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Finding the right extended/expanded memory for my Dell System 200 286

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    Finding the right extended/expanded memory for my Dell System 200 286

    My Dell System 200 286 is in tip-top condition with the exception that I'd still like to max out the RAM. It has 4 30-pin SIMM slots. Under the case cover I find this sticker on top of the floppy drive cage. See SIMM note on the lower left.

    Dell System 200 Component Identification - Screenshot 2021-05-05 204458.jpgDell System 200 286 SIMM slots - Screenshot 2021-05-05 202232.jpg

    I bought a set of quantity 8 of 256 kB. SIMM sticks on eBay. Here is what the listing said.
    • "8x 256KB 30-Pin 3-Chip Parity 80ns Memory SIMMs 2MB Matched Set Vintage PC RAM
    • Condition: Seller refurbished
    • Our mission is to provide the highest quality Macintosh parts for your vintage computer restoration projects.
    • ITEM DESCRIPTION: This is a matched set of EIGHT 256KMB 30-pin SIMMs, totaling 2MB. These are parity modules with three chips on one side (other side is empty) This is a fully tested and working set for vintage PC systems.
    • NOTE: Your item may look slightly different than the one pictured here.
    • TESTING: The item was tested in our shop and works perfectly!"
    I inserted 4 of the sticks in the correct direction and tried booting, but the computer would not boot. I removed the sticks and it booted fine.

    The 4 SIMM sticks inserted - Screenshot 2021-05-05 212316.jpg

    Is installing RAM in a 286 PC as simple as putting it in the slots and booting up, or am I missing something? Is it possible I was sent Mac SIMM RAM instead of PC RAM, or even some other thing, like Amiga SIMM? Is there any difference between PC SIMM RAM parts and Mac SIMM RAM and any other SIMM?
    Last edited by Bill-kun; May 5, 2021, 05:24 PM.
    Sattinger’s Law: “It works better if you plug it in.” 🤯 Corollary: “It works even better if you plug it in correctly.” 🤯🤯
    "The simplest solution is the most likely solution." --My paraphrase of Occam's Razor
    "You can get [a computer] like yours at a garage sale for, like, fifteen dollars," --Strong Sad, sbemail #33

    There's no difference between Mac and PC 30 pin SIMMs, they're the same. The only odd man out is IBM 30 pin SIMMs, which do have different pinouts on specific machines.

    The only thing that could be causing issues is the fact it only has two memory chips (the 3rd smaller one is for parity) instead of eight or 9 chip modules (the 9th again being for parity.) Some machines don't play nice with high density memory modules that use four or two memory chips on them. Parity is another thing, some machines don't like parity memory.


      Given that the memory stick diagram shows 9 chips, I will assume I need sticks of 256 kB. with 9 chips each. Now to search for them.
      Sattinger’s Law: “It works better if you plug it in.” 🤯 Corollary: “It works even better if you plug it in correctly.” 🤯🤯
      "The simplest solution is the most likely solution." --My paraphrase of Occam's Razor
      "You can get [a computer] like yours at a garage sale for, like, fifteen dollars," --Strong Sad, sbemail #33


        According to Total Hardware's motherboard information the Dell 200 system requires parity chips:
        Size Bank 0 Bank 1 Bank 2 Bank 3
        1MB (1) 256K x 36 NONE NONE NONE
        2MB (1) 256K x 36 (1) 256K x 36 NONE NONE
        3MB (1) 256K x 36 (1) 256K x 36 (1) 256K x 36 NONE
        4MB (1) 256K x 36 (1) 256K x 36 (1) 256K x 36 (1) 256K x 36
        4MB (1) 1M x 36 NONE NONE NONE
        5MB (1) 1M x 36 (1) 256K x 36 NONE NONE
        6MB (1) 1M x 36 (1) 256K x 36 (1) 256K x 36 NONE
        7MB (1) 1M x 36 (1) 256K x 36 (1) 256K x 36 (1) 256K x 36
        8MB (1) 1M x 36 (1) 1M x 36 NONE NONE
        9MB (1) 1M x 36 (1) 1M x 36 (1) 256K x 36 NONE
        10MB (1) 1M x 36 (1) 1M x 36 (1) 256K x 36 (1) 256K x 36
        12MB (1) 1M x 36 (1) 1M x 36 (1) 1M x 36 NONE
        13MB (1) 1M x 36 (1) 1M x 36 (1) 1M x 36 (1) 256K x 36
        16MB (1) 1M x 36 (1) 1M x 36 (1) 1M x 36 (1) 1M x 36
        Note: Sizes shown here are in addition to 640KB factory configured on the main board.


          I would install four 9-chip (parity) 1MB chips myself. Much easier to find. According to the chart above it looks like 256K chips are not even supported.