Discussion What Were the CPU and Specs of Your First PC?

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Notorious^

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My first personal PC was DELL's top of the line Dimension 1000R in 1999. Intel pentium 3 @ 1.0GHz, 512mb ram, 20GB IDE HD, Sound Blaster Live 5.1 sound card, DVD R/W Drive, Floppy Drive with Windows ME (upgraded to XP).

Still have it to this day and it still boots up and runs.
 

jnjnilson6

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My first personal PC was DELL's top of the line Dimension 1000R in 1999. Intel pentium 3 @ 1.0GHz, 512mb ram, 20GB IDE HD, Sound Blaster Live 5.1 sound card, DVD R/W Drive, Floppy Drive with Windows ME (upgraded to XP).

Still have it to this day and it still boots up and runs.
I suppose that 512 MB RAM in 1999 was almost like 64 GB RAM today. And the processor was a bomb! What video card did you use? In 1999 the computing world was one and in 2007 Crysis 1 hit the stores. We've not had such a spike in hardware specifications and software enlightenment for such a short period of time since. That's why expensive computers throughout those years were outmoded only a few years after coming on the market. For example, if you got an i7-5960X in 2014, it'd still be very powerful today, 8 years later. But the Pentium III from 1999 could not come close to running Crysis, yet again, 8 years later. We've seen graphics get better a million times and hardware excel incomprehensibly in those 8 years. I really doubt it that we'd make such a jump in the foreseeable future.
 
I suppose that 512 MB RAM in 1999 was almost like 64 GB RAM today. And the processor was a bomb! What video card did you use? In 1999 the computing world was one and in 2007 Crysis 1 hit the stores. We've not had such a spike in hardware specifications and software enlightenment for such a short period of time since. That's why expensive computers throughout those years were outmoded only a few years after coming on the market. For example, if you got an i7-5960X in 2014, it'd still be very powerful today, 8 years later. But the Pentium III from 1999 could not come close to running Crysis, yet again, 8 years later. We've seen graphics get better a million times and hardware excel incomprehensibly in those 8 years. I really doubt it that we'd make such a jump in the foreseeable future.
There were actually MORE choices back then than we have today.
S3, ATI, NVIDIA, and 3DFX were all competing in the new "3D" world. There were a half dozen less popular ones too trying to get a piece of the GPU (an acronym only coined in 1994) pie.
 

shady28

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I suppose that 512 MB RAM in 1999 was almost like 64 GB RAM today. And the processor was a bomb! What video card did you use? In 1999 the computing world was one and in 2007 Crysis 1 hit the stores. We've not had such a spike in hardware specifications and software enlightenment for such a short period of time since. That's why expensive computers throughout those years were outmoded only a few years after coming on the market. For example, if you got an i7-5960X in 2014, it'd still be very powerful today, 8 years later. But the Pentium III from 1999 could not come close to running Crysis, yet again, 8 years later. We've seen graphics get better a million times and hardware excel incomprehensibly in those 8 years. I really doubt it that we'd make such a jump in the foreseeable future.
That was a lot back then. I remember getting Dell Optiplex workstations in 1999 at work that had 32-64MB of RAM on Windows NT, and servers with 256MB.

Keep in mind that a decade before this Bill Gates said nobody would need more than 640KB of RAM, and in 1995 Windows 95 was originally released without dial-up networking (for internet) because he said that nobody would use the internet.

Back then if you wanted to multi-task, you bought a Tyan 2 socket motherboard and popped two Celerons into it, and ran a 'real' OS like IBMs OS/2 and ran WinNT in window (before we had VMWare). Things moved so fast in the 90s those 'sages' couldn't keep up.
 

jnjnilson6

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That was a lot back then. I remember getting Dell Optiplex workstations in 1999 at work that had 32-64MB of RAM on Windows NT, and servers with 256MB.

Keep in mind that a decade before this Bill Gates said nobody would need more than 640KB of RAM, and in 1995 Windows 95 was originally released without dial-up networking (for internet) because he said that nobody would use the internet.

Back then if you wanted to multi-task, you bought a Tyan 2 socket motherboard and popped two Celerons into it, and ran a 'real' OS like IBMs OS/2 and ran WinNT in window (before we had VMWare). Things moved so fast in the 90s those 'sages' couldn't keep up.
You're perfectly right. In 1995, a 66 MHz 486DX was considered good and in 2003, 8 years later, CPUs of synonymous rank for the times proved Pentium 4's over 2 GHz (The fastest Pentium 4 one year earlier (2002) was a P4 HT at 3.06 GHz). So the difference is undeniably huge. I've actually calculated that a Pentium 4 HT would have to be running at 241.3 GHz to match the speed of an Intel Core i9-12900K. So if we consider the P4 HT @ 3.06 GHz the best Intel CPU in 2002, which it was, and compare the performance to that of the i9-12900K, we'd get a difference of 78.8 times in the last 20 years.

