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bluejay

Your MS-DOS setup(s)

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18 minutes ago, Turbo-Torch said:

It uses an ESDI hard drive and the expansion slots are Micro Channel.  The plasma display is red monochrome but it's like watching a plasma TV, razor sharp contrast and no motion blur.  If you plug in a VGA monitor, you have full color and the plasma automatically turns off.

The keyboard is one of the best.  It was made by Alps and uses plate springs...nice tactile feedback and clacking noise with each key press.

 

The big downside to this system is the Micro Channel slots.  The MCA Sound Blaster or ChipChat cards are incredibly rare and expensive...like in the $1,000 range when they turn up.

 

I see TexElec has an Adlib compatible card called Resound for $60 that I'm thinking of trying. Unfortunately no game port though.  I think Doom would look bad ass on that red display.  I'm gonna have to give that at try. :)

Damn, MCA and ESDI. Shoulda expected for a late 80s IBM system, I suppose. How many slots does it have?

 

I did some googling and found someone who wanted an IDE controller inside a P70. The 16 year old forum post mentioned a card called the Arco AC-1070, that is an bootable IDE controller that fits inside the P70's MCA slot. The card seems ridiculously rare though; I doubt you'd find one.

 

The Resound is on discount at the moment; so it's $54 instead of $60. I think you should give it a try! Post a video of it running Doom sometime, will ya :) 

 

cpii.thumb.jpg.b0797b0e27be263926b6a498fe832d76.jpg

Edit: Seems like my Portable II picture on the original post is broken. Here's another one.

Edited by bluejay
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It has two slots, one 32 bit and one 16 bit.  The AOX is using the 32 bit and I still have the 16 open.

 

I downloaded Doom 1.9 to my current desktop PC and then copied the files to floppies using a 3.5" usb drive.  I was able to use those floppies on the P70 and installed Doom.

Doesn't work too well.  Running on the AOX, I can get all the way to the start screen but it crashes as soon as soon as I start the game.

If I boot without the AOX to the original 386, it starts and plays fine, but it's not very fast.  And the monochrome doesn't look as good as I thought it would lol.

I'll have to try messing with the config.sys settings or try a different version of Doom.

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Doesn't Doom need a 486 minimum?  I know I played it on a 486 DX when it came out and the DX made a huge difference over the SX.

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10 minutes ago, Tempest said:

Doesn't Doom need a 486 minimum?  I know I played it on a 486 DX when it came out and the DX made a huge difference over the SX.

doom.thumb.jpg.357a0859d0fe4d3a9ea9baecded1862d.jpg


Yep, Doom runs on a 386.

 

@Turbo-Torch Have you tried swapping out the 5x86 for a 486? I also found this online; maybe it'll help. https://www.vogons.org/viewtopic.php?t=54525

Edited by bluejay
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"run" and playable are not the same thing. :)

 

Sure, you can make the viewport the smallest size allowable, and the game will stutter when more than 2 voices play... but yeah.

 

Maybe if it was a 386 DX 33, with a really nice video card...

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It was slow on the native 386 20mhz and not what I'd consider playable.  Although, I didn't try to shrink down the view; I'll have to give that a try.

 

I just installed it on my other P70 which has the same AOX board and memory, except the AOX was upgraded with a Intel Overdrive 486 DX4 100mhz (not 75 as I thought).  Plays excellent with no lag at full screen which is cool for a 1988 PC.    

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I have two that I use currently:

 

Tandy 1000EX:  8088 @ 4.77MHz, 640K RAM, Tandy graphics, 1 serial/1 parallel port (w/PLUS to ISA adapter), built in 360K 5.25" floppy drive, external 720K 3.5" floppy drive, XT-IDE w/32MB compact flash (w/PLUS to ISA adapter), Tandy CM-5 monitor, MS-DOS 3.2

 

Pentium-75 in generic, beige desktop case:  40MB RAM, generic Trident 4MB PCI VGA graphics, 2 serial/1 parallel port, 3Com 10MBPS ISA adapter, Sound Blaster 16 ISA, 800MB Quantum IDE hard drive, Toshiba IDE CD-ROM, 5.25" 1.2MB + 3.5" 1.44MB floppy drives, Viewsonic 17" VGA CRT monitor, Windows 95

 

 

 

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Not on me (Never truly used MS-Dos) but when i want to, i use PCem which Emulates all the other PC's of Yonder and PCBASIC to emulate an IBM PC

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I have a pentium 133 installed upstairs.  I have a soundblaster 16 in it, with an SD->IDE adapter.

