View Full Version : First clone you built from scratch?

May 10th, 2012, 01:40 PM
What was the first PC clone you all built from the ground up?

Mine was an 80486DX2-80 based system with a PAS-16 soundcard, Adaptec 1522A SCSI controller, IBM 2GB SCSI hard disk, a NEC CD-ROM and an ATI VGAWonder XL24 video board. I built it specifically to run OS/2 Ver 2 For Windows, after seeing how horrific networking was under Windows 3.1.

Up to this time I had used my Tandy machines, and pretty much jumped right over the 80386. I traded it off for one of my Amiga 3000's.


May 10th, 2012, 02:17 PM
Made in Taiwan Motherboard 8088-2 8Mhz Computer 60 meg HD.

May 10th, 2012, 02:20 PM
I was using pre-built brand name in the early days, so my first home built was actually a Pentium II - 350Mhz. Seagate Medalist 4.3Gb (which I still have), can't remember the rest!

May 10th, 2012, 02:43 PM
Good question.. although I came "later" in the game as far as age goes so I did rebuild our family's 486 a few times using parts. The first computer I fully bought with my first job was a state of the art AMD K6-II 350Mhz system in a full tower. It was a budget system and I had landed my first job at AMD right during it's boom in the 90's. None of the prices were too outrageous vs today except the CD burner. That was before burners were popular so it was pretty hot to have during lan parties, etc. It was a Memorex 2x CDRW internal burner. I got it for some sale price of $280 (I think it ended up costing me $330 in all though). Sure enough a few years later burners were going for $80, although my friends had more trouble with certain blank CDRs that mine would handle fine which was a neat perk, albeit you had to have 30-40 minutes free to burn things at my speed.

May 10th, 2012, 03:05 PM
My first home built was based around a TI80486, one of those you plunk into a 386 socket, sucker flew, 40mhz with 8mb ram, i remember specifically because i was able to run windows 95 on it and i had and still have a copy of Real Audio Player Plus. Had a WD Caviar 2850 *still got that drive too* Albeit it runs windows 98 now, 32x CD-Rom which was a later addition, 1.2 and 1.44mb floppy drive, sb 16.

May 10th, 2012, 03:45 PM
A 386DX-40 baby board I put in a full sized 286 desktop case with CDROM, 360K and 1.44 floppies and a FH Maxtor XT-1140 that I RLLed (to I think about 180 mb.) on a WD-1006V-SR2 controller. That used up all five drive bays but with a baby board inside most of that case was still empty space. :-) A Sound Blaster, DOS 5.0 and WIN 3.11 rounded it out.

May 10th, 2012, 04:23 PM
Haven't really built one from scratch as such. Gutted the 286 case and put in hand me down 486DX40 mobo. Gutted that and put in a hand-me down Pentium 133 mobo. Seems to have be a recurring theme till a few years ago. Now just get given prefectly usable servicable machines. Of course I now just get older stuff, some I dreamed of having but never the coin to own them at the time they were released.

May 10th, 2012, 04:50 PM
It was around 86 or so and I had asked for a PC for Christmas/Birthday. I had a commodore 128, Apple //c and a coco 1 at the time.
My father came from Atlanta with a box of parts and a case. It was a clone 8088-8 board with 512k and a floppy and a full height 5mb hard drive.
(He had upgraded his own computer.).

I put it together and got it running, and ended up upgrading that machine over and over and over, I think it ended life as a 386sx.

On a side note, my current computer case I bought 10 years ago or more, and It's on it's 5 or 6th board also. (Hey, it's hard to give up a case that holds 9 hard drives.)


May 10th, 2012, 05:17 PM
It started as a Turbo XT clone in the late 80s. Not sure how it ended up. This might be the one I sold a classmate. Picture is from 1990 when I think it was a 286 with EGA. I had various PCs during the 80s (PCjr, Corona PC, Tandy 1000EX) but mainly used my Atari ST and Amiga. By the end of the 80s I saw the writing on the wall and started beefing up my PCs, and really liked that I could build my own and mix-n-match parts.


Tiberian Fiend
May 10th, 2012, 10:48 PM
I don't know that I've ever built a computer entirely from whole cloth. I believe my current Phenom II X4 computer is the product of an unbroken succession of upgrades from a 486 someone gave me around 1997.

May 11th, 2012, 12:37 AM
I have used PCs ever since my first, a Compaq Deskpro 8086, back in 1988. I've never built one myself, and I have to say, all the home-build ones I have ever come across have been terrible.

I suppose that the satisfaction of 'getting it right' must be the allure for some, but I think there's nothing quite like getting a fully complete system with matched components that have all been tested with each other.

