (well no probs so far)

I've enjoyed brining the girl back to her former glory, and now looking forward to putting her though her paces. Its also the 1st DOS PC I've built since getting a gotek USB floppy drive, Man it makes life easy!!! I had Dos on disks 61, 62, 63, 64, WFW on 31-38 plus its TCPb disk on 39. the NIC is correctly picked up in Windows setup so Dos/Windows is as simple as pressing a button on the gotek drive. No floppy disk read errors or trying to find the disk in a pile, and once you have a network up simply copy drivers/apps/games off a network share easy as! I recommend it!!!

Anyway enough rambling some pics!!!

(Ignore the lines that's the screens fault)
Image

Round cables? Never seen them before thinks the PC
Image

Cable ties are your friend
Image

Almost forgot, the internal buzzer is horrible, see the you tube video at the end to find out why I was never allowed to play Street Rod when people were around. But under the FDD is this round moulding in the face plate, just right size to mount an internal speaker!
Image

Finally heres the Video, quality isn't great but I've only got a little Canon ixus 70
http://youtu.be/UmKr7lavRIQ

Edit -updated pics URL
Last edited by chinny22 on 2018-6-13 @ 10:09, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Osbone 486 DX2 66 VL-Bus (My 1st PC ever)

Postby chinny22 » 2016-3-24 @ 19:49

So without really trying I've managed to get a nice little collection of socket 3 CPU's over the last year or so.
1st there is DX2 66 that originally shipped with this PC
2nd is the DX4 120 I got for my PCI 486 few years ago
3rd is the 586 133 ADZ chip I got a while back which as once I got my Osborne back there wasn't much difference between the DX2 66 and the DX4 120.
And now a POD 83!
What really surprised me was of them were selling on ebay a while ago with low starting bids one ending on Saturday the other on Sunday, I missed out on Saturdays as the computer I was using at work decided to play up just as I was about to place a bid. Surprisingly not only did I win the one on Sunday but it was marginally cheaper :) (£3.40 or £6.20 including the shipping) I think the one on Saturday sold for around £5

I thought I'd give try them out on this PC, just to see what it really can do. It's only ever had the DX2 66 CPU in it
Only I'm not sure the board can handle above 100Mhz? The POD is detected ok but the 120 and 133 only report 100Mhz. If anyone can let me know how to jumper this I would be very appreciative! (motherboard manual in previous post)

Using Phils 486 Benchmark suite I get the following
DX2 66, 3dBench2 FPS=43.4, PCPBench FPS=11.1, Doom FPS=26.41, Realticks=2828, Quake FPS=6.8
DX4120, 3dBench2 FPS=52, PCPBench FPS=13.9, Doom FPS=30.64, Realticks=2437, Quake FPS=8.5
586 133, 3dBench2 FPS=52.4, PCPBench FPS=14.2, Doom FPS= 31.38, Realticks=2380, Quake FPS=8.8
POD 83, 3dBench2 FPS= 56.5, PCPBench FPS=16.4, Doom FPS=32.41, Realticks=2304, Quake FPS=12.2

DX2 66 Speedsys Results
Image

DX4 120 Speedsys Results
Image

586 133 Speedsys Results
Image

POD 83 Speedsys Results
Image

Next I need to dust off my PCI 486 and do it all again :)

Edit-updated pics URL
Last edited by chinny22 on 2018-6-13 @ 10:06, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Osbone 486 DX2 66 VL-Bus (My 1st PC ever)

Postby Caluser2000 » 2016-4-01 @ 02:23

Looking good.
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Re: Osbone 486 DX2 66 VL-Bus (My 1st PC ever)

Postby sd6 » 2017-5-30 @ 02:11

Sorry to revive an old thread here but does anyone have one of these osborne 486's they would part with? i have been trying to get my hands on one for years now. I was given one as my first computer 12-13 years ago when i was 10. The parents junked it on me after a couple of years and i have been trying to get one for ages now as it probably has the highest sentimental value to me of anything from my childhood. I had an osborne mouse, keyboard, screen and printer with mine along with a giant box with probably 1000+ floppy's of software. All i managed to save was the keyboard and mouse, ram, cpu, sound card and psu along with a couple of microsoft brain twister collection screen saver floppy discs.
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Re: Osbone 486 DX2 66 VL-Bus (My 1st PC ever)

Postby NJRoadfan » 2017-5-31 @ 21:46

Those machines look like they were OEMed from AST. The case is very similar to ASTs of that era.
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Re: Osbone 486 DX2 66 VL-Bus (My 1st PC ever)

Postby probnot » 2017-5-31 @ 22:44

NJRoadfan wrote:Those machines look like they were OEMed from AST. The case is very similar to ASTs of that era.

I was thinking that. The case reminds me of this AST my friend had back in the day.

Image
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Re: Osbone 486 DX2 66 VL-Bus (My 1st PC ever)

Postby chinny22 » 2017-6-01 @ 13:27

cool!
This one is pretty close
https://www.recycledgoods.com/ast-50192 ... -computer/

Some subtle differences Osborne's didn't have the blanked out ports on the back for example, but would not be surprised, Osborne's business model was interesting...if flawed
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osborne_% ... etailer%29
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