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What is your unconscious motive for retro hardware ?

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First post, by nemo1217

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Sometime I felt that there are a lot of unconscious emotions behind my retro activity.
My favorite era is late 90s to mid 2000s, E.g. everything between 1st gen Pentium to Core 2 Dual/Quad.
I always told myself that I like it because it is the golden age of PC computing. E.g. Technology were evolving really fast. Your pc will become deprecated in a year or two.

However, apparently I didn't know myself good enough. After sometime, I gradually realized that there are some hidden motive or emotion behind that.

Sometimes I think it's because that was my golden age. I was young, and all the tech stuff was world of fantasy and mysteries. As I learned more about technology, disenchantment took place and I got bored. Also, as I got older, I have more money to spend while being more realistic on spending, I don't have many "dream hardware" anymore.

Sometimes I also think it's because that was a golden age for people in my country. Nowadays people hate each other due to different political values. People struggle in a world with fading hope. In late 90s and early 2000s, economy was growing fast, and people had high hope for the future, and they generally don't hate each other.

What's your thought/story on this topic ?

Reply 2 of 64, by Woody72

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A combination of nostalgia and a desire to keep some historical computers safe from the recyclers. Like you, I love the early nineties to the early 2000's. Tech was quite wondrous with constant and rapid progression of CPU and GPU technology. Always something new and desirable to read about and drool over in the computer mag's of the time. Yeah, computing's faster and easier now but it was way more of an enthusiasts thing back in the nineties.

Modern PC: i7-9700KF, 16GB memory, RTX 3060. Proper PC: Pentium 200 MMX, 128MB EDO memory, GeForce2 MX(200).

Reply 3 of 64, by foil_fresh

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I was bored and I wanted to play single player games I was either familiar with or never finished, but on actual hardware and on an OS that I was comfortable with.

I'm so glad I fell down the rabbit hole of retro PC parts or otherwise I don't think I'd have played any of the gems that I've experienced the last few years. Many many classics would have been left unplayed. So many good games from the 90s and early 00s.

Reply 4 of 64, by gerry

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if its totally unconscious then we'd still not be able to answer you now ! 😀

but on the whole i'd say it was to reproduce and further explore some of the fun experiences of a particular period in our life, usually some younger years. It's also nice to return to something more knowledgeable than before and to be able to do things that were then far away dreams

Often when people say "it was better back then" they really mean "i was better back then", in turn meaning they had a more open future and the vitality of youth that have since gone. That's not to say that everything is getting better, but most things slowly do over time.

I kind of agree about the 1990's as a special case, a combination of the end of the cold war, the expanse of global trade making things inexpensive and the surge in technology like internet and mobile phones meant that life by the end of 1999 was notably different than at the start of 1990, a greater difference than between many 10 year periods. Of course it wasn't a period of optimism for all places and people but for many it stands out for these reasons, and it now seems almost innocent in terms of politics, privacy and so forth.

but as a hobby its also open to others, sometimes a person may love FPS games of now and get into exploring all the classics of the past, and this gets someone into vintage PCs in which they discover hidden interests in vintage tech generally

there are many paths into it, many reasons both superficial and deeper

Reply 5 of 64, by RandomStranger

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I don't think I have any hidden reasons. It's fun to mess around with interesting hardware, it's fun to mess around with hardware from companies that were major players in the industry, but are out of business by today and it gives me a kind of satisfaction to finally own the PCs I'd sold my soul for back then. But I've always known this.

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Reply 6 of 64, by chinny22

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I actually realised the other day I only have about 10 years when I was really interested in computers
We got our first PC in 95 but by 2002 my main focus had already shifted from games to tinkering with old hardware.
Then in 2006 I moved to the UK and had very little to do with computers outside of work.

Anything in my retro collection always ties into that 10 year era somehow. Outside that window I'm not really interested. I've no desire to buy anything earlier then a 486 or run anything later then WinXP
Even my "newest" Win7 PC is to play C&C Remastered, a game originally from the 90's.

I know this is me trying to relive when I was young, carefree and things were simple. I only have fond memories form that part of my life.
It's no coincidence I got back into this when I was unhappy at work, that's improved but now I've a wife and 2 kids and all the grown up responsibilities that entails.
Not saying I regret anything, but sometimes its nice to escape back to a time when only person I had to think about was myself.

Tech wise I think 2000's was a pretty good balance.
Win95 and up made computers useable for the masses. XP really refined it but more importantly even though you had the internet but it wasn't always on, So you did still socialise be it LAN parties or simply going down the pub.