May 11th, 2012, 12:44 AM
Well this really put a stretch on to my memory, but it could have been a 386SX, i had to buy a combo parallel serial card, i bought a special version of AWE32 had some extra DSP and the weird thing allthough the mobo had IDE i beleive i had a 80 MB scsi since earlier tampering with ATARI. So i actually throw in a SCSI card.

Of course i must have bought a 1.44 floppy and a CD probably creative/mitsumi.
I have no idea what motherboard, but it must been cheap.

May 11th, 2012, 02:56 AM
I've never built one myself, and I have to say, all the home-build ones I have ever come across have been terrible.Sorry to hear that but it sounds like you have come across some real lamers. My experience has been the exact opposite in that all the home-built PCs (including my own) that I am familliar with perform perfectly and have stood the test of time, as well.

May 11th, 2012, 07:57 AM
My first build was an AMD 386DX40 system in the early 1990's. I purchased my Northgate 102 for that system. All parts were ordered from some place in California that was cheap enough I could sell the system a few years later for most of what I paid for it (they didn't have a mail order catalog, you had to call and see what was in stock, probably a main distributor). Its funny but back then you could build a clone of better quality then prebuilts for much less money, these days you can't get parts cheaper then a prebuilt brand name.

May 11th, 2012, 08:13 AM
My first PC was actually a custom built machine by the president of PC Enterprises (a well known PS/2, PCjr, and Tandy 1000 upgrade source). It was a family Christmas gift for 1993 and wasn't cheap.

-Target Micro Typhoon 486 VESA motherboard (going by memory and TH99, I remember reading Typhoon in the manual)
-486DX2 66Mhz
-8MB RAM with 256k write back cache
-Cirrus Logic CL-GD5428 2MB VLBus video card
-14.4k modem
-Western Digital AC2340 340MB IDE HD connected to a VLBus I/O card
-ATI Stereo F/X soundcard
-Mitsumi CRMC-LU005S 1X CD-ROM drive connected to the sound card
-3.5" and 5.25" drive
-CTX 15" monitor

My first build that I did with my own hands was a Pentium II based machine which is pretty new and off topic. I was going to build the 486's replacement, but my parents insisted on buying a retail machine instead, a Packard Bell Force 1999CDTW.

May 11th, 2012, 06:22 PM
I remember spending weeks digging through 'Computer Shopper' magazine before figuring out
what to buy....I think this was in 1989

My first self built clone was the following :

386 ADSS motherboard w/64k cache $400
386-25 CPU $200
AMS RLL controller $100
Mitsubishi 65 MB RLL drive $200
4 MB memory at $50/1 MEG SIPP
ATI VGA Wonder video card $250
NEC 3D multisync $650
Soundblaster 1.0 $100
Tower case from JDR Microdevices $200 (yes nice cases actually did cost this much back then)
Northgate OmniKey 102 Keyboard $120
3.5 and 5.25 floppy drives
9600 baud Practical Peripherals external modem

The fact that I can actually remember all this .....with the prices.....is priceless :-)

Rick Ethridge
May 11th, 2012, 06:31 PM
My first custom build was a K6-2/300 installed in a Kaypro 286 case.

May 13th, 2012, 12:30 PM
The first machine I Can truly say was 100% assembled by me was the GEM ATXT as I called it (ATXT was my own name for my wacky form factor that mixed AT and XT and ATX components).

The machine started off as a 386 DX-20 that was bought from GEM Computer Products in Norcross Georgia in 1988 for $3000 from a Military lawyer...I totally ripped out all the original guts and hot-rodded with with the following......

CASE: 80's Compaq Deskpro clone chassis, full AT, later cut up and modified for micro ATX operation
PSU: Magitronic 220 Watt Full AT PSU, later gutted and Gateway ATX guts installed, big red switch replaced with big red button
MOBO: Addonics AMI motherboard (386), Socket 7 Pentium (P75-P200MMX), Gateway Mobo (Celeron 500), and then Intel Pentium III (667& 1GHz)
CPU(s): i80386 DX-20, AMD P-75, Intel P120, Intel P200MMX, Intel Celeron 500, Intel PIII 667, INtel PIII 1GHz
RAM: 5MB, 32MB, 64MB, 128MB, 384MB, 512MB
FLOPPY: 1.44, 1.2M
HDD: 40MB Seagate MFM, Quantum 244MB, WD 2.1GB, WD 4GB, WD 40GB, WD 80GB
VIDEO: Paradise VGA, Trident TGUI9440, Trident 8900 PCI, ATI Rage II PCI 2 & 4MB cards, NVIDIA GeForce MX-400 64MB, NVIDIA GeForce MX-440 256MB
SOUND: Internal Speaker, Diamond TeleCommander 2300, Creative SoundBlaster 16 PCI, SoundBlaster 128, SoundBlaster Live 5.1
NET: 10mb ISA, 10/100MB PCI
O/S: DOS 6.2/Win 3.1, DOS 6.22/WFWG 3.11, Windows 98 SE, Windows 2000 PRofessional, Windows Vista

This thing had a full life for an AT that much is for sure, much of the guts got moved to my current Pentium D 3.4GHz 4GB Tower that I have now....so it lives on in that machine. The case literally fell apart 2 years ago when I tried to set it up for the guts in my PD machine like it was the bluesmobile of old PCs.

