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Sailor Mercury with her excellent 1990s tactical visor!

Ruben's Retrocomputer Page
of Retrocomputers

Cataloguing machines, spares parts, config, notes, and links for my collection of wonderful old machines!

Uses 256-colour, HTML 3.2, and my childhood GeoCities theme, so it's viewable in old browsers. Yes, that's it.

Like all old sites, it's under construction! It should also probably be split across pages.

Commodore VC-20 · Plus/4 · C16 · C128 · Aldi 64 · 64C
Apple //e Platinum · iMac DV
Sun SPARCStation 5
PCs DFI Am386 · NEC APEX · Childhood MMX · Compaq Presario 5060
HP Brio BA600 · IBM Aptiva 2199-200 · Dell Dimension 4100
Laptops Contura Aero 4/25 · Libretto 70CT · iBook G3 · Book 8088
More Palms · Loose Parts · Bootdisk · Thanks · Footer

Commodore VC-20, 1983

The VIC-20 was Commodore's first colour home computer, announced in 1980. The VC-20 was re-badged for sale in Germany, owing to the unfortunate meaning of the original name. Commodore had the PET, but it was the VIC-20 that propelled the company's machines into the mainstream, and set the stage for their incredible C64.

This PAL VC-20 is from 1983, with the "cost reduced" short board. Note the beautiful rainbow badge, indicating it was built alongside the C64. I bought it broken from a chap in the UK in 2023, and restored it with some retrobright, reseating its hodgepodge of mismatched ICs, and replaced the broken keyboard with an "Aldi 64" unit (while retaining the orange function keys). The modern round-pin sockets and extensive flux residue on the back indicates this machine had a rough life, but I'm so happy she's functional and beautiful again. I agree with Adrian Black, the VIC-20 had the best breadbin case.

The last thing I want to do is get c0ppertragon's VIC-20 Digitiser to use on modern displays. Unlike the common S-Video mod, this isn't destructive.

Photo of the VC-20

Component Part Socket Date State Memo
Name Noel Llopis - - Good His VIC-20 video really helped!
Case Stock - - Good Retr0brighted to fix some nasty blotching
Keyboard Aldi 64 - - Good Replaced dead board with one from an Aldi 64
Motherboard - - Good PAL shortboard version
CPU MOS 6502 B UE10 0683 Good
CIA 1 MOS 6522 UAB1 ??86 Good Much newer, must have been replaced
CIA 2 MOS 6522 UAB3 4682 Good
VIC Video MOS 6561-101 UB7 1883 Fair Want the VIC-20 Digitiser
BASIC ROM MOS 901486-01 UE11 3883 Good BASIC 2.0
KERNAL ROM MOS 901486-07 UE12 5281 Good Much older, must have been a replacement
Primary Cart Penultimate+ cart - 2023 Good From TFW8b. Even has memory expansion!

Commodore Plus/4, 1984

The Commodore Plus/4 was introduced in 1984, as the flagship of the 264 line. While it lacked the sprites and sound capabilities of the C64, it had an expanded 121 colour palette and a much-improved BASIC 3.5, along with some interesting but limited productivity software. Its case design is easily my favourite among all 8-bit machines, and Bil Herd's little motherboard is a work of industrial art. It's a gorgeous machine!

My parents bought me this, a C16, a breadbin C64, and a 1541 drive for my birthday in 2004, back when these machines were going for peanuts. While I love the aesthetics of the Plus/4, I admittedly spent more time on the C16 because the keyboard felt nicer to use. I got into the habit of writing stuff on the C16 and running on the Plus/4, to extend the life of the latter.

The PLA finally died in 2023, so I replaced it with Eslapion's PLAnkton +4. Works flawlessly!

Photo of the Plus/4

Component Part Socket Date State Memo
Name Bil Herd - - Good The lead 264 and C128 designer
Case Stock - 84 Good Some very minor scratches
Keyboard Stock - 84 Fair Rattly/scratchy, might need lubrication
Motherboard Stock - 84 Good Gorgeous design!
TED MOS 8360R2 U1 2684 Good NTSC video and sound for the 264s
CPU MOS 8501R1 U2 Fair Needs heatsink
PLA PLAnkton +4 U19 23 Good Replaced dead MOS 251641-02 (2584)
BASIC ROM MOS 318006-01 U23 2884 Good BASIC 4.0!
KERNAL ROM MOS 318005-05 U24 3884 Good
Func. Low ROM MOS 317053-01 U25 3884 Good
Func. High ROM MOS 317054-01 U26 3084 Good
SPI ROM MOS 6525B U27 3284 Good Plus/4 software. Wonder if I could replace?

