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Shadow Lord
July 10th, 2011, 09:26 PM
Hello All,

As just about everybody knows I am looking for an IBM Industrial 7531 computer. However, this is proving more elusive than I originally thought. So I am looking for recs on other systems to keep an eye out for. Here is what I am looking for:

1. A brand name computer system (e.g. IBM, Compaq, Dell, Zeos, Gateway 2000, etc...)
2. A tower system. This is just so much easier in my "man cave" to deal with then a desktop system. My space is limited and a desktop system just takes up too much room for me to work/tinker with.
3. ISA bus (this unfortunately rules out the way awesome IBM PS/2 60 series as they are MCA and make my ISA cards useless).
4. Std. 8 slots would be nice so I can expand the system and get my goodies in there (NIC, sound, video, hard card, etc...)

This is going to be my main 286 working machine (as opposed to the 5170 which is more of a thing of beauty ;)) so I want a faster 286 then the original AT. Something in the 10-12 MHz range (at least 8). I am going to be using this with an EGA card and either a 5154 or a multisync.

Any recommendation, specs, etc. is appreciated. I am also open to offers for any systems you may have. Thanks.

Chuck(G)
July 10th, 2011, 10:06 PM
The late 80s--early 90s systems with 16-20MHz CPUs are probably the most mature and fastest of the lot--and because they use LSI chipsets and can use SIMMs, they have a lot of room on the motherboard for memory. Some also used the "double DIP" sockets into which 256Kx1 or 1024Kx1 (1MB or 4MB total) chips could be used.

The 80286 lasted quite a long time in industrial applications--it was some time before it was displaced by the 80386 or 486.

eeguru
July 10th, 2011, 10:08 PM
For some reason those Harris CMOS 16 and 20 MHz systems are quite rare. I've been looking but they don't come around often.

krebizfan
July 10th, 2011, 10:10 PM
Can you track down one of the converter stands that lets you put a standard AT style box on its side? (I think I have a stand but its badly worn and expensive to ship.) That would be a lot easier than obtaining a working 286 tower. And I think the only 286 tower server I ever saw was 8Mhz; towers quickly moved to 386 before the faster 10, 12 or 16 Mhz 286s were common. Don't forget, you could always move the motherboard to a better case.

Dell wasn't too good; Compaq had propietary interfaces. I would go with the any of the better cloners: Compuadd, Northgate, Zeos. These are very similar until you get to 1990 when even the clones transition to SIMMS and designs got more experimental.

Shadow Lord
July 11th, 2011, 07:20 AM
Can you track down one of the converter stands that lets you put a standard AT style box on its side? (I think I have a stand but its badly worn and expensive to ship.) That would be a lot easier than obtaining a working 286 tower. And I think the only 286 tower server I ever saw was 8Mhz; towers quickly moved to 386 before the faster 10, 12 or 16 Mhz 286s were common. Don't forget, you could always move the motherboard to a better case.

Dell wasn't too good; Compaq had propietary interfaces. I would go with the any of the better cloners: Compuadd, Northgate, Zeos. These are very similar until you get to 1990 when even the clones transition to SIMMS and designs got more experimental.

Shipping is shipping and cant be avoided. The convertor stand is another idea I had considered. I let a NIB one go a few month back on ebay as I wasn't quite sure what it was good for. :( DOH! Thanks for the info on Dell and Compaq. I'll keep on eye out for some of the other guys. Eventually something will show up.

Shadow Lord
July 11th, 2011, 07:28 AM
The late 80s--early 90s systems with 16-20MHz CPUs are probably the most mature and fastest of the lot--and because they use LSI chipsets and can use SIMMs, they have a lot of room on the motherboard for memory. Some also used the "double DIP" sockets into which 256Kx1 or 1024Kx1 (1MB or 4MB total) chips could be used.

The 80286 lasted quite a long time in industrial applications--it was some time before it was displaced by the 80386 or 486.

Yeah, systems lasted much longer back then. I used my 5160 until 1992 when I finally got a 486-33. Now a days w/ the 6 month upgrade/refereh cycle they have going on you are a generation behind before you have broken the system in. As for the 286 I am trying to stay era specific so the 16-20 MHz systems are probably going to be too fast. However, I am not against one if anyone has a line on one ;).

Maverick1978
July 11th, 2011, 07:52 AM
I'd just recommend getting a board and sticking it into a case. 286 tower systems weren't exactly plentiful, and so you won't have many options. Recasing a board is probably your best bet.

