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Csonicgo

Intel Pentium MMX considered "classic" now?

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I've always wondered what old IBM PC clones fit into the "classic" computer zoo.

 

They're different than most other computers, but they also had video games, like Duke Nukem II , Doom, and others.

 

I have been working on one of these IBM clones for a while (Dell Stinger) and wondered if anyone else collects these IBM PC Compatible computers like I do. I have about 8 of them.

 

The best one I had was an IBM PC300, but it died a few years back.

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The question of PC clones and their "classic status" has come up a few times in the past. Here's what I wrote about it in one such thread:

 

For a computer to qualify as a "classic", it has to be more than just a computer which happens to be old; it must be a machine which broke new ground in some historically important or unique way. One can certainly find machines from the 90s which fit that description (the BeBox, some of the Apple machines, etc), but I'm having a hard time thinking of one on the (IBM-compatible) PC side.

 

PCs were mostly boring beige boxes in the 90s, and very much like desktops today in that they were built using whatever commodity parts were the cheapest at the time. There was more variety early in the decade, but the hardware started getting cheaper and more homogenous starting around 1996, as I recall. Unlike the machines from Amiga or Atari, it's much harder to "fall in love" with one particular PC model, or to claim a specific contribution that was unique to a particular model, because they were all so much alike. It's possible to name specific milestones which were reached in the 90s (such as the introduction of the first processor to exceed 100MHz, or new types of memory, or the introduction of USB), but those are advances in those specific technologies, not in PCs per se.

 

I think the original Pentium (Intel's first superscalar x86 processor) was probably a bigger innovation than the addition of MMX technology. Like most of the other additions to the PC architecture that followed it, MMX was mainly a collection of evolutionary enhancements.

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It's just old. It's an older version of a current system. The original models of ps3 and 360 are similarly old-but-not-classic.

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Well, I keep it around because it plays the old IBM compatible games perfectly. Even Digger plays well on it, that's a 1983 game.

 

The reason I say it's classic now is that support for the 586 is dropping like a rock. not even GCC will compile code for it anymore.

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Not even GCC will compile code for it anymore.

Are you sure about that? According to the manual, all of the x86 processors from the 386 on are still supported by the most recent version of GCC. I'd be surprised if they completely drop support for older processors like the 386; there is still a lot of code which won't support optimizations for more recent processors. And believe it or not, a lot of original Pentium hardware is still in active use.

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Not even GCC will compile code for it anymore.

Are you sure about that? According to the manual, all of the x86 processors from the 386 on are still supported by the most recent version of GCC. I'd be surprised if they completely drop support for older processors like the 386; there is still a lot of code which won't support optimizations for more recent processors. And believe it or not, a lot of original Pentium hardware is still in active use.

 

sadly, they have. if the Processor (X86 family) doesn't have Conditional Move, it won't compile at all. GCC 3 was the last version to support the 586. any attempts to compile will have programs to crash hard with a SIGILL.

 

 

And it's really a shame. This could be fixed, but after all the folks at the DJGPP newsgroup found that it wouldn't be fixed in the main source tree, they were devastated.

Edited by Csonicgo

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I think i read somewhere (can't remember where) but most of the design/development team for the original 'pentium' processor were poached from National Semiconductor (where i believe they were working on the NS 32000 or was it NS 32032)

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I dunno about classic, but mine is really nice. P200MMX overclocked to 225mhz. ISA & PCI slots. Accepts SIMMS and DIMMS. Has serial, parallel, and USB ports. Has a Soundblaster and db50xg for audio. Has a matrox g200 PCI which is a great card for both DOS and Windows.

 

It's the best of old and new. Fast enough to run anything, without giving up the compatibility of older hardware. I put a laptop hard disk in it, and changed out the fans. I can barely hear the thing running now. Really nice machine. I keep thinking I should pick up a 486, for old times sake, but this thing runs anything a 486 would.

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Some people consider Pentium/Pentium MMX "vintage" or "classic" now. After all, they are older now than the Atari 2600 was when people started collecting it. So I can see the argument for it.

 

Though it's not quite as clear cut. That Pentium MMX is a lot more similar to the machine I'm typing this on than the Atari 2600 is to the Pentium MMX (which is the machine I would have been typing this on in 1997).

 

Age may have something to do with it too. I'm in my late 30s, so 1997 doesn't seem all that long ago. And I associate that Pentium MMX with work. I had an IBM PC 300 on my desk at my first job. To someone 10 years younger than me, 1997 seems a lot more distant, and someone younger is much more likely to associate that Pentium MMX with fun. A 486 is more of a fun machine for me, conjuring up memories of the old DOS Civilization (and marathon games late into the night). But even those old 486s have a lot less personality than, say, an Amiga or ST.

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I agree with what Jay and others said, but there WERE some different looking systems on the market back in the 90's. And I think things changed a bit in the 2000's with more companies being willing to 'custom make' computers for you and some new and original ideas. Things like water cooled systems and bright flashing lights and so on.

 

To give a example of a different looking system from the 90's, when I was in college the system I had was a AST 486-66 -- pretty cutting edge for 94-98! It had a 4X CD-ROM drive, 2 MB in memory, a 20 gig HD (I think), and could boot into either Windows 3.1 or DOS.

 

What made this system cool was how was it was made. I wish I could find a picture. It was a desktop but it harked back more to old style computers in that the monitor and the computer were one. The monitor was part of the casing, and to access the computer, you went to the back, grabbed a handle, and slid out a drawer, which had all the guts of the PC on it. Easy to upgrade, easy to clean, and easy to lug around for me back and forth to school. The keyboard also has a long cable, so you could either have it on the desk or in your lap. It was a lot like a Mac.