 

Works just fine.

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Posted (edited)

1618486956323.jpg.83716c1216865ea476afaa7b2927ad4f.thumb.jpg.9d5c722bdf41c4421109c49c920a14c1.jpg

I've posted this pic elsewhere on this forum!

 

One my of lockdown projects last year was to gather a bunch of parts and build a DOS gaming machine.  I gathered enough parts to build the following:

 

  • Pentium 133, which can be decelerated to roughly 486DX33 or 386SX40 speed by disabling one or both caches, so it can play even heavily speed-dependent games like Wing Commander 1 and Ultima VII without a problem.
  • ESS AudioDrive ES1868F, which is a FANTASTIC yet common and inexpensive sound card.  No hanging note bug on the joystick/MIDI port, crystal clear audio, no audio popping during initialization, and "register-compatible" OPL FM music that sounds very close (but pleasantly different) to a genuine Yamaha OPL chip.
  • Roland MT-32 and Sound Canvas SC-55 connected through an aftermarket MusicQuest MIDI card clone (PC-MIDI).
  • Compact Flash-IDE converter installed so I can use an industrial Compact Flash card as a hard drive
  • A little mouse pad tray that swings in/out on the right side (you can see the black mounting bracket next to the keyboard in the picture)

 

I spent a lot of time fooling around with optimizing free memory and setting up a basic menu system to enable/disable EMS memory, etc., but ultimately just downloaded the prebuilt config.sys and autoexec.bat files from Phil's Computer Lab, which gives you a startup menu with several useful configs (no need for a boot disk just for Ultima VII anymore!) and plenty of free memory to run anything.

 

I was pressed for space, but was able to fit everything just perfectly on a printer stand in the corner of my office.  I really enjoy playing games on this machine—free from distractions so I can concentrate fully on playing whatever RPG I'm working on currently.  I just completed Ultima III: Exodus on this machine this morning, actually (great game!).

Edited by newtmonkey
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It may sound strange to everyone here, but I was never nostaglic for all the old PC's I've had like I am for Atari computers.  I've always upgraded to newer towers I've built myself while carrying all my games over to each one...like a Ship of Thebes.

 

Any PC game I had that didn't work on 64-bit Windows I use some sort of work-around patches and all my DOS based FPS games I use open source ports if not DOSBox.  So basically I don't need to have any seperate retro PC build (which would cost more & be more complex to manage than modern gaming PC's...which are tough enough!) to play my stuff.

 

In the future I would like to get a CRT monitor to attach to an older video card, as a 3rd screen, so I can play old PC games at a proper 4:3 ratio on my current Windows 10 PC.

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I'm only nostalgic for 2 vintage PCs, which are decades old. They've not been upgraded for speed. That means slots have been populated and memory upgraded and hard drives added. No CPU replacement on one of them. Those I keep in operational condition though I don't use them very much.

 

The idea is to carry forward the aura and nostalgic memories of the experience and software. And that's best done by preserving the usability of said software. Be it through Emulation, FPGA, Virtualization, or Wrappers.

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I have a 486-DX2 motherboard that I've been meaning to work on. I have an old STB card for it as well.

 

But for now, I have one of my older modern computers in my game room with Launchbox on it to run all of my DOS games. I have a huge archive of games that I got running a couple of summers ago...one by one. I have it broken down by companies and have all of the major companies as well as some lesser known ones. I try to add all of the games by a particular company.

 

I love having all of the metadata for the games. I even added some trivia for key games.

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15 hours ago, MrMaddog said:

It may sound strange to everyone here, but I was never nostaglic for all the old PC's I've had like I am for Atari computers.  I've always upgraded to newer towers I've built myself while carrying all my games over to each one...like a Ship of Thebes.

 

Any PC game I had that didn't work on 64-bit Windows I use some sort of work-around patches and all my DOS based FPS games I use open source ports if not DOSBox.  So basically I don't need to have any seperate retro PC build (which would cost more & be more complex to manage than modern gaming PC's...which are tough enough!) to play my stuff.