*Core i9-12900K Score - 2956 points
Pentium 4 HT @ 3.06 GHz Score - 37.5 points
Pentium 4 HT @ 1.0 GHz Score - 12.25 points
*Pentium 4 HT @ 241.3 GHz Score - 2956 points

Referral of Performance Points
(64-Core
Avg. Multi Core Mixed Speed) - https://cpu.userbenchmark.com/Compare/Intel-Pentium-4-306GHz-vs-Intel-Core-i9-12900K/m614vs4118
 

Tac 25

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There were actually MORE choices back then than we have today.
S3, ATI, NVIDIA, and 3DFX were all competing in the new "3D" world. There were a half dozen less popular ones too trying to get a piece of the GPU (an acronym only coined in 1994) pie.
ATI? yeah, those were the simple days. My very first gpu is an ATI X300 SE, and it's still functional. The reason we stopped using it is because it's not compatible with Windows 7. During those days, Raganarok Online had black spots in the graphics if I only used the igpu of the Sempron. Using the X300 smoothed out the graphics. The X300 SE is still kept safely in a box, as a reminder of the good old days. I still have the drivers for it in a USB.
 
ATI? yeah, those were the simple days. My very first gpu is an ATI X300 SE, and it's still functional. The reason we stopped using it is because it's not compatible with Windows 7. During those days, Raganarok Online had black spots in the graphics if I only used the igpu of the Sempron. Using the X300 smoothed out the graphics. The X300 SE is still kept safely in a box, as a reminder of the good old days. I still have the drivers for it in a USB.
I still fondly remember my ATI All-In-Wonder Pro 8MB. Yes 8MB VRAM.

It had a TV tuner, radio, and TV/screen recording capabilities built it! Felt like I was living' in the year 2100 instead of 1999! :LOL:
 
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Karadjgne

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The Voodoo3 3000 was the bomb back in the day, I remember freaking out about its $180 price tag. That was a Lot back then for a gpu. Assuming you could get the drivers to actually be stable. But then again, having to spend time with game setup choices just trying to get the SoundBlaster series to actually output sound was a pain too...
 
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Tac 25

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I still fondly remember my ATI All-In-Wonder Pro 8MB. Yes 8MB VRAM.

It had a TV tuner, radio, and TV/screen recording capabilities built it! Felt like I was living' in the year 2100 instead of 1999! :LOL:
a gpu that could record TV shows? First time I heard about that. Feels quite good for it's time.
it's sad ATI stopped making gpu.

got the ATI X300 SE out of it's box. Played plenty of Starcraft and Ragnarok Online with this little guy. :)

 
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a gpu that could record TV shows? First time I heard about that. Feels quite good for it's time.
it's sad ATI stopped making gpu.
Yeah, the All-In-Wonder line of cards had like 5 different input/outputs on the back of the card, plus a dongle to split one of those into another 3 more inputs. The 'capture' was via the software suite you got with the card. No trial edition softwares too - full feature-rich softwares.
Of course, you had to run your coax or composite TV connections to the card but it was very cool watching a show in the corner of your screen while you worked/browsed.
 

USAFRet

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Yeah, the All-In-Wonder line of cards had like 5 different input/outputs on the back of the card, plus a dongle to split one of those into another 3 more inputs. The 'capture' was via the software suite you got with the card. No trial edition softwares too - full feature-rich softwares.
Of course, you had to run your coax or composite TV connections to the card but it was very cool watching a show in the corner of your screen while you worked/browsed.
One notable use for mine was for the Commodore C64 composite TV signal.

C64, through the AIW and a Pentium IV, out to a 61" DLP screen...lol
 
I think I had one of the very last batch of "BBA" cards right before AMD bought ATI in the form of a X1800XL VIVO (video in, video out, LOL) that was really amazing for the price.

https://videocardz.net/ati-radeon-x1800-xl

I gave that GPU away with my old Athlon64 X2 system to a friend that needed a Linux server.

I have to say, to this day, I miss the seamless "video in" from those cards... How I wish they made the "VIVO" versions at least.

Regards.
 

Tac 25

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The Voodoo3 3000 was the bomb back in the day, I remember freaking out about its $180 price tag. That was a Lot back then for a gpu. Assuming you could get the drivers to actually be stable. But then again, having to spend time with game setup choices just trying to get the SoundBlaster series to actually output sound was a pain too...
forgot to reply to this one. Never really owned one, but kept hearing about SoundBlaster when I was a kid. Our first pc used by my dad had no speakers, it only had mobo sounds - but i still thought it was fun playing Operation Wolf with. What exactly does a soundblaster do, it works like a pc speaker?
 
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Karadjgne

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Pc's had only rudimentary sound, you got a 'bleep' from the speaker. An add on sound card was required for really anything more complex and the Creative Soundblaster 16 was the single most popular choice. Games back then needed setting up, there was no default on board sound, so you had to set the sound manually, and there was generally 5-10 popular choices. But if you had a different card than models listed, it became a challenge, did you use Soundblaster drivers, or the Pro or the Realtek or AVI etc.

