- Commodore 64
- Commodore VIC-20
- Sun SPARCstation Haul
- Compaq DeskPro Retro Battlestation
- Compaq Presario 700
- Compaq Presario 1245
- Dell Inspiron 1420
Here’s a quick roundup of the retrocomputing projects I worked on and devices I’ve acquired! Since this is the first year I started collecting retro computers, it will also contain a few items that I’ve had for over a year as well.
That’s right! The O.G. home computer, and still the best-selling single model of computer to date. My particular model is a brown breadbin.
Commodore 1541 Disk Drive
Included with my C64 was a Commodore 1541 5.25” floppy disk drive. Not too much to say here.
Games and Software
I also received a few 5.25” disks with the C64, however I can’t locate them at this moment. I’ll have to see if I can find them and then update this post.
My initial attempts at connecting the C64 up to a modern television were not great - eventually I ordered a cheap line doubler that accepted breakout RGB input and produced HDMI. I’m honestly unimpressed with this particular model (Amanka AVI to HDMI) and instead ended up buying a S-Video cable for the C64 and using a CRT television instead - the difference in picture quality is astounding.
Another convenience purchase, this device allows me to use an SD card as if it were a floppy drive.
A more recent purchase, I also acquired a Commodore VIC-20 (revision A or B board). You can see my entry on the VIC-20 registry. This VIC currently powers on, but does not output a video signal. I’m in the processes of figuring out what the problem is. It’s in pretty rough shape, with a few damaged parts on the case and missing the metallic Commodore VIC-20 badge (of which I’ve ordered a replacement).
This computer came in the original box, amazingly, and included the power adapter (actually soldered on to the mainboard), several manuals, and the “Invaders” cartridge.
Sun SPARCstation Haul
Wow - what can I say here? A few months ago I had a reply to a FreeCycle listing that I’d posted in search of any early-90’s to late-00’s computers (this search also turned up the Dell CRT described below). The person who messaged me had been a small businessowner in the early to mid 90’s, and was looking to get rid of some of their server room equipment that they’d been holding on to in a storage unit. I hastily agreed and a few months later I went to pick up quite the haul:
- A WYSE CRT Serial Terminal
- A Nokia 447W CRT Monitor
- A Sun Microsystems PS/2 keyboard
- A Compaq Netelligent 100Base-T Class 1 Repeater
- A Dell PowerEdge 650 (this is from 2003, so much later in the company’s lifetime than the majority of this equipment)
- An unlabeled beige PC tower (still need to look inside this one!)
- A Dell PowerEdge 1300 (also circa late 90’s early 00’s)
- An unknown rack-mount box with a “CTC” badge, locking front panel, and perhaps a LCD display (also need to crack this one open!)
- An Axil Ultima 1 (a third-party Sun SPARCstation Clone, see this article)
- A Sun SPARCstation 20
- A Sun ULTRA 1 Creator
Compaq DeskPro Retro Battlestation
Another longer-term effort of mine has been to recreate my childhood computer - a Compaq DeskPro that sat on the desk under my loft bed through most of my formative years. Of course, since we have the benefit of choice, I’m also “upgrading” it into the ideal late-90’s gaming computer!
The exact model I have is a later model DeskPro EN that is quite a bit smaller in overall form factor to my childhood PC, however it does have the same general aesthetics that I was looking for. Unfortunately, so far I’ve been unable to locate the matching Compaq keyboard and 800x600 CRT that I had as a kid as well… Though I did find a period-correct Compaq PS/2 mouse!
I acquired a GeForce fx5200 PCI GPU for this computer - I originally had purchased a AGP 5200 by accident, so I suppose I’ll end up using that in some other computer down the line!
This card works quite well (once the appropriate DirectX 9 drivers are installed) in all of the games I’ve tested so far.
Microsoft Naturals Keyboard
A flea market find - a $5 Microsoft Naturals keyboard - a funky little beige PS/2 keyboard with an early PS/2→USB adapter. In lieu of the Compaq keyboard I really want, this works in a pinch.
Windows 98 Second Edition (Third Edition?)
Finally, this computer runs Windows 98 SE with many components of the unofficial “third edition” service pack installed to add some much-needed quality-of-life features, including USB mass storage device support.
Not much to say here, another FreeCycle find - while it does support a nice 1024x768 resolution, it has a mid-00’s black plastic aesthetic that I am not overly fond of.
Compaq Presario 700
An EBay purchase, this is a early-00’s laptop designed for use with Windows XP. Being from GoodWill it came without an internal hard drive, which I’ve since replaced. Interestingly, it includes an expansion slot, a 3.5” floppy drive, and a DVD-ROM and CD R-RW drive.
Compaq Presario 1245
Another EBay purchase, this time a slightly older aesthetic laptop with a CD-ROM only drive and a floppy drive.
Dell Inspiron 1420
This is my childhood laptop! Which now probably counts as “retro”. Not much to say here, there are a few missing keys because I once decided to try the DVORAK layout (which I got quite good at as I remember), but as it turns out Dell in its infinite wisdom made the indexing keys (F and J) use a reversed butterfly hinge from the rest of the keys, meaning those didn’t quite fit in the alternate layout an I had to physically cut them to make them fit. Eventually this physical damage led to them no attaching to the hinge as securely as they should have, and with time a few keys became lost entirely.