Commodore 16, 1984

The Commodore 16 was introduced by Commodore in 1984. It used the same familiar breadbin case as the Commodore VIC-20 and C64, though its tiny motherboard was similar to the other machines in the ill-fated 264 family. This actually makes it great for expansion, because you have so much room to work in.

My parents bought me this, a breadbin C64, a Plus/4, and a 1541 drive for my birthday in 2004, back when these machines were going for peanuts. I was starting to get interested in 8-bit computers at the time, and admittedly spent more time on the C16 than any of the others. I was always more interested in weird productivity tools and tinkering than games, so it's software and keyboard just. clicked? I didn't realise at the time how little these sold compared to the C64; I thought it was a wonderful machine.

In 2022 I upgraded the C16 using SaRuMan's excellent non-destructive 64 KiB memory expansion module, which slots under the TED. Unfortunately, it's also developed an issue with its reset line over time, where it can't be warm power-cycled. I'm still troubleshooting.

Photo of the C16

Component Part Socket Date State Memo
Name David Dunham - - Good My high school computer and bowling teacher
Case Stock - 84 Good
Keyboard Stock - 84 Good Repaired a broken 6 key
Motherboard Stock - 84 Good Upgraded with SaRuMan 64 KiB
TED MOS 8360R2 U1 4084 Good NTSC video and sound for the 264s
CPU MOS 8501R1 U2 Fair Needs heatsink
BASIC ROM MOS 318006-01 U3 3084 Good BASIC 4.0!
KERNAL ROM MOS 318005-04 U4 3184 Good
PLA MOS 251641-02 U16 2984 Good

Commodore 128, 1985

The Commodore 128 was 8-bit computing's swan song. It was three computers in one: a C128 with improved BASIC and 128 KiB of memory, a C64 mode that was almost entirely compatible, and a CP/M machine running on a Zilog Z80. It was designed by Bil Herd and his team, the same people behind the 264 line. The biggest external design changes were a sleek new beige case with larger vents, a numpad, and a set of extra function keys for use in C128 mode. This machine meant business, but also had that legendary C64 sprite and sound hardware.

I don't think it's a stretch to call it the most capable 8-bit machine of all time, as its exhaustive parts lists and complicated motherboard can attest! Sure, there have been machines with multiple CPUs, but consumer hardware on different instruction sets, on the same board!?

Josh Nunn of The Geekorium gave me his PAL Commodore 128 after hearing me wax lyrical about the machine on an episode of my silly podcast. Over time its 80-column circuitry and some of its higher memory banks have started having issues, which I've yet to fix. I couldn't find a replacement for the missing F7/F8 key, but I did find a little extra HELP.

Photo of the C128

Component Part Socket Date State Memo
Name Screenbeard - - Good The gracious person who gave it to me :)
Case Stock - 85 Good Retrobrighted and fixed grounding strap
Keyboard Stock (fixed) - 85 Good Repaired function keys, replaced F7/F8
Motherboard Stock - 85 Fair Mostly works, but not 80-column mode
CIA 1 MOS 6526 U1 4285 Good
CIA 2 MOS 6526 U4 4285 Good Has "S" printed on top
SID MOS 6581 R3 U5 4285 Good
CPU/MPU MOS 8502 R0 U6 4085 Good Used in C128 and C64 modes
MMU MOS 8722 R2 U7 4385 Good Memory management unit
CPU Z80 Zilog Z80 B (Z8400BPS) U10 3585 Good Z80 mode for CP/M
PLA U17 Good #TODO: Add here
Char. ROM MOS 390059-01 U18 1985 Good "CBM M452995 8541H"
Colour SRAM Hitachi HM6116P-4 U19 2785 Good
VIC-II MOS 8566 U21 4185 Good PAL version
VDC MOS 8563 R2 U22 0786 Bad Needs fixing. 64 K SaRuMan worked
Clock Gen. MOS 8701 U28 4185 Good "F6 S" printed on top
KERNAL ROM MOS 251913-01 U32 4185 Good With BASIC. "Taiwan 26011D-370"
BASIC LO ROM MOS 318018-02 U33 4185 Good "Taiwan 26011D-290"
BASIC HI ROM MOS 318019-02 U34 4185 Good "Taiwan 26011D-291"
128 KERNAL ROM MOS 318020-03 U35 4085 Good "Taiwan 26011D-292"
User Socket Empty U36 - None
Disk Drive Commodore 1571 - TODO Good Bought in 2022

"Aldi" Commodore 64, 1987

The "Aldi" Commodore 64 is a bit of an oddball. Commodore wed a motherboard and keyboard from early-revision 64Cs with an older-style breadbin case, and sold them in Germany through Aldi and a few other supermarket chains in 1987. As an Aldi fan, I can absolutely picture these machines being sold in the middle isle of shame between hiking boots and economy-sized bags of pfeffernusse.

