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View Full Version : Help identifying old PC from my childhood



tobier
February 10th, 2016, 09:19 PM
Hi all,

I'm driving myself crazy trying to identify which PC I had as a child the mid '90s in Sweden. I've been asking the family but no-one remembers; I asked my grandmother whom gave to me (well, to the family actually ;-)). I have only have vague memories of its features, but I've done some research so that I can present a bullet-point list:


It ran Windows 3.11 for Workgroups, so it must be at least a 386
I vaguley remember an "Energy Star" logo during the bootup
It had a single 3,5" disk drive
It had a large, red paddle switch on the back (or side?) for the PSU
I'm pretty sure it was a PC clone (not from IBM)


This list will probably match 90% of 386 PC compatibles from the early 90s, but maybe I get lucky? Hopefully I could identify it by a picture.

Does anyone have any ideas at all what it could be? At least knowing the manafacturer would reduce the search space considerably.

Thanks,

/Tobias

1944GPW
February 10th, 2016, 10:57 PM
No idea, but this is where Google Images really shines. Entering '386 PC compatible' brings up plenty of pics, take your time....

per
February 10th, 2016, 11:33 PM
A lot of the 386-486 style computers were either towers or had the power switch in the front though!

If it's a clone, then it could have been any motherboard. "Energy Star" on startup was very common from Pentium era to well into the early 2000's, but the older 386/486 clones more often had just something like "American Megatrends Inc" and a memory count.

From your description, it looks like an AT or XT-clone chassis fitted with a mid 90's motherboard. Specifying the exact model is next to impossible without knowing the BIOS build number (printed during startup), but any Pentium or Pentium II or thereabouts should be more or less equalent if this is the case.

tobier
February 11th, 2016, 12:01 AM
A lot of the 386-486 style computers were either towers or had the power switch in the front though!

If it's a clone, then it could have been any motherboard. "Energy Star" on startup was very common from Pentium era to well into the early 2000's, but the older 386/486 clones more often had just something like "American Megatrends Inc" and a memory count.

From your description, it looks like an AT or XT-clone chassis fitted with a mid 90's motherboard. Specifying the exact model is next to impossible without knowing the BIOS build number (printed during startup), but any Pentium or Pentium II or thereabouts should be more or less equalent if this is the case.

Yes, I forgot to list that it's not a tower chassis, but rather more of an AT or XT-clone chassis. A friend pointed me in the direction of AST Research, which *may* be the right manufacturer.

Xacalite
February 11th, 2016, 01:59 AM
"Energy Star" means power saving options, and I don't think I've ever seen those in a desktop 386.
So I guess your box must have been at least 486.

per
February 11th, 2016, 04:47 AM
"Energy Star" means power saving options, and I don't think I've ever seen those in a desktop 386.
So I guess your box must have been at least 486.

That triggered my curiosity! A quick Google search reveals that the "Energy Star" label was formed in 1992, so the motherboard cannot have been older than that. Again, the chassis was very likely an old 80's clone chassis modified to fit a then-new motherboard.

As of features (floppy only+win 3.11), I would therefore date the motherboard to around 1993 or more probably 1994. That would mean a late 486 motherboard (around 33 or 66MHz).

krebizfan
February 11th, 2016, 08:28 AM
A more budget system could be using a fast 386 or something along the lines of Blue Lightning which were all power efficient as well.

How was the floppy mounted: in a standard bay with lots of empty space around, with the pyramidal mouth of the PS/2, or peeking out of a molded case?

The only two red switches I can think of would be AT-clones with a roughly 3" wide switch at the back of the side or some of the PS/2 line which had a 1" switch on the right side of the front.
This http://williambader.com/museum/at/at.html has a good image of the AT power switch; any clone would look very similar. So many clone cases were made that it would be impossible to tell which one you had.

Xacalite
February 11th, 2016, 09:07 AM
the chassis was very likely an old 80's clone chassis modified to fit a then-new motherboard
Why modified?
Typical clone mobos shared the same layout from XT up to Pentium II (or whatever was the last pre-ATX CPU).

vwestlife
February 11th, 2016, 09:31 AM
Maybe something like this, except with a 486 motherboard inside?


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gzqZAR-h-V4

486-era desktop PCs with the old-fashioned red power switch in the rear corner were rare, but they did still exist.

lowen
February 11th, 2016, 09:43 AM
Why modified?
Typical clone mobos shared the same layout from XT up to Pentium II (or whatever was the last pre-ATX CPU).

For what it's worth, there is quite a bit of overlap between AT and ATX form factors, with Socket 5 being the earliest I've seen on an ATX board, and a combo socket 370/slot 1 MB being the last I saw in AT. I have an AT slot 1 system with a PowerLeap upgrade with the Tualatin-based Celeron 1.2GHz in it, and that's the fastest AT system I have. The slowest ATX system I currently have is a PentiumPro 200 single socket 8, 440FX chipset.

The Big Red Switch of the OP really makes me wonder, as even by 486 days the old Big Red Switch AT's were going away, replaced by pushbutton power switches.

6885P5H
February 11th, 2016, 10:11 AM
I can't help you but good luck trying to find out what it was. It took me about 7 months to find out that the old Olivetti computer that was at my grandfather's place so many years ago was an M380-40. I collected pictures of all the different Olivettis and their variants I could find online, I wrote down the names of the computers I couldn't find pictures of, I became extremely familiar with how the company named their computers and I learned all the different "design eras" they had, so that when I saw the model of a computer I could picture in my head what it looked like, when it was made and what CPU it used...

Do lots of Googling in different languages, try different search engines if you want. Search on geo-ship for current and completed listings. Try to find online scans of local newspapers. Search in old magazines online (I found a lot of info and pictures of Olivetti computers on 1001mags and mc-online.it, for example), search in local ads.... Determination really helps..