The 286 Project
Had a desire to recreate the early DOS experience since all my students have only seen Windows 98,ME,2000 and XP.
First thing was to find a box. Rejected the clone 8088 with 296 upgrade as big and ugly so it went to the curb. Found a very nice compact zenith ZCV-2325-EY, about the size of my laptop but a bit thicker. We used to use these are work with green or orange screens. They are interesting machines, there was a 286 version and a 386.
The 286 uses a backplane riser board with a 16 bit isa bus and the ide/floppy controller. The hd controller is IDE instead of the older mfm interface. There are 3 card slots and the main logic board has 6 x 30 pin simm slots for parity ram. I put in 4 x 256 for a total of 1mb. The floppy controller supports a 1.44 mb floppy. Added a TSENG ET3000AX 8bit 256Kb vga video card and a 3com 3C509b ethernet card. The third slot will be either for a sound blaster or a scsi card for an external cd-rom. I also have the microsoft inport mouse card if i want a mouse...
Next we need a hard drive. The box of really old disks yielded a conner cp-3024 20mb which could not spin up and an ibm wda-l80 with the same problem. But the 40mb seagate ST351 spun up like it was new. A good drive in its day. Set the drive type to 17 in the BIOS and the drive booted to dos 5 with perfect writer, mega paint and power menu! However, it had been compressed with doublespace so I fdisked and re-formatted it.
Booted up with dos 6.2 floppy. Installation of the OS was fine. It runs pretty good.
However, as usual we want to push the envelope - how fast can be make this?
Ram - not sure i have any 256kb ram sticks but i have lots of 1meg 30 pin simms. Anyone know if the 286 board can take 4mb? I know the 386 version can.
HD - 40mb drive might be limiting. I should have an adaptec 1541 scsi card around here. They were nice cards and thus i can break the bios hard drive limit and use one of the many scsi drives around here.
Video - need to find a fast ISA video card, the ATI wonder cards might be an idea as the early ones also had a mouse port.
OK - almost finished. Sound is working, onboard video upgraded and working.
Install a double 1.2bm/1.44 mb floppy and remove the compaq floppy. Small mod to the front of the case but both are now working! However, a number of the old 360 or 320kb floppies could not be read. Need to install the old old 360 floppy in a machine in hopes of getting stuff off those.
The network card is not working. The settings are in software and there is a conflict so i can't access the card from the software to change the settings. I need an older card with jumpers so you can set the irq, i/o etc by hand.
I did find the packet driver collection CD and remembered than on the windows NT server CD there is a dos tcp/ip stack (yes microsoft used to sell one!), so now there are two possibilities for getting winsock to run. Found copies of cello, mosaic, gopher, and netscape 1 and 2. Ready to roll once the nic is fixed.
On a totally unrelated note, the NT server has been uplugged after 10 years of reliable steady file/print service. Since i've been running osx server for the macs/pcs it hasn't been doing much - it ran the scanner for a while and was the napster machine. But the scanner was moved and napster is gone and even the IIIp finally died - the last parallel port non-ps printer in the house. I'll remove the 8 64mb 72 pin simms and the 3 36gig 50pin scsi drives and put it on the curb...it was quite a feat in its day to get it to use a large boot drive - i had to partition the drive into a 4 gig boot drive and install NT and then patch the os so it would recognize the drive and then to non-destructively re-size the boot partition to take the entire drive. While i don't like microsoft's business practices or their current software, NT was not bad as long as you didn't install anything and of course using it to serve files to mac clients was fairly unreliable (IMHE) but who is to say where that fault lies..