Feed the nerd: returning to MS DOS 6.22
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Feed the nerd: returning to MS DOS 6.22

Martin Jud
Zurich, on 07.06.2018
Translation: Eva Francis
I’m neither an introvert nor do I have fatty hair, but there’s definitely a nerdy side to me. And this side comes out every once in a while and wants to be nurtured. Today, with 486 computer belonging to Roberto from Turin.

Most days, I manage to ignore my nerdy side. But a few weeks ago, it crept up on me once again and gave me the need to relive old memories. I’m not talking dreaming and reminiscing; I’m talking hands-on stuff. My nerdy side is calling for an old computer from the 80s or 90s.

So what is it I want?

I asked my inner nerd what he’d do if I got my hands on a 286 or 486 computer. The answer? Tons of pictures of Civilization, Commander Keen, Xenon 2, Ports of Call, Duke Nukem 3D, Eye of the Beholder II, Lemmings, Pinball Fantasies, Elvira II, Stunts, the Winter Games and many more. I closed my eyes and took a trip down memory lane – I remembered the time when I used my first ever 56k modem. The sound it made still makes me glow with joy. At last, I’m connected to the Internet!

Retro sound at its best. The Floppotron delights nerds and Star Wars fans.

I secretly see myself writing articles in MS Word for DOS and installing the first Windows 95 version (yes, I know^^) with 14 disks only to revisit the butcher in the second Diablo level. But this game also requires a CD drive…

I could be facing glorious hours of tinkering and retro gaming. We’ll see how long I can keep my inner nerd happy with a new device – my guess is he’ll be calling for more soon. But I’m convinced: I’m going to get an old computer, one with i486DX2 or i486DX4 processor presumably.

Shopping tour: new nerd toys

I search through the common second hand platforms and realise the price range for such PCs is huge. But I have lots of fun browsing, I must admit.

Offer No. 1:

«Vintage IBM Clone 486SX-25 Tested & Working w/5.25" & 3.5" Floppies Vintage»

Intel 486-SX-25 Purple Ceramic, SM-486-66U Ver 5.2 Motherboard, 4 MB RAM, JVC JDE2850P30-2  42MB IDE HDD, 3 x 3.5 inch Floppy Drive, 5.25 inch Floppy Drive, Logitech Mouse Controller Card, Paradise 88 PVGA1A-JK 8-Bit Video Card, no OS, Turbo Button on front
Intel 486-SX-25 Purple Ceramic, SM-486-66U Ver 5.2 Motherboard, 4 MB RAM, JVC JDE2850P30-2 42MB IDE HDD, 3 x 3.5 inch Floppy Drive, 5.25 inch Floppy Drive, Logitech Mouse Controller Card, Paradise 88 PVGA1A-JK 8-Bit Video Card, no OS, Turbo Button on front

The seller wants 242.55 US $ incl. shipping costs for this vintage PC built in 1990. And that's without keyboard, mouse and monitor. A pity really; there are so many cool things I could do with four floppy disk drives. :p

Offer No. 2:

«486 DOS Windows Computer 3.5 5.25 Floppy Sound Blaster 16 VESA ISA Space Quest»

Intel 486DX-33MHz CPU, 20 MB RAM, 102 MB HDD, 3.5 inch Floppy Drive, 5.25 inch Floppy Drive, CD-ROM, Cirrus Logic CL-GD 542X 1MB VESA Graphics Card, Creative Sound Blaster 16 CT1740 ISA, Keyboard, Mouse
Intel 486DX-33MHz CPU, 20 MB RAM, 102 MB HDD, 3.5 inch Floppy Drive, 5.25 inch Floppy Drive, CD-ROM, Cirrus Logic CL-GD 542X 1MB VESA Graphics Card, Creative Sound Blaster 16 CT1740 ISA, Keyboard, Mouse

This one’s not quite as old – it was built around 1995 – and comes with keyboard and mouse. But it’s grossly overpriced. At 689.39 US $ incl. Shipping costs, you’d at least expect it to come with a monitor.

Offer No. 3:

«SALE 80%. SIEMENS PROGRAMMER PG-750 486 6EA1750. SUPER RARE!»

Unfortunately, detailed information about this programmer PC is missing. But it’s available at a massive discount.
Unfortunately, detailed information about this programmer PC is missing. But it’s available at a massive discount.

