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View Full Version : Anyone remember the early 1990's PC Manufacturer "PC Brand"



Mike 01Hawk
April 5th, 2006, 06:49 AM
They were sold @ Sam's Club.

It was the first PC I bought as a tyke. The 'neat-o' factor was that they proclaimed to be easily upgradable. To upgrade the CPU, all you had to do was take out the front bezel and then unlatch the removable "CPU card" which was encased in a metal box.

I'm trying my best to do google searches.. but with a generic name like "PC Brand" I'm comming up with a lot of false hits.

NathanAllan
April 5th, 2006, 07:17 AM
http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0NEW/is_1992_April_2/ai_12162543

It's not much but I found the above link.

Nathan

Mike 01Hawk
April 5th, 2006, 08:28 AM
AH HA!! It was called "Positive Corporation"

My dear Watson, we have more to go on!

http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0NEW/is_1992_Jan_2/ai_11680292

http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1563/is_n5_v9/ai_10614393

dpatten
April 5th, 2006, 12:28 PM
Wow, talk about pushing the FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) buttons.

I especially liked this quote;


"The fear of obsolescence has traditionally forced the PC customer to overbuy," said Bryan Kerr, Positive Corporation's executive vice president.

"With our replaceable CPU cartridge, we are providing the end user with an insurance policy that says you can save now, by buying only what you need today. You can upgrade your PC Positive, whenever you're ready, by investing a few hundred dollars instead of a few thousand," he added.


That sounds like Intel's marketeing scheme for it's "overdrive" processors a couple of years later.

Typical vaporware approach, think up a gimmick whereby you can charge a hefty premium for an "easily upgradeable" machine. Then never deliver or deliver very late on the "upgrade"

I also notice this guy harps on the CPU upgrade and never mentions the antiquated, (even then!) 16 bit ISA bus or the 30 or 70 pin typically 80-100 ns SIMMs that would be I/O bound with a faster processor.

The company that I work for bought a dual 200 mhz (1MB cache) pentium pro server for a program that I worked on. This was when PPros were being firesold and PII was coming out, 1997 maybe? However, they paid a premium for it, because it would be "upgradeable to the 333 Mhz Overdrive". Intel finally got around to releasing the overdrive in like early '99. They bought some and "upgraded" the machine. It ran slower. It was basically a PII desktop CPU core stuffed into socket 8. The extra 133 Mhz wasn't enough to overcome the lack of cache. IIRC They didn't get a faster machine until the PIII450 and the Xeons.

Erik
April 5th, 2006, 01:21 PM
I bought an ALR 386 way back when because it offered CPU upgrades to stave off obsolescence. When it came time to upgrade the machine to a 486 I found that the replacement processor card (proprietary, of course) would have cost me about as much as a new 486 machine!

Needless to say, I didn't go down that road again.

Terry Yager
April 5th, 2006, 02:00 PM
I picked up an ALR server a few years back, that was only a year old, but obsolete because the company went under. The machine was a low-end Pentium. It came with only one processor board, but s'pozed to be scalable to two or four cpus, but of course, none are available. I picked up the machine dirt-cheap from the recycler, and gave it to a friend who's still using it today, AFAIK.

--T

Chris2005
April 5th, 2006, 03:05 PM
ok, does anyone remember CPU (Computer Products United). Made the world's only (AFAIK) 80186 based "100%" compatible. What about AMT (Advance Micro Technology?), producers of the ATjr. Big Blue made them change the name (became the AMTjr - got one), and pull the ads with the kid in the Charlie Chaplin getup. While mine was working, it did say "ATjr" on the bios boot screen or whatever it was. Plainest most vanilla peecee you ever seen, but still PRETTY COOL!
And of course none of us could forget PCs Limited. Oi became Dell.

Starshadow
April 20th, 2006, 07:40 PM
i remember those Cyrix486 chips. they were't too bad a cpu. I remember beefing up and old Zenith Data Systems 386dx with one and it ran Win 95 pretty good.

Terry Yager
April 20th, 2006, 08:12 PM
Yeah, I'm in the market for a DLC chip, if anybody has one...

--T

Vlad
April 21st, 2006, 08:02 AM
i remember those Cyrix486 chips. they were't too bad a cpu. I remember beefing up and old Zenith Data Systems 386dx with one and it ran Win 95 pretty good.