Confusion abounds online about these machines. I wrote a post about how these cases were indeed grey, after reading people say they had the same cases of original breadbins. Other sites claim they pre-date the 64C, despite that machine first coming out in 1986. Either way, Aldi 64s were manufactured by Commodore USA and imported, perhaps to use up an oversupply of spare parts. They've since become a bit of a collectable on account of their weird configuration and history. Mine has since yellowed to that "coffee milk" colour, which I oddly like.

My Aldi 64 is empty, I have to confess! I snagged an original keyboard and case from Europe, though it didn't come with a motherboard. My plan is to use the chassis for one of those Commodore 64 replacement boards, and all-modern ICs as a fun experiment.

Photo of the Aldi 64

Component Part Socket Date State Memo
Name Jan Beta - - Good German! And it was his first 64 :)
Case Stock - 87 Good
Keyboard Stock - 87 Good Repaired a broken 6 key
Motherboard Empty - - None To be bought
Sound Empty SwinSID or SIDKick - None To be bought

Commodore 64C, 1988

The Commodore 64C was a redesigned C64, first released in 1986. Despite rumours of the impending demise of the line in favour of the more expensive C128 and Amiga, demand for the 64 remained strong, and was a valuable source of cash for Commodore in later years. It included new motherboards with consolidated ICs, and a sleek new beige case which made typing much easier. It also proved physically incompatible with certain peripherals popular in Europe, hence the introduction of the breadbin 64G with 64C internals.

I'd always wanted a 64C since seeing one in a magazine. I didn't have any nostalgic memories or personal attachment to the breadbins, but the 64C looked gorgeous. Even the keyboard font is amazing, despite it being printed instead of double-shot to save costs. In the end I found a PAL unit for sale in Australia from 1988, though it was mildewy enough that it took a few soapy baths and scrubbing to make usable.

This is probably the closest I have to a "daily driver" Commodore, though that may change when I finish my Aldi 64. It's compatible with all the awesome new homebrew hardware out there today, including my beloved EasyFlash 3. Adrian Black is right, these machines were built to last.

Photo of the 64C

Component Part Socket Date State Memo
Name Adrian Black - - Good His videos fixed so many of my machines!
Case Stock - 88 Good Slight retrobrighting
Keyboard Stock - 88 Good
Motherboard Stock - 88 Good
CIA 1 MOS 6526A U1 3588 Good "216A"
CIA 2 MOS 6526A U2 3588 Good "216A"
KERNAL ROM MOS 251913-01 U4 3188 Good With BASIC
Char. ROM MOS 901225-01 U5 3488 Good
CPU MOS 8500 U6 3588 Good
VIC-II MOS 8565R2 U7 3388 Good
Super PLA Sharp 251913-01 U8 3388 Good "LH5062B A"
SID MOS 8580R5 U9 3688 Good
Clock Generator MOS 8701 U20 3588 Good "F6 22"
Disk Drive Commodore 1541 - TODO Good Parents bought me in 2004
Primary Cart EasyFlash 3 - 2023 Good

Apple //e Platinum, 1987

The Apple //e Platinum was the last of Apple's 8-bit computer line, starting with the original Apple ][ in 1977. The //e Platinum included the mixed case support from the IIe and IIe Enhanced, along with an 80-column card and numpad included standard, and a modernised colour scheme. The 16-bit IIgs would later define an entire II on a single chip.

It's interesting to contrast this iterative development with most other 8-bit companies at the time. What would an evolved PET looked like, instead of the clean-sheet VIC-20 and C64? Woz and his team also encouraged expansion with the II, a reminder that Apple didn't always sell sealed boxes.

The //e was the second computer I ever used. My first and second primary schools were in the process of phasing them out, but they hung around in labs and libraries. The hardware, video, and sounds imprinted in me, to the point where I immediately recalled them years later when watching YouTube. I bought my beautiful specimen from a restorer in Melbourne soon after, and have equipped it with a FloppyEmu and an V2 Analog VGA card.

