Steve's Computer List
You might say I have an interest in personal computers. Since 1980 or
so, I have owned, somewhat in this order:
You might notice I have a knack for selecting orphan machines. The
Ohio Scientific company didn't get too far. I've mentioned how the
Sanyo was incompatible with most anything. The AT&T was an orphan
when I got it; Atari seems to have been an also ran. Commodore, and
the Amiga, well,
let's not talk about them. It's too depressing. My purchase of the
Mac hasn't done that company any good :-). The Concerto was
completely discontinued about 3 months after I bought it; I guess the
price discount was an indication of this. Zeos has been swallowed
up. Thought I could kill the PC industry with my bad karma, but
unfortunately it seems I can only kill manufacturers or specific
- Ohio Scientific C1P.
Later upgraded to 16K RAM
and hardware hacked to a 32x32 display, 600 baud cassette, add
joysticks, sound, and an RS232 port. The 32x32 display was done with
a kit from a company called Progressive Computing. 600 baud cassette
modification was from a Kilobaud Microcomputing magazine article.
Joystick, sound, and RS232 mods were more or less designed into the
original schematic but the parts weren't populated on the board. This
computer finally died when I tried to put in the modification for a
32x64 display. A machine I have fond memories of; I still have it,
and maybe someday I'll fix it.
- 6502 Processor
- 8K RAM
- 10K ROM (8K basic)
- 24x24 display
- 300 baud cassete interface
- Sanyo MBC-550.
This computer ran MS-DOS, but because of the
non-standard video and a lot of other differences from the PC,
combined with the insistence of Peter Norton (I still blame him) and
others in the industry that "the BIOS is too slow - you have to go
straght to the hardware", an awful lot of the availble MS-DOS software
wouldn't run on this machine. This machine was probably instrumental
in forming my bad opinion of the IBM PC Compatible and MS-DOS
industry. This computer is still functioning, but rarely used.
- 3.x MHz 8088 processor (perhaps the only
machine ever made that clocked the 8088 slower than the IBM PC's 4.77
- 128k RAM later upgraded to 256
- Single 160K floppy disk, later upgraded to 2 360K floppy drives
- 640 x 200 graphics in 8 colors (the
current IBM CGA adapter at the time could only do monochrome at this
resolution and 4 colors at 320x200)
- AT&T PC 7300/3B1/Unix PC
While working at Northern Telecom, I was working with a 68010 and
later 68020 port of Unix. This machine was a workhorse for quite some
time, and finally died a few years back with a failed hard drive
interface. Swapping out the Hard Drive and the Hard Drive Controller
chip both failed to correct the problem, so this one may be beyond my
abilities to fix.
- 10MHz 68010
- 1M Ram
- Windowed display (I don't recall the resolution)
- 360K floppy disk, 20M hard drive (Later 67 Megs).
- This system runs Unix!
- Atari 1040 ST system
I was looking at getting a Commodore Amiga when this machine became
available for a good price, so I picked it up. It was an OK system,
sometimes I still miss it, but the OS just didn't feel right to me; it
was like a port of CP/M or MS-DOS to a 68K processor. Single tasking;
had to more or less reboot the OS to change screen resolutions. The
GUI always listed files in alphabetical order, and the icons were
always based on the file extension. The sound wasn't so great. I
wasn't in to MIDI yet, either, or things might have turned out
different. But I sold the system about a year after I bought it.
- Purchased used at a "fire sale" at Northern Telecom.
- 8(?) MHz 68000
- 1M RAM
- 2 720k 3.5" floppy disk drives
- 20M Hard Drive
- Color Display (640x200x4 colors or 320x200x16 colors)
- Some Yammaha sound chip.
- Commodore Amiga 2000/2500
This had been what I was looking for. 680x0 based multitasking
system. Good programs available off the shelf. Worked quite well.
Satisfied my needs for quite some time. In fact I still use it with
Bars & Pipes Pro for MIDI Sequencing.
- 7.xx MHz 68000 (later 25MHz 68030/68882)
- 1M Ram (later 3 then 5 M)
- 880K 3.5" floppy disk
- 20M, then 80M, then 500M Hard drive (SCSI)
- 640x200 or 640x400 in 16 colors, 320x(200,400) in 32 colors
- 4 channels of 8 bit sound
- Nice multi-tasking OS.
- Macintosh Plus (Used)
I had decided I wanted to have a laptop computer. If an Amiga Laptop
had been available, I would have just gone with that and been done
with it. However, the only choices I had for laptops were Macintoshes
or PC compatibles. I was already way too familiar with the PC stuff
at work. So I thought I'd give the Mac a try, and this computer
seemed to be a cheap enough way to learn about how a mac works. When
I bought this machine (probably sometime in '93 or '94), I was
impressed by how much of the current Mac software would run on a Mac
released almost 10 years ago; almost everything that didn't require
color would work. I ran Quicken on this system for about a year.
