Forum Rules and Etiquette

Our mission ...

This forum is part of our mission to promote the preservation of vintage computers through education and outreach. (In real life we also run events and have a museum.) We encourage you to join us, participate, share your knowledge, and enjoy.

This forum has been around in this format for over 15 years. These rules and guidelines help us maintain a healthy and active community, and we moderate the forum to keep things on track. Please familiarize yourself with these rules and guidelines.

Rule 1: Remain civil and respectful

There are several hundred people who actively participate here. People come from all different backgrounds and will have different ways of seeing things. You will not agree with everything you read here. Back-and-forth discussions are fine but do not cross the line into rude or disrespectful behavior.

Conduct yourself as you would at any other place where people come together in person to discuss their hobby. If you wouldn't say something to somebody in person, then you probably should not be writing it here.

This should be obvious but, just in case: profanity, threats, slurs against any group (sexual, racial, gender, etc.) will not be tolerated.

Rule 2: Stay close to the original topic being discussed
  • If you are starting a new thread choose a reasonable sub-forum to start your thread. (If you choose incorrectly don't worry, we can fix that.)
  • If you are responding to a thread, stay on topic - the original poster was trying to achieve something. You can always start a new thread instead of potentially "hijacking" an existing thread.

Rule 3: Contribute something meaningful

To put things in engineering terms, we value a high signal to noise ratio. Coming here should not be a waste of time.
  • This is not a chat room. If you are taking less than 30 seconds to make a post then you are probably doing something wrong. A post should be on topic, clear, and contribute something meaningful to the discussion. If people read your posts and feel that their time as been wasted, they will stop reading your posts. Worse yet, they will stop visiting and we'll lose their experience and contributions.
  • Do not bump threads.
  • Do not "necro-post" unless you are following up to a specific person on a specific thread. And even then, that person may have moved on. Just start a new thread for your related topic.
  • Use the Private Message system for posts that are targeted at a specific person.

Rule 4: "PM Sent!" messages (or, how to use the Private Message system)

This forum has a private message feature that we want people to use for messages that are not of general interest to other members.

In short, if you are going to reply to a thread and that reply is targeted to a specific individual and not of interest to anybody else (either now or in the future) then send a private message instead.

Here are some obvious examples of when you should not reply to a thread and use the PM system instead:
  • "PM Sent!": Do not tell the rest of us that you sent a PM ... the forum software will tell the other person that they have a PM waiting.
  • "How much is shipping to ....": This is a very specific and directed question that is not of interest to anybody else.

Why do we have this policy? Sending a "PM Sent!" type message basically wastes everybody else's time by making them having to scroll past a post in a thread that looks to be updated, when the update is not meaningful. And the person you are sending the PM to will be notified by the forum software that they have a message waiting for them. Look up at the top near the right edge where it says 'Notifications' ... if you have a PM waiting, it will tell you there.

Rule 5: Copyright and other legal issues

We are here to discuss vintage computing, so discussing software, books, and other intellectual property that is on-topic is fine. We don't want people using these forums to discuss or enable copyright violations or other things that are against the law; whether you agree with the law or not is irrelevant. Do not use our resources for something that is legally or morally questionable.

Our discussions here generally fall under "fair use." Telling people how to pirate a software title is an example of something that is not allowable here.

Reporting problematic posts

If you see spam, a wildly off-topic post, or something abusive or illegal please report the thread by clicking on the "Report Post" icon. (It looks like an exclamation point in a triangle and it is available under every post.) This send a notification to all of the moderators, so somebody will see it and deal with it.

If you are unsure you may consider sending a private message to a moderator instead.

New user moderation

New users are directly moderated so that we can weed spammers out early. This means that for your first 10 posts you will have some delay before they are seen. We understand this can be disruptive to the flow of conversation and we try to keep up with our new user moderation duties to avoid undue inconvenience. Please do not make duplicate posts, extra posts to bump your post count, or ask the moderators to expedite this process; 10 moderated posts will go by quickly.

New users also have a smaller personal message inbox limit and are rate limited when sending PMs to other users.

Other suggestions
  • Use Google, books, or other definitive sources. There is a lot of information out there.
  • Don't make people guess at what you are trying to say; we are not mind readers. Be clear and concise.
  • Spelling and grammar are not rated, but they do make a post easier to read.
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PC-RETRO Motherboard Kit from MTM Scientific, Inc

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    PC-RETRO Motherboard Kit from MTM Scientific, Inc

    Hello All,

    I just now put up the offer on the MTM website for the PC-RETRO Motherboard Kit. This kit would not be possible without all the help from everyone on this forum. I know we all share an appreciation of the classic PC computing platforms. My hope is that this product will introduce new people to the hobby and provide a fun pastime to those of us who might have been around for awhile.

    Obviously, there will be alot of questions and comments about this kit as people begin building it. In the documentation with the kit I have highlighted the VCF forum and the knowledge base that exists here. Thank You, Michael



    Very cool, but where can one find a case with the old 5-slot 5150 expansion slot spacing?
    Reach me: vcfblackhole _at_ protonmail dot com.