Photo of the //e Platinum

Component Part Date State Memo
Name Brooks - Good My first primary school teacher
Case Stock 86 Good Bit yellowed, but great condition
Keyboard Stock Platinum extended 86 Good Nicest feeling keyboard I own!
PSU Stock, recapped 8734 Good
Motherboard IIe International NTSC 86 Good B607-0288-C
AUX AIIE 80COL/64K Expansion Good Pre-installed
Slot 1 Empty - None (Usually printers)
Slot 2 Empty - None Would like a Super Serial Card
Slot 3 (80 column card, indirect) - Good
Slot 4 Empty V2 Analog VGA card None (Usually memory expansion)
Slot 5 Empty - None (Usually for mouse)
Slot 6 Apple I/O Controller 8417 Good 655-01-10B
Slot 7 Empty - Good (Usually for co-processors)
Disk A FloppyEmu 2023 Good Connected to I/O controller
Disk B Apple 5.25 140 KiB A9M0107 86 Good Daisy chain'd to FloppyEmu

Sun SPARCStation 5, Model 544

The handsome SPARCStation 5 was released by Sun Microsystems in 1994. It uses the same "Aurora" case as the S20 and S4, sitting between them in capabilities and performance. It can be expanded with 8 DSIMM slots and 3 horizontal SBus slots, one of which was shared with a faster AFX bus for higher-capacity framebuffer cards. I suspect these are rare as hen's teeth today! It also supports two 1-inch SCSI drives, a floppy drive, and has space for an optional slim optical unit that's almost as rare.

I loved my time using Sun kit at university in the mid-2000s. To this day I still regret getting a Power Mac G5 (since sold) over one of those UltraSPARC towers when I had the money to. Sun even had retail stores in Singapore, just a few shops down from Make Fine where I built my first PC in 1998. FreeBSD people have a lot to be thankful for from Solaris.

This gorgeous machine was graciously given to me by Mike of Chinwag fame, after he read me talk nostalgically about pizzabox computers like this. He even pre-installed NetBSD on it for me!

Photo of the SPARCStation 5

Component Part State Memo
Hostname mike.lan Good Named for Mike who gave it to me!
Case Stock Good Service Code S5, PN 600-3432-01
PSU Stock Good P/N 300-1279-01
OS NetBSD 9 Fair Want to dual-boot with older Solaris/illumos
Motherboard 02 Rev 50 Good
CPU Sun microSPARC II 70 MHz Good STP1012APGA MB86900 9508 Y31 -70A
RAM 64 MiB (2 x 32 MiB) ECC Works Want to upgrade to 256 MiB
Audio Crystal CS4231A-KL Good Surface mount chip under SBus3
SBus 1 Empty None
SBus 2 Empty None
SBus 3/AFX Sun STP3010PGA TurboXGX Good Graphics card, frame buffer 270-2253-02 Rev 50
FDD A Sony MPF420-6 3.5 1.44 MiB Good
SCSI 0 Seagate ST5660NC 545 MB Good 4500 RPM, 80-pin
SCSI 1 Empty None
SCSI 2 Empty None Would love a slim Sun CD-ROM!

DFI Am386, 1991

DFI (Diamond Flower International) were a manufacturer producing PC clones in the early 1990s. This basket of parts originally came with a 386SX-16CN/20CN baby AT motherboard with an AMD Am386-SXL, a mix of SIMMs for 4 MiB of memory, a Multi-IO card, switchable Oak CGA/EGA/VGA graphics card, and a TEAC 5.25 1.2 MiB floppy drive.

I bought the parts for this machine in a junk bin at Challenger in the late Funan Centre in Singapore when I was a teenager. I could never get them working, so they sat in a box for the best part of two decades until 2023, when I finally made them functional with little more than DeOxit and some thorough cleaning! I paired it with a cute tower from eBay, and have been slowly building it into the best 386 SX I can.

The most recent additions include an Intel i386-SL co-processor, Sound Blaster 2.0, Ethernet NIC, and a SCSI controller. The original Multi-IO card only supports one IDE channel, so I experimented briefly with running a CD-ROM off a Sound Blaster IDE channel. Without the funds for an Atari Falcon (!), I've made this into my GEM desktop, and am keen to track down a single-sided 5.25 drive for it.

Photo of the Am386

Component Part State Memo
Hostname mio.lan Good Because it has a MIO card. Ahonhon!
Case Weird Baby AT mini tower Fair Needs proper clean
OS MS-DOS 6.22/ViewMAX, GEM/3 Good Should probably be DR-DOS!
Motherboard DFI 386SX-16CN/20CN Good Baby AT
CPU AMD Am386-SX/SXL-25 Good Surface-mount
Coprocessor Intel i387-SL N80387SL Good Bought in 2023
RAM 8 MiB (8 x 1 MiB) 30-pin SIMM Good Max supported!
Chipset Chips & Technologies CS8281 Good
Multi-IO Acer MIO-400 KF ISA Good IDE, FDD, game, serial, parallel
Graphics OAK OTI-067, ISA, MGA/EGA/VGA Fair Needs HY51C4256S-10 upgrade
NIC 3Com EtherLink III 3C-509B ISA Good Needs X=D000-D3FF
Sound Sound Blaster 2.0 CT1350B ISA Good Other PCs were too fast for it
SCSI Adaptec AHA-1542CP ISA Good To mess with SCSI storage options
FDD A TEAC FD-55GFR, 5.25 1.2 MiB Good
FDD B Panasonic JU-2561888PC, 3.5 1.44 MiB Good
IDE 0 PQI 256 MiB Disk-on-Module Good Highest capacity without going XT-IDE
IDE 1 Empty None Might get a CF adaptor?


