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Questions tagged [ibm-pc]

For questions about the early IBM PC, clones and compatible systems.

37
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2answers
9k views

Who set the 640K limit?

We all know that "640K should be enough for everyone". But who actually set this limit? The quote is often attributed to Bill Gates, but it doesn't seem like a decision for an Operating System vendor ...
4
votes
1answer
445 views

Microsoft Flight Simulator 1.0 “DIVIDE BY ZERO” command

I was reading an Wikipedia article named "History Of Microsoft Flight Simulator" and I noticed something weird about Microsoft Flight Simulator 1.0: November 1982 sometime during 1981-82 ...
43
votes
9answers
7k views

Why was preemptive multitasking so slow in coming to consumer OS's?

Preemptive (rather than cooperative) multitasking was a highly-touted feature for PC's in 1996, with its inclusion in Windows 95 for the first time. It was also highly-touted for 2001 Macs when ...
31
votes
7answers
8k views

How did Apple fail to tap the business and scientific markets?

Currently reading an excellent book called Blue Magic: The People, Power and Politics Behind the IBM Personal Computer, which is just what it says on the tin; highly recommended to anyone who wants to ...
23
votes
8answers
3k views

What were the early PC applications requiring a hard disk?

I had to wait about 5 years before hard drives (HDs) became affordable enough to begin moving off of floppies. During this time, I remember my desire for an HD being based on convenience. All the ...
12
votes
1answer
655 views

The almost-was Atari IBM PC

One of the more remarkable events in the history of personal computers was IBM contemplating basing their PC on Atari technology. That this was seriously considered, everyone agrees, but it's hard to ...
30
votes
17answers
9k views

What were the real competitors to the early IBM PC?

As I understand it, PC was not really competitive with Home computers until the 90’s. The PCs rise in popularity in the 80s must have been mainly in the business world. So during that time, what ...
14
votes
2answers
2k views

How do CGA emulators for Hercules graphics work?

HGC cards on IBM PCs used to be able to run CGA software by using a CGA emulator. How exactly did those programs work? What were the limitations?
3
votes
3answers
347 views

What was the first integrated PC compatible computer?

When IBM developed the PC, they famously chose a bunch of off-the-shelf components. Besides making the machine relatively easy to clone, another effect of this was it used a lot of chips and board ...
3
votes
1answer
179 views

Using floppy disk interface on Future Domain TMC-1680 SCSI ISA card

I have this old card, a Future Domain TMC-1680 ISA SCSI card that has a 34-pin floppy disk connector on it. I am trying to research that to see if I can make it work (before anyone asks - just for the ...
3
votes
1answer
135 views

IBM 5153 monitor vertical resolution

The IBM 5153, the color monitor accompanying the original IBM PC, was designed to work with the CGA graphics card, vertical resolution 200 scan lines. This was quite unsurprising and straightforward. ...
6
votes
4answers
1k views

How do I create a boot menu to select between Windows and DOS?

I was not a PC user before Windows 98. But I remember one of my friends was using a boot menu in his 486 machine to select between Windows/DOS. The menu was like: 1. EMS 2. XMS 3. Windows If we ...
11
votes
3answers
1k views

What specific technical advance(s) allowed PCs to play “Full-screen full-motion” video?

In the early 1990s, the new buzzword for PCs was "Multimedia", and the gold standard for multimedia performance usually talked about was "full-screen full-motion" video playback. Many will remember ...
6
votes
5answers
387 views

Where are the authoritative specs for legacy PC/AT devices still in use in today's PCs?

For example, the 8250/16550 chip used to handle serial communication is still simulated by modern chipsets and is enumerated by ACPI as PNP0500/PNP0501. You can find datasheets for these chips. ...
7
votes
1answer
163 views

How did Drive Overlay programs break BIOS disk barriers on older PCs?

I was just reading a thread on Vogons about OnTrack and EZ-Drive setup, and it occurred to me that I have no idea how they work. Please explain why the barrier existed and then how the overlay ...
6
votes
1answer
389 views

First 80286 Based Computer

The 80286 was released in early 1982. The IBM PC AT, which used it, was released in late 1984. Two and a half years is a long time to design a new computer that is a fairly modest upgrade on existing ...
9
votes
2answers
1k views

Unused RAM Chips on x86 machines

On classic x86 machines the upper 384 KB of system memory contains video RAM and BIOS ROM Besides other things. Those areas overlay over conventional RAM, so that you can't use all upper memory, but ...
5
votes
2answers
457 views

Is there really 1MiB of physical memory in the motherboard of a PC AT/XT?

