• Please review our updated Terms and Rules here
  • Exhibitor application for VCF West 2022 is now open! If you are interested in exhibiting, please fill out the form here.
  • Here are the results of the VCF East 2022 Post Event Survey: Survey Results

Filing the Eight Slots of the XT

Great Hierophant

Veteran Member
Joined
Mar 22, 2006
Messages
1,915
Location
Massachusetts, USA
The XT has eight ISA slots to fill, and I feel the need to fill all of them. As I am using this system to play PC games, the cards placed into the socket must have a gaming purpose.

Here is how I have it currently:

Slot 1: IBM Color/Graphics Adapter
For all games that are supposed to run on a 4.77 8088.
Slot 2: Hercules Graphics Card
For a few games that support Hercules mode or can use a printer.
Slot 3: Hayes Smartmodem 1200B
For a very few games that support a modem
Slot 4: Sound Blaster 1.5 (Upgraded w/CMS and DSP 2.00)
For a very few games that support a sound card
Slot 5: LIM EMS Card w/2MB RAM
For running a disk cache
Slot 6: IBM Diskette Drive Adapter
For games that must be run on a floppy drive
Slot 7: Western Digital WD1002-WX1 MFM Fixed Disk Adapter
For games that can be stored on a hard drive
Slot 8: IBM Asychronous Communications Adapter
For a few games that support a mouse

The type of games that this system is geared for include games that require a true IBM PC or 4.77MHz 8088 to run optimally, games that really support CGA color composite graphics, and games that are still playable at the 4.77MHz speed.

I could fill an eighth slot with an EMS card, but I don't believe games would have supported using Expanded Memory. The co-processor socket of this XT is also empty, and as no game uses the 8087, it will not be a priority to fill. My main processor could be replaced by a V20, but as this is known to break a game or two that will not happen. Most games that will run playably on a 4.77MHz processor are not looking for more than 512KB of RAM.

Can anyone suggest any improvements on this configuration?
 
Last edited:

dongfeng

Veteran Member
Joined
Nov 16, 2003
Messages
1,348
Location
London, England
Let me see what I have in mine (it's pretty full too).

1 - 386kB Memory Expansion
2 - IBM CGA Card
3 - Network Card (for DOS IRC and BBS')
4 - EMPTY
5 - IBM Hard Drive Controller (Seagate ST-412)
6 - IBM Floppy Controller
7 - IBM Parallel Adapter
8 - IBM Async Adapter

I did fit a sound card (SoundBlaster 2) in slot 4, but took it out as having the sound come from the PC speaker just seems so appropriate for the machine :) I think I'll try and find an IBM Game Input Card for slot 4.

I have pretty much the same setup in my other XT, which is a late 640kB machine with a 20MB WD-25 hard drive, and full-size 'enhanced' keyboard.

If I could ever get hold of an IBM Expansion Cabinet I'd connect that to my monochrome, dual-floppy 5150 and kit it out with an additional colour monitor (5153 or 5154) and two ST-412's, along with a host of other cards!
 

Great Hierophant

Veteran Member
Joined
Mar 22, 2006
Messages
1,915
Location
Massachusetts, USA
I have since read a little more and have discovered the joys of disk caching with Expanded Memory, so I inserted an EMS board, which I have yet to obtain. However, I have also inserted my upgraded Sound Blaster 1.5 to support those few games that can run Adlib and CMS supported games at a playable speed. I don't expect the digitized portion of the Sound Blaster to get much use, but it should be able to run 8088 Corruption at least.
 

Great Hierophant

Veteran Member
Joined
Mar 22, 2006
Messages
1,915
Location
Massachusetts, USA
Let me see what I have in mine (it's pretty full too).

1 - 386kB Memory Expansion
2 - IBM CGA Card
3 - Network Card (for DOS IRC and BBS')
4 - EMPTY
5 - IBM Hard Drive Controller (Seagate ST-412)
6 - IBM Floppy Controller
7 - IBM Parallel Adapter
8 - IBM Async Adapter

I did fit a sound card (SoundBlaster 2) in slot 4, but took it out as having the sound come from the PC speaker just seems so appropriate for the machine :) I think I'll try and find an IBM Game Input Card for slot 4.

