"Real Computers" (was Re: Trivia Question)

From: Tony Duell <ard_at_p850ug1.demon.co.uk>
Date: Sat Feb 22 15:45:01 2003

> Rumor has it that Philip Pemberton may have mentioned these words:
> >Patrick Finnegan wrote:
> > >> 1) Is it well-engineered from the ground up?
> > >> PCs: no, a lot of the stuff in even the best PCs is of very poor
> > > OK, I agree with this first point. All three of my examples of 'real
> > > computers' were "well-engineered from the ground up".
> >I agree with you here - my PCs all have crap cases. Even the top-end
> >Coolermaster or whatever cases are still (allegedly) cheaply made. Even the
> >ones that cost $150!
> Let's look at 3 test-cases:
> 1) My dual Athlon 1600+ - Aluminium server case, 460W bulletproof PS,
> built-in SCSI, LAN, yaddayadda... I'd call it a real computer, but most
> here wouldn't.... My cost: $85 shipped sans PS. Light, not built like a
> tank, but how many tanks have you seen, built out of aluminium? ;-P
> 2) My CoCo3 - Cheezy plastic case, miniscule PS, minimal expandability -
> crap. ;-)

15 years ago, my CoCo 3 had 4 serial ports, a bidirectional parallel
port, and was running a multi-tasking OS. At the same time I had great
problems getting a PC to properly support 4 serial ports.

> 3) My wife's main machine: Compaq Prolaint 800 dual Pentium 2 350 server.
> Case built like a tank (almost 2x heavier than my Dual Athlon) - won't even
> boot if it can't find it's fans, IIRC a 700W PS, etc. Generally
> bulletproof. -- it's well on it's way for being almost ontopic, methinks...
> it's quite old already, for a PC...
> > >> 2) Can it be expected to have a long operating life?
> 1) Yes. I built it; I can fix it.

You have proper service data for all the parts in that PC? I am truely
amazed (I thought I was about the only person to have that ;-)). Or does
'built' really mean 'assembled from cards'?

> 2) Yes. I have one going on 17 years old. (Even tho it's crap!) I still
> play Rogue on it -- I Love that game! (The PC version sucks.)
> 3) Not just yes, hell yes!

I haev tired and failed several times to get service data for Compaq
machines.... How did you manage it?

> > >> 3) Is it documented?
> 1) Dunno, don't care. damn thing runs, don't it? Why do I need to solder
> Athlons, anyway???

Ah, there's the first difference. I am not always prepared to accept
somebody else's ideas of what I need in a computer. Most of the PCBs in
my PC have home-made mods done to them...

> 2) Not just no, hell no! The GIME chip is a mystery... and it's the chip
> that makes everything tick.

Come on. The GIME is a lot better documented than the ASICs in most PCs.
The CoCo 3 service manaul, available to anyone who called up National
Parts and ordered one, contains a pinout, block diagram, waveforms,
register allocations, etc. When the CoCo 3 was in production, replacement
GIMEs were easy to get (not that I ever needed one). Just try getting
spares for most PC products today.

> 3) Better than most PCs out there, and it's available free...

Please point me to a free schematic for any Compaq computer...

Received on Sat Feb 22 2003 - 15:45:01 GMT

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