 

In the future I would like to get a CRT monitor to attach to an older video card, as a 3rd screen, so I can play old PC games at a proper 4:3 ratio on my current Windows 10 PC.

I'm sort of with you there.   I get nostalgic for certain aspects of it-  like when I was learning to build PCs,  and my old Gravis soundcard.   But I don't really miss the old PCs themselves.   In fact within the last year I brought my old 486 up from the basement, restored it because of all the extra free time from COVID.   Once I did I was like "now what?"   it went back to the basement!

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Was thinking.. It's much easier and likely to become nostalgic about a bit of hardware, like a card or upgrade or the experience surrounding it, than it is for the whole vast infrastructure & eco-sphere. All because it contains personal decisions and efforts. The excitement of new performance and capabilities.

 

6 hours ago, zzip said:

In fact within the last year I brought my old 486 up from the basement, restored it because of all the extra free time from COVID.   Once I did I was like "now what?"   it went back to the basement!

That experience may become nostalgic in the years to come.

 

I just picked up a USRobotics ISA modem (top of the line, feature complete, Bell 103 through v.92) for $7.00 and hung it on the wall in my workshop. Reminiscing about the old times. Admiring the engineering. Using it as a visual cue, the color coordination of the PCB's discrete parts, the layout, the Analog vs Digital sections, the whole art & flavor of it, to remember the good times I had BBS'ing  - seemed more rewarding than actually doing the actual BBS'ing itself.

 

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13 minutes ago, Keatah said:

Was thinking.. It's much easier and likely to become nostalgic about a bit of hardware, like a card or upgrade or the experience surrounding it, than it is for the whole vast infrastructure & eco-sphere. All because it contains personal decisions and efforts. The excitement of new performance and capabilities.

If the hardware has character/personality, I think it's easier to become nostalgic for it.    For PC builders,  the average 90s PC was a generic beige box that you upgraded over time.   It basically runs the same as any other ubiquitous PC- that we've probably used everyday since then.   So we have no chance to miss it.

 

Maybe we get nostagic for DOS/Dos Games,  or Early Windows 9x since it's been awhile.   We also don't have wavetable soundcards anymore, maybe that's why I miss my Gravis more than anything else in my early PC.

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26 minutes ago, Keatah said:

Was thinking.. It's much easier and likely to become nostalgic about a bit of hardware, like a card or upgrade or the experience surrounding it, than it is for the whole vast infrastructure & eco-sphere. All because it contains personal decisions and efforts. The excitement of new performance and capabilities.

 

 

I can relate to this. Part of my nostalgia for older PC tech is the feeling I had when I knew some newly bought component was going to make my system better. For instance, I have one of the original GeForce 256's and for me, it's when the system I had at the time really took off in regards to performance. Another example is a 56k modem and my first cable modem. Put them side-by-side and you can appreciate what they mean together.

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13 hours ago, zzip said:

If the hardware has character/personality, I think it's easier to become nostalgic for it. For PC builders,  the average 90s PC was a generic beige box that you upgraded over time. It basically runs the same as any other ubiquitous PC- that we've probably used everyday since then. So we have no chance to miss it.

Sure, the beige box of the dotcom epoch was not memorable as a whole. But the individual technologies were quite exciting for those of us upgrading piecemeal or building a rig from scratch. There were graphics and sound cards, evolving processors, denser & faster memory, and growing hard disks. Some of us may have even been power supply junkies.

 

I found my first graphics card to be quite the novelty. It could run at 2x the resolution and millions more colors than the Amiga I was previously using. And it was modular. On its own plug-in card! Can you believe that!

 

My old 486 is memorable in many ways because it was my first real PC that I owned all by myself. I was a big boy now! And opening it up was as simple as removing some screws and sliding the case top. It was nice to see the system have lots of blank slots. 6 available in total at the outset. The other two were occupied by a multifunction I/O board, and the graphics board. Lots of future possibilities here. Just like the Apple II.

 

13 hours ago, zzip said:

Maybe we get nostagic for DOS/Dos Games,  or Early Windows 9x since it's been awhile.   We also don't have wavetable soundcards anymore, maybe that's why I miss my Gravis more than anything else in my early PC.

Similar. I thoroughly enjoyed the OPL3 FM sound of the SB16. And soon upgraded it with a wavetable daughtercard. An upgrade being done on a plug-in card! How about that! Though games I first played in FM never seemed to sound right in wavetable midi. Games I first played in midi, though, that was different. It sounded correct. If that makes any sense.