I personally have a Type 1 IBM AT board in a mini-tower case with a removable MB tray. Sacrilege, I know, but I traded my AT about a year ago to LyonAdmiral, and was after another - decided on the MB when the $17 shipped price came up (at auction no less). Replaced 4 bad 4128 memory chips, and was good to go. I also purchased a CompuAdd 286-16mhz board and connectors from a forum member a few weeks ago. Haven't had a chance to fire it up, but wanted a faster 286 available, just in case - and since this one had an 8/16mhz Turbo switch, it's highly likely that it will become my workhorse 286 (I'm wanting a towerized 286 machine to build floppy images for preservation w/ my Option Board).

If you're after a historically-significant board, snag an AT board, or even a PC-XT board (they can be had bare-board for $50+ship, but no case/etc, sadly). Also I believe that ChromeDome45 may have a 5162 board available for sale/trade - might try PMing him.

Chromedome45
July 11th, 2011, 08:03 AM
The 5162 board and XT case I have it in are pending a sale. So it's not available. But I do have a 12MHz 80286 motherbaord available with 4 Meg RAM installed. Kind of a small size to boot. Low asking price too. PM me if you are interested.

Chuck(G)
July 11th, 2011, 08:28 AM
Yeah, systems lasted much longer back then. I used my 5160 until 1992 when I finally got a 486-33. Now a days w/ the 6 month upgrade/refereh cycle they have going on you are a generation behind before you have broken the system in. As for the 286 I am trying to stay era specific so the 16-20 MHz systems are probably going to be too fast. However, I am not against one if anyone has a line on one ;).

There's at least one 16MHz board (looks like it also has the NDP on it) for not a lot of money on eBay.

Shadow Lord
July 11th, 2011, 08:28 AM
The 5162 board and XT case I have it in are pending a sale. So it's not available. But I do have a 12MHz 80286 motherbaord available with 4 Meg RAM installed. Kind of a small size to boot. Low asking price too. PM me if you are interested.

Thanks, I'll keep that in mind. At this point though I am trying to avoid that route.

Shadow Lord
July 11th, 2011, 08:40 AM
There's at least one 16MHz board (looks like it also has the NDP on it) for not a lot of money on eBay.

Hmm... Maybe I am not searching right but I find alot of 12MHz systems no 16s...

Chuck(G)
July 11th, 2011, 08:43 AM
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Shadow Lord
July 11th, 2011, 11:04 AM
Okay, I am exploring the role my own option and so far it is not looking good. Problem is I don't have alot of the necessary equipment (AT Case, MB, PSU, Floppy/HDD controller, HDD). By the time I source everything, get them shipped I could probably buy a 5170 and just sit it on its side. Of course it would be one hell of an AT if I rolled my own...

Chromedome45
July 11th, 2011, 11:18 AM
Well It's available if you decide to DIY.

Chuck(G)
July 11th, 2011, 11:26 AM
I put out the idea of a DIY because (1) Most 286 systems were probably done that way, even if by Uncle Wong or Dell and (2) you'd asked for a minitower configuration. These were fairly uncommon in the 286 days. Full towers and horizontal cases, yes, but minis, not so much.

Shadow Lord
July 11th, 2011, 11:29 AM
I put out the idea of a DIY because (1) Most 286 systems were probably done that way, even if by Uncle Wong or Dell and (2) you'd asked for a minitower configuration. These were fairly uncommon in the 286 days. Full towers and horizontal cases, yes, but minis, not so much.

sorry if i wasn't clear but I actually prefer a full tower Chuck as opposed to a mini. I just don't want a desktop as desk space is at a premium in hte Man Cave. One of the things I love about the Everex Megacube is that it sits under one of my desks leaving the desktop available for huge CRTs :D.

Maverick1978
July 11th, 2011, 12:25 PM
If you're after a full tower, man, be prepared to pay on the shipping if you can't source one locally!

I bought mine years ago from the flea market vendor, completely empty for $20. It weighs about 40-45lbs completely empty.

So far as sourcing your own AT case, well, you don't really NEED an AT minitower - many of the ATX cases I've seen will house an AT board if you're careful and not afraid to punch your own motherboard mounting holes. Zero troubles if you source a baby-AT motherboard and pop it in the ATX housing... although you might have to fashion a plate for the keyboard if having a square hole in the back where the ATX connector headers are at bothers you overly much.