But other eras had benefits as well. I always remember a post somewhere how Baby Boomers had it good for sex.
Teens in the 60's the era of free love.
Settled down and married by the 80's when HIV became widespread
00's Viagra became available, perfect timing for their aging bodies

Reply 7 of 64, by kdr

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For me, my first PC experiences were on a late-era 286 with VGA and soon after that a 386 Compaq. So I've been really interested in the dawn of the PC: the old IBM machines that kicked everything off, along with the myriad XT and turbo XT clones. Since I never experienced that era myself. A lot of the "weirdness" of the PC architecture (from a programmer's perspective) ends up making a lot more sense once you have used and programmed for these very early machines. I suppose it's that "need" to answer the WHY DID THEY DO XYZZY? questions that -- subconsciously -- drives me to explore these thoroughly obsolete beasts.

(CGA graphics is a great example: so horribly misunderstood by me, because I'd only ever seen them in their awful 4-colour glory being output to a scan-doubled 400 line VGA monitor. The experience is totally completely different when using the appropriate hardware: 16 colour composite on a TV, or 4 shades of amber on a monochrome CRT, or even RGBI output on a "fuzzy" 200 line CGA monitor.)

Reply 8 of 64, by cyclone3d

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I've just been a computer junkie since before I was 12.

I would use any computer I could get my hands on before we got our first computer when I was 12.

We had an Apple at school. When not in school,I would ride my bike about 5 miles to Radio Shack to play on the Tandy computer they had on display.

I found my first Socket 3 motherboard in a dumpster behind the Radio Shack. I took it home, cleaned it up and much to my surprise it worked.

I rode my bike all the way from the northwest side of Tucson, AZ to the southeast side to buy a 486 DX2-66 for that motherboard for $50 of my hard-earned money. Was probably when I was around 16 when I did that.

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Reply 9 of 64, by kolderman

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Here's a big one - in 10-20 years time retro computing on authentic hardware may no longer be a thing. We are literally the last people in human history that will play quake on v2sli with a cd spinning in the drive, or hear monkey Island squeeking out of a genuine opl clip. I bet that is playing on the subconscious mind more than most things.

Reply 10 of 64, by Miphee

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I just love collecting old stuff and building up the collection step by step. Completing it takes time and dedication and it's always exciting to hunt down another missing piece. When it's finally done it's the best and the worst feeling ever. I collect lots of things, not just retro hardware. The drive is the same.

Reply 11 of 64, by Namrok

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I only recently started getting into actual retro hardware. Although for a long time I was attempting, with increasing difficulty, to keep my array of sentimental video games in a playable state on my primary, modern PC. Dosbox, dgVoodoo2, occasionally a virtual machine or PCem in the worst case helped a lot. And yet they increasingly became unsatisfactory solutions.

At some point I bit the bullet and went for a 1997 build heavily reminiscent of the computer my father built for me on Christmas 1997. The scope of it rapidly expanded to more of a budget 1999 build. Then I did a second 2004 build. Then I got that Retro Games LTD C64 reproduction. Emulated package? Not sure what the most precise and accurate term is for what they did.

A buddy teased me about having a midlife crisis, and I mostly replied "Of course I'm having a midlife crisis." I increasingly hate everything about modernity. The internet used to fill me with wonder, now I just feel like I'm being spied on 24/7. Games used to feel like labors of love, granting me direct access to some savants imagination. Now they feel like a street hustler trying to talk me into a game of Three-card Monte. The technological marvels regularly getting churned out at id software inspired me to get into programming. The latest slop dumped onto Steam by the dozens using Unity or Unreal's practically drag and drop game creation tools basically pushed me away from ever browsing the Steam store page again. Which feeds into another gripe. I used to love looking at new games being released on the shelves of CompUSA. And even in the early days of Steam, or when GOG was first established, new releases were exciting. Now it's just a pigs trough of artless indie slop. Discoverability has been killed by the deluge of garbage. What passes for a gaming press is utterly incapable of the task of acting as an effective filter on it. Streaming personalities are by and large incentivized to play games that generate views over games that are good, so that's an insufficient filter. I'm basically stuck waiting a year or more to see what cream rises to the top. There is no excitement, just apprehension.

To say nothing of the world outside of technology and gaming which is also far, far worse than I ever could have imagined as a child of the 90's, thinking the sky was the limit in the brief period of world peace between the end of the cold war and the beginning of the war on terror.

Reply 12 of 64, by cyclone3d

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Speaking of indie games. There are a ton of worthless ones out there but there are also quite a few good/great ones out there as well.

The Tale of Two Brothers is a really good one. Great story and pretty good gameplay. And to top it off, you can use a dual analog gamepad to control both characters at the same time.

A Boy and His Blob is another good one. The music is also really, really good.