May 14th, 2012, 08:20 AM
My first fully-built from scratch machine... wow. Figure back in late '96 or early '97... It was a pentium-90 board, and I sourced most of the parts from a local computer shop where I knew the owner.

Generic case with 250w AT PS - $30 new
Amptron Motherboard with P90 chip - $90 used
2.1gb Maxtor Hard drive - $249.95 new
Mitsumi 4x IDE CD-ROM reader - $25 new
Teac CDR-56s SCSI writer - $52 new (purchased specifically for writing out PCEngine/TG16 CDs, as the format had just been broken at this time and most drives on the market wouldn't write them reliably)
Adaptec AHA-2940U SCSI card - $40 used

The rest of the parts, including my SB Pro 2.0, keyboard, mouse, and monitor all came from upgrades on the previous computer I had, a used purchase of a clone 386DX-25 system. Prior to this, I'd rebuilt and upgraded dozens of machines at school, for myself, and for friends - but never built one completely from scratch.

BTW - I remember model numbers and prices on the parts because of how long it took me to not only find the best prices, but to save up to purchase them. With the exception of the old Amptron board - it had no distinguishing marks for model, etc.

May 14th, 2012, 10:22 AM
Wow, so far it looks like I've got everyone beat ... since mine was the heathkit version of the Z-160 'luggable' -- the HS-161... and like any heathKit, all you got were etched boards and bags of parts. Took a little over a month between my father and I to get it built.... I did all the cards -- he did the CRT, PSU and most of the mechanicals. That would be my first real PC compatible.

NOT that I hadn't built my own computer before that, what with the ELF and the ZX-80.

I kinda laugh when people say "from scratch" these days; buying off the shelf parts and slapping them together pales by comparison.

May 14th, 2012, 12:42 PM
I did buy my first PC on the 14. april 1987.
At a price of 1265$ , it contained :
8Mhz 8088 motherboard, one floppy drive, 640Kb RAM, cga card, multifrunction card, keyboard and ERZO dos 3.20..
But NO crt and no HD ! ;)

Anonymous Freak
May 14th, 2012, 03:46 PM
Define "ground up"...

I essentially rebuilt a PC XT in 1987-89 timeframe, full set of upgrades, everything but the chassis, power supply, and motherboard. (Had a 286 upgrade in there.)

Same with a nominally-store-bought 486 from 1990 - completely unrecognizable other than chassis by 1993.

1994 would likely have been my very first "from scratch" build - Cyrix 6x86 CPU, 16 MB RAM (upgraded to 48 MB the next year - I've always had WAY more than the standard for the era,) generic Tseng ET4000/W32, Sound Blaster AWE32 with RAM upgrade.

Is it bad that I can name every part of every computer I've considered my primary computer since 1985? Same with all of my cars.

May 14th, 2012, 05:21 PM
It was around 1989, I used an old clone XT case with 386 XT sized MB, 766 MB FH SCSI, 1.2 MB FDD, Viper Tape drive, Paradise SVGA card, and SVGA monitor. Most of the parts were transferred from my IBM 5150 which had the Intel Inboard 386 card, but not enough slots and would not run Windows 3.0, not even in real mode.

May 14th, 2012, 06:50 PM
Nothing to spectacular. Went from a store bought 8088 Laser XT clone to a Intel 386 DX 33, Tyan motherboard I think, mini tower case with MHz indicator and one of those cheesy fake 3 1/2" floppy drive bay covers. 16 MB RAM, some type of Trident VGA card, 104 MB Western Digital HD and a 15" Packard Bell CRT.

Later I upgraded with an Evergreen Rev to 486 processor, added the Microsoft Windows Sound System, a Revel FM radio card, external modem and a 2X Sony CD ROM drive.

May 14th, 2012, 08:13 PM
Built my first in 1986. It was a "Turbo" 8Mhz XT clone with 640K, CGA video, 360K floppy and a 20M HD. Had a really cool Taiwanese case with a hinged top. Press buttons on either side of the case and the top opened like the hood of a car. I went to a computer show and bought all the parts in one fell swoop. It had an ERSO BIOS in it originally but I later copied the ROM chips from an IBM XT so my clone had an IBM BIOS complete with ROM BASIC.

May 15th, 2012, 11:38 AM
Lets see...I don't think I've ever built one completely of new parts.

