Buying and running an IBM PC-XT in 2020

Liam Proven lproven at
Wed Aug 26 08:31:48 CDT 2020

On Wed, 26 Aug 2020 at 15:10, Bill Degnan <billdegnan at> wrote:
> I remember when the IBM XT was too new for a VCF exhibit, back when Sellam ran shows.

I can believe that.

I gutted 2 original working PC-ATs in about 1996 for cases for
Pentium-class machines. I deeply regret it now but it was 25y ago --
they were only about 10y old and not remotely collectable or even very
interesting at the time.

I still have 2 MDA cards and one screen from them.

>  The perspective is of a person who was not really part of the XT class machine world when they were
> pervasive.  To me he seems to be exploring how they work as he teaches his son, but I guess most people
> forget at this point how to use a PC and DOS.

Exactly, yes. The PC came out nearly _forty years ago_ now, and only
middle-aged types like myself (52!) remember them when they were new.
I didn't see one until Uni in 1985, when I was 17.

Working adult IT professionals in their mid-twenties to early 30s
today grew up only with multicore 64-bit machines and have quite
possibly only used SSD-equipped machines at work. Most have never seen
or used a floppy diskette or CD-ROM, and machines with ISA slots and
optical drives disappeared when they were small children. They might
never have seen or used any kind of rotating or magnetic media
whatsoever. Some I have personally encountered have never used a wired
network connection.

The era of 16-bit machines with rotating 5¼" media  (floppy, hard or
optical) that you can _hear_ turning, that take time to get up to
speed, where as you wait a minute or two for it to creak into life you
can _hear_ motors whirring up, is as unknown to them as spinning the
thread to make their own garments.

For me, who started out at work on a PC-AT and worked on PC-XTs, it's
a smooth continuum, but it's easy to forget that it really hasn't
been, and the days of text-only single-tasking command-line machines
with moving parts are last century...

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