I have pretty much the same setup in my other XT, which is a late 640kB machine with a 20MB WD-25 hard drive, and full-size 'enhanced' keyboard.

If I could ever get hold of an IBM Expansion Cabinet I'd connect that to my monochrome, dual-floppy 5150 and kit it out with an additional colour monitor (5153 or 5154) and two ST-412's, along with a host of other cards!

In the first XT machine, which I assume is using a 64-256KB board, why not simply upgrade it to 256-640KB and save yourself a slot. The upgrade is easy to perform.
 

Anonymous Coward

Veteran Member
Joined
Aug 11, 2004
Messages
1,535
Location
Shandong, China
@Great Hierophant

I think you can open up at least three slots on your machine using a few 3rd party adapters. With a generic 16-bit multi/IO card, you can have the serial, parallel and floppy all on one card freeing up a slot. As far as graphics go, you can use an EGA wonder which supports both EGA and Hercules modes freeing up another slot...and you could move both the ethernet and modem to serial and parallel ports using external devices freeing up another two slots. See, you could fit all of that stuff into just a 5 slot PC!

Am I correct in guessing you only like using original components? :p
 

creepingnet

Veteran Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2005
Messages
1,036
Location
Sparks, NV
Since everyone is listing their stuff, here's my IBM XT (inn a clone chassis of course).

xtback-1.jpg

From right to left
- OTI 077 VGA/EGA/CGA/MDA Card (does all 4 depending on the dip switches)
- Creative Labs SoundBlaster Pro 2.0
- Microsoft Bus Mouse (2nd release, 1985ish)
- Hayes Modem, not sure what speed, probably 2400 baud
- 3COM Etherlink II network card (how I get my programs on this thing)
- Advanced Information Concepts SCSI Conntroller - hooked to the 60 MB Seagate ST-277N Hard Drive 5.25" HH
- Goldstar 16-bit IDE/FDD Controller (used for the twin 1.44MB Drives in front)
- Empty slot (because I heard this port does not work with all cards due to some special wiring for the IBM PC XT 370 serial communications package, though I'm not sure if it's true or not)

All of those cards are used though, the one card is actually used for testing out vintage monitors when I get them in (handles everything up to modern XVGA LCD's beautifully), The Soundblaster is used for games AND Midi recording, BUS Mouse comes in handy when drawing and doing text edits using DOS edit, I don't really use the Hayes modem, the Etherlink is what connects this monster to the LAN and the internet, goldstar I/O is used for the floppies, but only when using DR-DOS 6.00 or it does ot read/write reliably for some reason, and the empty slot might get a serial/game card if the job calls for it at some point.

As for what I run on the thing.....
- MS-DOS 6.22
- Notepad for DOS
- Minuet
- leetIRC
- Professional Write

And for gaming I have
Legacy Of The Ancients, Leisure Suit Larry In The Land Of the Lounge Lizards, The Secret Of Monkey Island, a directory full of 40+ GW-BASIC games, alley cat, ultima I through V, and about 2-3 games directories FULL of stuff.
 

Great Hierophant

Veteran Member
Joined
Mar 22, 2006
Messages
1,915
Location
Massachusetts, USA
Yes, I prefer using the official components from IBM, if possible, in constructing the ultimate 4.77 gaming box.

The most important thing to remember is that this system is only going to run games that would run playably on a 4.77MHz machine. No games that use VGA graphics and only some games that were made for EGA graphics will be used. Even a game like King's Quest IV (SCI) is not going to be played because it simply is too slow. That also means that having a sound card in the machine is not a priority. In fact, I wonder if perhaps a regular IBM PC would do equally well.
 

modem7

Veteran Member
Joined
May 29, 2006
Messages
7,792
Location
Melbourne, Australia
Slot 8 in a 5160

Slot 8 in a 5160

- Empty slot (because I heard this port does not work with all cards due to some special wiring for the IBM PC XT 370 serial communications package, though I'm not sure if it's true or not)
Slot 8 in a 5160 is different to the rest of the slots. It's done in support of the 5161 expansion chassis. If you attach one of those chassis, the extender card gets fitted to slot 8.