Like this one?

http://www.ubertechworld.com/museum/ubertech-museum_misc_images.htm



-VK

Unknown_K
April 21st, 2006, 11:00 AM
Wow, talk about pushing the FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) buttons.

I especially liked this quote;




That sounds like Intel's marketeing scheme for it's "overdrive" processors a couple of years later.

Typical vaporware approach, think up a gimmick whereby you can charge a hefty premium for an "easily upgradeable" machine. Then never deliver or deliver very late on the "upgrade"

I also notice this guy harps on the CPU upgrade and never mentions the antiquated, (even then!) 16 bit ISA bus or the 30 or 70 pin typically 80-100 ns SIMMs that would be I/O bound with a faster processor.

The company that I work for bought a dual 200 mhz (1MB cache) pentium pro server for a program that I worked on. This was when PPros were being firesold and PII was coming out, 1997 maybe? However, they paid a premium for it, because it would be "upgradeable to the 333 Mhz Overdrive". Intel finally got around to releasing the overdrive in like early '99. They bought some and "upgraded" the machine. It ran slower. It was basically a PII desktop CPU core stuffed into socket 8. The extra 133 Mhz wasn't enough to overcome the lack of cache. IIRC They didn't get a faster machine until the PIII450 and the Xeons.

I have a dual ppro server still in use in my basement (PR440FX Intel motherboard originally with dual 200's with 256K cache). I upgraded it to 2 PPro overdrives and it was a noticable improvement. The overdrives have 512K cache at full processor speed unlike the P2's that were at half processor speed. If you spent the extra cash for the PPros with 1MB cache I don't see why you needed to upgrade at all (database work?). Extra cache speeds some operations up quite a bit, others could be more FPU reliant and not see much of a speed increase.

Terry Yager
April 21st, 2006, 11:54 AM
The program I used to use to demonstrate the power of cache was Win 3.1's 'flying windows' screen-saver. On an older, slow machine, you can visibly see the things speed up as the cache kicks in. Try it on a P-75 or slower machine, you'll see what I mean.

--T

dpatten
April 21st, 2006, 01:45 PM
I have a dual ppro server still in use in my basement (PR440FX Intel motherboard originally with dual 200's with 256K cache). I upgraded it to 2 PPro overdrives and it was a noticable improvement. The overdrives have 512K cache at full processor speed unlike the P2's that were at half processor speed. If you spent the extra cash for the PPros with 1MB cache I don't see why you needed to upgrade at all (database work?). Extra cache speeds some operations up quite a bit, others could be more FPU reliant and not see much of a speed increase.


These weren't my machines. It was a corporate environment where I worked. They wanted to upgrade because it was time to upgrade. Money wasn't the issue. The EIT manager had a box to check.

Even with the full speed cache there was still a significant lag between the PProOverdrive and the 1MB CPU.

There would be a difference with the 512k or 256k CPUs. On the later high end machines there wasn't any, in fact there was less.

Starshadow
April 21st, 2006, 07:47 PM
Like this one?

http://www.ubertechworld.com/museum/...isc_images.htm


no this one was a 33mhz one that had 486 and underneath that it had 386 faded, i geuss showing it was a upgrade for 386 owners to get a 486.

DoctorPepper
April 22nd, 2006, 02:23 PM
The company that I work for bought a dual 200 mhz (1MB cache) pentium pro server for a program that I worked on. This was when PPros were being firesold and PII was coming out, 1997 maybe? However, they paid a premium for it, because it would be "upgradeable to the 333 Mhz Overdrive". Intel finally got around to releasing the overdrive in like early '99. They bought some and "upgraded" the machine. It ran slower. It was basically a PII desktop CPU core stuffed into socket 8. The extra 133 Mhz wasn't enough to overcome the lack of cache. IIRC They didn't get a faster machine until the PIII450 and the Xeons.

Back in 1998 - 1999, I worked for a government contractor. The servers they bought for the website I was working on were humungus Dell dual PPro 200's. They came with a RAID array of drives, tripple-redundant power supplies and 1GB of RAM. Of course, they ran Windows NT 4.0 on them, and that really dogged them out. I've always wondered how Linux would have performed on the same hardware.

mbbrutman
April 22nd, 2006, 02:55 PM
Linux runs very well on those old monsters.

About three years ago a friend opened up an Internet cafe, and we designed the systems such that we had diskless machines running Linux. The NFS fileserver was a giant Dell machine with four Pentium Pro processors and RAID5 SCSI disks. All of the machines ran RedHat 8.