Pc's back then were Very user unfriendly, if you wanted multi-player, you had to manually enter ip addresses to log into select servers...

Windows 95 was a blessing and a curse. It allowed easy internet access and ability, click an icon for AOL or Netscape etc, wait for the dial up and multi-player was now a choice in menus. It was a curse because it made life easy, no longer required knowing how operate a pc, to use one. Ppl got lazy. Just button clickers.
 
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Wolfshadw

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First PC was an Amiga 500. Loved playing Lemmings and F-A/18 Interceptor on that system.
First Intel PC was an AST 486 DX2-50 w/ 4MB RAM running Windows 3.1; later upgraded to a DX4-100 and 8MB of RAM running Windows 95.
First built PC was a Pentium III-800Mhz with 256MB of RAM running Windows 2000.

First graphics card was an S3 Virge.
First sound card was a Soundblaster.
Can't remember the first capture card/add-on, but I think it was a Pinnacle. Then I upgraded to the ATI All-In-Wonder series of cards before moving on to Hauppauge and then, finally the Ceton InfiniTV4 card.

-Wolf sends
 
forgot to reply to this one. Never really owned one, but kept hearing about SoundBlaster when I was a kid. Our first pc used by my dad had no speakers, it only had mobo sounds - but i still thought it was fun playing Operation Wolf with. What exactly does a soundblaster do, it works like a pc speaker?
Before sound cards, the basic PC speaker was only there for operation (error) beep codes. Nowadays sound cards are built in to almost every motherboard produced. Today, the better sounding 'add-in' sound cards are just a small niche market.

Before SoundBlaster, I had one of their competitor's products - AdLib. Both were good but, truthfully, SoundBlaster was better.

Voodoo3 3000 is about where they hit their peak quality "Wow!" factor.
I remember picking up a Voodoo 5 5500 and being totally disappointed at the slight performance increase in the games I played, vs. a card that was from the previous gen. It was way too expensive for the marginal increase, so I returned it.
 

Eximo

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I bought a Voodoo 5 5500 just to have one on ebay a long time ago. I had a lot of 3DFX capable games since I had Voodoo2 and Voodoo3 until Nvidia became the better option. Haven't fired it up in a while. I am always tempted to get a new board with a PCI slot and see if it can be made to work. I understand there are some third party drivers out there for Windows 7 at least.

My first sound card was a knock off card by ASOUND, pretty sure it did its rendition of Adlib and Soundblaster 16. Had a Soundblaster Live, which was nice, had a hardware emulator for SB16/32 built in, so I could still play my dos games properly. A few years later grabbed our old Sound Blaster Awe 32 with Midi daughter board. Was quite amazing at the time and is still paired up with that Voodoo 5 for very interesting retro experience.

Actually not sure if I still have any of my Voodoo 3, I think they all slowly drifted to various builds that left my ownership. I know I have Voodoo2 12MB somewhere.

About the only retro computer thing I think I want now is a Roland MT-32 or equivalent. You can plug that in with a USB to MIDI adapter and directly use it DosBox. Would love to play some classic games with the best audio option available at the time.
 

mickrc3

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My first computer was a Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 1 Level 1 purchased in 1979 (serial number was 5280). Z80 1.78Mgz CPU, System RAM 4K with 1K dedicated for the video display "64x16 uppercase letters with character block graphics only". The system ROM including the version of Basic was in a 4K PROM. Due to the small size only 26 numeric variables were allowed A-Z. One array was allowed plus two string variables. It cost me $599 which would be $2700 in 2022 dollars. Programs were stored on standard cassette tape with 1 minute of tape approximately equal to 1K of code. That would infer that loading a program would take about 3-4 minutes but since the reliability of the data transfer was so poor it usually took 3 tries to get a program to load so it was real coffee break time when changing programs. After about a year I managed to pick up a used Exatron Stringy Floppy which was one of the first consumer tape drives. It would read/write about 1K per second and was much more reliable than the cassette tape system.

I later paid to have it updated to 16K RAM and Level 2 Basic which was more of a traditional Basic and was stored in a 12K PROM. I also paid for the Uppercase modification which changed the display PROM to use two banks which allowed lowercase and character graphics. In 1981 I purchased the Expansion Interface which added another 32K RAM and a RS-232 controller, a standard parallel Printer interface, and a 5.25in floppy disk controller. I went aftermarket with the actual floppy drive which was a single sided single density 80 track model which could write about 90K to the diskette with TRS-DOS or up to 160K with NewDOS-80.

The most important thing about that TRS-80 was that it caused me to discover programming and when I was able to I changed my Air Force job from flight simulator specialist to computer programmer. I graduated from the Air Force programmer course in summer 1981 and was a programmer for the rest of my working life.
 

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