 

13 hours ago, Billy Beans said:

I can relate to this. Part of my nostalgia for older PC tech is the feeling I had when I knew some newly bought component was going to make my system better. For instance, I have one of the original GeForce 256's and for me, it's when the system I had at the time really took off in regards to performance. Another example is a 56k modem and my first cable modem. Put them side-by-side and you can appreciate what they mean together.

I never quite combined the flavors and auras of multiple cards in go. I preferred to bounce back and forth from one to the other. Interest shifting from communications, to sound, to graphics, processors, memory, and round and round it went.

 

My first hardware 3D experience was a Riva-128. I loved that chip. Got it on a full-featured board and was impressed its PCI performance was almost exactly identical to the then 1x AGP bus.

 

Spent some money on 3DFx, but I never liked the 3D only and passthrough scheme. Nor did I like that the API was totally proprietary. I wanted something more standardized across the industry. And I really really wanted an integrated solution, so the Riva-128 it was. Gave me 2D/3D on one chip and more standardized API support. Never mind its 3D was 16-bit only. Its the chip that put nVidia on the map.

 

Then I moved into a TNT2-Ultra. Then GeForce4-Ultra, which is the mainstay of one of my legacy rigs.

 

Modem history is simple.

300, 1200, for the Apple II.

2400 on the Amiga.

And 14.4K, 56K, Cablemodem on the PC.

 

Each modem and speed grade was a unique experience. Only becoming mundane with the introduction of cable. The Apple II was likely the best, as we learned so much about telecom. And it was total fun to write short sci-fi stories featuring modems, storms, sub-space, and other natural phenomena as the main theme.

 

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I'm not nostalgic about anything. I play old DOS games because they are as awesome today as they were back then, if not more so in fact, given some of the pathetic trends happening in modern gaming.

 

I appreciate the tech because it was constantly innovating and pushing things forward, and the huge amount of different parts from different manufacturers is fascinating. It's like having a huge, grown-up Lego box. And that was also the PCs key strength: it wasn't just one rigid corpo-brand but a shapeshifting construct. Anybody could knock out an affordable clone, which made it a true People's Computer.

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1 hour ago, Keatah said:

Sure, the beige box of the dotcom epoch was not memorable as a whole. But the individual technologies were quite exciting for those of us upgrading piecemeal or building a rig from scratch. There were graphics and sound cards, evolving processors, denser & faster memory, and growing hard disks. Some of us may have even been power supply junkies.

All that was fun at first, but then I'd hit a point where I maybe I do a RAM upgrade because I still free slots and I because I can,  but did it really improve my PC experience?   No!     At some point upgrades went from fun, to diminishing returns, to a nuisance.   I got to a point where I would only upgrade my PC after several years, and only begrudgingly because I hit a bottleneck.  

 

2 hours ago, Keatah said:

I found my first graphics card to be quite the novelty. It could run at 2x the resolution and millions more colors than the Amiga I was previously using. And it was modular. On its own plug-in card! Can you believe that!

As an ST owner I was lusting after the new Atari Falcon.  It's graphics capabilities blew everything else in the ST lineup away.   It even had a 16-bit "Truecolor" mode.   But at the same time,  I could sense that the Atari ecosystem was dying,  the Falcon was overpriced for what it was, and the PC world was where it was at.    So when I got the money together to upgrade,  I decided to go with a 486 instead of a Falcon,  but I was a bit obsessive about making sure that my PC SVGA video card could do everything the Falcon could.  (of course it could, and more)

 

but back then, graphics upgrades were significant.   Going from an 8-bit system to a 16-bit system was a huge graphics boost, as was going from 16-bit to a PC with SVGA.   but once there, I had 24-bit true-color so it could display photo-quality images without resorting to tricks like HAM or Spectrum 512.   My multisync monitor could display all sorts of resoluations.   Graphics upgrades started to become much less significant.   I wasn't into the early 3D cards since I thought the early 3D games looked hideous

 

2 hours ago, Keatah said:

Similar. I thoroughly enjoyed the OPL3 FM sound of the SB16. And soon upgraded it with a wavetable daughtercard. An upgrade being done on a plug-in card! How about that! Though games I first played in FM never seemed to sound right in wavetable midi. Games I first played in midi, though, that was different. It sounded correct. If that makes any sense.

