My retro computer collection keeps growing


Hey guys and dolls,

So I’m sure you were all wondering if the Vista telephone product activation service is still running … it is.

Somebody gave my coworker a Dell OptiPlex 360, so he gave it to me. Other than needing some cleaning, it was in real good shape.

Core 2 Duo, 2 GB of RAM, 150 GB hard drive.

I was expecting Vista to be on it because of the sticker on the front, but when I fired it up, I was greeted with XP.

I almost considered keeping it that way, but it was so full of stuff that was slowing it down it wasn’t even funny. I kid you not, it took about three minutes for the mouse pointer to start working.

Anyway, I still have my bona fide retail copy of Vista Ultimate that I purchased in 2007. Went ahead and installed that pretty much without issue.

But since I like to use my retro PCs for gaming, I ordered a GeForce 8600 GT from eBay. Sealed box, never opened.

When I installed it, the PC wouldn’t boot. Turns out the 250 watt PSU in there just couldn’t cut it.

Bought a 450-watt EVGA power supply from Best Buy, and now everything works like a charm.

Installed Doom 3, runs nice and smooth. Remember when game installs were under 2 GB?

Comments (18)

18 responses to “My retro computer collection keeps growing”

  1. angusmatheson

    All I want is an Atari 800 - it is my childhood in a case. Someday. Or maybe all just do retro pi. To teach my kids about packman with a joy stick and Ball Blazer.

    • ronmcmahon

      Before I approved a gaming console for my sons, I had each of them write a program in LOGO on a classic Atari 800. They both conquered the challenge and learned a lot about programming in the process. My oldest now develops machine learning models in Python and C. The very direct and immediate interaction between an 8-bit computer's BASIC or LOGO code and actions on the screen are far more instructive to a beginner's mind than the horrible mess that the current state of coding is in.

    • arnstarr

      Have you seen the Raspberry Pi 400 devices? It’s a keyboard with a Pi 4 inside. Great for 8 and 16 bit computer emulation.

    • erichk

      I have Retro Pie as well. A great emulation option.

  2. ringofvoid

    I received several Dell OptiPlex 360s that were destined for the trash bin six years back just like yours. I combined the RAM into one box and used it regularly it with Ubuntu & PopOS! until last year. I only added a cheap boot SSD and a lesser fanless graphics card. I'm still impressed at just how zippy & useful it was. A bit more RAM & a cheap SSD would transform your Vista box into a retro dream machine.

    • erichk

      The thought of putting an SSD in there crossed my mind, but the performance as it is with the fresh Vista install is actually not bad (which was a pleasant surprise).

  3. jimchamplin

    I’ve been using Combian 64 on my RPi 4. It uses VICE, so I can do things like change the system ROMs letting me use JiffyDOS, Epyx FastLoad cart images, et cetera. Also works great alongside running VICE on my PCs and Mac.

    Lately I’ve been enjoying going through back issues of Loadstar 64 and Loadstar 128. There’s a lot of great stuff in there, and a lot more 128-centric software than I had imagined existed.

  4. erichk

    I bought a C64 Mini a while back. I actually think it's a great substitute for people who want the C64 experience but don't want to buy the actual vintage hardware.

    • epsjrno

      Been really thinking about pulling the trigger on the big "The C64" released last year.

      • erichk

        Wanted one of those at first too, but seemed like they weren't in stock anywhere. Picked up the mini at my local Micro Center.

        • epsjrno

          Worked with loading games through the USB yet? Any advice?

          • erichk

            Yes, I put some disk image files on a USB stick, and loading them into the system is a piece of cake.

            You can connect a USB keyboard as well. Once you have a keyboard, a USB stick, and then the included joystick, though, it requires that you use a hub, but that was trivial as I just happened to have one in my box o' stuff.

            You can browse through all the included games via an on-screen carousel, program in BASIC, it's great stuff.

  5. epsjrno

    Your post reminds me that one of these days, I have to unpack my TI-99/4a to play some Parsec and my Commodore 64 to play Summer Games, Beach Head, Project Space Station, and Phantasy.

  6. waethorn

    It's not retro enough until you have a real DOS computer with every Sierra SCI game and a real MT-32.

    • erichk

      For whatever reason I've never felt compelled to get a MIDI module for DOS gaming. I feel like the cheesiness of the SB16 and/or AWE32/64 is good enough for me. :)

  7. waethorn

    Doom 3 on consoles costs less than that power supply.

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