The Andrew Turnbull Network

For anyone who's interested, here are some technical tidbits on the various computers I've used, past and present...

Gateway 2000 4DX2-66

[Gateway 2000 4DX2-66] Vintage: 1994
Acquired: May 1994 (new)
Case: Slimline desktop
CPU: 66MHz Intel 486DX2
RAM: 16 MB (upgraded from 8)
Hard drive: 324 MB
Floppy drive: 1.44MB 3.5"
Operating system: MS-DOS 6.21 and Windows for Workgroups 3.11
Disposition: Given away.

Though I had been reared on Apple IIes elsewhere before, this machine was the first actual computer my family had in their household...and I ultimately inherited it as my own. It had its frustrations, to put it mildly: The hard drive filled up to the point where "0 bytes free" became a common error exclamation, the sound drivers were misconfigured to the point of uselessness, and Windows 3.11 was a daily exercise of waiting for a large application to soak up "system resources" and bring everything down in a terrific crash. But I did a LOT of work on this machine: Typing up dozens of papers in my high-school days, playing computer games when school wasn't in session, and maintaining this website for its first seven months of existence. In 2008 I made the decision to finally clean out my horde of underutilized computers and computer parts, this one included...and the keyboard is all that I have left of it now.


[IBM PC AT] Vintage: 1985 (case); 1987 (motherboard)
Acquired: October 1997 (used)
Case: AT Desktop
CPU: 8MHz Intel 286, with 287 math coprocessor
RAM: The addition of an AST Advantage Premium board rounded it off to a full meg.
Hard drive: 20 MB
Floppy drive: 1.44MB 3.5" and 360K 5.25"
Operating system: DOS 6.0
Disposition: Given away (in pieces).

I acquired this extremely-depreciated piece of equipment from a family member about ten years from new, and for a time it convinced me that I ought to go into upgrading and fixing computers for a living. Its case was large and easy to access, it was solid as a rock, and I probably had more fun tinkering with this machine than I did any other. Unfortunately many of its original parts had been replaced before I got it, the hard drive had a pittance of a capacity and sounded like a jet taking off, the battery soon died (and a replacement proved impossible to find), and the BIOS was too old even to recognize a VGA card by default. Although I always held out hope that I'd get it up and running to a satisfactory degree, a lack of time and a drain of enthusiasm resulted in my admitting defeat. Like most of my other computer junk, this system now resides in the hands of a vintage IBM enthusiast in North Carolina.


I never did bother taking a picture of this...

Vintage: 1992
Acquired: April 2001 (used)
Case: Very slim desktop
CPU: 20MHz Intel 386SX
Hard drive: 40 MB
Floppy drive: 1.44MB 3.5"
Operating system: MS-DOS 6.22
Disposition: Given away.

A cute if underpowered system, the small and light PS/1 was something I probably would never have gotten if I hadn't been hitting the yard sales around town one day. Although it was far too compromised to either use for demanding tasks or hope to upgrade, it did prove its utility in portability once or twice. Ultimately it proved a compromise, though, and not a compromise I regretted ultimately divesting. This particular PS/1 (model 2121-C42) didn't seem any faster to me than the IBM AT I already had, which was more than five years older.

Generic 486es

[Generic 486] [Generic 486] [Generic 486] Vintage: 1994
Acquired: April 2002 (used)
Case: Mini-AT Desktop
CPU: 100MHz Intel 486DX4
RAM: Usually between 8 and 16 MB, depending on what SIMMs I had stuck in them.
Hard drive: 213 MB
Floppy drive: 1.44MB 3.5"
Operating system: Windows 95 (original version)
Disposition: Given away. (Yes, all of them.)