This horizontal desktop is an unusual Tatung PC clone rebranded and sold by NEC Japan in 1996, desu. Someone I met in Australia bought this machine when he lived in Japan, and used it as a DOS game machine. IBM PC clones like this were still fairly unusual in Japan at the time, owing to the proliferation of NEC's PC-9800 and later machines.

It was scary how many boxes this machine ticked. Our first family computer was a 486 with VLB, and I had Japanese friends in Singapore who either had this exact machine, or one that looked similar. It even included the exact Sound Blaster 16 CT2230 with OPL3 I used to have! Everything about the design also screams 1990s Japan, with a layout that harkens back to the original IBM 5150.

I originally wanted to replicate the family 486, but this ticks all the boxes. Unfortunately, I do have a sensitive nose, and it smells extremely musty and mildewy when it heats up, so I might need to do a through cleaning at some point.

Photo of the NEC APEX VPS

Component Part State Memo
Hostname ryza.lan Good Because it has a VLB riser!
Case Original NEC case and JP stickers Good
PSU Astec [sic] SA145-3430 145W Good Stock, P/N TCS-9510
OS PC DOS 6.3 JP, Windows 3.11 Good
Motherboard Tatung TCS-9510 Good With ISA and VLB riser
CPU Intel i486DX2-66 Good 95301066AD, 93
RAM 16 MiB 72-pin FPM Fair Like to upgrade to 64
BIOS PhoenixBIOS 4.01 5762 Good 1995-09-08
Chipset UMC UM82C491 Good
Ext. Cache 128 KiB Fair Like to upgrade to 256 KiB
Graphics Cirrus Logic CL-GD5428, 1 MiB Good Onboard
NIC TODO: Need to get Missing
Sound Sound Blaster 16 CT2230 ISA Good With a real Yamaha OPL3!
FDD A Sony MP-F17W-50D 3.5 1.44 MiB Good
FDD B Empty None
IDE 0 Quantum Fireball ST 1.6 GB Good
IDE 1 Empty None
IDE 2 Creative Infra48 CD3220E CD-ROM Good NOS from eBay, amazing condition
IDE 3 Empty None

Childhood MMX, 1998

This was the machine that started it all. We had a family 486 and Pentium 1 growing up, but this was the first computer I built myself. I'd wanted my own computer for years, and coming second place in a primary school writing contest gave me the funds!

The debate I had at the time was going with a Pentium Pro, or the Pentium MMX. I chose the latter because I thought the higher clock and multimedia instructions would make it better for games, but then I proceeded to use it to learn programming and do tinkering instead! Either way, the CPU was paired with a generic Octek Socket 7 motherboard, the last of the classic AT designs before the world shifted to ATX. I resisted upgrading it to an AMD K6, preferring to keep it as I original built it.

When the original family 486 was thrown away (sadly!), I was able to harvest the 5.25-inch Panasonic HD floppy drive, and the Sound Blaster 32 ISA card, both of which I thought made sense to put into this machine. There's a lot of family history in this banged-up box, and it still works as well as the day I cobbled it together.

Photo of my childhood PC

Component Part State Memo
Hostname ami.lan Good First anime crush, first PC!
Case Beige DIY Baby AT Fair Needs sanding and repainting
PSU Speed ATX-580W Good With -5V rail and AT-ATX adaptor
OS Windows 95 OSR2 Good
Motherboard Octec Rhino 12+ Good
CPU Pentium P55C MMX 200 MHz Good
RAM 64 MiB SDR UDIMM Fair Like to upgrade to 256
Chipset VIA Apollo VPX/97 Good
Ext. Cache 256 KiB Good Surface-mount
Graphics Matrox Mystique 220 PCI Good Stunning VGA quality
NIC Compex ReadyLINK RL2000-PCI Good My first NIC!
Sound Sound Blaster 32 CT3600 PnP Good IDE controller died, but I don't use
SCSI Empty Missing Need for Zip Drive
FDD A Panasonic 5.25-inch 80-track Poor Needs deep clean
FDD B Mitsubishi 3.5-inch HD Fair Need to fix door flap
IDE 0 SanDisk Extreme 32 GiB CF card Good Works with passive IDE adaptor
IDE 1 Empty None Need another UDMA CF card
IDE 2 Mitsumi 32x CRMC-FX3210S CD-ROM Good
IDE 3 Empty None
SCSI 0 Iomega Zip 100 MiB Good Works, but need SCSI controller

Compaq Presario 5060, 1998

This was the machine all my friends had when I was a kid in Singapore, and I secretly wanted. My overeager imagination at the time thought the front bezel looked like a rocket ship, with its flippy USB and Game Port cover being the gap between its fins. I still think its design holds its own among other beige-tastic boxes from the time.

