Questions tagged [ibm-pc]

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

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8
votes
2answers
252 views

What year was my old, long-lost IBM PC born? And which form factor/model was it?

I've spent a ridiculous amount of time and effort over the years just trying to figure out what exact IBM product I grew up with. At last, I've finally established for 100% certain that it was a: IBM ...
3
votes
1answer
151 views

Best way to swap IBM PC case badge?

A while back, I purchased an original IBM PC (5150). The seller had an improper top case or badge on it, as the badge actually said it was an XT (5160) instead. After confirming that it is indeed a ...
6
votes
1answer
321 views

Was it ever possible to access the full EGA color space in 200-line modes?

It's long been an established fact that the EGA only had four memory planes, which limited the number of colors on the screen to (24) 16. The best compatible monitors at the time had six TTL color ...
2
votes
2answers
261 views

First 386 PC on sale in the UK

In the early days of personal computers, there was something of a delay in the technology crossing the Atlantic, and when American computers did arrive in the UK, they tended to be expensive relative ...
1
vote
1answer
61 views

Part number / model for IBM PC 350 keyboard

what was the part number or model of the original keyboard shipped with IBM PC 350? Trying to restore the full set.
5
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1answer
357 views

Which were the best selling early MS-DOS PCs apart from the IBM PC?? [closed]

The IBM PC in 1981 was rapidly followed by a rich ecosystem of computers with x86 CPUs running MS-DOS, not all of which were compatible at the hardware level. There is a list of some early MS-DOS ...
8
votes
2answers
734 views

Could CGA synchronize with vertical blank?

According to http://www.vcfed.org/forum/showthread.php?62049-The-myth-of-the-vertical-retrace-interrupt-on-EGA-VGA IBM first implemented a vertical retrace interrupt on the PCjr in 1984. That ...
8
votes
1answer
265 views

Lotus 1-2-3 and Microsoft Flight Simulator as unofficial compatibility benchmark?

Do I remember correctly about an unofficial but popular test of "PC compatibility" in the early 1980s? Basically if a machine could run vanilla versions of both Lotus 1-2-3 and Microsoft ...
20
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2answers
3k views

Did playing sounds on the PC speaker keep the CPU busy?

The IBM PC and early successors came with an internal speaker that could play simple sounds. According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PC_speaker However, because the method used to reproduce PCM ...
20
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3answers
2k views

How was the 80186 incompatible with the IBM PC?

According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intel_80186 The 80186 would have been a natural successor to the 8086 in personal computers. However, because its integrated hardware was incompatible with ...
6
votes
1answer
330 views

Was sector size under software control on the original IBM PC floppy drive controller?

The original IBM PC used a 5.25" floppy disk format of two sides, 40 tracks, 9 sectors per track, 512 bytes per sector, for 360K per disk. As I understand it, a significant amount of disk space ...
12
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3answers
2k views

What was the second most common incompatibility in MS-DOS machines? [closed]

When the IBM PC was released, it did not take long for people to figure out that there would be a big market for compatible machines. The first wave relied on MS-DOS as the compatibility layer. The ...
11
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2answers
3k views

Are BIOS ROMs interchangeable among different vendor's PCs?

For PC/AT, 80386, and 80486 machines from the late-1980s through early 1990s (e.g. retro machines, not modern), can you expect to pull a BIOS ROM from one machine and have it work fine in a different ...
4
votes
1answer
234 views

Back in the day, were games coded to run better with more (not faster) RAM? [closed]

Let's say the year is 1999 or something like that. I have a PC with 400 MHz, no graphics accelerator and 64 MB RAM, and try to run some Need for Speed game or something. I notice that it goes laggy. ...
22
votes
2answers
2k views

Which is the minimum set of interrupts/functions I should implement in a replacement BIOS for a home made IBM PC class computer?

I'm at the early stages of implementing a home-made IBM PC class computer (maybe AT class, I don't know yet). The CPU will be an actual 8088 chip, but everything else (except memory) will be ...
7
votes
1answer
289 views

IBM PC 5150 board layout

How did the parity check DRAM chips work? In particular, is there a reason for the gap in the motherboard (IBM calls this system board) between the parity check DRAM and the "normal" DRAM ...
26
votes
3answers
3k views

What were the HW specifications for the actual PC speakers, before they were replaced by buzzers?

Back in the early 2000s, I remember that, what were at the time older, PC cases had actual loudspeaker instead of the buzzer, which was popular as the PC speaker on the PC cases of the time period. ...
29
votes
3answers
10k views

Why do PCs boot in 720x400 resolution?