Still in working condition.
- (8 MHz?)68000 processor
- 2.5 M Ram
- 80M SCSI disk (which had been on the Amiga before the 500M)
- Tandy MC-10 Micro-color Computer
Well, I seriously considered getting one of these when I was a kid
because it had color (compared with my C1P which was Black and
White). I couldn't resist when I saw it at a garage sale for $7.
- Motorola 6803 Processor
- 4K RAM
- MS BASIC in ROM
- Compaq Concerto Laptop Computer
Before I had finished evaluating the Mac Plus to see if I liked the
Mac environment enough to buy a Mac Laptop, the need for a laptop came
up (I spent a week in the hospital with pnemonia and was going stir
crazy), so I figured I'd have to stick with the platform that I knew.
A co-worker of mine had a Concerto also, said he liked it very well,
and had recently been complaining about how they had cut the price in
half. Works just fine, although the form factor is kind of wierd. If
you've never seen one, the Concerto is a Pen based computer; the bulk
of the computer is behind the screen (instead of under the keyboard
like most laptops) and the keyboard is detachable (so you can hold it
like a tablet and write with the pen). I haven't been able to get the
hard drive to spin down right since the upgrade to Windows 95; I'm
still threatening to revert the thing to Windows 3.1, or better yet
put linux on it (with a larger disk, maybe).
- 33 MHz 80486 SLC (or something like that - has the FP on board)
- 4M RAM, upgraded to 20M
- 1.44M floppy
- 250M Hard disk
- Zeos Pantera
This system was essentially bought to replace the AT&T system, a year
after that system died and I was running into Unix withdrawl symptoms
at home (I have always had Unix at work, mind you, or this would have
probably happened sooner). It's been a fairly good workhorse for me,
though loading Windows 95 on it was a B*TCH. The system is running
linux an average of about 23.9 hours a day. Once in a while I boot
into windows for games or something. I'm running a small amount of
Home automation from the system (using X-10 and a CP-290 X-10 computer
interface). As a matter of fact, I got so tired of starting DOS/Windows
for the kid's software that we bought:
- 90 MHz Pentium
- 48M RAM
- 1G (now almost 4G) disk with adaptec SCSI Controller
- 1152x900x65536 colors screen resolution
- Ensoniq SoundScape sound card
- OS's: Shipped with DOS/Windows, but loaded UnixWare on it before
the first week was up, as intended. Recently converted to Linux; and
also have a Windows 95 partition on one disk.
- CyberMax 486 system
Now, the heading above says these are computers I have owned; this one
belongs to the whole family though. Matter of fact, it probably
belongs to everyone but me. It was bought around December of
1995, just after Computer Shopper ran their front page article on
"$999 Windows 95 PCs." Guess what? I called three of the vendors in
the article and none of them had the $999 systems available anymore.
Anyway, this system ran about $1200 and works about as well as any PC
running an MS operating system (win 95 in this case). But it did
suffer from infant death syndrome; it's on its 2nd motherboard and
third hard drive. Since that stuff was done it's been going fine
(knock on wood).
If I can get on my soap box for a moment, I think the state of the PC
industry, especially the Wintel community, is really sad. Of all the
computers I've owned, the Ohio Scientifc, the Zeos, the Compaq, and
the Cybermax are the only ones I've had to call the manufacturer for
support on; and the Ohio Scientific one was because I was a newless
cluebie at the time. Expansion of a PC is a nightmare, with the i/o,
interrupt, and dma conflicts possible. You might try to tell me that
Plug and Play fixes all this, but it doesn't. Partly because plug and
play doesn't solve the problem of running out of interrupts or DMA
channels. When I installed Windows 95 on my Zeos system, it couldn't
believe that I could use Interrupt 15 for the SCSI controller, because
that had to be used by the on-board IDE controller. When I followed
the instructions on Microsoft's Web site on how to mark the IDE as
unused, my system froze. And you've already read about my Win 95
problems on the Concerto.
In my opinion, good programmers think of Microsoft products the same
way good chefs think of McDonalds products.
I also noticed recently that of all the things that were "appliances"
in my home, only the computers came with 800 numbers to the
manufacturers. And, for PC compatibles, I've had to use them. If, as
a supposed professional, I've had to use the tech support lines, how
on earth is the average consumer supposed to cope? This is just not
the way things should be.
I sure hope Apple finds a way out of their slump. You can see I don't
have too much experience with them, but they seem to have done things
right for the most part.
For those of you who don't know any better: It is not a fact of
life that computers must be rebooted once in a while when they
hang. I use Linux and other Unix systems in most of my work.
They go without rebooting for *DAYS*. Do not put up with buggy
software, especially if you have to pay for it. Until users
demand better, we won't get better software.