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3pcedev
September 21st, 2014, 01:04 AM
I always find it a great challenge to see what I can get to run on old hardware. I really love my XT class computers so I have been seeing what games I can get to run on them - specifically games that were written in much later times. To class as a success the game must run at a playable speed (i.e. not waiting hours for the next screen to load).

My crowning achievement so far is Space Quest IV (1991) on an IBM 5160. This wasn't easy and I needed the following:

Paradise 8-Bit VGA Card
RAM card to get up to 640k
Enough hard drive space to fit SQIV (10MB or so)
Hypertec Research 80286 Accelerator Board (yes I cheated..)


If nothing else this really gave me a feel for why people bought the accelerator boards; without it there is absolutely no way it would run. With it installed it opened up a whole other generation of software which can be used (albeit a little slowly).

So I guess my question is this - what have people got to run on old hardware that they didn't think would be remotely possible?

sgifanatic
September 21st, 2014, 05:24 AM
I don't think my answer will be of particular interest to you, simply because you appear to be asking about games primarily. But, if we are in fact cheating :-), then I have successfully run AutoCAD, Ventura Publisher, DESQview 386 and CorelDRAW under Windows 3.0 running on an XT clone.

The cheating bit is what's actually interesting. I managed to do this many years ago (1991/2) by using an Intel Inboard 386 accelerator. Sadly, I neither have that XT clone, nor the Inboard any more. There is very minimal information about this add-in available online. The Wikipedia entry is quite bare (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intel_Inboard_386) but I was able to find a picture:

20568
Picture credit: http://ummr.altervista.org/x86gen.htm

Curiously, the Wikipedia post talks about one of the pitfalls being a long delay on a slow-to-POST system. That's exactly the problem I had. My XT clone would inch its way through the 640K RAM check. There was no ESC shortcut to opt-out, nor BIOS settings to disable the slow POST! The Inboard also catered for a RAM expansion, and along with the Intel Aboveboard (RAM expander) and the Intel SatisFAXtion fax modem board, formed the holy trinity of XT upgrades.

Maverick1978
September 22nd, 2014, 06:48 AM
It would have been interesting to see if you could have gotten SQ4 to run in EGA mode on the XT without the VGA card :)

3pcedev
September 22nd, 2014, 02:13 PM
I don't think my answer will be of particular interest to you, simply because you appear to be asking about games primarily. But, if we are in fact cheating :-), then I have successfully run AutoCAD, Ventura Publisher, DESQview 386 and CorelDRAW under Windows 3.0 running on an XT clone..

No I'm interested in software of any type, whether it be OS's, utilities, games etc.

Those intel processor cards look awesome. I would love to get my hands on something like that; however these days they are so rare that most people have not even heard of them. I was very lucky with my accelerator card; it was in my 5160 when I got it years ago. Back then I didn't even know what it was - it was only when I joined this forum and asked that I realised what I had (and how ridiculously rare this particular brand was as it was made in Australia). Funny part was I had a CGA card in the machine which for some bizarre reason declocked the 80286 to 4.77MHz. Out of sheer dumb luck when I installed an EGA card it magically went to 10MHz which improved performance significantly.

Also I was really keen to try SQ4EGA however I could not find a copy of it anywhere on the net! I have the VGA edition from back in the day; it seems everyone on the net has the same version which does not support EGA in any form.

I am pseudo tempted to install my sound blaster (from my other XT) into the 5160 and see if I can get some music happening too........

sgifanatic
September 22nd, 2014, 06:51 PM
No I'm interested in software of any type, whether it be OS's, utilities, games etc.

Those intel processor cards look awesome. I would love to get my hands on something like that; however these days they are so rare that most people have not even heard of them. I was very lucky with my accelerator card; it was in my 5160 when I got it years ago. Back then I didn't even know what it was - it was only when I joined this forum and asked that I realised what I had (and how ridiculously rare this particular brand was as it was made in Australia). Funny part was I had a CGA card in the machine which for some bizarre reason declocked the 80286 to 4.77MHz. Out of sheer dumb luck when I installed an EGA card it magically went to 10MHz which improved performance significantly.

Also I was really keen to try SQ4EGA however I could not find a copy of it anywhere on the net! I have the VGA edition from back in the day; it seems everyone on the net has the same version which does not support EGA in any form.

I am pseudo tempted to install my sound blaster (from my other XT) into the 5160 and see if I can get some music happening too........

A completely tricked out XT is something on my list to acquire. Sound, Ethernet, mem expansion, an accelerator... Maybe even vga. That would be a sweet system!

Trixter
September 22nd, 2014, 07:11 PM
Would 24fps full-motion video (http://trixter.oldskool.org/2014/06/19/8088-domination-post-mortem-part-1/) count as an achievement? (No upgrades necessary, just a 20MB hard drive)

sgifanatic
September 22nd, 2014, 08:05 PM
Would 24fps full-motion video (http://trixter.oldskool.org/2014/06/19/8088-domination-post-mortem-part-1/) count as an achievement? (No upgrades necessary, just a 20MB hard drive)

I greatly admire your work. What you've done is nothing short of phenomenal!