Is more better? I shouldn't have asked. One spring day a number of years ago, I decided to attend the school board's surplus equipment auction, and when a half-dozen 486 computers hit the block for a song (the exact same computers I had used in a high school class a year earlier), I couldn't resist bidding on them. One guess at who won the lot. Not willing to let my investment go to waste, I initially pooled the best parts into a "test bed" computer with a sound card, modem, CD-ROM drive, and Windows 95. Unfortunately I suffered from computer-tinkering burnout almost immediately after that, and as a result I had a half-dozen 486 computers stacked in the guest bedroom closet for the next six years...

Compaq Deskpro EN

[Compaq Deskpro EN] Vintage: 2000
Acquired: August 2003 (used)
Case: Desktop
CPU: 600MHz Intel Pentium III
RAM: 256 MB (upgraded from 128)
Hard drive: 10 GB (primary) and 30 GB (secondary)
Floppy drive: 1.44MB 3.5" and 1.2MB 5.25"
Operating system: Windows 95 OSR2
Disposition: Still owned.

As of late 2012, this particular machine exceeded the Gateway 486 as the title-bearer of "longest-lived computer" at my disposal. By the fact that I still use it online as my regular PC, it seems to be the bone of contention between me and the rest of the world. (The picture at right was taken in 2004 and little has changed since.)

Good points about the hardware: Full legacy interfaces, a legit horizontal desktop case, potentials for upgrades, and full driver support for everything back to Windows 95. Bad points: The form factor is proprietary, the cards lie horizontally, there's no reset button, and my settling on this model of computer was more out of resourceful convenience of circumstance than anything else. Attached are a Dell monitor and 124-key Gateway 2000 keyboard: Brand loyalty was never a priority.

Apple iBook G4

[Apple iBook G4] Vintage: 2004
Acquired: October 2004 (new)
Case: Notebook
CPU: 1GHz Motorola PowerPC G4
RAM: 512 MB
Hard drive: 30 GB
Floppy drive: Suspiciously absent.
Operating system: Mac OS X 10.3
Disposition: Sold.

This computer marked both the first and last time I made a $1000 electronics purchase on impulse. The few weeks I used this machine were a short time marked by frustrating incompatibilities, maddening uncustomizability, and decreased productivity...some of which I could have tried to overcome, if not for the fact that it was also a lemon breaking more than once without explanation and requiring service by mail to rectify anything. In frustration and defeat, I ultimately managed to sell it off...though unfortunately, not before Apple's inexplicable "Intel transition" announcement depreciated the value to a pittance.

Dell Inspiron 2600

[Dell Inspiron 2600] Vintage: 2002
Acquired: December 2008 (used)
Case: Notebook
CPU: 1.2GHz Intel Celeron
RAM: 256 MB (effectively upgraded from 64)
Hard drive: 20 GB
Floppy drive: 1.44MB 3.5"
Operating systems: Windows 2000 SP4
Disposition: Still owned.

After a sorry experience with my last portable computer, I didn't dare touch a laptop again until a cousin of mine passed her "old" Dell into my hands for free. When I received it, there were two outstanding problems with the system: a) Only one of the two RAM slots worked, and b) the computer ran the activation-addled cartoon-fest of Windows XP. Fortunately, both problems were easy to remedy; the former with the addition of a larger DIMM into the "good" slot, and the latter by wiping out the system and using it as a test bed to try Linux on. The latter exercise came to an end when new versions of Ubuntu and SuSE refused to so much as show anything on the screen, so I installed Windows 2000 in defeat and started actually using the computer to productive ends.

After a dozen years of abuse, the hinges have disintegrated and the battery time could best be measured in seconds. I might have to retire it soon.

[Apple iMac G4]

Apple iMac G4

Vintage: 2002
Acquired: August 2014 (used)
Case: Dome-like contraption
CPU: 700MHz Motorola PowerPC G4
RAM: 256 MB
Hard drive: 40 GB
Floppy drive: Suspiciously absent.
Operating systems: Mac OS 9.2.2 and Mac OS X 10.3
Disposition: Still owned.

Oh, I don't even know. When will I ever learn...

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