 

Some of that has come back to a few HP and Dell systems I've seen in the store, in which the PC is part of the monitor. You go to the sides of the monitor to plug in devices, insert a CD, turn it on, etc.

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To give a example of a different looking system from the 90's, when I was in college the system I had was a AST 486-66 -- pretty cutting edge for 94-98! It had a 4X CD-ROM drive, 2 MB in memory, a 20 gig HD (I think), and could boot into either Windows 3.1 or DOS.

 

What made this system cool was how was it was made. I wish I could find a picture. It was a desktop but it harked back more to old style computers in that the monitor and the computer were one. The monitor was part of the casing, and to access the computer, you went to the back, grabbed a handle, and slid out a drawer, which had all the guts of the PC on it. Easy to upgrade, easy to clean, and easy to lug around for me back and forth to school. The keyboard also has a long cable, so you could either have it on the desk or in your lap. It was a lot like a Mac.

 

 

If my memory serves me right Compaq and Packard Bell also sold all-in-one systems during the mid-90s. I think they were all 486 based systems, I can't recall any all-in-ones once the Pentium came to be.

 

 

I am in agreement that Wintel PCs of the 90s especially was an era of biege boxes that lacks character and inspires little nostaglia. I'm not out looking for an old 486 simply because I had one in high school and want to relive those games. Or the K62-350 machine I had in college -- still have the games and the last time I checked they work well on my now 5 year old laptop.

 

 

With that said I do notice that properly set up 486 or Pentium class PCs do at least command high asking prices on eBay. But that has to do more with whether or not they have the right graphics card or sound card to play mid to late 90s vintage PC games. There are certainly a lot of great games to be played. But in my case at least with a machine running WinXP playing them on reasonably current hardware isn't a challenge.

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If my memory serves me right Compaq and Packard Bell also sold all-in-one systems during the mid-90s. I think they were all 486 based systems, I can't recall any all-in-ones once the Pentium came to be.

 

I sold computers at retail in 1994 and 1995, and remember the all-in-one 486s well. Compaq definitely had one. I didn't sell a lot of them though, probably because I pointed out to people that you could mix and match monitors, and the nicer Sony and NEC monitors in the next aisle would work with any of the desktop or tower computers we sold. I'd say a good 25-50% of the computers I sold marched out of the store with one of those monitors.

 

I thought I remembered there being at least one Compaq all-in-one that was Pentium-based, and a little later on I thought they had one based on the Cyrix MediaGX chip. But they weren't all that popular, and management certainly didn't push us to push them. They wanted us to push 17-inch monitors, so if the manager was watching, we didn't even mention the all-in-ones unless the customer specifically asked about that model.

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Well, like I said, in my case, being a college student having a 'portable' all in one was very handy, despite the smaller monitor. We did look at laptops, but laptops in 94-95 were WAY expensive and underpowered compared to what they are now.

 

I got a 19 inch monitor with my next computer in 1998 when I graduated college and went to grad school, and again for the time it was cutting edge -- a Dell P2-400! Wow, things have changed.....

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The Dell Stinger was a Cream-colored box (basically the color of the dreamcast) with a curved front panel for an extra fan if you wanted to be sure your RAM didn't get too hot. When overclocking, it's necessary.

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Well, like I said, in my case, being a college student having a 'portable' all in one was very handy, despite the smaller monitor. We did look at laptops, but laptops in 94-95 were WAY expensive and underpowered compared to what they are now.

 

College students may have been the target demographic for those machines. In a crowded dorm room, I can see where they'd be handy. And they did make more sense than a laptop, where you paid twice as much for equivalent computer power. Not to mention they broke down a lot and parts were crazy expensive too.

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Won't be classic until the x86 architecture is no longer used.

 

At all? What about when it only exists as part of the x86-64 / AMD64 set?

Good answer, by the way. Just curious as to your specifics.

Edited by Rex Dart

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Well, like I said, in my case, being a college student having a 'portable' all in one was very handy, despite the smaller monitor. We did look at laptops, but laptops in 94-95 were WAY expensive and underpowered compared to what they are now.

 

College students may have been the target demographic for those machines. In a crowded dorm room, I can see where they'd be handy. And they did make more sense than a laptop, where you paid twice as much for equivalent computer power. Not to mention they broke down a lot and parts were crazy expensive too.

 

I remember the joys of moving my computer every year when I lived in the dorms for my Freshman and Sophomore years. Moving a mid-tower PC and a 15" monitor up three flights of stairs (no elevator in my building) was a chore. Not to mention the fact that the building I lived in was built in the mid-30s, the designers at that time did not envision all the crap college freshman would have. It was a tight squeeze to say the least. By 98 or so I don't remember any all-in-one PCs on the market. I did have a neighbor with an all-in-one biege PowerMac G3 (that thing was huge) and another had a brand new Bondi Blue iMac.

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There have been many platforms that have had changes to the cpu or sytems that access that cpu in the past, yet the base architecture has remained the same... like the Comodore 64. However, these subsets (in most cases) did not put them in more demand than the others and in no case that I am aware of, did a system become collectible while that architecture was still in use.

 

There are always exceptions to the rule, but those exceptions are usually systems that take a radical departure in design or asthetics from the norm... such as the Commodore SX-64 or the Compaq Portable 386.

 

Again this is just my personal opinion.

Edited by the-topdog

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Of all the x86 architecture chips we may see the 386SX-16, 486DX-50, 486DX2-50, Pentium Pro 200, and some early Extreme Editions become classic (if ever) way before the e6600 does.

Edited by Keatah

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