When in my mid teens, I wrote a sprite animator in x86 assembler, a version of which I demo'd in the YouTube video below. This has many issues which, for the heck of it, I'd like to fix one day...

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=yGO9HQ2jeaU

mbbrutman
September 23rd, 2014, 03:55 AM
For hardware: getting XT-IDE running on a PCjr, and then collaborating on jrIDE (http://www.brutman.com/jrIDE/)

For software: mTCP, including running a reasonably modern web server on the open internet on a 4.77Mhz machine.

PeterNC
September 23rd, 2014, 04:02 AM
Project MPU (http://www.vintage-computer.com/vcforum/showthread.php?43120-Project-MPU).

Cimonvg
September 23rd, 2014, 10:05 AM
hello
you 3pcedev have a "I always find it a great challenge to see what I can get to run on old hardware" hobby, myself more like "what is the most advanced hardware and newest software on a ibm 5150 motherboard". And yes i am also on the Inboard ;) .
But like yesterday, i was trying out a 5170 motherboard and trying to get the most out of it. CPU upgarde MakeIt486 and two Above boards with total of 16 Mb RAM (extended). But my Tekram dc-600cf raid ide controller is not doing well in this motherboard (?). And then you are back at (at least my hobby) - what limitations do the different components have , and why do it not function like i dream of ..? :) ...and yes someday i will post again, part two of my "this is my hobby".
/cimonvg

Trixter
September 23rd, 2014, 01:33 PM
I greatly admire your work. What you've done is nothing short of phenomenal!

And that's how I feel about mbbrutman's work. mTCP + jrIDE turn a PCjr from a joke into a completely usable vintage computer.

Mike Chambers
September 23rd, 2014, 03:21 PM
My best achievement is probably the OS I was writing (http://www.vintage-computer.com/vcforum/showthread.php?27154-MT86-a-real-mode-multitasking-OS) that never quite got completed that was a mix of C and assembly. Real-mode multitasking and multiple virtual terminals (switched like linux ctrl-alt-F#) that could run on an 8088. Even had a TCP/IP stack I wrote. The file system support never got completed. It could only read files and didn't support directories. Wanted to finish it, but turned out I lost the code. Maybe I'll give it another try one of these days.

Cimonvg
September 24th, 2014, 12:39 PM
hello again
did try another IDE controler with BIOS , no luck. But the "DTC eide ultra pro 2280eb" runs like a charm :o)
..did install windows 95 on the 5170 motherboard (rev 3), but it takes 3 minutes and 23 seconds to start windows :D
Runs better than expected !
/cimonvg


hello
you 3pcedev have a "I always find it a great challenge to see what I can get to run on old hardware" hobby, myself more like "what is the most advanced hardware and newest software on a ibm 5150 motherboard". And yes i am also on the Inboard ;) .
But like yesterday, i was trying out a 5170 motherboard and trying to get the most out of it. CPU upgarde MakeIt486 and two Above boards with total of 16 Mb RAM (extended). But my Tekram dc-600cf raid ide controller is not doing well in this motherboard (?). And then you are back at (at least my hobby) - what limitations do the different components have , and why do it not function like i dream of ..? :) ...and yes someday i will post again, part two of my "this is my hobby".
/cimonvg

Dwight Elvey
September 25th, 2014, 10:14 AM
Taking a Novix NC4000 board and wiring a XT hard disk controller
and a XT floppy controller to it and wrote drivers in CM-Forth
to have block R/W working( also formatting ).
I use two 360K floppies and a ST506 5Meg hard drive.
Using the hard drive, I can recompile the ROMs in less
than 15 seconds from source.
Dwight

3pcedev
September 25th, 2014, 02:46 PM
Thanks for all the replies! There are indeed some great examples of what can be done with the older 8088 architecture!

Trixter - I was actually familiar with your work a while back (although I only watched it on YouTube). When I got out my 5160 & Laser Turbo XT (and got a Lo-Tech CF adaptor) I was able to try it for myself. Super impressive considering it not only has full motion picture but it is also able to use the Soundblaster card to produce audio without any hesitations.

Cimonvg - Windows 95 on a 5170! I would say with confidence that you are probably the only person who has ever tried this! I'm surprised it works at all; even with the 486 accelerator.

I'm also surprised how many people are into developing hardware and then writing low level software (i.e. operating systems, BIOS's etc). I wish I had the time to do something like this; however with full time work plus all my other hobbies I would never be able to get the projects finished. I am really indebted to people that developed things like XT-IDE, Lo-Tech boards etc because this has allowed me to use my older hardware again with nothing but some patience and a soldering iron.

billdeg
October 13th, 2014, 09:04 PM
I'd like to get my pdp8 on the web so that people can connect and access it remotely. It's on my would like to do someday list. Actual work, not much, I usually focus on restoration and not tricking out. I used to connect to the web with a 5150 and a modem, when that kind of thing was possible practically (barely) in 1993/4.... I guess the only thing along those lines is my C-128D has a MMC/RR-Net and GEOS IRC chat capability.