As a fileserver it was perfect - it doesn't take a lot of CPU to handle NFS requests. It just needs memory and a good I/O subsystem. That machine was never using more than one of it's four CPUs. (I monitored performance closely while we were testing.)

There were 12 or 14 1Ghz clients. Each of the clients also ran RedHat, but was hacked such that instead of booting from a CD or hard disk, it would use PXE to get a bootstrap program over the network, and then it would do a diskless Linux boot. These machines didn't have CDs, hard disks or floppy drives - perfect for an Internet cafe environment.

We could boot all of the machines at the same time with just a hiccup here and there. (I think the hiccup was due to not having enough NFS server processes ready, and to using UDP .. NFS is much more stable over TCP.)

All of this is anecdotal of course .. I did not witness this monster ever running any flavor of Windows. And Linux has been getting fairly well bloated in the past few years as well.

Micom 2000
April 22nd, 2006, 07:54 PM
Very cool and impressive. I've been intersted in Linux from way back and have a Red Hat installation and also an early multi-cd of 4 different ones.(Debian, Suze, and 2 others). At the time I was very involved with PS/2s and there was problems installing it on them.

I later tried to install it on an Intel P-100 and because of my intimidation with UNIX and a NEXT workstation which I was also learning about, I had endless problems, from having too small an HD, to forgetting the password, and other general things and abandoned it. The Red Hat installation might still be on that computers HDs.

One of Linux's daunting features is it's formidable installation as compared to such as Win 98 or MSDOS.
I find even CP/M simpler, but that may because of familiarity. And the friendly enthusiasm of Linux Geeks
for the most part simply compounds the thing because the nature of Geeks is to complicate not simplify.

Yeah I have to confront it again but after spending a couple of days each relearning C-64 and Apple DOS-3
so I could test some equipment for shipping I know that it will take some time and effort to do so. I am not a very good lateral thinker. A multitudinous cacophony at a womens Bridge Club or coffee-clache makes me crazy.
I have to focus on one platform at a time.

However the next while I will be focusing on other platforms like Atari 8-bits and Atari ST fdds not to mention PCjrs, and my Win98SE functions comfortably for the I-Net things I'm doing at the moment. I refuse to pay the exhorbitant prices MS$ wants for XP so I will likely have to make a major move to Linux some time soon but in any case a 600MHZ is the fastest box I have, none with more than 64meg ram, and 9Gig is my largest HD.

I'm not a gamer in the modern sense altho I do have many cartridges and older game systems, nor do I do graphic-intensive work. My computer music demands are only just arising, so except for the I-net I don't really need all that power flaunted by the computer marketers.
For now I can use "sneaker-net" between my 4 multiple computer areas. Later on some sort of liason between the areas and platforms would be cool but not pressing.

But I do admire your set-up in this case and could see using something like this for connecting the major areas of my adddiction, using wireless between networks in LANs. It would mean not having to run upstairs or into another room if I wanted to pull some info from a HD or the INet. Will likely never happen but would be cool.

Lawrence

mbbrutman
April 23rd, 2006, 06:10 AM
At the risk of going off-topic from the original thread ...

PC DOS was a no-brainer to install - basically a file copy. In fact, for most OSes before Windows that was the case.

Windows made things significantly more complicated, but it had too .. the range of support devices is mind boggling. Most people never have to worry about a Windows install because Microsoft very shrewdly did pre-install license agreements with just about every PC builder.

OS/2 and Linux for a while suffered from an installation procedures marred by bad device driver support. People doing peripherals were just not interested in niche markets. In the last five years the device driver situation in Linux improved dramatically. (Keeping a stable set of kernels helps too .. progress from 2.4 to 2.6 was slow, and 2.6 is going to be around for a long time.) OS/2 never recovered.

Obviously Linux is more complicated. But it's basically the Swiss Army knife .. on most Linux distributions you get the following:

- A true multi-user operating system. As in, multiple users on at the same time, not just taking turns.
- A real file system, and a choice of other real file systems. It's hard for a normal user to trash an install.
- A choice of GUI options, all of which can send windows to remote machines.
- A seriously good network support. At this point, I'd say the best network support of any OS out there.
- A development environment. Want to write apps in C, C++, Perl, assembler, Python, etc.? It's all there. (The Java support is weak, but can be fixed with some downloads.) Want to do OS kernel development? It's there too.
- A server environment: Apache, email, Samba, etc.

