I Love Electricity

90s RetroComputing (DOS Computer)

Remember the good ‘ol days of C:\>, SET BLASTER, Cubic Player, and the PCDOS DemoScene? The glory days of computing when you set your modem’s jumpers to COM1, IRQ4 and it always worked? Or when you made your mouse work simply by typing MOUSE.COM and your CDROM worked only when you loaded MSCDEX.EXE? How about that trusty SoundBlaster which required no drivers and always worked on A220 I5 D1? The days of DIR, DEBUG and loading VBE drivers for your VGA card are long gone…or are they?

AMD DOS Machine (#1)

Intel DOS Machine (#2)


Those were the days I first got started with computers, and I was always at the command prompt, despite having Windows 3.1 floating around. I have a deep love for DOS, much like some LINUX folk do for their OS.

I’ve finally built the perfect DOS machines, with all the greatest hardware of the era that I could only dream of affording back in the early to mid 90s. But now, with Craigslist and eBay, I was able to put together these dream machines, and enjoy the authenticity of a real DOS machine once again, and better than ever! DOSBOX is nice, but it doesn’t work, feel or sound the same 🙂

The specs of my DOS machines are:

System #1 spec: AMD K6-2 @ 500MHz on iWill XA100Plus motherboard, 256MB memory, 160gb single-platter IDE HDD, SB16 ISA w/Yamaha DB50XG daughterboard, SBPro 2.0 ISA w/Genuine YMF-262 FM chip, PCI Network card, 3DFX VooDoo 2, ATI Rage 128 AIW w/VBE2.0, 5-1/4 and 3-1/2 floppy drives, Front loading CompactFlash for easy file transfer, 48x CDROM, and IBM Track Point keyboard.

System #2 spec: Intel Pentium III @ 600MHz on industrial single board PC board (440BX based), 256mb memory, 160gb single-platter IDE HDD, Jumpered SoundBlaster 16 ISA, Gravis Ultrasound 3 PNP, nVidia GeForce PCI video card (for the VESA 3 compatibility), 3-1/2 floppy drive, CDROM, removable HDD sled.

Why two sound cards? Simple – compatibility. Some early games and demos don’t like the SB16, mainly because it requires a driver to be loaded to work. The SBPro does not, it even works in realmode. On the other hand, some later programs do not play nice with the SBPro, or are better with 44KHz Stereo, so the SB16 rounds out the deal.

In machine #2, the Gravis Ultrasound has abysmal SoundBlaster compatibility, so a real SoundBlaster is necessary.

I’ve optimized the memory pretty well 🙂 And this is with the SB16 drivers, a ramdisk, mouse and more all loaded!

BIOS information screen

IBM Track Point Keyboard!

The retro rig looking awesome