Oldskooler Ramblings

the unlikely child born of the home computer wars

Archive for February 8th, 2006


Posted by Trixter on February 8, 2006

Today was a very bad day.

I had a rough time at work, I obsessed over money while trying to hide it from my wife, I had to keep my cool around the kids when it came time to do homework and get them ready for bed… I was depressed, I blew my diet to the four winds with a bag of chips, I didn’t feel like working on the DVD project for some damn reason, and to top it all off: My 5150 died.

Yes, the IBM PC 5150 that I used to create 8088 Corruption died a horrible electric death; there’s a short or something on the board and I get no POST beeps, nothing. What makes it a particularly bad day for this to happen is that the 5150 is how I usually relax. Stop laughing! Seriously, I code 8088 assembler to relax, trying to come up with demo effects, or decompression routines, or PC speaker sound routines, etc. And boy did I need it tonight.

Since we moved into the house 5 years ago, I’ve been uncovering all sorts of little and medium-sized boxes that I had delivered to me back when ebay was a cheap place to get vintage parts (nowadays it’s a flea market populated by sheer idiots, but that’s a rant for some other day) but haven’t yet opened… video cards, sound cards, the occaisional analog joystick (CH Products: The only choice), etc. so I thought I’d go basement-diving to find something to cheer me up. Maybe a spare Adlib card or something. So I pushed aside some crap and found a somewhat large box delivered in 2001, right when we moved here. Got the swiss army knife, opened it up, and almost pissed my pants.

Inside was an IBM PC 5160 (the original PC/XT).

Not just any 5160 either — this thing is clean. It is the cleanest IBM PC I have ever owned; it looks like it is mint out of the box. Even the keyboard is clean. In the 8088 Corruption video you should be able to see a keyboard with a stretched-out cord and WordPerfect keycap stickers… this keyboard is mint with a perfect cord. But better than that, it’s been expanded to the point where it is very useful for someone who likes to code 8088 assembler and play old games: It has two floppies instead of one; it has a 25-pin parallel port which is great for transferring files over a special LPT cable at high speed and also hooking up parallel-port network adapters or Zip drives (yes, you can use a Zip drive on an XT) so backing my work up won’t be a problem; finally, a 9-pin serial port (most old PCs have 25-pin) which means I don’t have to dig for a 9-to-25-pin adapter and can hook up a mouse without hassles.

But did it work? I fired it up, it counted to 640K (another bonus), and after what seemed like eons, the floppy drives timed out and it booted from the internal hard drive with no errors… directly into Norton Commander… and into the root directory with the following contents:


And that, my friends, is when I started to cry. Those who know me well will know why.

Today was a very good day.

Posted in Vintage Computing | 10 Comments »