I've found that the local dump has a nice bin for electronics to be dumped in... drive up there with scrap, see computer case, toss case into back of truck when no one's looking, drive away!

(or in my case, computer case, flat-panel monitor, flat-panel tv, clicky keyboard, anything that has old cpus or memory in there, rounded cable edging.... or in other words, anything useful!)

I guess a recycler works too, although the closest one to my area is probably 45+ mins away - too far to check frequently.

Chuck(G)
July 11th, 2011, 01:06 PM
What Mav said. Some earlier ATX cases even came with an I/O shield for AT style motherboards. But making your own I/O shield for an AT board shouldn't be very difficult as you need only provide a hole for the keyboard connector. I've made I/O shields from scrap blank PCB stock.

Shadow Lord
July 11th, 2011, 02:24 PM
If you're after a full tower, man, be prepared to pay on the shipping if you can't source one locally!


What Mav said. Some earlier ATX cases even came with an I/O shield for AT style motherboards. But making your own I/O shield for an AT board shouldn't be very difficult as you need only provide a hole for the keyboard connector. I've made I/O shields from scrap blank PCB stock.

Well, I can probaly get my hands on a local case and PSU. I got to double check with my friend, I have floppy drives I can use for the system. But I would need MB, Controller and HDD. If he has his old tower case and PSU then I can consider doing a price calc for the rest of it... Anyone have an ESDI HDD they like ot get rid of? :)

Maverick1978
July 11th, 2011, 02:32 PM
ESDI!? Why ESDI? Just pop an XT-IDE in there, or grab a cheap-o 16-bit ISA IDE card and use an overlay software for large drive support! I think I paid $4 shipped for the one I purchased off of ebay that's in my "5170 tower"

Chuck(G)
July 11th, 2011, 02:34 PM
Ditto. If you need something that's not IDE, try SCSI. Much easier to find.

Shadow Lord
July 11th, 2011, 02:44 PM
ESDI!? Why ESDI? Just pop an XT-IDE in there, or grab a cheap-o 16-bit ISA IDE card and use an overlay software for large drive support! I think I paid $4 shipped for the one I purchased off of ebay that's in my "5170 tower"

Hey show som respect! I am trying to be authentic here! ;) ESDI should be the right tech for the end of the 286 era... But in reality, I am still adding up the numbers and waiting on my friend to see if he has a case.

And I'd go SCSI if I was going to do something like that as Chuck suggested.

Chuck(G)
July 11th, 2011, 04:29 PM
ESDI is neither here or there in the timelime. 286 systems are perfectly contemporaneous with SCSI. As a matter of fact, I used SCSI before I used ESDI (I still have some 5" ESDI gear around). SCSI was viewed as the Cadillac of small system interfaces.

Dave Farquhar
July 11th, 2011, 05:19 PM
People usually associate IDE with 386s, but plenty of later 286s shipped with IDE as well. I've seen 286s with MFM, RLL, IDE and SCSI drives. I'd go with IDE or SCSI if I were building one, just for availability's sake. The cards are easy to find and cheap, and so are the drives. And you can start with a mid-90s drive that's working and cheap, upgrade to a more period-correct drive down the line if/when you find a good deal on one, and in the meantime you have a working system.

I agree with Chuck that in the 286's heyday, SCSI was what people aspired to own. IDE was what became popular, because it was cheaper and most people considered it good enough. But if I were building a mid-late 80s dream machine, I'd put SCSI in it.

Chuck(G)
July 11th, 2011, 05:52 PM
...It also seems to me that "cheap SCSI" is an oxymoron. The 386/16 I just used about an hour ago, has Win95B installed and running off an 8GB ST410800 drive (probably based on a CDC Wren design). Seeing Win95B come up at 16MHz non-cached is an exercise in patience. Win95 even had drivers for the DTC 3280 controller.

Consider also, that before IDE/ATA/ATAPI, the standard interface to CD-ROM drives, scanners and high-end tape drives was SCSI. ESDI, as far as my ever-more-blurry memory can recall, was only good for hard drives.

MikeS
July 11th, 2011, 05:59 PM
Who actually used ESDI with an AT other than Compaq and (?) IBM?

Chuck(G)
July 11th, 2011, 06:06 PM
I think there were some non-PC workstations that used them. I have them only because CSC offered some killer deals on them. For the Maxtor XT-8760E 650MB unit, I paid something like $600 with controller, which was a heckuva deal back then. Last year I put the thing in another 386 just to try it out. I couldn't believe how loud it was--about as loud as my Maxtor XT-1140 MFM drive.

