Computers, now older than ever!

If we already have one o‘ these threads, let me know and I’ll delete this! I searched and couldn‘t find any, but you never know. I don’t know how much interest there is in old-ass computers on this forum that aren‘t cool Japanese machines from the 80s a la MSX, PC-88/98, X68k, etc. etc. and I feel like that’s a very different vibe that would deserve its own thread. Same goes for 8-bit micros like the C64, Atari home computers, speccy, BBC, etc.

But I thought it might be fun to have a thread to goof off about like, MS-DOS up through, I dunno, Vista? Or 90s Macs up through whenever they got boring again?

One of the big hobbies I got into early in quarantine was building old computers. New ones too, but the old ones felt more like working on vintage cars or something. Except a heck of a lot smaller and less expensive. That's more or less continued, but I've kinda got my bases covered at this point. I still have my old PowerMac G4 tower, though it's in dire need of a fresh OS install. That thing's about as maxxed out as it can be from a hardware perspective. But I also built a beefy Windows 7 machine, a few disgustingly overpowered XP machines, a couple Win 98SE machines that rule but I can't get the soundcard drivers to work (lol), but right now they're all sitting in the garage because I really only ended up actually using one of them with any regularity.

I find most conversations about PC gaming to be violently boring! So much of it is caught up in how much money you can spend to make Number Go Up, and doesn't go beyond that. That's part of why I really appreciate the way that Digital Foundry has been providing all kinds of fascinating context to those discussions on a broader scale. But I think part of why I've become so interested in building and playing games on old computers is that if you go back far enough, things like hardware configurations actually had a pretty significant impact on how a game looked and played, the ways that different elements of art were rendered, or sound was produced. It's fascinating to me. I've spent a lot of sleepless nights on youtube looking at comparisons between how different cards would render the water in Unreal Gold or whatever. It's cool stuff, man.

So now I've got this comically beefy Windows XP machine hooked up to my home network so I can download things like mods, WADs, GOG games, etc. on my current computer and just send em over to my XP machine where I can play them. Could I play them on my main current machine? Sure, probably! But where's the fun in that, when I could run it on an old machine hooked up to a PC CRT at 1920x1440 with an Intellimouse and a big clackety keyboard? That's the stuff.

Do you share this particular brain sickness? Whatcha been playing lately? What about your setup has been most fun and interesting to you?

At work I have a spare MacBook with mojave on it and every time I turn it on I‘m like this is so much better than whatever is on my new one. And then I ask the internet what the best macos is and there’s all these pictures of older os and I'm like whoa this shit is way cooler.

I'm also curious about the architecture but don't know how any of that stuff works. I find it deeply comical that my new MacBook pro with its insane processor still hovers over a busted looking login screen for like 10 seconds before it starts working. Why does my PC randomly run like crap every few weeks? How come word processors are so slow yet we can refresh a full screen 120x a second. Lots to think about!

@“DavidNoo”#p100753 The main thing about computers is that they are universally Very Bad and evil imo

@“andrewelmore”#p100756 i work in IT and sometimes talk about the future and im like “it would be nice not to use computers!”

I think somewhat related before i recycled an old family computer i booted it up and got that 90's Magic the Gathering Shandalar game running on it. That game seems to be very difficult to find and run (as of 2018 or so when I last checked) but a lot of people really like it!

This isn't gaming related but I thought it fit here -

@“tomjonjon”#p103027 old computers can be good!!

My first computer experience (aside from the Atari 2600) was with a Macintosh Classic in elementary school. It had a GUI and I remember being amused with the mouse pointer and opening things. I guess manipulating anything on a screen was interesting to me, so just being able to type and print stuff was pretty cool in 1st grade. Of course we played some educational games like Math Blaster and Number Munchers, but the one I recall the most was this math drag racing game called Turbo Math Facts. You had to solve math problems to earn cash to beat “Turbo Tom”, to the worried screams of the computer:

I bring up the Mac Classic because there is a MiSTer core for it. In fact there are MiSTer cores for every computer up to the 486. I missed out on the Commodore 64, Amiga, Atari ST, Tandy, and most DOS games and the MiSTer has become sanctuary for those old machines I don't have the space for.

BUT since this is a real hardware thread, we eventually got a Packard Bell Legend Pentium 1 PC in the house in late '94 with it's share of, well, shareware and I've been playing PC games ever since. It came with this terrible educational dinosaur software I find myself thinking about too much. Mostly just played alot of DOOM on it. (Also I did make a virtual version of our Packard Bell in 86box which a great pre-Pentium 3 virtual PC Builder).

My first personal computer I could keep in my room was a budget PC that had an Athlon in it with a generic AGP graphics card we got at one of those big computer shows like this:

I remember playing basic 3D accelerated games like Motocross Madness, Midtown Madness, Half-Life, and Quake 3 Arena (plus that Bid For Power DBZ mod). Though these games felt more like objectiveless goof-off things than the "real" games on my N64 and PS1. I also was hesitant to buy PC games because I wasn't sure they would work on my computer. I still have fond memories of listening to my first MP3s in Winamp while cruising around in Midtown Madness though.

I guy I worked with put a Pentium 4 machine and a 9800 Pro into the case, and I still have it as an XP machine. I then had connections to get a bunch of media so I actually watched and listened to more stuff than played games (plus we didn't have the internet yet). I wasn't a mouse and keyboard person until about 2009, preferring the old Sidewinder or 360 controller. I did use a OG Xbox breakaway cable a friend converted to USB for a while too.

I also still have a Windows 7 machine where I first _really_ got into PC gaming, around the time when the shader enabled GTX cards and Quad core CPUs started destroying the 360 and PS3 in terms of performance. I still think it feels pretty modern though with a 560ti and a Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition.

I do like watching videos of YouTube of all that old tech that I remember seeing but never owning. I didn't really know much about computers in the 90s, so it's interesting to see all that in a different context. I just knew the expensive ones were faster and the games took effort to run and play. Now getting the game to run practically is more fun the game itself.

@“copySave”#p103040 God I wish the 486 core was just a little bit beefier. I really want to option to go back and fiddle with older computer software as I have some nostalgia for it, but am also VERY lazy. Maybe I am just trying to parse out the way to play old PC games I never played back in the day and have it feel right for me. I hope that doesn't involve buying a chonky VGA monitor

@“robinhoodie”#p103054 Yeah 1992 is really the cutoff point for what the MiSTer can handle. It can run Windows 95 OK, but DOS 6.2 or Windows 3.1 is a better fit.

@“copySave”#p103068 I saw it struggle to run DOOM and I was like “darn it!” I basically want it to be a DOOM, Duke 3D and getting into Lucas Arts machine.