This is a question that has been puzzling me for a while. What happens with devices like graphic cards that have their own memory chips? Do these cards read/write from their own internal memory to/...
1
vote
4answers
418 views

What we commonly call PCs are in fact ATs, correct?

I remember all those video game boxes stamped with IBM PC (and compatible), while bringing good memories I felt this was rather incorrect. Most of these games would never run on such computers, i.e. ...
3
votes
1answer
116 views

Thinkpad 350 keyboard

Am wondering how to use the keyboard from a Thinkpad 350. There are three cables, with 6, 10, and 18 pins (but the big connector on the motherboard seems to have only 17). I assume this is a grid of ...
16
votes
2answers
3k views

First commercial DOS game?

What was the first commercial game sold for use on IBM/MS/PC DOS after the IBM August 12, 1981 release.
6
votes
2answers
423 views

Who were the first engineers to “cleanroom” the IBM PC BIOS?

In the first season of the AMC show Halt & Catch Fire, the protagonist "Cameron Howe" is introduced. Cameron portrays a rookie engineer who is recruited for being extraordinarily talented, and is ...
10
votes
6answers
1k views

Why did tactile-feedback keyboards lose popularity?

IBM spoiled me for hardware quality. I've gone through many computers, including a TRS-80, Heathkit H-89, Commodore Vic-20 and C-64, and countless PC's but my first original IBM PC will always be my ...
41
votes
9answers
11k views

Why did the IBM PC need a sound card?

The original IBM PC and later variants used an Intel 8253 or 8254 as a sound chip. Why did users add sound cards such as the Adlib or Sound Blaster. I remember voice output with programs like ...
6
votes
5answers
1k views

Cannot boot off of Compact Flash card

I am trying to fix up an old work computer I have from the early to mid 90's. Everything works fine, but the hard drive makes a horrible clicking noise when it loads anything, so I decided to replace ...
92
votes
21answers
33k views

Was there ever any reason to wait 30 seconds to restart a c.1995 PC?

I owned a PC in the mid-to-late 90s, and while everyone said when you turn it off and back on again, count to 30. But it also had an instant reset button down below. Was there ever really any risk ...
12
votes
5answers
1k views

Adding the third floppy drive?

I've seen a few computers with more than two floppy drives, most with two 3.5" and one 5.25". My question is how was this achieved? I've heard that it could be done with a second controller card, but ...
7
votes
2answers
376 views

How to repair paint on IBM PC?

I have an IBM XT 286 which has essentially the same case as the original IBM PC. It has a few minor blemishes, some places where the paint has been chipped off, and some tiny spots of rust. How should ...
4
votes
2answers
163 views

With better character handling capability, why didn't PC-98 system succeed in rest of East Asia?

From my understanding, an important advantage PC-98 have over IBM compatible PC was that it is better at handling ideograph based characters which are common in East Asian countries. Why didn't other ...
10
votes
1answer
1k views

How did an IBM 5150 with 16KB RAM work?

I keep reading that when it was first released, there was a variant of the IBM PC model 5150 that had only 16KB of RAM installed. From a hardware perspective, this would clearly work - the 5150 ...
19
votes
5answers
4k views

What makes a floppy disk bootable?

A lot of web sites describe how to create a bootable floppy disk using an existing image (via dd). But what about the image makes it bootable? I'm interested in making my own bootable floppy images ...
21
votes
3answers
3k views

Does an ISA card have a fixed memory address?

A PCI card does not have a fixed memory address, the PCI card specifies how much memory it wants, and the OS will assign whatever address it wants for this memory, and will set this address in the PCI ...
6
votes
9answers
1k views

Which pointing devices were used by early laptop computers?

I've started reading this article on the history of the ThinkPad. In it, the TrackPoint (pointing stick/"nipple" mouse) is heralded as an important innovation in the design of portable computers at ...
7
votes
4answers
425 views

When did the tower form factor appear and when did it become popular?

