Questions tagged [ibm-pc]

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

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votes
1answer
195 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 ...
4
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2answers
245 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
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2answers
10k 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
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1answer
127 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 ...
2
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0answers
130 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
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3answers
1k 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
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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 ...
88
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1answer
26k 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 ...
63
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8answers
16k 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 ...
14
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5answers
3k 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. ...
26
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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 ...
17
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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
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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 ...
22
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10answers
4k views

Why was hardware diversification an asset for the IBM PC ecosystem?

The IBM PC was cloned very early on, and many third parties made hardware peripherals. This required users to run an OS, install drivers, manage IRQs and hardware bus addresses, etc. Why was this a ...
6
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1answer
244 views

The IBM RAM with non-standard pin layout

One and half decade ago I had an black IBM Thinkcentre tower. The specs were: Pentium 4 2.66 GHz 256 Mb IBM RAM (which later got upgraded into 512 Mb RAM), 40GB HDD, XP Pro SP3, GeForce 2 MX 400. ...
41
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8answers
9k views

Why weren't bootable game disks ever common on the IBM PC?

While for other platforms of that era (primarily, Amiga), putting a game on a bootable disk was quite a normal practice, this approach never taken off on IBM PC. Why not? I do remember people having ...
47
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2answers
7k views

On DOS computers, what would the PARK command do?

In 1994 or so, we had an old computer at my primary school. I remember finding out that it had a park command. From reading its documentation, it said that this command should be executed prior to ...
7
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3answers
346 views

What was the standard size of a PC clone's badge indent?

Generic beige-box PC clones like the ones pictured here often had an indent for the manufacturer's badge to be stuck on. Were these all a standard size, and if so, what were the dimensions?
7
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1answer
286 views

AT system without -5v

I have recently built a 80386 system. Lacking any AT PSU I connected a PicoPSU using an ATX->AT power adapter. Only card connected was a gpu (Trident TVGA 9000i). System performed BIOS checkup ...
6
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1answer
1k views

What was the first third-party commercial application for MS-DOS?

What was the first third-party commercial application for MS-DOS intended for IBM PC-compatible computers?
13
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1answer
5k views

What is the oldest commercial MS-DOS program that can run on modern versions of Windows without third-party software?

What is the oldest commercial MS-DOS program that can run on modern versions of Windows (such as Windows 8.1 or Windows 10) without third-party emulators?
6
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4answers
1k views

High-end PC graphics circa 1990?

I remember CAD being a major driver for PCs with high-end graphics cards; specifically AutoCAD was rising quickly in popularity around 1990 as PCs were able to compete with very costly CAD ...
2
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2answers
128 views

ISA Extension cards using more than 64kB

Related to my previous question around VGA framebuffer being limited to 64kB I started to wonder if there was any extension cards (or similar) using more than 64kB of address space in linear fashion, ...
6
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3answers
1k views

Why VGA framebuffer was limited to 64kB window?

VGA framebuffer was fixed to 64kB at A0000h. Right after that there’s MDA/CGA framebuffer at B0000h. I am not sure, but I recall VGA did have to support CGA and its framebuffer, but was there any ...
47
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5answers
15k views

What did the 'turbo' button actually do?

I remember the computer I played Commander Keen on as a child had a turbo button that I was forbidden to touch, what did this button actually do?
9
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2answers
918 views

How to use ISA card in modern PC

(Posted this on HW Rec but got no responses.) Would like to use an ISA expansion card in a modern PC. There are Expensive PCI - ISA adapters (but I cannot find any actually for sale now) USB-ISA ...
20
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4answers
4k views

What were wait-states, and why was it only an issue for PCs?

PC compatibles in the 1980s were often advertised as having zero, one, two, or sometimes more "wait states". Zero wait states was the best. Basically, the wait-states I am asking about are due to the ...
6
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1answer
348 views

When did MS Windows get Dual Monitor support?

I remember one of the features I admired on the Macintosh in the late 80s was support for multiple displays. First time I saw this was on an SE/30, using the internal display along with a big external ...
1
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2answers
469 views

IBM PC memory map - why RAM at the bottom?

The 8088 provided an address space of one megabyte. The IBM PC allocated that address space as 640K RAM (not that the 5150 could physically take that much, but the address space was allocated) ...
2
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1answer
179 views

Why did CGA RGBI output leave DAC to the monitor?

CGA on the original IBM PC produced sixteen colors, one bit each for red, green, blue and overall intensity modifier. The preferred output device was the later-arriving 5153 color monitor, which ...
6
votes
1answer
335 views

What's the fastest way to ignore keypresses?

I'm writing a game for the IBM PC (running MS-DOS), complete with fancy cutscenes. Unfortunately, though, the keys pressed during those fancy cutscenes are carried out once the fancy cutscene has ...
4
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4answers
309 views

Did the PC/AT-bus use its expanded address space?

The system bus of the IBM PC had 8 data lines and 20 address lines, in a logical correspondence to the 8088 CPU. The AT added a second inline edge connector to expand this to 16 data lines and 24 ...
4
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1answer
282 views

Did the 286 go out of its way to follow the 8088 bus protocol?

In general, different CPUs don't use the same bus protocol. A 16-bit CPU would not in general be expected to use the same protocol as an 8-bit CPU. For example, the 68000 would not be expected to use ...
3
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3answers
398 views

Gotek drives for MS-DOS (plus few more constraints)

I have installed two gotek device instead of two old unworking floppy disk drives (in particular on an Olivetti PCS 86). And the result is something like this: (The one on the right should the the A:...
13
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2answers
1k views

Which communication protocol is used in AdLib sound card?

By "AdLib sound card" I mean AdLib Music Synthesizer Card released in 1987. Wikipedia says that AdLib uses frequency modulation synthesis to produce sound, but does it use MIDI communication protocol ...
27
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3answers
6k views

Why separate cursor keys?

The original IBM PC keyboard didn't have separate cursor keys; the numeric keypad doubled as such. It wasn't long, however, until a new keyboard was introduced that did have separate cursor keys (so ...
11
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3answers
800 views

IBM PC expansion card latency

In the IBM PC and early successors and compatibles, it was commonplace for most of the computer's memory to be on cards in general expansion slots. (e.g. the original IBM PC could take 64K on the ...
6
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2answers
459 views

IBM would-be purchase of CP/M

It is well-known that on a sunny day in 1980, when the IBM representatives came knocking on the door of Digital Research, Gary Kildall was still in the air on the way back from visiting another ...
4
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1answer
223 views

Operating systems (on support or recent) to install on a i486 processor computer [duplicate]

What operating systems would you recommend for this type of hardware? Though I keep the question text generic because answers can work for many others, but my specific case is a Laptop Siemens ...
38
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2answers
6k views

Did IBM encourage Bill Gates to retain the rights over PC-DOS?

As is well-known, Microsoft's negotiations with IBM to deliver PC-DOS 1.0 with the original IBM PC resulted in: IBM licensing the OS from Microsoft, as opposed to purchasing it outright. Microsoft ...
6
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1answer
455 views

How can I edit CMOS hard drive geometry settings on a 1991 PC?

First, I am NOT asking how to use the BIOS Setup utility. I'm asking how to OVERRIDE the built-in settings my BIOS Setup supports for the HD geometry. I have a 1991 NCR PC with a 386SX, on-board IDE, ...
48
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3answers
11k 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 ...
5
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1answer
851 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 ...
45
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10answers
8k 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 ...
35
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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
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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 ...
22
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2answers
2k 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 ...
31
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18answers
10k 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 ...
16
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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?
5
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3answers
599 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 ...