MikeS
July 11th, 2011, 06:12 PM
I think there were some non-PC workstations that used them. I have them only because CSC offered some killer deals on them. For the Maxtor XT-8760E 650MB unit, I paid something like $600 with controller, which was a heckuva deal back then. Last year I put the thing in another 386 just to try it out. I couldn't believe how loud it was--about as loud as my Maxtor XT-1140 MFM drive.They were an option in late high-end Cromemcos; some guys with one of those might make you a good offer for that XT-8760 (and I might even make you an offer for that XT-1140 when mine finally die ;-) ) No problem with noise, the cooling fans will drown it out.

Unknown_K
July 11th, 2011, 06:19 PM
MFM/RLL and IDE were common in 286 systems (IDE for later models), SCSI was server class and ESDI was mostly for big name high dollar servers.

I have a couple brand made 286 systems, one has MFM (NEC brand machine) and I forget what is in the other (IDE I think, added later).

Dell wasn't dell in the 286 era, they used that name starting with the 386.

Shadow Lord
July 11th, 2011, 09:39 PM
Okay,

So I was being a bit tongue in cheek about the ESDI thing. Yes, I realize SCSI was all the rage back then all the way through the early 2Ks. I have a number of all SCSI systems (including the Everex Mega Cube) w/ SCSI HDD, CD-RWs, Tape Drives, and yes even a UMAX Astra 1200s scanner. I'll see how things go with the case first and then decide on everything else. I will probably even skip the HDD completely because I have a hardcard I can drop in there, but then I will still need a FDC.

PeterNY
July 14th, 2011, 07:23 AM
ESDI should be the right tech for the end of the 286 era...
IDE is authentic as well. There is no reason not to install a regular ISA 16 bit controller card with an IDE HDD and 3.5" & 5.25" FDD in my opinion. Works great.

Building your own system is fun (especially when you have the $ to build it).
http://cgi.ebay.com/350369005821
http://i.ebayimg.com/17/!BwJh,d!!Wk~$(KGrHqJ,!iIEv1+zwt26BMHnwMsnnw~~_3.JP G

pearce_jj
July 16th, 2011, 02:00 PM
286's with 25ms(ish) IDE disks seemed to fly along, compared to the XT's with ST412s still around at that time anyway.

I never understood the SCSI thing for PCs, as with DOS there would be no opportunity to benefit from command re-ordering - it would probably just be slower because of the more complex controller code. Were SCSI disks running at higher rpm already in the late 80's?

Unknown_K
July 16th, 2011, 02:26 PM
There was no CPU overhead on SCSI drives during that time which was way before IDE drives had DMA capability. Considering how slow CPU's were in the 286-486 era every little bit helped. Also you didnt have the BIOS limit on SCSI drives and could have as many drives as would fit on the SCSI chain.

Chuck(G)
July 16th, 2011, 03:34 PM
There was no CPU overhead on SCSI drives during that time which was way before IDE drives had DMA capability. Considering how slow CPU's were in the 286-486 era every little bit helped. Also you didnt have the BIOS limit on SCSI drives and could have as many drives as would fit on the SCSI chain.

Well, the original 5160 MFM controller used DMA also. On the 5170, programmed I/O was faster than DMA (insw/outsw) and all controllers had at least a 1-sector buffer, so not using DMA, unless it was bus-mastering had its advantages.

SCSI addresses devices by a relative block address; the first sector is numbered 0 and sector address increment by 1 after that--none of the CHS nonsense. Many SCSI controllers had large caches (e.g. WD7000, CSC Fastcache) and 16-bit data paths, some differential, so the SCSI bus speed was very high. In addition, SCSI supports lots of different devices in a (fairly) well-defined way; many devices can operate autonomously with a controller only needed to initiate operations (e.g. copy disk-to-disk without computer intervention is supported). A single SCSI bus has 8 or 16 IDs with up to 8 logical units per ID, so a wide-SCSI controller can support, say, 120 CD drives.

And SCSI drives tend to be constructed for commercial use; 7200 and 10K RPM drives are not uncommon.

There are other advantages; SCSI is a relatively advanced protocol and it can be very fast--640MByte/sec.

pearce_jj
July 17th, 2011, 01:45 AM
Although true today, in 286-days SCSI was an 8-bit 5MHz bus!