The Trine series of games is also really good.

Another really fun one is Dust: An Elysian Tail.

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Reply 13 of 64, by creepingnet

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It's a mixture of things....

First off, there is indeed nostalgia. I was born in 83', I grew up through the growth of the internet as we know it, and I participated in it big time once I had a computer of my own. I was a kid in a single income home - we called it upper-middle-class with lower-middle-class income - with a small sect of richer quasi-relatives who DID have PC's. I had so many crazy experiences. Sneaking into the Auburn Draughton library to surf the web for free during the rise of the internet, cutting my teeth on DOS on my sister's 386 trying to play Freddy Pharkas - which I was FORBIDDEN to play (and getting in trouble). Due to the income of my household, I was always behind one or two generations technology wise at least.

And I get nostalgia twice because I started doing all this 20 years ago, when I finally COULD afford a 486 because nobody wanted them and I could get them for free from family/friends all day long. That's when the whole "Creeping Network/Creepingnet" thing started. Just as much as I miss how magical things were in the early 90's, I also miss how things were in the early 2000's when I Could back my truck up to the local Salvation Army and come home with 20 old x86 PC's and a pile of DOS big box games for a song. I regret selling/etltting go of a lot of that stuff. I've tried many times over the years to move to Emulation and give up on old hardware, but I miss the tinkering. The hardware is just simple enough you can tinker with it like I tinker with the electronics in my guitars that eventually lead to me BUILDIGN my own guitars. I'm now starting to look at making my own PC hardware for old platforms.

But unlike my other retro-platforms, such as consoles, or old rock music - it's not as dead. If anything, I think the x86 PC has been on the rise since 2010. It's crazy, I started a YouTube channel for PC's that ended up a guitar channel from 2006-2010 mostly because nobody cared about 386's or 486's back then - then suddenly 2010 comes, I-pad guy becomes 8-bit guy, LGR takes off.....and I regretted getting rid of all that old hardware because I was very much missing playing these games on the real thing, and find a lot of modern solutions to be too fiddly, especially back then.

A fine example of fiddly is RetroPie - I got one of those two years ago, I spend more time updating/fixing/tuning/tweaking that d*** thing than I do my old NEC Versa M/75 which I just flip the switch, kick off whatever I intend to do, and it just works as intended, maybe even better with the improvements I find from places like this forum and elsewhere or figure out myself through experimentation.

I'm also a HUGE research nerd, and one of the most fun things for me is hunting for underdogs. That's why I jumped down a super-deep NEC Versa rabbithole recently, and why I have done so with NanTan's laptops, weird old whitebox makers like GEM computer Products/C.More/MEC, or AMT. There's so much weird oddware and crazy stories, and neat undiscovered models of PC out there that few people talk about let alone know about and the fact that there were millions of these things made in their day means I'll never be bored till the day I die.

And then there's an aesthetic to it as well. I'm a huge Vaporwave/Retrowave fan, and a huge 80's music fan as well. Something just feels right cranking some Timecop83 or Top Gun while playing Monkey Island and sipping on a cappuchino. Or slaying monsters in Diablo with Iron Maiden in the background clad in denim. Plus I'd enjoy the crazy looks I'd get ) if I turn up at a local starbucks surfing in LInks on an early 90's laptop tethered to my cell phone - esp if I happen to be wearing a beanie and flannel that day.....like some kind of grunge rock time traveler. It's so much more interesting and socially acceptable to use old hardware these days than it was when I HAD to use it because that's all I Could afford, so I can sometimes have fun and even good nature make fun of it. Also, I just love the look and style of 1980's and 1990's computer design - right angles, lots of vents, digital readouts, lots of gray, beige, with blue, red, aqua - accents. To me the old stuff looks more "high tech" than the stuff today that looks like someone's strange art-piece, or a tea tray from the "Le Flats D' Colletion NYC - est. 2020" collection.

~The Creeping Network~
My Website - https://sites.google.com/site/thecreepingnetwork/home
My Youtube Channel - https://www.youtube.com/creepingnet

Reply 14 of 64, by gerry

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Namrok wrote on 2021-04-14, 15:25:

A buddy teased me about having a midlife crisis, and I mostly replied "Of course I'm having a midlife crisis." I increasingly hate everything about modernity. The internet used to fill me with wonder, now I just feel like I'm being spied on 24/7. Games used to feel like labors of love, granting me direct access to some savants imagination. Now they feel like a street hustler trying to talk me into a game of Three-card Monte. The technological marvels regularly getting churned out at id software inspired me to get into programming. The latest slop dumped onto Steam by the dozens using Unity or Unreal's practically drag and drop game creation tools basically pushed me away from ever browsing the Steam store page again. Which feeds into another gripe. I used to love looking at new games being released on the shelves of CompUSA. And even in the early days of Steam, or when GOG was first established, new releases were exciting. Now it's just a pigs trough of artless indie slop. Discoverability has been killed by the deluge of garbage. What passes for a gaming press is utterly incapable of the task of acting as an effective filter on it. Streaming personalities are by and large incentivized to play games that generate views over games that are good, so that's an insufficient filter. I'm basically stuck waiting a year or more to see what cream rises to the top. There is no excitement, just apprehension.

