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  • Refocusing and realigning my vintage computer collection is turning out to be a love hate thing. I love the idea of having only one base system to learn, like the PC, and working with the limited operating systems. On the other hand, I hate the idea of selling off my non-IBM systems in order to raise the money needed to buy the remaining computers and systems. The missing computers are an IBM 5170 AT, 5155 AT, and a PC Jr. In the end each of the computers will be in various stages of originality from all original, with no upgrades at all, to the fully upgraded system I call Alice; my IBM 5150 PC with IBM 5161 expansion unit. If my luck holds out, I should be able to sell at least a couple of the systems, like the TRS-80 Model 4, and Mac SE which has been upgraded with an 8 Mb memory expansion, and Mac OS 7.6.
    I have been very lucky since joining this group. So lucky in fact that I am removing a few items from my signature: IBM 5150 Upgrades and Parts, IBM 5161 Expansion Unit and Compaq Portable. I have gotten all of the upgrades I have been searching for and then some for my PC. And just in the last week or so, I made some incredible deals on the 5161 Expansion Unit, $40.00 and a 1st generation Compaq Portable for $125.00 including shipping. Since my PC got it's final upgrade of the AST Six-Pack Plus, I have no need to upgrade it further and will be adding additional functionality through the expansion unit. The Compaq Portable is also in fantastic condition, but will need a key whitening. Such a minor thing. So, if you are one of the many wonderful people who have assisted me in my efforts to build the computer of my dreams, I want to give you a huge thank you.
    Today was an amazing day for vintage computing. I scored an original IBM 5161 Expansion Unit for a fantastic price; $40.00!!! So now I don't have to build one from parts. The expansion unit is coming without the hard disc drives, and will need a new hard disc controller, but for that price, I can afford to buy the missing components.

    I was able to buy an original Xebec controller and 10 MB MiniScribe hard disc for only $50.00 including shipping. The hard disc is a bit noisy, but works. But then I also got a 30 MB Control Data hard disc and Western Digital controller, so I won't need the Xebec controller. The funny thing is that once I put everything together, it booted to DOS, and everything worked as expected without the need to run a low level format. I'm stoked!!!

    Then my wife called me from work to tell me to buy the Compaq Portable computer I have been wanting. Yep, it really was an amazing day.
    To be completely honest, I love vintage computing as a hobby. I have a fantastic example of an all original IBM 5150 PC, with both floppy drives being completely functional and in perfect alignment, a full 640Kb of RAM, CGA 16 color video, and now the AST Six-Pack Plus card with serial, parallel, and game controller ports as wel as the addition of internal clock/calandar that replaced my 384Kb memory board, seperate game controller card and combination parallel/serial card which left no room at all for any more expansion.

    The new expansion unit I am building will allow me to add in two 10 Meg hard disks and the associated hard drive controller board, and a few more things like sound card and network cards. This is where we really begin to see just what the IBM PC and the 8088 processor is capable of doing.

    Wish me luck!
    My IBM build seems to have gotten some attention. People have noticed just how serious I am about my IBM 5150 system and have been sending me some very intersting pieces of memorabilia. Today, I received a couple IBM button./pins featuring Charlie Chaplain and the IBM PC. I'll be adding these to my small collection of related post cards and greeting cards. I also received more parts and small accessorials to help complete the system upgrade. That went so much more smoothly than I had expected. Now that the computer is set up the way I want it to be, I can focus my attention on the expansion unit rebuild. That is going to test the knowlege I have acquired over the last 9 months since purchasing the computer.
    I'll be performing another set of upgrades to my 5150 quite soon. A VCF member gave me an AST Six-Pack Plus that he pre-configured to be a drop in replacement for 3 of the cards currently installed. So when that's done, I can focus on ccompleting the IBM 5161 rebuild project. That will be nice. Since I have the primary pieces for this build, the extender and receiver cards, almost everything else I need to complete the build can be obtained by simply getting a donor 5160 XT and strippping it out. However, I still want to try purchasing an original case that I can build the expansion unit into. This is going to a fun project for an old geek.
    My upgrades all went great! The IBM 5150 got a new parallel/serial card and game controller card installed, and everything is working perfectly. I have to say, without all the help I got initially through members in the forums, I would have been dead in the road. But now my 5150 is both looking and running like new. I want to pass on some serious thanks. Now I'll need to start exploring the possibility of either finding or building a 5161 expansion unit. I know of someone who has the right case, and someone else who has a set of transmitter and receiver cards. Alll I'll need to get now is a power supply, and a passthrough back plane and some cables. I'll be set to go. I'm expecting to pay about $150 to $200 for the parts. And since my reading has been very educational, I should be able to build one in the matter of a weekend once I get all of the parts.
    I'm taking all of my computers down for maintenance this weekend. Since it's pretty difficult for me to do much while working a wheelchair, my best friend is coming over today to help out. My primary Windows computer is getting a new 1.5 Tb drive and TV Tuner card installed. My IBM 5150 Personal Computer is having the parallel card replaces with a combination parallel/serial card, and we're adding in a new (new to me) network adapter. Finally, I'm finnishing setting up my "tweener" so I can start really using my IBM 5150. The tweener is an old Compaq specifically rebuilt for writing floppy diskettes for the IBM.

    I'll have everything down for several hours while we go through each of the computers, and when complete, I'll post the results.

    Wish me luck.
    I am now the proud new owner of a complete IBM5150 computer system. This is THE computer that started my career as the geek I am today. It was the computer I wrote my first meaningful code with and the one computer I have wanted ever since I got my first taste of what this computer could do. I believe I grew up in the best time in human history. There so many "firsts" I was able to witness, and even some I took part in. From the first home computers, to landing on the moon. We really are just beginning to see what the human race can accomplish.
    I AM the consummate geek. I work all day with computers, and as soon as I get home, the first thing I do after kissing my wife, is go to my computer. I learn something new every day and as my interests change and evolve; my computer allows me to get the information I require.

    That, my friends, is who I am. I'm a take-it-or-leave-it kind of guy. Growing up disabled has limited many of the choices I wanted to make, but in the end, I am very comfortable with who I am and what I have. And out al all I have, my wonderful wife, my family and friends are the most important.
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