Wasn't OPL3 a downgrade for you coming from an Amiga?     I was never much of a fan of OPL3.   Since my 8-bit days, I always had a dream that computers could play music with real sounding instruments.  The MOD trackers of the 16-bit era were kind of a fulfillment of that.  Wavetable promised to take it to the next level with more simultaneous instruments!   I got the ACE version of the Gravis Ultrasound, which was meant to work with another soundcard.  It was stripped down version, it only provided the wavetable while my SB16 still provided all the other functions soundcards had taken on (joystick/midi port, CD-audio, CD-rom connectors, microphone-in, etc)  so functionally similar to the daughtercard upgrade, except it consumed another ISA slot

 

I thought most games sounded better with the wavetable synthesis,  but there was a level in Heretic that I thought was better with OPL3-  the music sounded tense and suspenseful when played on OPL3,  but it lost that quality on wavetable.  Other levels sounded way better on the Ultrasound (1-9 was my favorite music)

 

One of the problems with Wavetable cards was each manufacturer had their own instrument samples, so music that sounded great on one card might sound off on another.

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On 4/26/2021 at 5:53 PM, MrMaddog said:

I've always upgraded to newer towers I've built myself while carrying all my games over to each one...like a Ship of Thebes.

Heh. That is my main desktop computer. I built my most recent iteration a year ago, but I always re-use whatever hardware I reasonably can, and either use the old hard drives in as secondary drives, or copy the entire contents to a new hard drive. As a result, all my files and whatnot going back 30 years when I got my first computer with a hard drive are on this computer somewhere -- in horribly nested directories mind you, but they are there.

 

I still use one original piece of hardware after all these years.... the same IBM Model M keyboard that I've had since 1987.

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Posted (edited)
On 4/28/2021 at 9:40 AM, zzip said:

All that was fun at first, but then I'd hit a point where I maybe I do a RAM upgrade because I still free slots and I because I can,  but did it really improve my PC experience? No! At some point upgrades went from fun, to diminishing returns, to a nuisance. I got to a point where I would only upgrade my PC after several years, and only begrudgingly because I hit a bottleneck.

I'm not entirely clear when PC upgrading became a nuisance. It might have been as late as the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition 3.4 Northwood. It and its then-required RAMBUS memory ran so hot it was a turn-off for starters. There were other issues.

 

It may have been even later like around the GeForce 8800 time and when nVidia came out with 9xxx series which were renamed 8xxx parts. That was a marketing thing, to advance the skus along with AMD's real skus. But it was sometime in 2008 - 2010 I stopped chasing the hardware bandwagon across the board.

 

Quote

As an ST owner I was lusting after the new Atari Falcon.  It's graphics capabilities blew everything else in the ST lineup away.   It even had a 16-bit "Truecolor" mode.   But at the same time,  I could sense that the Atari ecosystem was dying,  the Falcon was overpriced for what it was, and the PC world was where it was at.    So when I got the money together to upgrade,  I decided to go with a 486 instead of a Falcon,  but I was a bit obsessive about making sure that my PC SVGA video card could do everything the Falcon could.  (of course it could, and more).

Same here, with the Amiga though however. I wanted the higher resolutions and colors, without tricks. Aside from blitter activities, I always thought PC graphics were superior in every way beginning in the latter half of the 386 era. And then games like Descent, Doom, WhackyWheels, Raptor, Hexen, Heretic, and soundly convinced me that a standard 2D PC graphics chip was all-around superior. Blitting capabilities galore it seemed.

 

Quote

but back then, graphics upgrades were significant.   Going from an 8-bit system to a 16-bit system was a huge graphics boost, as was going from 16-bit to a PC with SVGA.   but once there, I had 24-bit true-color so it could display photo-quality images without resorting to tricks like HAM or Spectrum 512.   My multisync monitor could display all sorts of resoluations.   Graphics upgrades started to become much less significant.   I wasn't into the early 3D cards since I thought the early 3D games looked hideous

I really only had one 2D card, the CirrusLogic 5422 16-bit ISA 1MB. I really liked the card because it was a moderate performer and could be "unlocked" with some of the then-hot-shit VESA utilities like the LFB trick and SciTech Display Doctor. Still have all that.