After years of searching for one in decent condition, I decided to amalgamate a few into one working box. I found a 5070 from the US with a badly broken power supply and motherboard, but had a functional optical drive and was in good cosmetic condition. Six months later I found a 5060 from the UK that booted, but was banged up badly on the outside. Voila!

Today it's a massive pain with its proprietary power supply, IO shield, and ports, but naturally it's one of my favourite machines. This is what I use to play those old Windows games like Worms World Party and Age of Empires II, just as I did with friends back in the day.

Photo of the Presario 5060

Component Part State Memo
Hostname yoko.lan Good From mecha sci-fi Gurren Lagann
Case Merged from 5060, 5070 Good Two broken cases made one good one!
PSU MiTAC MPU-110REFP 110W Good Compaq proprietary
OS Windows 98 SE Good
Motherboard MiTAC/Trigon Typhoon 10 Good Compaq OEM EMEA board
CPU AMD K6-II 333 MHz Good Could upgrade, but gonna keep stock
RAM 112 MiB (16 + 32 + 64) SDR UDIMM Fine Upgrade to 384 MiB
BIOS 686A1 ROM, 1998-08-27 Good F10 to access
Chipset VIA Apollo MVP3 Good Released 1997-09-22
Graphics ATi Rage LT Pro, 8 MiB Good Onboard. Claims to be AGP.
NIC (Missing) None
Modem Compaq PSB215A Fax/Voice, ISA None Not stock, from another Compaq
Sound 1 ESS ES1869F AudioDrive Good Onboard. Very low noise chip!
Sound 2 Sound Blaster 16 Value CT2770, ISA Good For DOS games
FDD A Mitsubishi MF355F 3.5 1.44 MiB Good Compaq P/N 304235-001
FDD B Empty None -
IDE 0 Quantum Bigfoot TX 5.25 Series, 4 GB Good My first 5.25-inch hard drive!
IDE 1 Empty None -
IDE 2 Panasonic CR-588-C(CQ) 32x CD-ROM Good Stock. P/N 310185-004
IDE 3 Empty None -

HP Brio BA600, 1999

Brio machines formed part of HP's small-business line in the late 1990s, to complement the Pavilion line aimed at home users. They had a classy, understated design compared to the bulbous plastic of their Pavilions, and more pedestrian graphics hardware. Despite using the same OEM part sources as Compaq, the Brio machines had beautifully standard components. Even the Dell Dimension I bought later was more proprietary than I expected, despite it looking more like a plain box!

A Brio BAx was my second childhood PC, bought at a COMDEX show in Singapore at a steep discount. This one was binned during one of our many house moves, much to my chagrin. Fortunately I managed to find someone selling the slightly lower-end BA600 that otherwise looked identical. The dead power supply was replaced with a generic SFX.

The original Brio had dark grey drives, which weren't functional. I replaced them with a black CD-ROM I bought in Japan, and my extremely unusual blue Iomega 5.25 Zip drive. Normally I prefer keeping colours the same, but I think the recess in the bezel makes it look interesting.

Photo of the Brio BA600

Component Part State Memo
Hostname darjeeling.lan Good British HP Sauce.. Girls und Panzer!
Case Stock OEM HP, Model DTPC-19 Good System Number D9083A
Cooling Arctic 80mm Good Modern fan for front
PSU PTC-400 SFX (replacement) Works Original HP gave up
OS Windows 2000 Works
Motherboard MiTAC/Trigon 6110Zu Good
CPU Pentium III 550 MHz Good
RAM 512 MiB Good
BIOS Award HW.27.09 (QHW.09.05) Good
Chipset Intel 440BX (Seattle) Good
Graphics Matrox MGA-G200A-D2, 4 MiB Good Onboard
NIC SMC EN5030B PCI Fair Stock. Need drivers
Sound Crystal CS4280-CM SoundFusion Good Onboard
SCSI Iomega Jaz Jet SCSI Accelerator, PCI Good Advansys ABP-960
Modem Rockwell WS/M1-5614PM3 PCI Good CIS Technologies
FDD A Panasonic D2035-60391 1.44 3.5 Good JU-256A316P F3007
FDD B Empty None
IDE 0 Empty None
IDE 1 Empty None
IDE 2 NEC ND-3450A DVD-RW Good From HARDOFF in Otsu, Japan!
IDE 3 Empty None
SCSI 0 5.25 [sic] Iomega ZIP100Si "Insider" Good Unusual form factor!