Essentially, my question is there in the title. Tower cases are commonplace these days, and probably are the "default" form factor for personal computers (or at least were, before they were surpassed ...
3
votes
1answer
216 views

Windows 98 Aptiva IBM not booting from CD

I have this old Windows 98 Aptiva IBM which I can't seem to get out of DOS mode or boot from a CD. When I switch it on, it goes through the BIOS checks and then prompts me to click enter to boot or F1 ...
5
votes
1answer
592 views

Windows 95 boot disk cannot detect my CD-ROM drive

I have an IBM 466 DX2 with the default CD-ROM drive installed like normal. I wanted to install Windows 95, so I first tried to install on top of the version of DOS already on the hard drive. It had ...
8
votes
0answers
449 views

Looking for a specific BASIC music program from the 80s

When I was a kid, we had a PC-XT with a lot of GW-Basic programs on it. I am trying to track down one in particular -- it was a music player of sorts. A menu (all monochrome text as I recall) and you ...
15
votes
3answers
1k views

How did DoubleDOS work?

Back in the MS-DOS days, there was a program DoubleDOS that you could run that would split your machine in half and multitask two separate DOS programs. While it didn't particularly work well for ...
26
votes
10answers
14k views

How to get started writing C for the IBM PC in 1980-81

Suppose it's late 1980 to early 1981, you've got some software you want to write for the IBM PC which will be released later in 1981, want to get started ASAP, and believe C is the right language for ...
11
votes
2answers
978 views

What was the first C compiler for the IBM PC?

When did a C compiler first become available for the IBM PC? I have fond memories of Turbo C, but that didn't become available until the mid to late eighties; it definitely wasn't the first one. ...
9
votes
2answers
599 views

Transferring files between Commodore PET and IBM PC

Suppose you have two early eighties computers, a Commodore PET with 8050 disk drive and an IBM PC with its 5.25" disk drive. Is there a way to transfer files between them? Not machine code programs, ...
8
votes
2answers
231 views

Is it safe to provide 5V to CMOS RAM from PSU instead of CR2032 battery?

I have a motherboard which stores BIOS settings in a DS12887 chip with internal battery. The battery is long dead, and the pin of chip's socket is not connected to any power supply so the chip doesn't ...
10
votes
2answers
744 views

How did the IBM PC handle multiple physical devices serving memory at the same physical address?

I'm trying to figure out how the IBM 5150 PC handled the case where multiple physical devices (memory chips) were mapped to the same address within the 8088's physical address space. The closest I've ...
14
votes
5answers
3k views

What PC “Clone” technology standards were introduced by clone manufacturers?

IBM famously created the PC standard with the introduction of the first IBM PC in 1981. IBM also extended the standard with the introduction of the PC/AT (1984) and the PS/2 line (1987). However, by ...
24
votes
2answers
1k views

How did MS-DOS assign drive letters in the case of more than two floppy disk drives?

The IBM PC BIOS had provisions for up to four floppy disk drives, by virtue of returning the number of floppy disk drives in a two-bit field plus a none/some flag (allowing for reporting values of 0, ...
27
votes
4answers
4k views

What was the IBM PC cost saving for using the 8088 vs 8086?

The decision to use the 8088, a version of the 8086 with the data bus restricted to 8 bits, in the original IBM PC, seems strange on the face of it, certainly hurt performance and intuitively shouldn'...
16
votes
5answers
3k views

What is the best choice for DOS for a 1990 80386 PC?

I plan to install Windows 3.0 and PC/GEOS on top of DOS. Plus I will install numerous games from the 1984-1992 timeframe. Some of the later games will require >640K RAM and make use of an EMM driver. ...
5
votes
1answer
245 views

Using a 1995 model M with a modern setup

Looking to get my Model M keyboard working on a modern setup, I believe I need an active converter to go from PS/2 to USB. What adapter / part would be compatible with this keyboard?
25
votes
5answers
2k views

Does every retrocomputer and console with NTSC composite output have 'artifact color' ability?

Artifact color is heavily associated with the Apple ][, since that is the only method the machine had to produce a color display. I was looking at the fantastic demo for IBM PC + CGA, 8088MPH, and I ...
21
votes
3answers
4k views

Windows 98 with 2GB of RAM

I have assembled a retro-gaming PC out of an old Shuttle SN45G with a Windows 98/Windows XP dual boot. The motherboard can handle 2GB of RAM, but apparently Windows 98 can only handle 1Gb. Windows ...