The 1st system I did build was a HP Vectra VE that I got in parts after a computer class (we all did). They were originally 400 MHz Pentium II, 64 MB ram, 20 gig hard drive, CD-ROM and whatever random video card was in it (some ATI Rage 128, some Trident cards, some old nVidia cards, ya never knew).

I had built mine but it felt somewhat sluggish, so I threw a Powerleap IP3/T adapter in it with a 1 GHz Pentium III, put 512 MB ram in it (finding a 256 MB+2x128 MB ram modules is easy for PC100\133 ram) and a 24x CD burner. Felt so much faster than those 400 MHz Pentium IIs.

As for one that isn't entirely OEM with an OEM case...I think that would be a...it's either a Dual AMD Athlon MP 3200+ system in a Gateway P5-100 case (kinda killed that board after a while using the stock Gateway PSU and a +12v 4-pin CPU power adapter and no 2nd motherboard power connector) or a 2.8 GHz Pentium 4 HT desktop in a card board box :P.

The 1st "old" computer I built was a Shuttle HOT-433 motherboard, 66 MHz 486 DX2 with 16 MB ram, 1 gig HDD, 1.44 MB floppy and a S3 Trio 64V+ video card. Never did anything with that as I didn't have a keyboard or keyboard adapter for it. It's now been upgraded and is currently a 66 MHz 486 DX2-66 (looking at getting a DX4-100), 32 MB ram, 2.1 GB IBM SCSI HDD, 12X SCSI CD-RW drive, Tekram DC-390U SCSI controller, 1.44 MB floppy, 360K floppy, 3Com 10/100 PCI network adapter that likes to run at 10 Mb/s (even though it's using CAT6 cable to a 100 Mb/s switch) and still has the Trio 64V+, as not much is needed for text-only.

May 26th, 2012, 04:37 PM
my first new purchase build was a 486slc40 with 387sx mathco processor and 16mb of 30 pin simms... think the memory cost right at $600 in 1994...

June 1st, 2012, 08:32 PM
It was around 1989, I used an old clone XT case with 386 XT sized MB, 766 MB FH SCSI, 1.2 MB FDD, Viper Tape drive, Paradise SVGA card, and SVGA monitor. Most of the parts were transferred from my IBM 5150 which had the Intel Inboard 386 card, but not enough slots and would not run Windows 3.0, not even in real mode.

I still have the 5150 and Inboard386 card. I have restored the 5150 to all OEM IBM parts and I put the Inboard386 in an XT 5160 I recently purchased.

I just looked in the rafters in my garage and found this very same clone XT case. I since then transferred the above parts into a tower case, then eventually sold the unit.

June 1st, 2012, 09:24 PM
From scratch--as in starting off with bare PCB, a bucket of components and a soldering iron? There were a few PC kits--and lots of 8-bit kits (the MITS Altair was one such--I recall it took an entire weekend and a lot of coffee to get it built).

Or are you talking about taking someone's already-built board and sticking it into someone else's ready-built case?

June 1st, 2012, 10:35 PM
From scratch--as in starting off with bare PCB, a bucket of components and a soldering iron? There were a few PC kits--and lots of 8-bit kits (the MITS Altair was one such--I recall it took an entire weekend and a lot of coffee to get it built).

Or are you talking about taking someone's already-built board and sticking it into someone else's ready-built case?

The first PC I've built from already built board / case / etc. was back in 1991 and it was a Soviet ES1841. The company I worked for as a student bought few tens of these machines new in boxes, but many of them were DoA, mostly due to low quality connectors and probably rough transportation/handling. So I spent some time switching around components to get more working computers. For historical record, while ES1841 was very compatible with IBM PC/XT it had some major differences (so IMHO it can't be called a PC clone). It used KR1810VM86 or Intel 8086 CPUs (interestingly enough some machines had original Intel CPU and some had soviet counterpart, 8086 looked funny in metric sockets). It didn't have a motherboard or ISA connectors, instead it used a backplane and CPU board, a couple of memory (512 KiB and 128 KiB if I remember correctly) boards, hard drive controller board, CGA-compatible display controller board (with user loadable fonts). All these boards had similar size.

In 1992 I built my first "real" PC clone - AMD 386DX-40 based machine, as far as I remember with 2 MiB of RAM (8 x 256 SIMMs) and a 108 MB HDD.

In 2011 I build a 8088 PC really from scratch - from designing schematics and PCB to soldering components on a board... Well I used some 3rd party components - VGA and sound card, disk controller, floppy drives, power supply, etc.

June 2nd, 2012, 06:52 AM
If Heathkits count I built an ET-3400 trainer. Used a 6800 CPU and had a whopping 256 Bytes! Not KB or MB but bytes of RAM. All programming done through a hex keyboard. Took me 2 days to complete it. That was back in 1977! Had a blast with it and still had it until I recently sold it to a member here.