One of the differences is to do with the "Card Selected" pin (B08) on the expansion bus. On slot 8, that line runs to circuitry on the motherboard, whereas for slots 1 to 7, the line isn't connected to anything. For the purists, the "Card Selected" pins on slots 1 to 7 are connected (but don't run to any circuitry on the motherboard).

Boards fitted to slot 8 are supposed to generate a "Card Selected" signal on that pin. So for example, the IBM Asynchronous Adaptor card has a jumper labled J13 which is jumpered when the card is put in slot 8, so that the card generates the required "Card Selected" signal.

I understand that cards placed in slot 8 also need to adhere to stricter timing requirements.

Here's some info I found on the internet:

after checking in my IBM XT reference manual, the fact is that they added a buffer to the normal data and address bus and sent buffered these signals into J8. Also, they added a 14.318mhz oscillator on the expansion chassis side because they did not want pass this high of a frequency over the cable. This does mean that the manin 14mhz and the expansion chassis 14mhz are not in phase.
The added buffers make the timning in slot 8 a littl emore tight because of the added delays through the additional chips. Slot 8 also had a requirement that it supply a card selected signal back to make sure the card was really ready to be accessed.
The buffering from an engineering standpoint was done to increase the drive on the cable to the expansion chassis as well as help isolate the rest of the system bus from any added capacitance and noise from the outside world.


Here's a March thread on the 5161 expansion chassis: http://www.vintage-computer.com/vcforum/showthread.php?t=2772
 

Anonymous Coward

Veteran Member
Joined
Aug 11, 2004
Messages
1,535
Location
Shandong, China
It seems Mad Mike has discovered something interesting about DR-DOS. Supposedly DR-DOS formatted disks *might* provide a BIOS extension to allow use of high density drives in systems with dual speed floppy controllers. I don't believe Mad Mike has been able to boot off 1.44meg disks not formatted with DR-DOS. I have a Goldstar Prime II controller, and while it does certainly works in an 8-bit slot, it does NOT have a BIOS for high density drives.
 

Great Hierophant

Veteran Member
Joined
Mar 22, 2006
Messages
1,915
Location
Massachusetts, USA
The XT is overkill for this machine for the following reasons:

1. 4.77MHz will only run a restricted class of software well.
2. Games that will run well on a 4.77MHz machine almost invariably came on 360KB floppies.
3. Games that will require an EGA or better card will not run very well on a 4.77MHz computer.
4. The CGA is very colorful when connected to a composite monitor.
5. Bus-mice are rare these days and useless without the appropriate card and driver.
6. Games that take advantage of sound cards tend not to run very well at 4.77MHz.
7. No game requiring more than 512KB of RAM is going to run well at 4.77MHz.
8. Hercules graphics are never native in games and are much slower than CGA graphics

Therefore, I recommend that all you need for a perfect 4.77MHz games machine can be had entirely from IBM in the 5150 PC:

1. IBM Color/Graphics Display Adapter
2. IBM 64/256 Memory Expansion Option
3. IBM Asychronous Communications Adapter or IBM Printer Adapter
4. IBM Game Control Adapter
5. IBM 5-1/4" Diskette Drive Adapter
 

creepingnet

Veteran Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2005
Messages
1,036
Location
Sparks, NV
The XT is overkill for this machine for the following reasons:

1. 4.77MHz will only run a restricted class of software well.

The last time I looked, there was no specific "classes" of software, just minimum system requirements. I have LOADS of stuff that will run on an 8088, much of it reaching into the early 1990's. Sure 4.77 Mhz is VERY slow by processor speed, but I'm really too lazy and too darned cheap to rip the board out again, change the clock crystal, and swap out the 8088 with a faster model.