      Which BIOS did you end up using?





          Cool kit. The price is reasonable too.
          It might be a good idea to add some documentation on the site (schematic, part list, building and debugging instructions).

          Do you have any plans to provide other components to make a functioning computer (e.g. CGA/MDA boards?).
          What about keyboard? I guess builders can use an AT2XT converter... but is it documented anywhere?


            Are all the chips the same as the 64-256KB 5150? I'm wondering if it could be a very handy diagnostic tool as well, being all socketed chips, could make it easy to test components on dead 5150 boards.

            Epic work guys.
            Twitter / YouTube


              Hello, These are all great ideas and comments. Yes, since all the chips on the PC-Retro are socketed and identical to the original 5150 you could use it as a diagnostic tool for specific IC's when troubleshooting. The BIOS used for the PC-Retro is the Anonymous BIOS that Plasma debugged earlier this year to work on a 5150 PC. (THANK YOU!)

              I worked very hard trying to find a source of 8 Bit VGA cards to offer with the kit... but no dice. Please, if anyone comes across the 'motherload' of ISA VGA cards, send me an email. I have a Hercules GB101 card that may be possible to reverse engineer and offer as another kit. The GB101 does not have any of the custom gate array logic used on the later model cards.

              For a 'case' for your project, you might consider the breadboard route. Here is a photo of what some well known Apple guy did...




                Originally posted by mmruzek View Post
                For a 'case' for your project, you might consider the breadboard route. Here is a photo of what some well known Apple guy did...
                While that might work (for an Apple) a 5150 (an Orange) is gonna have several expansion cards dangling from it.
                PM me if you're looking for 3" or 5" floppy disks. EMail For everything else, Take Another Step


                  Originally posted by mmruzek View Post
                  I worked very hard trying to find a source of 8 Bit VGA cards to offer with the kit... but no dice. Please, if anyone comes across the 'motherload' of ISA VGA cards, send me an email.

                  I can suggest making Cirrus Logic GD5420 based VGA card project. It is quite possible that I'll do this as my next project (as VGA card is the only board in my 8088/V20 system that I didn't build myself (well, not counting power supply, and disk drives).

                  S100 guys (John & Andrew) are designing similar S100 board:

                  While all Cirrus Logic GD5420 cards that I've seen were ISA 16-bit, the chip can operate on 8-bit data bus too. There are some complications though:
                  1. The GD5420 comes in 160-pin PQFP package... While it is possible to solder it using a regular soldering iron, etc. This endeavor is definitely not for everyone. Same for memory chips (although it is possible to use 20-pin DIP ones too). One solution could be finding some company that will solder SMT parts. Another solution could be using a adapter board (like S100 design does).
                  2. Video BIOS (at least one that I have) uses 80186+ instructions, and thus require V20 CPU, and won't run on 8088. It needs to be disassembled, 80186 instructions replaced with corresponding 8088 instructions, assembled back, etc. It is doable, but will take time.


                    Interesting project Sergey. Is the GD5420 still in production or in stock?
                    My videos:
                    IBM PS/1 model 2011 restored and enhanced
                    IBM PC Advanced Diagnostics Cassette load


                      Originally posted by nestor View Post
                      Interesting project Sergey. Is the GD5420 still in production or in stock?
                      No, it is not in production any more. Cirrus Logic quit graphics controllers business in 1996... But these chips are available from some Chinese electronic component dealers.


                        Originally posted by Plasma View Post
                        Which BIOS did you end up using?
                        I wonder if it is still possible to license AMI or Phoenix's old XT BIOS today.


                          Oh my.

                          That is sexy.

                          I was alive, but very very young when computers were still being hand assembled by hobbyists. So I missed out on that era. I've never done a soldering project this large in terms of total solder joints on a single board, but I've done everything from small hobby kit projects to trace repair on modern boards with hair thin traces, so I'm pretty sure I could tackle this. And boy would I love to!

                          The kit is extremely reasonable in price too, all things considered. If I hadn't just lost my job (ugh) I'd have ordered one instead of typing this.

                          Edit: Just noticed MTM Scientific is based here in Michigan. Even better!


                            Has anyone build one of these yet?

                            Proud owner of 80-0007
                   - The only one of its kind.


                              Hello, Yes the PC-Retro kit has been shipping OK, and the feedback on the kit has been good. For example: Here is a photo from a customer in the UK that built the PC-Retro. Presently we are working on creating a line of items to enhance the kit, such as a kit based VGA video card (Sergey), power supply, memory, breadboard working base (instead of a metal case), keyboard adapater, etc. If people have suggestions or ideas what they think would be good to go with it, we are interested to know! We really appreciate everyone's help with the project here at the VCF. Regards, Michael


                              Originally posted by geneb View Post
                              Has anyone build one of these yet?