RaptorZX3
October 20th, 2014, 12:34 AM
i think my best achievement so far was to build more-or-less the same configuration i had for my Pentium 200 MMX at the time. Slight changes are:
- Using a Voodoo2 8mb instead of a Voodoo1 4mb.
- 1 x 128mb SDRAM instead of 4 x 16mb EDO RAM.
- ATI Rage 2C 4mb instead of an ATI 3D Xpression 4mb.
- Using a 5.25" drive, instead of none (at the time).
- ATX case instead of AT case. (with AT backplate behind. Main Board is ATX-compatible too, it's a M571 board)

Caluser2000
October 20th, 2014, 10:27 AM
Never thought I'd ever use a graphical web browser on a 286 http://www.vintage-computer.com/vcforum/showthread.php?40708-Zenith-Data-Systems-Model-ZCV-251-EC/page4

nc_mike
November 15th, 2014, 08:08 AM
My best achievement was getting media players embedded in electronic books in the early 1980's when hypertext was just beginning to emerge as being something viable to actually develop outside of the mainframe environment (yes, I am talking about even pre-Hypercard). Hypertext has been invented in '64 by Ted Nelson, but it had not found practical development and commercial success until mainframe eBook development success in late 70's/early 80's. I had been using prototype video cards straight from Intel's lab that were not yet on the commercial market to do the development. The eBooks had previously been developed to run on proprietary mainframe systems built on Generalized Markup Language which my peers had invented and later on which HTML was based. We had just ported the mainframe eBook technology to DOS; it was the largest and earliest broad commercial use of hypertext electronic book technology in that era (IBM BookManager) with countless tens of thousands of users in mainframe data centers worldwide. While we were all experimenting with some of the earliest practical hypertext implementations back then, I was first to marry semantic GML markup with audio and video to embed media players in an electronic book reader. Remember, the web was still years off. I have the earliest, official filed invention disclosure in the US patent office to prove it every time I come across someone that casts doubt on that claim. I have had flame wars from people talking about what they assert were earlier hypermedia eBook achievements and prior art, but they get lost in the fact that all of their 'early' references are post mainframe implementations after the early PCs emerged while we were doing it on the mainframes in the pre-PC era - of course they are mostly academics that think the world of computing began with the advent of the personal computer. The only ironic thing about all of that is had we went for full patent instead of the publish of the filed invention disclosure it would have required anyone embedding a media player into a web browser to...well, you get the picture :-)

nc_mike
November 17th, 2014, 04:02 AM
I don't think my answer will be of particular interest to you, simply because you appear to be asking about games primarily. But, if we are in fact cheating :-), then I have successfully run AutoCAD, Ventura Publisher, DESQview 386 and CorelDRAW under Windows 3.0 running on an XT clone.

The cheating bit is what's actually interesting. I managed to do this many years ago (1991/2) by using an Intel Inboard 386 accelerator. Sadly, I neither have that XT clone, nor the Inboard any more. There is very minimal information about this add-in available online. The Wikipedia entry is quite bare (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intel_Inboard_386) but I was able to find a picture:

20568
Picture credit: http://ummr.altervista.org/x86gen.htm

Curiously, the Wikipedia post talks about one of the pitfalls being a long delay on a slow-to-POST system. That's exactly the problem I had. My XT clone would inch its way through the 640K RAM check. There was no ESC shortcut to opt-out, nor BIOS settings to disable the slow POST! The Inboard also catered for a RAM expansion, and along with the Intel Aboveboard (RAM expander) and the Intel SatisFAXtion fax modem board, formed the holy trinity of XT upgrades.


I've reconstructed my PC/XT recently with precisely what you describe - an InBoard/386 combined with an AboveBoard PC. It additionally uses a VGA monitor and a CF card for a fast hard drive which when all combined, add up to what you once had and then some. I know I'm not the first to do all of that by a long shot, but you are right, it takes the seemingly impossible, possible. There is an InBoard for sale on eBay right now @ $200USD OBO which is a good price, and the doc and drivers are online, so if you really want to reconstruct your model it is still doable. I plan to replace the 386 with a 486 pin-compatible CPU, but wary of which SW it will break due to timing issues; At least the Inboard has a soft switch to toggle its speed between 8MHz and 16MHz - I am not sure what the Inboard drivers will do when I swap out the 386 for a 486 - only one way to find out....

Regarding the slow post - I read some old magazine articles about that and it only happens on certain systems. I guess I've been lucky as I don't have that issues - mine posts wicked fast. Waiting for the AboveBoard EMS to count up to its full 8MB of expanded memory takes about a minute, but that is worth the wait.

I don't intend to run too many 386 apps on my rig - its just fun to see how far I can push it. I have a Pentium 500MHz system on which to run Win 3.11, Win95, Win98, and OS/2 Warp4 all via BootMagic. For anything higher (Win2000, XP, etc), I run in Virtual machines on my 6-core i7.

Regards,
Mike