thinking of the "ultimate" retro x86 PCs - what bits to seek/keep ?

Swift Griggs swiftgriggs at
Thu Jun 2 13:49:31 CDT 2016

On Thu, 2 Jun 2016, william degnan wrote:
> I have been very happy with my Dell 486 66 Win 3.11 system.

I've had a few OptiPlex machines as workstations given to me by my 
corporate masters. They were decent machines. I'm a little put off on Dell 
for servers after working in a shop where we got both Dell and HP (or 
Compaq) DL series systems. When I worked at Oracle from 2003 to 2007, we'd 
often get both (Dells for the hosted data centers and HP DL series for 
lots of lab environments). The failure rate for the Dell systems was much 
higher out of the box, and slightly higher in production as well. That was 
just my anecdotal experience.

> I put in an ethernet card, nice VGA and sound cards, joystick card, dual 
> hard drives, 5 1/4" and 3.5" disks.

I'll probably put in a SCSI ZIP drive and a combo 3.5" / 5 1/4" drive if I 
go with a big honkin' case. If not, I'll just do a 3.5" floppy if I gotta 
choose. I wonder if any of those "big floppy" style drives supported 
standard 3.5" floppies, too? Didn't the old LS120 and Sony HiFD do 
backwards support of older 1.44MB floppies, too?

> No CD.  Back then Win 3.11 was pretty versatile and I dare say a better 
> OPsystem than its early 90's UNIX contemporaries (*ducks*)!  Note I am 
> saying Windows for Workgroups v 3.11 not 3.1.

I remember those days. You have to understand that, even though I was a 
pre-teen / kid, I considered myself a hardcore DOS user when Windows came 
onto the scene. I liked a lot of things about DOS (hated some others). 
Once 3.1 was released, I realized how serious Microsoft was about Windows. 
I just couldn't stand it. Nothing was going in a direction I liked. I felt 
a kind of despair that I wasn't going to be a "computer guy" like I 
planned because if I had to work with Windows for my whole career I'd 
rather just dig ditches.  That was about the time I got introduced to Unix 
(around 1992). That "saved" me. I went coocoo for coco puffs and I never 
looked back. So, I've never really used Windows that much. I've played 
some games on it, off and on. At my jobs (systems programmer, sysadmin, 
etc..), I always use a Unix variant. If they trick me or change the 
desktop OS policy, I laugh in their face until I turn purple and quit the 
gig using my middle finger.

Bottom line, Windows isn't a consideration for me. No offense meant. It's 
just my background.


Cool. Reading that for fun.

> I was using it today to serve as a terminal with my VAX 4000 (win 
> terminal) while browsing the gopher system using Netscape 
> 2.0

Heh, right on. You are having fun with it, I don't begrudge anyone that! 

> The only thing I need is nicer VGA display, the DELL display I have is 
> not as nice as the card driving it.

Heh, maybe pick you up one of those 2007FP that are going cheap lately. 
That's the one folks recently piped up on the thread about 4:3 and square 
LCDs. That is a real steal nowadays and I'd agree it's a hella-nice bit of 


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