 

I was a little into actually getting some of the early 3D chips. Really into chasing 60FPS buttery-smooth animation.

 

The first one I owned was a full-featured RIVA-128 4MB PCI board by Canopus, had VIVO capabilities too. That was late 1997. I paired it with a Pentium II 266 on an AL440LX board. I picked it because it did 2D and 3D, and I was building a new system, and could afford a Voodoo 3D-only chipset.

 

I did eventually get a Voodoo2 to work alongside the '128. I enjoyed the better 3D for a while. But it was a hassle, the passthrough sucked, 2D+3D simultaneously was next to impossible. My graphics solution was taking 2 slots, potentially a 3rd for SLI which I did for a short time. Then heat started to become a problem - to be solved with LOUD fans. Big 120mm+ fans weren't a thing yet. So we were stuck with these whiny 40-60mm bastards.

 

Homebrew cooling solutions ALWAYS SEEM TO BE LOUDER than commercial offerings. And my rig was an annoyance to use.

 

Then the TNT2 came out and I got that. And I was happy because I could dump the Voodoo stuff. 2D/3D and real API support were immense pluses! No proprietary Glide shit. And I cold do 3D at 1600x1200. Playing Orbiter Spaceflight Simulator was tons fun then.

 

I would experiment around with that tile-based chip from NEC, the PowerVR, in the form of the Matrox Mystique. but that was also 3D only and consumed a slot. More or less to satisfy my curiosity. There was no going back once I got the TNT2. Separate 3D-only boards were off my radar.

 

There was a lot of talk about 2D/3D solutions called RUSH and Banshee. They materialized briefly and way too late.

 

I'd go on to a Geforce2, 3, and 4. and 5950, 6800, and 8800GTX. Then I finally learned to stop chasing all this stuff. My next graphics board would be a 1080 GTX bought 2019, used, but in near-new condition. And in-use today.

 

None of this 20xx or 30xx Raytracing stuff interests me yet. Right now it seems associated with loudmouthed youtubers running benchmark comparisons in unpleasant hard-to-watch videos that don't seem to really say much. Yet consuming time in half-hour chunks of yapping. And they cost around $1,500. Reminiscent of those MaximumPC builds using specialty boutique parts.

 

I kept the CirrusLogic 5422, Riva-128, TNT2, and Geforce4. They were significant landmarks along the way for me, regardless if the industry and consumers of the time had other ideas. The other stuff I sold off.

 

It's fun though to reminisce about the industry's early material though. Intense3D, Intergraph, Rendition, Verite, Permedia, Parhelion, Virge, Laguna, Radeon, ATI all-in-wonder, 3DLabs, i740, Real3D, and so much much more!

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RIVA_128

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3dfx_Interactive

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intel740

 

Quote

Wasn't OPL3 a downgrade for you coming from an Amiga?     I was never much of a fan of OPL3.   Since my 8-bit days, I always had a dream that computers could play music with real sounding instruments.  The MOD trackers of the 16-bit era were kind of a fulfillment of that.  Wavetable promised to take it to the next level with more simultaneous instruments!

It may have been for a little while. OPL3 may have been a step down technically. I won't argue there. I wasn't too much into the MOD and trackers scene. Just enough to have made a mixtape or two and play the stuff when bored. I (rightly or wrongly) associated FM with clean sound and low processor requirements.

 

The SoundBlaster 16 has way more chips than the Amiga sound system had, so it must be better. And the SB16 had a wavetable header, and a socket for some DSP thing. So. Yeh. An upgradable upgrade. No worries. I was covered. I kinda-sorta knew that digitized sounds and sampling would mature quickly.

Edited by Keatah

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18 hours ago, Keatah said:

I did eventually get a Voodoo2 to work alongside the '128. I enjoyed the better 3D for a while. But it was a hassle, the passthrough sucked, 2D+3D simultaneously was next to impossible. My graphics solution was taking 2 slots, potentially a 3rd for SLI which I did for a short time. Then heat started to become a problem - to be solved with LOUD fans. Big 120mm+ fans weren't a thing yet. So we were stuck with these whiny 40-60mm bastards.

 

Homebrew cooling solutions ALWAYS SEEM TO BE LOUDER than commercial offerings. And my rig was an annoyance to use.

