Kees's Computer Home: Living room 2

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This is my 'machine room', the wall of servers in my living room. They provide the disk space and CDROMs for my amateur radio packet and RTTY/CW BBS system, a part of which is also reachable via telephone modem. It is not connected to the Internet, there are no cable modems available where I live. The towers from left to right are a 386 based CDROM server with 7 single speed CDROM drives (fast enough for the purpose), a Siemens PCE5S Pentium 75 system running Netware 5, another PCE5S, this one 66mhz, running FreeBSD, and the MicroVAX III running NetBSD that also sometimes is present on the packet radio channel.

These machines are a nice example of my commitment to keeping old equipment running, doing the same tasks other people buy expensive oversized new gear for. The three clients that have the modems and radios of the BBS are not present in this picture, they are in the radio room of the Computer Home, a room that I haven't photographed yet. On the shelf above the towers are the consoles and one work station needed to maintain the servers, and above those you can see a part of my documentation collection. Must have something to read!

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The second Compaq luggable. 20MB hard disk, 360K floppy drive, CGA screen. A milestone in PC history. It is the first of the clones.

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This is a Novell 2.15c file server. Not only the software on this machine is from Novell, the entire machine is from Novell. There has been a time that Novell was in the hardware business. This machine is a model "David", a 286/8 with 6MB RAM, a 70MB hard disk and a genuine NE2000 card. It was made by Samsung.

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In these boxes are the Hercules Graphics Card Plus and the Hercules InColor card. Unfortunately I do not have the first, original Hercules card. This was the first high quality graphics card for the IBM PC. It could display graphics on the high resolition MDA monitor, back when all IBM had to offer for graphics was the grainy flickering low-res CGA. Countless clones were made of the Hercules card, Hercules became a generic name instead of a brand name. The Hercules Plus card added RamFont, so you could display different fonts in your word processor while the card stayed in fast text mode, (WordPerfect 5.1 supported this wonderfully) and the InColor card added EGA quality color graphics while staying Hercules compatible. It was very easy to write a driver for it if you already had a Hercules driver for your software package. Unfortunately the EGA card was used far more often, hardware from IBM still meaning something in those days.

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The first succesfull luggable computer, the Osborne 1. Ran CP/M resonably fast. Had connections for a printer and a modem. Pity about the small 50 character screen though. To this day I do not understand why such a small screen was put into the machine. All other luggables to appear later had at least a 9 inch screen that could display 80 characters per line. It was possible to connect an external screen to this Osborne, but even then you kept the 50 character lines.

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The VaxStation 3100. A small and reasonably fast VAX that could be put on top of a desk instead of underneath it, and it used standard SCSI drives. There is a separate page for this machine on www.vaxarchive.org

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The DEC Professional 380, one of DEC's attempts to build a personal computer.

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It appeared at the same time as the DEC Rainbow and looks a lot like it. The 380 was PDP11/73 compatible, was reasonably fast and had a graphics console with a windowing environment available for it, though it was most often used in text mode. There also was a version of RT for it, the PDP's most often used operating system. It was very easy to operate, the P/OS text mode operating system was menu based, all programs shared the same look and feel, and installing and removing of software was very easy via the system menus. A lot of thought was put in the ease of use of this machine. It deserved to be a success, but unfortunately DEC asked way too much money for it.

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This is the box of the Adlib Music synthesizer card, the card that set off the sound revolution on the PC. All sound cards of that age needed to be "Adlib compatible" to be able to compete. Unfortunately Adlib did not include a D/A converter on the card, so it could not play back sound samples. This was its biggest shortcoming. Creative soon came on the market with its SoundBlaster card which was 100% Adlib compatible but added the missing D/A converter, and the rest is history. "Adlib compatible" doesn't even appear on the box of a new sound card anymore, only "Soundblaster compatible" is left.

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You might wonder why this ordinary PC clone tower is included on this page. It may not look like much, but this is the original machine that for years and years ran the nerTPower BBS here in Eindhoven, a well known meeting point for students of the Technical University in Eindhoven and other computer aficionados, who used to trade very interesting files here on this system. Fortunately, when the sysop Jeroen Kimmel gave the system to me, the hard disks had been removed from the machine and emptied, and the paper administration was thoroughly destroyed too, only the empty binders left, so the former users can rest assured that nothing but this shell remains :)


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