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A thrift store computer

linuxlove

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While up here in Birmingham AL for Christmas vacation, I went to a thrift store.
There was an IDS, Inc. branded computer in one of those generic AT tower cases. It was $10 and I bought it.
Inside the case, there's 16MB RAM (I think) and an AMD 586 133MHz CPU in a Socket 3 socket (the CPU is smaller than the socket however).
I'm not sure if the hard drive is any good because I don't have an AT keyboard up here. I do know it's working up to the keyboard error.

The motherboard is interesting... When I opened the case up to see what was inside, I noticed two cache chips and a COAST slot.
Taking a closer look at the cache chips, I notice something: They both say "Write-Back". Looking at the traces, they go nowhere, a sign of PC Chips. Yep, it's a PC Chips motherboard alright: http://www.redhill.net.au/b/b-96.html#fake-pci
Oh well...

But anyway, this is my latest find. Pictures coming Saturday as that's when I'm going back home.

Edit: Is this a 486? Pentium? ??? I don't know...
 
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Unknown_K

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I have one of those motherboards, it runs fine except for being slower (no cache, BIOS reports there is). If you use a special and hard to find coast cache SIMM it will use the real cache and speed up. VLB + PCI 486 systems are not my favorite anyway.
 

vwestlife

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I have one of those motherboards, it runs fine except for being slower (no cache, BIOS reports there is). If you use a special and hard to find coast cache SIMM it will use the real cache and speed up. VLB + PCI 486 systems are not my favorite anyway.

Mine has the COAST (Cache On A STick) module installed. It gives you 256 kB of real L2 cache, but is somewhat flakey with certain CPUs and BIOS settings. The ROM was patched to display "Write Back Cache On" when you pull out the COAST or disable the L2 cache, which of course is a lie because the onboard "Write Back Cache" chips are entirely fake. Eventually when the scam was discovered, PC Chips stopped soldering on the fake cache chips, although the go-nowhere circuit traces were still visible.
 

linuxlove

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Pictures! My dad found a 6.1MP camera being thrown away. Works perfectly and the pictures look a lot better than the old 2.1MP camera I've been using for years.

The hard drive in this thing is sadly dead, so I don't know what was on here.
 

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kb2syd

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Well, if you need a couple of 2 to 6 gig hard drives let me know. I've got stacks of them. Cover postage plus the paypal vig and you can have what'll fit in a flat rate box (you pick the size of box or how many you want).
 

linuxlove

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Percussive maintenance never hurt anything, right?
I hit the Seagate drive once with the end of a screwdriver and hey! Windows 95 is coming up! On a cacheless board it's starting and running painfully slow. Word 2000 takes even longer to start up and display a document.
Apparently this computer was used at a realty place. Looks like the last time this computer was used was in 2000.

I guess I better do the right thing and put this drive through a DBAN cycle.
 
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Dave Farquhar

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That case sure looks familiar. I built several systems on a shoestring using those. I have no idea who made them, but they were cheap. Fairly plentiful too, as I recall. It seems like any time I needed to build a system, regardless of where I was, I could find one. I won't say it was the very cheapest case available at the time, but it had to be near the bottom.

Odd that it appears to have an NEC CD-ROM though. That seems pretty high-end compared to the rest of the system.

If I had to hazard a guess, the system probably dates to 1996-97 or thereabouts. This was fairly typical of what people would buy if a Pentium-75 was too expensive. I built a few el cheapo 486s for running DOS and Wordperfect for people, usually to replace dead or dying 386s, that looked a lot like this. AMD's 5x86-133 could run Windows 95 OK, provided it had real cache. I never tried running Word 2000 on a 486-class system. Word 97 would run adequately on them, with some tweaking.
 

Unknown_K

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It does look like a cheap case, but it seems to have the CPU speed LED which was popular in the 386/486 era so that is a plus. I prefer the En-Light cases used in the 486 era (have a few I purchased new and some later ones found at garage sales or recyclers), they just seem more "vintage" compared to cases that look ATX.

http://ep.yimg.com/ca/I/ramplus-2000_2134_14666608

There are also those distinctive 386 mini tower cases I can't find a good picture of at the moment.
 

Dave Farquhar

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Yep, it did. We always knew who the old-timers were in that era, if their speed indicator only had two digits so they had to set it to "99" when they upgraded to a 100 MHz DX4 or Pentium. :)

I agree, Enlight cases were nice. My doctor actually asked me to either stop building systems or start using cases built with heavier gauge metal, because I was cutting my hands a lot and it was causing problems. That was when I discovered them. There were a couple of other makers of nice cases, but Enlight stood out.
 

Unknown_K

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Enlight and later on InWin were the cases I purchased when I built a new machine. No idea what is good anymore or if anyone makes a solid case these days.
 

mark66j

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Enlight and later on InWin were the cases I purchased when I built a new machine. No idea what is good anymore or if anyone makes a solid case these days.

Antec cases are pretty nice and some run very quietly. For more special uses, such as home theater, Lian Li makes some really nice boxes, but some of them are very pricey.
 

glitch

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Antec cases are pretty nice and some run very quietly. For more special uses, such as home theater, Lian Li makes some really nice boxes, but some of them are very pricey.

Yes, the Lian Li cases are very nice! I've got one of the all-aluminum ones...picked it up cheaply on CraigsList because it's missing the power/reset switches.

I'm a big fan of the old AT full towers...of course, with the size I can only reasonably keep one around. My current one contains a 486 EISA motherboard (not much else yet), and usually acts as a pedistal to whoever's computer I happen to be working on at the time.
 

kishy

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Oh that's lovely...good work PCChips.

I have 5-10 of them. When I still had a COAST-equipped mobo I tested some of them so I could include one that at least reflected the increased cache amount on that board when I sold it. There were one or two that didn't reflect any change in the amount of installed cache...could these be the alternate design?

I'll throw them on the flatbed scanner at some point. Regardless of the type you seek, PM if you need one, I may be able to help.
 

dabone

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Enlight and later on InWin were the cases I purchased when I built a new machine. No idea what is good anymore or if anyone makes a solid case these days.

I work for a computer distributor and over the years when have sold thousands of enlight cases, a few years ago, the quality of the power supplies went down hill and we switched over to supercases for a year, what a mistake. Now we sell inwin cases and they are as nice or nicer quality than the enlights we used to carry.

(To give you an idea of how long we have been at it, when we opened we sold alot of iit math coprocessors.)

Just a little know fact, all the Intel Server Pedestal cases were originally designed by enlight (And I believe they are still made by them, the layout hasn't changed in over a decade except for the harddrive bays.

later,
dabone
 
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