2. Games that will run well on a 4.77MHz machine almost invariably came on 360KB floppies.

That's something I could not do much about on the cheap. I had to make due with what I had available to me at the time as I was not working steady yet. All I had was a dead 360K with broken motor magnets, 4 1.2 MB drives, and a heaping mass of 1.44MB Floppy Drives. And the only controllers, that were not already a part of a motherboard....you guessed it...16-bit ISA Multi-I/O cards and 16-bit ISA Adapters. So I made due with what I had for the longest time, and ran it straight off of DR-DOS bootable floppies with the XT era programs on them, and it ran great that way, though the boot time was insane-long, so I eventually opted for a SCSI controller because I was finding a LOT of SCSI hard drives at the thrift stores at the time, and still do see them once in awhile.

3. Games that will require an EGA or better card will not run very well on a 4.77MHz computer.

I wanted just plain ole EGA, again, finding EGA at a modern thrift shop is like finding a needle in a haystack. Just the fact I found an EGA monitor to begin with was astonishing (for $4 no less). The card I found just happened to be VGA with EGA on it, and also supports CGA and apparently even TTL Monochrome displays too....so my XT is multi-video, lol.

And there are some games that will work workably enough in 4.77 Mhz. My last XT also was 4.77 Mhz, and I ran The Secret Of Monkey Island on it without a single issue in 256 color VGA, sure the framerate was choppy when under load, but it was fully playable without any issues, and plus I can name MANY XT era games that seemed even more choppy framerate wise using the naitive CGA adapters those computers were "Designed" to use.

4. The CGA is very colorful when connected to a composite monitor.

I use the composite on my Tandy, and yes I know it looks good on a composite screen, but finding a composite monitor locally seems to be a real pain in the arse. Most of them have been junked and scrapped. Same goes for CGA cards and just about anything else.

5. Bus-mice are rare these days and useless without the appropriate card and driver.

That gives me all the more reason to use one, because I happen to have a mid-80's Microsoft BUS Mouse, in the original box from 1985, with the original manuals, documentation, bus card, bus mouse, and even the box is in good shape. I could have sold it on e-bay, but like you say, nobody is interested in using one in 2007, unless you're crazy, like me. And so far, the only Issue I have run across is that it does not work when I connect the XT up to the LAN, because of an IRQ or Memory Address conflict that the driver apparently sees when the network services are enabled.

6. Games that take advantage of sound cards tend not to run very well at 4.77MHz.

Oddly enough, I don't use the sound card that much for games as I do for a vintage piece of software called Voyetra Sequencer Pro, which DOES run on a 4.77 Mhz XT with no issues as long as you have 640K RAM. However, it does have it's games that it works with, early 16-color EGA Sierra titles being some of them (which I have plenty of in the original boxes sitting in a cupboard in my kitchen).

7. No game requiring more than 512KB of RAM is going to run well at 4.77MHz.

640K is not so much for using newer programs to me, as it is for testing out Abandonware while the Network is enabled. I have this thing hooked up to my Network using NetBEUI and IPX/SPX protocols through a 3COM Etherlink II adapter over standard category 5 UTP, and I still have around 512K-416K left when all that is loaded. This allows me to load some fairly large (for an XT) programs. I have run quite a few late model titles on this machine with decent to great speed such as Ultima v: Warriors of Destiny, Leisure Suit Larry 2, and so on.

8. Hercules graphics are never native in games and are much slower than CGA graphics

I don't have hercules, so that's not an issue for me. I use EGA when possible, CGA on most of the stuff on there, and have been known to flip the dips to get VGA from time to time.

Therefore, I recommend that all you need for a perfect 4.77MHz games machine can be had entirely from IBM in the 5150 PC:

That may be so, but then I'm not your usual cookie. I don't collect to own something 100% vintage, I often love to drive my vintage computer's to the brink of their power, and I'll stop because I feel a bit of a rant about this coming on as I've been getting a lot of flack for my activities on vintage hardware lately from many outside of the web.
 

Great Hierophant

Veteran Member
Joined
Mar 22, 2006
Messages
1,915
Location
Massachusetts, USA
I understand some people did not have a choice, and had to make do and suffer long load times and slow gameplay. I am referring to using the PC for games that are designed to work at 4.77MHz. The options for that are few compared to games looking for faster processors, which are almost infinite.