To say nothing of the world outside of technology and gaming which is also far, far worse than I ever could have imagined as a child of the 90's, thinking the sky was the limit in the brief period of world peace between the end of the cold war and the beginning of the war on terror.

at one time it (the internet, the games etc) all felt like things we were discovering, it was 'ours', now it all feels like stuff we have to put with or are being conned with, it became 'theirs'. It isn't joyless, but one has to navigate heaps of nonsense to get to good things

whether that's perception, an inevitable consequence of 'mature industries' or something else isn't certain, a mix of all i think

it's always easy to write off fondness for the past as one sided nostalgia for youth and this is often justified - but as others noted there was a period in the 90's when the cold war ended and things improved for many people with such speed that it lies as a distinct, but actually quite short, period of optimism for many people, something that now seems lost and innocent

Reply 15 of 64, by LightStruk

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I've reached a point in my life where even the nostalgia isn't a huge factor in my interest in retro tech. Now, I'm most interested in the puzzle solving and problem solving of selecting, configuring, and using old tech.

That means I keep devising side projects for myself with new puzzles to solve; in particular, marrying old and new tech is very compelling. It's why I don't own a MiSTer, as cool as that is - it's all new tech, even though it re-implements old tech.

Reply 17 of 64, by digger

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Why, the warm and fuzzy blanket of childhood and teenage nostalgia, of course! 🥰 I'm guessing it's probably the same for most other people here.

But within the nostalgia, I personally have also noticed a bit of a unique interest in something more specific, namely the fun of seeing old technology being interfaced with modern present-day technology, and having it work together. Even if it doesn't add any advantages to completely modern solutions, there's just something about finding out exactly what old hardware and software was ultimately capable of, once every possible bottleneck were removed.

This might for instance explain my now decade-long obsession with getting sound to work in DOS games on modern systems lacking ISA slots. But also my fascination with all the cool stuff going on with virtualization and emulation these days. And then there are all these wonderful hardware projects that some wizards here on Vogons have been cooking up, such as new sound cards, XTIDE adapters, SIMMs, etc. I absolutely love all of that.

A particular example of this mixing of old technology with new technology that blew me away was this video of a Teletype from 1930(!) being interfaced with a modern computer running Linux, and working as a shell terminal. This is a piece of equipment that is almost a century old, and it's working with Linux! Seriously, how cool is that? 😄 https://youtu.be/2XLZ4Z8LpEE

Reply 18 of 64, by Shreddoc

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A lot of us have touched on personal nostalgia, which is of course one of (if not the) primary motivations.

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Thinking deeper about that reasoning, I think there may be a sub-element of that : namely, The Re-do, The Do-over.

That is something we cannot do with our own lives. We cannot literally take ourselves back in time, to have a second chance at periods of our lives, to re-experience our youths but with the added knowledge and guidance of additional decades of life. We can't go back and build ourselves the in-hindsight perfect career, or un-do the big mistakes we might have made in our younger years.

But with COMPUTERS, we can do that, to a fair degree. And that, I think, is one underlying factor of the overarching nostalgia umbrella. The do-over : crucially, driven by the full power of the mind and person you've evolved into during the decades since the original.

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The fact that computers, moreso than most other things, are a device designed to actively manipulate our main sensory inputs (sight, hearing, tactile) is another factor which makes the experience - and the memories - so deep and visceral for those of us with this passion.

Reply 19 of 64, by DaveJustDave

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Those years went by way too quickly, and many of us aren't done with them yet. When you're a kid, you have limitations. When you're an adult and all this stuff can be had for pennies on the dollar, you can relive all the retro fantasies that never came to fruition.

For me it's almost all nostalgia. Like how when you finish a game you want to play it again and "do it right this time". I really don't have a huge interest in repairing stuff, and I don't have an interest in making old computers as modern as possible.

I just want them to take me back to those times and forget where and most importantly WHEN I am, if even for a while.

I have no clue what I'm doing! If you want to watch me fumble through all my retro projects, you can watch here: https://www.youtube.com/user/MrDavejustdave