At home I run on an old Pentium 233, which until last year was my primary windows machines. It serves the following purposes:

- It's the server for a shared drive so that my Windows XP, Windows 2000, and 386-40 running DOS can all share files to the same fileshare.
- It runs telnet and FTP so that the Jr can download files over TCP/IP instead of just doing the floppy shuffle. (I haven't tried the MS LANMAN file requestor on a Jr .. it probably won't work.)
- It's my home firewall.
- I write code on it ...
- It can store and create diskette images very easily.
- In a pinch, I can run a server for the outside world to use. (I wrote a web application to do NCAA bracket picks this February and ran it on this server during March Madness .. 75 people hit it at various times during the course of the week.)

No home should be without one!

Mike 01Hawk
February 6th, 2009, 06:06 PM
Post from the dead, thought I'd necromancer this thread :)

Terry Yager
February 6th, 2009, 09:12 PM
Post from the dead, thought I'd necromancer this thread :)

Any particular reason?

--T

Sharkonwheels
February 6th, 2009, 10:00 PM
I'll add to it...

I remember installing Dual PPro HP NetServer LXe Pro's on a few ships about 1998-1999
Huge, rolling-on-floor monsters, that some genius decided was well suited to put on a shelf in a rack!
Stack of drives in a RAID5 Array, HP RAID controller, running Windows NT 4.0 and Oracle 8.03 dB server.

What a pain those thing were! They were HUUUUGE, but pretty dang fast for the period.
And man, were they EXPENSIVE!

Later on, the Proliant 1850R (which became the DL380 series) was used, as the Dual PIII's were FINALLY able to keep up with the dual PPro's! Took 'em a while, and almost triple the mHz to get there, too!

T

Mike 01Hawk
May 14th, 2009, 01:30 PM
Any particular reason?

--T

Wozers... don't even remember posting on here.

lemme see.. February 6th was a Friday night.. 9pm central.. yeah, I was probably drunk and going on a nostalgia bender :(

Terry Yager
May 14th, 2009, 03:40 PM
Wozers... don't even remember posting on here.

lemme see.. February 6th was a Friday night.. 9pm central.. yeah, I was probably drunk and going on a nostalgia bender :(

No fair! I cry foul! I'm kinda fitshaced now, and I ain't got a klew what we were talking about!

--T

Dreamcast270mhz
May 14th, 2009, 04:01 PM
My first machine was an early Dell that could barely run ME, took 2 minutes for start up, but the games were fairly fast. I think the cpu was originally a P2, but someone had stuck a P3 class compatibility CPU. I noticed the CPU pipeline was fairly low, and the 20.2 GB HDD was a no-name, so i tossed it about 3 years back

Mrtechie
December 21st, 2011, 06:22 PM
I still have a working 1992 PC Brand model A30750 with serial number 19E02A001217 running 3 operating systems under Boot Manager. Windows 3.1, OS/2, and Warp. I have all the disks for each operating system as well. I don't use the 51/4 drive much....ha ha

Caluser2000
December 21st, 2011, 07:19 PM
I still have a working 1992 PC Brand model A30750 with serial number 19E02A001217 running 3 operating systems under Boot Manager. Windows 3.1, OS/2, and Warp. I have all the disks for each operating system as well. I don't use the 51/4 drive much....ha haHmmm, don't you mean dos and two versions of OS/2? Welcome.

Mad-Mike
December 22nd, 2011, 09:18 AM
I recall messing around with those PC Brand machines at Wal-Mart back when Windows 95 was new.

"Whitebox" PC's like the ATjr are still my favorite. I have had an AMT machine, actually two within the family. One is the 386 my older sister had in college. I don't remember much except it had a 14" AOC VGA monitor, ran DOS 5 with Dosshell, and had a pile of shareware, Monkey Island 1 and 2, Ultima 6, and Freddy Pharkas on it at one time or another. The other one is a 486 I sold to a forum member awhile back IIRC.

The obscure brand that always facinated me was GEM Computer Products out of Norcross Georgia. I've owned two of their machines, seems they loved sticking Baby AT motherboards in full-size AT chassis. One had a cool chassis that was a full size AT clone of a Compaq Deskpro 8086/286/386 chassis. I presently have their 1989-1990 model AT clone. Also, they all used the same Mitsubishi floppy drive, that I verified as 1.44M, that was DOA on both machines when I got them. Seems GEM is still around now too on Jones Mill Road. I'm looking for another Deskpro style machine like the one I had, maybe to build a 486 into.