True composite monitors are harder to find, but you can use any modern CRT as a substitute in a pinch. I have an Apple IIe Color Monitor that is excellent, especially displaying 80-column text, even though the phosphors have aged.

I have tried 320x200x16-color Sierra and LucasArts games in the MESS emulator, which does emulate a 4.77MHz PC, and they are intolerably slow for me. I guess I have been spoiled by faster PCs. Their pseudo 160x200x16 games, especially in composite color (really 640x200x1 or 320x200x4), are much more playable. EGA cards do not often really support composite color graphics, the composite ports on my IBM card are useless without a never-released adapter. I have a true Hercules card, but it cannot be set into half- mode in hardware, so it is not useable in a dual-graphics adapter configuration.

The reason why I chose the Async card to put in the PC was to avoid the need for bus mice. Serial mice are much, much more common these days. However, mice were not well-supported in the games for which the machine runs well.

Unfortunately, if you want a 384K or 576K expansion board, you have to go outside IBM to get one for the PC. The XT does not have this problem.
 

Jorg

Veteran Member
Joined
Aug 31, 2003
Messages
1,322
Location
Switzerland
Heh- this is a thread to my liking :)

Hmm going to try to take a look whats in mine.
It has CGA, I'll keep the EGA for the 5162.
 

Trixter

Veteran Member
Joined
Aug 31, 2006
Messages
7,195
Location
Chicagoland, Illinois, USA
Can anyone suggest any improvements on this configuration?

Definitely:

  • Ditch the Hercules. Unless you want really high-res lines in a slow flight sim (Microsoft Flight Simulator 4.0 (maybe 3.0?) and later will use the full res of a Herc, but it is twice as slow as 1.x and 2.x), there is no game I can think of with very very few exceptions (The Colony) that have better graphics in Herc than in CGA. And as for games that support a printer, Infocom games are the only ones (they can print a running log of what is going on in the game).
  • Slot 8 is a special I/O slot and there are not many cards that work in it. If you can get a mouse adapter to work in it, KEEP IT THERE and use it. Almost nothing else will.
  • I would recommend thinking about replacing the modem with a serial port, depending on the games you want to play. Just as many games supported null-modem cable over a serial port.
  • If you ditch the Hercules, the slot can be used with a MIDI card (MT-32), or LAPC-1 (MT-32 on a single board), or an SCC-1 (the first General MIDI board for PCs, sounds incredible). That will give you more music in games, especially great music in Sierra games. This applies mostly to later games though.
  • Games won't use the EMS board but a nice disk cache will. The disk cache may not speed things up significantly (memory is so slow on 808x that you break even in the weirdest places) but what it WILL do is reduce wear and tear on your drive.
 

Trixter

Veteran Member
Joined
Aug 31, 2006
Messages
7,195
Location
Chicagoland, Illinois, USA
Let me see what I have in mine

I might as well list what I've got in mine:

  • Color Graphics Adapter
  • Floppy adapter
  • Central Point Option Board (cabled to the floppy of course)
  • Silicon Valley Computer ADP50 IDE adapter
  • LIM EMS 4.0 board with 2mb
  • Sound Blaster Pro 2.0
  • Intel EtherExpress 8/16 network card
  • Slot 8 EMPTY (because I can't find anything that works in it!)

When I'm doing more game playing than programming or diskette archiving, the Option Board is replaced with a Roland SCC-1.
 

Sharkonwheels

Veteran Member
Joined
Sep 21, 2006
Messages
1,640
Location
South Florida
4. IBM Game Control Adapter
5.


I was WAITING to see when this one would finally show up.
You can;t have an 80's style gaming PC, without a gameport.
The late, great joystick port.....man, do I have an absolute STASH of absolutely WONDERFUL gmaeport joysticks, from single-hand-wheel for driving, to the Gravis Phoenix, a few saitek/logitech specimens (CyberMan 1 and 2)


T
 
Top