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Excuse to get into retro PCs

Discussion in 'Retro Gaming and Vintage Computing' started by GodAtum, 25 Nov 2020.

  1. GodAtum

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 27 Sep 2009

    Posts: 1,499

    I'd love to get into retro PCs like Windows 3.1 etc. But have no idea what to use them for. I don;t do gaming or anything like that.

    I use Word a lot on Windows 10 but hate having to sign in and all the data Microsoft gets, so maybe I can use Windows 3.1 for typing? Problem is backing up and sharing all my critical documents.
  2. vanpeebles


    Joined: 22 Aug 2004

    Posts: 7,603

    learn programming?
  3. almoststew1990


    Joined: 12 May 2011

    Posts: 5,502

    Location: Southampton

    To be honest if you need an "excuse" you may find yourself getting bored very quickly!

    Some people play games, some people are just interested in the hardware. I'm interested in both but I knew that coming into retro PCs. Benchmarking, building, comparing, finding unusual parts etc.

    Depending on what you're typing you can probably use Office or Works on Windows 3.1 and make .rtf files that will open on new /365 version of office.

    You can run Office 2000 on Windows 98 and install a MS released converter for docx to doc. So you can open a standard/ new word doc on Windows 98.
  4. Haze


    Joined: 10 Jan 2007

    Posts: 3,639

    So you want to get a retro computer, so that you can use it to do, what you can with a new pc.....
  5. purplesky


    Joined: 4 Oct 2009

    Posts: 515

    Sounds like you don't need a retro pc at all. A raspberry pi will do you.
  6. !bluetonic!


    Joined: 17 Nov 2005

    Posts: 2,734

    Location: Swindon, UK

    I just love putting the hardware together.

    I love games, but am terrible at them.

    I love listening to old-school PC gaming audio on all the various PC soundcards that I own. Stuff from LGR and Phil's Computer Lab have been inspiration here.

    For Windows 3.11, I have an ethernet card so I can download / upload files. I have a dot matrix printer attached. I listen to Midi files. I install all quirky software from my youth including route planners, web browsers, label makers. I play minesweeper, hearts and solitaire.

    Yes you could emulate the above, but there's something truly magical in hearing an old desktop PC do its thing.

    What do you ideally want to do on a retro PC? The possibilities are endless. Try recreating your first PC and OS.
  7. kar


    Joined: 6 Aug 2005

    Posts: 809

    Location: Surrey

    The main reason to get into retro computers is simply to learn problem solving.

    Best place to start would be the pentium (p5) arch platform, once you have PCI slots and usb support and atx power supplies, everything gets a little simpler, the pentium era boards were mostly good quality and survive well today, mid range pentium processors are pretty cheap, 166mmx is nice, fast (for the era) and cheap. 233 mmx is better but then you start paying a premium.

    Once you've assembled your rig, then getting an old version of linux running up on it and learning some x86 assembly, low level VGA programming is very fun and you have _complete_ control of the system. You can run some games, some basic music apps, you can connect it to a network, you can do quite a bit with such a machine.
  8. wolfie138


    Joined: 8 Jun 2013

    Posts: 3,782

    if all you do is love putting hardware together you should just get the PC Builder Sim!
  9. MrFunex

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 17 Oct 2005

    Posts: 1,128

    Location: Southampton

    I think if you're interested in having a potter about on old stuff just 'because', you'll quickly find that old hardware was a bit... rubbish.

    If, however, you're in it to have a go at programming in a different environment, really want to play a selection of certain era games, or just fancy dabbling in old hardware - go for it. Doesn't have to be expensive.
  10. Bubo


    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 6,968

    Location: Scun'orp

    If I ever did get off my arse and actually went about making functioning retro pcs out of the huge piles of bits I have kicking about, it would be to do something like LGR does with having a MS-DOS specific machine, a windows 98 machine and a windows XP machine, with the incentive being this would enable to never run into problems if I ever wanted to run that old program which is either so old that modern windows just laughs at it, or has just succumbed to the latest windows update which removes another level of compatibility for older stuff. Up to now it is a combination of virtual machines and just being to lazy to get round to it that have stopped me, but the option is always there for when I do eventually get the urge. So it is a sort of incentive in waiting more than anything for me.
  11. Witcher1980


    Joined: 23 Feb 2017

    Posts: 819

    Location: Westleton

    Don't really see much point in retro pcs but each to their own. Personally I find it more fun to mess with old commodores, ataris and spectrums. They have some great hardware to mess with.

    Getting an A1200 online and browsing the web is a great feeling
  12. Guest2


    Joined: 6 May 2009

    Posts: 16,687

    I recently bought a machine from late 90s (still to arrive) Lockdown project to bring back some of the memories (good and bad!) of Windows 98 and specifically gaming on a 3dfx Voodoo card. Emulation isnt great for the Glide API.
    Amiga 500 was my first machine as a child and had some great memories but wanted a project I can adapt and changes part in as I please whilst also being able to transfer required drivers and software
  13. Cyber-Mav


    Joined: 30 Jul 2005

    Posts: 15,440

    Location: Midlands

    at this point in time retro pcs are for those with free time on their hands and got nothing else to do.
  14. silvagti


    Joined: 10 Apr 2013

    Posts: 2,759

    I quite like the idea of trying to find an 80s/90s style beige box case (with floppy disk drive, zip disk, 5.14" floppy drive , etc) and filling it with modern components for the aesthetic. Maybe something with a brand that no longer exists but was big back in the day like Packard Bell, Amstrad, or Time. Perhaps even one of the early Alienware or first generation Dell XPS cases!

    I'm not sure I see the appeal in actually using old hardware components though! :D

    I quite like retro hardware generally (80s & 90s 8/16 bit computer and console systems) but ,for me at least, old computer components don't have the same appeal as a bespoke consumer product like a zx spectrum or an original Gameboy/NES/etc.
    Last edited: 7 Mar 2021
  15. Cyber-Mav


    Joined: 30 Jul 2005

    Posts: 15,440

    Location: Midlands

    packard bell, man that at Tandy bring back some memories. but the past should stay in the past. :p
  16. Guest2


    Joined: 6 May 2009

    Posts: 16,687

    Still use a Packard Bell every day. Vintage 1996, still with the sticker over the space bar


    Older makes I rememeber were Gateway, Tiny, Trust, Altec Lansing