Using my 21" Trinitron OSD, I can see that the resolution at boot is 720x400. From memory, this weird resolution is extremely uncommon if ever to be seen as a choice on software that supports ...
8
votes
1answer
481 views

Was there ever a functional EGA emulator for the Hercules graphics card?

I used to use a CGA emulator (don't remember which one it was), that could show some gfx even in EGA/VGA-only games (when I selected EGA mode). I remember my frustration seeing some garbled graphics ...
0
votes
0answers
84 views

Portable 386 that only ever beeps continuously; no video

I've acquired a late-80s portable 386 with builtin LCD in unknown working state. It only ever beeps continuously on boot, with no picture on either the built-in LCD or an external VGA-connected ...
13
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3answers
1k views

PC/AT two DMA controllers - what is the purpose of cascade channel and how did it work?

Why did the design need to reserve one channel for cascade, how did it work and what exactly was going on there?
56
votes
2answers
5k views

Why was the return key symbol ⏎ drawn differently from the motion of a CR-LF?

In the operating system (DOS) of IBM PCs, newlines were represented by a carriage return (CR) character, followed by a line feed (LF) character. The motion of a printer or teletype receiving such a ...
25
votes
7answers
6k views

Purpose of turbo switch on systems unable to slow to 4.77 MHz?

I have a PC with an Intel P133 (133 MHz). The motherboard (PcPartner MB520NH) only allows for it to be slowed down to 75 MHz at the least via jumper settings, but no lower. Yet the PC's case has ...
30
votes
3answers
8k views

How much did IBM save by limiting the PC to 4.77 MHz?

My understanding is the CPU clock speed on the Intel 8088 in the IBM PC was selected as 4.77 MHz to simplify the design of the system. This despite the 8088 coming in two versions - 5 MHz and 8 MHz. ...
22
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4answers
4k views

Why was NEC able to wrestle PC graphics standards away from IBM?

The dominant standards for PC graphics in the 1980s were the ones introduced by IBM. This included MDA and CGA with the original IBM PC, followed by EGA shortly after the PC/AT, and then VGA with the ...
5
votes
1answer
118 views

Why does MS-DOS 5.0 EDIT hang on my XT-class machine with a German 102-key keyboard?

Most times whene I call EDIT on my XT-class machine with MS-DOS 5.0 installed on the hard disk, the menus of EDIT appear, but the window that should contain the file contents stays blank and the ...
5
votes
2answers
897 views

Could early nineties PCs access raw CD bitstream?

In the early nineties, as discussed in What specific technical advance(s) allowed PCs to play "Full-screen full-motion" video? it became commonplace for PC games to use the storage capacity ...
12
votes
2answers
1k views

Hard coded hard drive BIOS geometries

Most old BIOSes on PCs and compatibles provided means to enter hard drive geometries (cylinder/head/sector as well as more esoteric things like write precomp) when configuring the machine. Some (AMI ...
22
votes
4answers
6k views

Why was IBM BASIC so Huge?

The early versions of Microsoft BASIC required 4KB of ROM, and many versions existed in the 8KB and 16KB size. But Microsoft's IBM BASIC (known as "Cassette BASIC") for the original IBM PC (Model 5150)...
0
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2answers
195 views

IBM PC 5150 motherboard labelling

The motherboard of the IBM PC 5150 has labels of letters followed by numbers. What are the letters representing? Examples being U1, P1, C1, T1 and Y1. I am trying to ascertain which component is the ...
10
votes
2answers
591 views

What PC graphics tech outperformed Sega Dreamcast in 1999?

The Sega Dreamcast was released in 1999 (1998 in Japan) at just the time that the competition for 3D graphics on PCs was intensifying. It's my assumption that a high-end 1999 Pentium II PC with 3Dfx ...
11
votes
2answers
782 views

How can I read a 5¼″ drive on 1996–2007 equipment?

In my organization's archive I just found some 5¼″ floppies, presumably IBM PC 320/360k. They contain information that we have on paper, but I'd really like to have on electronic media, not least so ...
59
votes
2answers
18k views

What is the “two-drive trick” that can read Amiga disks on a PC?

Standard belief is that the floppy disk controllers used on PCs are incapable of reading Amiga floppy disks, due to the PC disk controller expecting a very specific low-level format of disks, whilst ...
43
votes
2answers
9k views

Why were some early PC 3D cards unsuitable for 2D graphics?

