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Thread: how do YOU define a "tweener?"

  1. #1
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    Default how do YOU define a "tweener?"

    Posted here for lack of a better place. Apologies if it's the wrong area.

    ...I've been wondering for a while how one defines a "tweener." A machine that can run both MS-DOS era software as well as Windows 10? A machine with more than one kind of floppy drive? A dual boot system?

    How do you define tweener?

  2. #2
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    Something with Wndows 98SE, that has USB, CD, Floppy, network card.

  3. #3
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    The whole point of a "tweener" is to move data *between* truly vintage (such as PC/XT/AT or older) systems and lobotomized modern systems.

    You would have a rather hard time these days finding a system that can run Windows 10 well and having even the minimum to act as a "tweener". It would need at minimum a real FDC and support for 1.2mb/720k/360k drives.

    And then any NT based OS (NT/2000/XP/Vista/7/8/10) has rather poor floppy support.

    In my opinion, an ideal tweener would:

    -Have any Pentium, K6, or Athlon era CPU
    -Have a generic AT or ATX case
    -Have BIOS support for *two* real, internal floppy drives.
    -Have Ethernet Networking (easy to add)
    -Have Windows 95 OSR2 or 98SE as the primary OS for easy DOS access (ME/2000/XP are more difficult)
    -Have USB ports for flash drives.
    -Have at least one ISA slot and plenty of additional slots (AGP/PCI)
    -Ideally the FDC should support FM encoding, but that is rather uncommon and hard to tell just by looking.
    -The motherboard should use a coin cell CMOS battery instead of a Dallas or Odin integrated clock/battery chip.

    There was a previous thread about tweeners here: http://www.vcfed.org/forum/showthrea...-Tweeners-quot
    And a test of some of the last motherboards with FDCs here: http://www.vcfed.org/forum/showthrea...acy-quot-tests

    If you require a "modern" computer that interfaces directly with floppy disks, then you should look in to adding a Kryoflux or SuperCard pro.

  4. #4
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    A machine capable of running Windows XP on a single physical CPU core however does not use PCI Express.
    Minimum floppy requirements are generic support for 3.5" and 5.25" floppy drives.
    [Need something to waste time on? Click here to visit my YouTube channel CelGenStudios]
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    = Excellent space heater

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by SomeGuy View Post
    The whole point of a "tweener" is to move data *between* truly vintage (such as PC/XT/AT or older) systems and lobotomized modern systems.
    Agreed.

    Another example would be the Apple Mac Performer 630 I have to transfer data from my main PC to a Mac plus.

  6. #6

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    I think to define a tweener you need to consider what exactly you are intending to transfer onto a modern computer. For most people it's probably floppy disks, so in that case you don't need much. If it's only 3.5" disks you can still pick up cheap USB floppy drives which makes building a tweener simple, or even unnecessary. But if you want to extend your capabilities further, into RLL/MFM hard drives, parallel port drives, tape drives connected to the floppy interface, old SCSI devices, hard cards, and so on, then that will dictate what type of tweener you want - probably as a result of what kind of drivers are available for the hardware, and what OS you have to run to use those drivers.

    I think we're getting to the point where it's going to be difficult to have a single tweener that can handle everything, with some technologies requiring multiple steps to get to a modern machine. Although interestingly it's becoming possible to add newer hardware to older computers, so things can now go in the other direction - instead of finding a newer computer that can still interface to older hardware, you can find an older computer that readily supports the older hardware, and add a newer interface to it.

    The main one for me is the IDE to SD-card interfaces you can get from China for a few dollars that allow SD cards to appear as hard drives on any machine that supports an IDE interface. I have a 286 booting off an SD card, with IDE support in ROM thanks to the XT-IDE project. With this machine I can use the SD card to directly transfer gigabytes of files between the 286 and a modern PC. Since the 286 natively supports RLL/MFM hard drives, that's my go-to machine if I need to read any data off those drives, or indeed anything that requires an ISA slot or a real parallel port and doesn't need 386+ protected mode.

    I have other systems too, but they are all based around what I want to read. Early on I tried to have a single system that could do it all, but I found hardware for it was not common and often commanded high prices. I didn't like the idea of building an expensive tweener only to have it break and need another rare part to get up and running again, so I went with the multiple cheap systems option. This has the advantage of there being some overlap, so if one system is not cooperating you can easily try another system and usually at least one will get the job done.

    So to answer the OP's question, I think a tweener is whatever you need it to be to read a format that can't be read on current-generation hardware.

  7. #7
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    Tweener: An excuse to keep a Pentium II/III around.

    A good tweener should have the ability to read older floppies and connect directly to an older system through programs like Laplink while also having the performance to handle modern Ethernet, USB drives, and even writing optical drives. Mine never gets as much usage as a tweener as I planned but it still serves as a disk imager and late 90s game system.

  8. #8
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    Heck a decent P4 can do that--even support ISA cards.

  9. #9
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    These days I installed OS Win98 SE and win XP on my Dell XPS R400 - Pii-400/368mbram/80gb ide/16mb riva, Installed my favorite games of the ear on Win98 partition there - Red BaronII, Dark Forces II/JEdi Knight, Nox, Revenant, Midtown Madness, X-Wing Alliance - as I began to feel true nostalgia for late 1999s, early 2000s...

    But also I use to work with floppy drives - both 3.5'' 1.44 and 5-25'' 1.2mb and 360k. Even to exchange data with my Kaypro 10.

    And in Win XP there's a terminal program to exchange data with Kayro 10 by com null modem cable and also I load data by usb to win xp and then transfer with Norton 4.0 from win 98 by LPT null modem cable to my 8088 - P1 machines. So there's a lot of work for my pII ) And - mp3, photoshop, as well )

  10. #10
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    I'm guessing the XP program you're referring to is Hyperterminal, yes?

    To which Nortons 4.0 do you refer? Commander? Utilities?

    It occurred to me a while ago that telnet might prove useful in getting some of the vintage machines to talk to each other, given the paucity of networking software back then.

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