This all-in-one computer comes with no less than 80% discount. Wow, what a great offer. I'm tempted. My inner nerd is already cheering. But despite the discount, this device still costs 849.00 US $ incl. shipping costs.

Offer No. 4:

«RARE Jetta WinBook Intel i486 4096KB 486C2SX-25C Vintage Laptop PC BOOTS TO BIOS»

Intel i486 Processor, 4096 KB RAM, Boots to BIOS, No Operating System Included, AC Adapter Included, Battery Included (Battery Not Guaranteed to hold charge)
Intel i486 Processor, 4096 KB RAM, Boots to BIOS, No Operating System Included, AC Adapter Included, Battery Included (Battery Not Guaranteed to hold charge)

Even though the Jetta WinBook is a rarity and it looks tempting, it's also a little overpriced. For 459.18 US $ incl. shipping costs, I'm sure to find a notebook with a cooler name somewhere else.

Offer No. 5 (jackpot):

«Zenith Data System Z-STAR ES»

Intel i486DX4 75 MHz, 8 MB RAM, 400 MB HDD, 3.5 inch Floppy Drive, PCMCIA, Dos 6.22, Windows 3.1 (italiano)
Intel i486DX4 75 MHz, 8 MB RAM, 400 MB HDD, 3.5 inch Floppy Drive, PCMCIA, Dos 6.22, Windows 3.1 (italiano)

Finally: That’s what I call value for money!
For 91 Euro incl. shipping costs, this has to be the bargain of the day. What's great about this thing is that it has (almost) everything I'm looking for: It's a 486 but with enough RAM (cough) and a decent processor (i486DX4). This means, I can't only look forward to DOS gaming, but also to Windows 95 driving me crazy with its blue screens. Amazing, this thing is mine!

Alberto, un quattrocentottantasei per favore!

The seller, Alberto, is from Torino and seems to be selling stuff for years. He has 100% positive ratings and his product details include everything I might want to know as a potential buyer:

Il portatile si presenta in eccellenti condizioni estetiche come visibile dalle numerose foto. Tutti i particolari costruttivi risultano presenti. Le plastiche esterne risultano prive di rimarcabili segni di usura. Tastiera splendida e digitazione perfetta al tatto. Si evidenzia il tasto Esc lievemente ribassato rispetto gli altri tasti. Il suo funzionamento risulta comunque impeccabile. Porte laterali in eccellente stato come visibile nella sesta foto.Comportamento:Il portatile risulta funzionante caricando correttamente il sistema operativo.Importante: Necessaria la sostituzione della batteria del CMOS. Al primo avvio è infatti necessario premere F2, entrare nel bios e salvare le impostazioni correnti.Floppy disk drive e porte PCMCIA perfettamente funzionanti.Completa la proposta il cavo di almintazione. Per collezionismo o didattica software. Si valutano proposte di acquisto.

Here’s a summary in English: * Laptop is in excellent condition. * The Esc key is slightly «pressed in», but works well. * The CMOS battery has to be replaced. Therefore, F2 has to be pressed to reset the BIOS settings when booting the laptop. * No further defects.

 The biggest flaw of this notebook is that the Esc key is slightly pressed in. It seemed to belong to a user with heavy fingers.
The biggest flaw of this notebook is that the Esc key is slightly pressed in. It seemed to belong to a user with heavy fingers.

Of course, Alberto added more pictures of this notebook – built in 1995 – to the online offer. I don't want you to miss out on them:

QWERTY keyboard and trackball mouse.
QWERTY keyboard and trackball mouse.
9.5-inch active matrix display
9.5-inch active matrix display
Quite a bulky beast.
Quite a bulky beast.
 It seems to run on actual batteries. Good for me; I won't have to deal with an old rechargeable battery.
It seems to run on actual batteries. Good for me; I won't have to deal with an old rechargeable battery.

Got it!

Alberto is a pro; he knows he needs to put the customer first. He’s the only one in a long time who’s actively approached. And rightly so; he has loads of old hardware at decent prices on offer and it’s rather likely I’ll stumble upon one of his offers again at some point.

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That’s what I call customer service.

My inner nerd is cheering with joy. Let’s wait and see if my new toy, the Zenith Z-STAR ES, arrives in Zurich in one piece.

To be continued... probably... soon.

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Martin Jud
Martin Jud
Editor, Zurich
I find my muse in everything. When I don’t, I draw inspiration from daydreaming. After all, if you dream, you don’t sleep through life.

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