Agent Orange
December 22nd, 2011, 10:38 AM
My first 17" color VGA monitor was a 'GEM'. Don't know that it was the same outfit though. I bough it from a dealer in upstate New York @ 1994-5 or so. It seems that I remember that the larger VGA's were very expensive around that time. This one "cracked" the $600 barrier and that's what I was waiting for - got for it $599 (what a bargain -eh).

Compgeke
December 22nd, 2011, 11:37 AM
A page back the old Dell servers were mentioned, I was supposed to get 2 of them, one a Pentium Pro and one a Pentium II. The local people were willing to get rid of them as they had been sitting in the (oddest place) telephone room for the last 7 years and hadn't been touched. Just a few weeks ago someone higher up decided to ewaste them and they even had the hard drives shreded instead of wiping them. Now I don't feel so good knowing 20 SCSI hard drives were destroyed instead of being wiped and reused by someone who could make use of them (like me).

As for anyone wondering what I would do with 2 of them, I would make a desk. Who wouldn't want a desk made from servers that probably weigh more than a cast iron legged table?

Mad-Mike
December 22nd, 2011, 01:39 PM
Probably not the same company. After looking at Trademarkia, looks like GEM was owned by MEC (Micro Equiptment Corp.), whom also owned C.More as well. Seems MEC was the home-brand company, GEM was their special brand for Science/Military/Nautical products, and C.More was for networking services. I recall seeing some MEC machines before and now I kind of wish I'd picked them up.

http://www.trademarkia.com/company-micro-equipment-corporation-804878-page-1-2

The First GEM computer I got was the Deskpro clone, which was a 386-20 system with a 40MB ST-506/412 interface hard disk, Paradise VGA, a ProComm Plus hardcard with a 244MB Quantum ProDrive LPS hard disk. The original owner of the computer bought it for $3000 someitme around 1988, and it was used for his Military job.

The Second GEM computer, and the one I still have, is the 80286. Which when I got it it had already been upgraded quite a bit from what it originally was. The MFM drive was gone and replaced with an IDE drive from 1994 (Seagate 540MB). I think it too had a Military history possibly now that I recall BOTH PC's came from towns with Military bases - the 286 from Ft. Worth Texas, and the other computer was owned by the father of an ex-bandmate at Maxwell AFB in Montgomery Alabama.

I find "whitebox" clone makers interesting to say the least. Possibly the oddest name I've seen is "Cactus", which is what my Bro In-Law's old 486 DX-2 was branded. It even had a floppy for it labeled "Cactus Bar" for it which I suppose was some silly utility bar program that came pre-loaded at the shop it was built at.

Agent Orange
December 22nd, 2011, 08:42 PM
Probably not the same company. After looking at Trademarkia, looks like GEM was owned by MEC (Micro Equiptment Corp.), whom also owned C.More as well. Seems MEC was the home-brand company, GEM was their special brand for Science/Military/Nautical products, and C.More was for networking services. I recall seeing some MEC machines before and now I kind of wish I'd picked them up.

http://www.trademarkia.com/company-micro-equipment-corporation-804878-page-1-2

The First GEM computer I got was the Deskpro clone, which was a 386-20 system with a 40MB ST-506/412 interface hard disk, Paradise VGA, a ProComm Plus hardcard with a 244MB Quantum ProDrive LPS hard disk. The original owner of the computer bought it for $3000 someitme around 1988, and it was used for his Military job.

The Second GEM computer, and the one I still have, is the 80286. Which when I got it it had already been upgraded quite a bit from what it originally was. The MFM drive was gone and replaced with an IDE drive from 1994 (Seagate 540MB). I think it too had a Military history possibly now that I recall BOTH PC's came from towns with Military bases - the 286 from Ft. Worth Texas, and the other computer was owned by the father of an ex-bandmate at Maxwell AFB in Montgomery Alabama.

I find "whitebox" clone makers interesting to say the least. Possibly the oddest name I've seen is "Cactus", which is what my Bro In-Law's old 486 DX-2 was branded. It even had a floppy for it labeled "Cactus Bar" for it which I suppose was some silly utility bar program that came pre-loaded at the shop it was built at.

FWIW this pretty close to the one that I had: http://www.fixya.com/search/p396459-scanport_gem_1770df_17_in_crt/vga_dvi_input_signal