IBM Aptiva 2199-200, 2000

IBM made some gorgeous desktop hardware. I'm especially partial to the industrial design of their PS/2 era machines, but their generic PC Aptiva line is almost as striking, and much easier to work on with its standard ATX components. This Aptiva 2199-200 came out in 2000, at the tail end of IBM's beige days. It even retains the original drive door, which most people seemingly broke or removed. I love comparing its design to my Presario 5060; they have similar components and construction, but are so wildly different.

I bought this machine in 2023, ostensibly to use as a Sleeper PC on account of its standard PC components and positions. In the end, I couldn't bear to change anything about it, so I'm trying to turn it into an OS/2 machine. I was even able to pick it up with Clara from the seller, and take it for a walk!

Photo of the Aptiva 2199 VPS

Component Part State Memo
Hostname hitori.lan Good Most relatable character in a long time
Case IBM FRU P09N5402 Good
OS OS/2 Warp 4.5, NetBSD Good
Motherboard IBM PR0263 Rev 3.0 Good
RAM Todo Good
BIOS Award PCI/PnP 586 230759922 Good
Chipset SiS 530/5565 Good
Graphics GeForce FX5500 256 MiB PCI Good
NIC 3Com EtherLink XL 3C509B-TPO PCI Good EEPROM socket for XT-IDE
Sound ESS 1938S H170 Good Onboard
Modem ESS 2838 V5.0 PCI Modem Good MPE28383PS FM-3623-11 W06/01
FDD A NEC FD1231T 3.5 1.44 MiB Good
FDD B Empty None
IDE 0 Quantum Fireball CR 6.0 GB Good FBCRA 655-0695
IDE 1 Empty None
IDE 2 LITE-ON LTN-403 17-40x CD-ROM Good IBM P/N 36L8788
IDE 3 Creative CD620E Hex CD-ROM Bad Our first CD-ROM! Needs repair

Dell Dimension 4100, 2000

The Dimension 4100 was released around October 2000, and was among the last machines Dell shipped in this beige form factor, a chassis it shared with the Micron Millennia among others. The ATX power supply and motherboard have proprietary connectors, though I've been told these are easy to work around.

Dell were the Tim Cook of beige box producers; their innovation lay in supply-chain optimisation over innovation. Still, I bought it from someone in Canberra for peanuts, out of nostalgia for what we had at school in Singapore. It's the first machine I've ever owned with AGP (I jumped from PCI to PCI-X), and the first with a socketed Pentium III instead of the infamous Slot 1 cart. It's also the newest PC on this page.

I've got this machine booting from a modern 120 GB SanDisk SSD using a SiI controller I reflashed from a RAID controller.

Photo of the Dimension 4100

Component Part State Memo
Hostname kyou.lan Good
Case Original OEM Good Service Tag 42VF21S
PSU Proprietary in ATX form-factor Fair To replace with non-proprietary
OS Windows Me, FreeBSD Fair Win Me is bad, but hey, nostalgia
Motherboard Intel D815EEA (Dell modified) Good No onboard audio, 2 RAM slots
CPU Pentium III "EB" 800 MHz Good
BIOS Dell A05 Fair Can upgrade to A10
Chipset Intel D815E Good
Graphics ATI Rage 128Pro AGP (4x) Fair AGP! Want to upgrade.
NIC 3Com EtherLink XL PCI, 10/100 Good 3C905B 03-0184-000 Rev-A
Sound Sound Blaster Live! CT4780 PCI Good Came with machine
FDD A NEC FD1231T Good Dell P/N 09886C
FDD B Emtpy None -
IDE 0 Sandisk 120 GB SSD Good IDE to SATA adaptor
IDE 1 Emtpy None -
IDE 2 LG CRD-8482B CD-ROM Good Dell P/N 0699YR, October 2000
IDE 3 LG GSA-H42N Super Multi DVD Writer Good

Book 8088 V2.0

The Book 8088 is the most curious computer to have come out on recent years. A seller on AliExpress put together a machine with vagely similar specifictations to the early IBM 5160, with Ad Lib sound, a CGA card, external ISA header, and a CompactFlash card slot in a tiny laptop!

I bought the second version in 2024, which includes VGA, and ports for Centronics/Parallel and RS-232/Serial. The BIOS was taken from Sergey Kiselev without attribution, so I intend to buy a replacement EPROM with a newer version from his Tindie store.