Some of the early PC 3D graphics cards such as the 3dfx Voodoo Graphics cards had a passthrough port to enable them to switch to a secondary card to display 2D graphics. I am curious to know why these ...
12
votes
1answer
1k views

What manages Upper Memory Blocks (UMBs) in MS-DOS?

I had always assumed that EMM386.EXE was responsible for managing the Upper Memory Blocks - UMBs - the memory space between 640KiB and 1MiB in real mode x86. For example, on MS-DOS 6.22, help emm386....
17
votes
4answers
2k views

80286 real mode emulator for 8086

While trying to use a "modern" sound card (an Aztech Sound Galaxy Pro 16 II) in an XT compatible 8086 computer, I encountered the problem that the drivers and tools (like the mixer initialization tool ...
2
votes
1answer
283 views

Power switch color on IBM PS/2 red vs white?

Why do some IBM PS/2's have a red switch, while others have a white switch? Does the red or white power switch on the power supply signify something about the model number, CPU, or options that the ...
7
votes
2answers
681 views

Looking for a 90's shooter-platformer game

Back in the 90's I remember playing a 2d shooter-platformer game on my family's home computer. I sucked at the game, and as far as I remember I never managed to beat the first level. The details I ...
6
votes
2answers
387 views

Does anyone remember an early 90s side-scroller with a player-controlled ED-209-like robot?

I remember playing a side-scroller at a Babbage's at the mall (on probably a sweet Compaq; I don't think it was on a C64, an Amiga, an Apple, or anything more exotic), probably around 1993, where the ...
27
votes
2answers
11k views

Looking for PC graphics demo software from the early 90s called “Unreal”

Back in the early 90's I remember downloading a graphics demo called, I think, "Unreal". This was on DOS on a standard PC and probably downloaded from a BBS. Identifying information: It ran for ...
3
votes
1answer
156 views

Did the IBM Game Control Adapter have I/O port aliases?

I was taking a look at the logic diagram in the manual for the original IBM game port adapter card: In the upper-left corner of the schematic, there is the circuitry responsible for decoding the I/O ...
4
votes
2answers
296 views

Can a bootable Win9x HDD be made interchangeable between PCs?

Normally, Windows 9x must be installed on each PC individually so that it can be loaded/configured with the appropriate set of drivers. I'm wondering if there is any way to make a boot HDD that can be ...
13
votes
3answers
2k views

What are the electrical characteristics of a PC gameport?

I'm considering building some custom gizmos to connect to the gameport on my retro-hobby PC (SNES controller adapter, macro/turbo box, etc.) but I haven't been able to find much information on details ...
8
votes
2answers
2k views

Are game port joystick button circuits more than plain switches? Is this one just faulty?

I'm building a custom interface unit for a game port joystick. To use/test it, I have a CH Products Mach III. (This is the IBM PC version, not the Apple version.) I purchased the joystick for this ...
92
votes
1answer
27k views

Why did MS-DOS applications built using Turbo Pascal fail to start with a division by zero error on faster systems?

On faster MS-DOS systems, it wasn't entirely uncommon for applications built using Borland's Turbo Pascal to fail to start, and (before exiting back to the command prompt) to report a division by zero ...
69
votes
8answers
17k views

Why did IBM make the PC BIOS source code public?

IBM released the IBM 5150 Technical Reference manual in August, 1981, and included in it the fully commented source code listing for the BIOS. I find this odd for two reasons: IBM must have realized ...
15
votes
5answers
4k views

What was the first multiprocessor x86 motherboard?

I know dual socket motherboards were around in the 90's before Intel released the Core series. And SMP hardware and operating systems have been around earlier than the PC platform of course. ...
28
votes
6answers
15k views

Is it true that control+alt+delete only became a thing because IBM would not build Bill Gates a computer with a task manager button?

Is it true that ctrl+alt+del only became a thing because IBM would not build Bill Gates a computer with a button specifically for the task manager? Making it so that Microsoft had to develop a ...
18
votes
4answers
1k views

Did the IBM PC use the 8088's NMI line?

As I understand it, the Intel 8088 CPU used in the original IBM PC had two interrupt lines: INTR and NMI. INTR was fed from the Intel 8259 Programmable Interrupt Controller, which handled the IRQs ...
42
votes
2answers
4k views

Locked-up DOS computer beeped on keypress. What mechanism caused that?

Long time ago I had an old IBM PS/2 that I had fished out of a dumpster. It ran IBM DOS 5.0 and was a solid little machine. Occasionally I would encounter the following scenario, and I recently ...