My preference was always to get the most powerful stuff I could, that didn't need a crazy amount of cooling.   I hate the idea of having a half-dozen or more noisy fans cooling my PC.   I always used the stock cooler that came with my CPU--   never bothered overclocking, so it's been fine.   I resisted for the longest time getting a GPU that had more than one fan.  Unfortunately that's hard to do anymore and I thing my current one has two.

 

18 hours ago, Keatah said:

Same here, with the Amiga though however. I wanted the higher resolutions and colors, without tricks. Aside from blitter activities, I always thought PC graphics were superior in every way beginning in the latter half of the 386 era. And then games like Descent, Doom, WhackyWheels, Raptor, Hexen, Heretic, and soundly convinced me that a standard 2D PC graphics chip was all-around superior. Blitting capabilities galore it seemed.

Yeah, for awhile there were ISA graphics cards that were sometimes even 8-bit cards,  and they were noticably slow updating the screen compared to an ST or Amiga.  But when VLB graphics cards came out solving the speed issues, there were no more excuses.  PC graphics were clearly better and the games you mentioned proved it.

 

18 hours ago, Keatah said:

It may have been for a little while. OPL3 may have been a step down technically. I won't argue there. I wasn't too much into the MOD and trackers scene. Just enough to have made a mixtape or two and play the stuff when bored. I (rightly or wrongly) associated FM with clean sound and low processor requirements.

Back in my 8-bit days, I had this idea that if I made a music player that emulated the waveforms of various instruments, it would sound like real instruments on playback.   Well it turns out that's what FM does-- except the results don't really sound like real instruments.   But that's what I was looking for, computer music that sounded real and not "boop boop boop ding".  I was big into the mods for awhile because they were delivering on that experience,  but OPL3 always left me wanting.  It was especially bad at percussion.

 

18 hours ago, Keatah said:

The SoundBlaster 16 has way more chips than the Amiga sound system had, so it must be better. And the SB16 had a wavetable header, and a socket for some DSP thing. So. Yeh. An upgradable upgrade. No worries. I was covered. I kinda-sorta knew that digitized sounds and sampling would mature quickly.

I had the SB16 with the DSP chip.  Because my PC needed to be a Falcon killer so I wouldn't feel buyers remorse at not buying a Falcon it of course needed a DSP!   That say, I still don't know what the SB16 DSP was good for, I suppose it provided all that environmental audio?  (concert hall, small room).  I never saw any software that did anything special with it.

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The DSP (ASP) add-on provided realtime hardware compression and decompression of audio using CCITT A-law and u-law, ADPCM, IMA ADPCM, and of course Creative FastSpeech. All with varying compression ratios between 2:1 - 10:1. Early text-to-speech, text readers, and speech recognition would have used it. Creative's Text Assist was a pack-in that used some of that.

 

It supported DECtalk. Another early text-to-speech standard, most recognizable by NOAA's usage and Stephen Hawking's synthesizer. Or maybe even WWV, don't hold me to that one. It was popular for a while because it supported many voice personalities that fit with certain industrial fields. Like medical or petroleum.

 

It was also supposed to help with rapid decompression of audio in games too. But that never took off. Game software was doing its own thing with, lo & behold, FM OPL3! Or digitized audio via a publisher's both proprietary algorithms and open source methods. And then there was MIDI, which was 10x more popular and already an accepted standard for working with samples.

 

And Creative intended it to be used for QSound, some sort of soundscape with a 180-degree sound field. Allowing you to place instruments and sounds anywhere on the stage in front of you. The forerunner to Creative's EAX.

 

The chip itself was pretty short lived in the consumer ecosphere since CPU speeds were increasing by leaps and bounds. And it was fixed-function. Not really adaptable to any new compression standards. Though "upgradable" by having the host CPU call functions from the ASP itself. A grey area - which is natural as tech evolves.

 

Furthermore, it being sold an add-on meant that not everyone would have it. And we all know software publishers like and tend to write for the common base installs.

 

One of my spare SB16 boards has the chip soldered-on as does the AWE32. Rumor had it that CL had a stock of the chips and decided to use them till they ran out. Then provided drivers that had the same functionality using host CPU.

 

Overall consumer level software support was sparse and it was going away by the time Windows 95/98 got underway. Absorbed into the CPU and chipset like AC'97, MMU, on-board graphics. With the advent of DirectSound I don't think any trace of that ASP exists.

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