It has a bunch of shortcomings, but frankly I love that this even exists.

Component Part State Memo
Hostname nakanomiku.lan Good The history and book buff!
SKU Book 8088 V2.0 Good
OS MS-DOS 3.30 Fair Originally shipped with 6.22
CPU NEC V20 4.77/8 MHz Good Drop-in Intel 8088 replacement
Coprocessor TODO Good To get
RAM 640 KiB Good Who needs more?
BIOS 8088 BIOS, XUB r625 Fair To replace from Sergey Kiseliev
Chipset TODO Good Add here
Graphics Cirrus Logic GD5429 VGA Good Daugterboard
Sound Yamaha OPL3 YMF262-M Good Daugterboard
HDD 512 MiB CF, XT-IDE Good

OrionVM FreeDOS, 2014

Is including a VM a stretch for this page? Maybe! It was one of the first virtual servers I booted on OrionVM, and got it working using Michael B. Brutman's excellent mTCP stack. Today I keep it around as an ice-breaker for client meetings.

Component Part State Memo
Hostname Good
Hypervisor OrionVM Xen HVM Good
OS FreeDOS Good
RAM 512 MiB Good Minimum on OrionVM
Graphics Cirrus Logic GD 5446 Good QEMU virtualised
NIC Realtek RTL8139 Good QEMU virtualised
HDD 10 GiB Good Minimum on OrionVM


Palms (ne. PalmPilots, Pilots) were personal digital assistants sold in the 1990s and 2000s. They were lightweight, fast, had endless battery life, and synced easily with your desktop using PalmSync.

I loved PalmPilots when I was a kid. I didn't have to track contacts, business expenses, or tasks, but what self-respecting nerd wouldn't want a small computer the could carry around in their pocket? I downloaded games, BASIC interpreters, books, and the AvantGo package that let me read web news on the go.

This is my small collection of Palms, mostly from family. I'll admit I use the ones with removable batteries more often, just because AAA cells are so much easier to source and replace. My roommate at uni lost my first III, but I managed to replace it! They also all have protective cases.

Photo of the various Palms

Unit Year Display Memory State Memo
IBM Workpad 20x 1998 160x160 greyscale 2 MiB Good Rebadged III, bought from eBay
Palm IIIx 1999 160x160 greyscale 4 MiB Good My first Palm
Palm V 1999 160x160 greyscale 2 MiB Good Dad's work Palm. Needs new battery
Palm m515 2001 160x160 colour 16 MiB Good My mum's. Needs new battery
Palm Tungsten W 2003 320x320 colour 32 MiB Bad My first smartphone! It was dropped :(
Palm Zire 72 2004 320x320 colour 32 MiB Good My mum's. Needs new battery
Palm LifeDrive 2005 320x480 colour 4 GiB Microdrive Good Bought on eBay in 2022

Loose Parts

Components that aren't currently in a machine. Probably for testing, a future build, or nostalgia in their own right.

Part State Memo
AOpen PT75 Plus II PCI, S3 ViRGE/GX, PCI Good Q5C4BB 86C385
Diamond Viper V330 RIVA 128 4 MiB, PCI Good Testing Win31 driver limits
Tseng Labs ET4000AX 1 MiB VGA, ISA Good PN 9201 Rev A1
Sound Blaster 16 Value Good Our first sound card!
ESS AudioDrive ES1868F Good From my P1, but have IRQ conflicts
NEC USB D720101GJ, PCI Good 29931461-003009 V1.1


This is the config for my DOS boot disk, which contains benchmarking and diagnostic stuff. This should be made into a menu.









MENUITEM=FULL,    Full Boot (HIMEM, EMM386, Drivers)





My special thanks go to the following amazing people and projects, without whom this hobby wouldn't be possible:

For her unwavering encouragement!
Adrian's Digital Basement
For all his tool recommendations and repair walkthroughs for Commodore, Apple, and PC hardware.
For letting me search the web on old hardware!
The Internet Archive
For hosting all that original documentation and disk images.
Jan Beta
For introducing me to the Aldi 64, and for his Commodore 16 repair videos.
The NetBSD Project's i386 and SPARC ports
It keeps so much of this old hardware alive, and lets me dual-boot with a NIC to copy files. The NetBSD team are legends.
Noel's Retro Lab
For his beginner-friendly lab advice and Commodore VIC-20 repairs.
Phil's Computer Lab
For his recommendations for DOS benchmarking tools, drivers, and hardware.
The Retro Web
Their classic PC hardware documentation is an absolute treasure!

Wish List

This is part pie-in-sky, part shopping list, part thinking out loud.

The Footer


By Ruben Schade. Last updated 2023-11-18.

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