Resurrecting 50Z

Content by Mark Baker (original archived HERE).


I started getting interested in PCs in 1987. At the time I was a mainframe programmer/analyst working for AGS, Inc. (now Keane, Inc.) as a consultant. Until 1987, all of my assignments and past jobs had involved IBM mainframe computers and, in fact, I had only infrequently seen PCs in use at client sites. Most IS departments just didn't take the machines seriously.

Users did take the machines seriously, though, and so did the larger consulting firms. The trade publications were predicting that PCs and LANs would eventually replace mainframes. Not to be left behind (and jobless), I started reading trade publications and visiting the local MicroCenter stores on a regular basis to become familiar with Personal Computers and their capabilities. Within a year, I bought my first PC, an IBM PC Convertible. Since then, I have amassed a pretty sizeable collection of computers, cards, networking equipment and software as my interest in, and use of the machines has grown.

catalog.JPG (42359 bytes)
(above picture is from "The IBM Personal Computing Catalog", IBM, Inc., © 1988)

One of my favorite PCs is an IBM PS/2 model 50Z that I bought in 1989. At the time, IBM was offering these machines to IBM employees at substantial discounts off the street price. My brother-in-law, who was working for IBM at the time, offered to let me buy one through him. I ordered the stock configuration: 80-286 10 mhz processor, 1 meg. of memory, 30 meg. hard drive, grayscale monitor, 101 key keyboard and an IBM 2 button mouse. The total price for the system was around $2300.00.

Why buy a 50z? Granted, by 1989 the 50z was no longer a state of the art system. There were certainly systems with faster processors, bigger hard drives, and more memory available. But for me, having lived with a PC Convertible with 2 floppy drives, no hard drive and an 80C88 processor running at 4.6 mhz, the 50z was a big step up and anything more would have been beyond my budget.

And, it was an IBM. Having grown up and worked in the era of IBM dominance of the computer industry, the "IBM" logo meant excellent service, highly reliable and long lasting machines, and protection against obsolescence. In short, no-one ever got fired for buying IBM and I figured no-one ever got divorced, either.

And, I really enjoyed this machine. I initially used it for word processing and telecommuting (using mainframe terminal emulation over a dial-up connection). Over the next few years, I used it for desktop publishing, creating spreadsheets and presentations, programming, and even ran a few games on it. Hardware upgrades were easy (albeit more expensive than upgrades for ISA based machines) due to it's MicroChannel architecture and it's well designed, tool-less case. In my experience, it outperformed other companies' similarly configured machines.

Of course, it didn't take long before I began yearning for more memory and hard drive space. So, I started upgrading. I found an AST Advantage/2 memory card for $25.00 at a MicroCenter Remnant Days sale and installed it in the 50Z along with 6 meg. of memory. Within a year, I had replaced the 30 meg. drive with a 60 meg. ESDI drive that I also found at a Remnant Days sale. And within 2 years, I added a Quantum ProDrive Kit to it that included a 100 MEG. Quantum hard drive and a Quantum SCSI adapter (it was on sale at MicroCenter, also).

I replaced the 286 processor with a Kingston SX/Now 20 mhz 386sx processor upgrade that I purchased from General Technix in 1991 and then replaced the SX/Now processor upgrade with a 486/SLC processor upgrade from IBM that I picked up on eBay three years ago.

I replaced the grayscale 8503 monitor with an IBM 8512 color monitor that I bought from MicroCenter in 1990. And, after purchasing an IBM PS/2 Model P70 portable computer and stumbling into a MAU and network cards for next to nothing (at a MicroCenter moving sale), I added a token ring card to it.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot the Cumulas Stepping Stone 5.25" floppy drive that I added a year after buying the 50z so that I could buy software and exchange files with colleagues without worrying about the media the software or files were on (which was a headache). I also had a Logitech ScanMan hand held scanner that I added in 1991 so that I could scan pictures for newsletters I was creating.

Of course, the main reason that I installed many of the hardware upgrades was to enable 50z to run additional software. And, given the upgrades and a little patience, I've been able to run a wide variety of software on it. I believe the first operating system that I installed on it was IBM PC DOS version 4.1. I upgraded that to IBM PC DOS 5.0 when it was released and then moved to MS DOS 6.22 when it came out. I added Microsoft Windows version 3.0 in the early 1990's, upgraded to Windows 3.0 sometime after that, and then upgraded Windows for Workgroups version 3.11. Note that the 50z did not come with an operating system pre-loaded. It had to be purchased separately.

I used several different applications on 50z with varying degrees of success. A partial list of DOS applications includes DisplayWrite 4.0, IBM PC/HOST (terminal emulation), Turbo C++ Pro version 2.0, EasyCase, WordPerfect (4.2 and 5.0), PC PaintBrush, Publish-It 2.0, Ventura Publisher for DOS, MS Word version 4.0 and OfficeWriter. Since installing Windows on "50z", I've installed and used various versions of Word for Windows, Excel, Publisher's Paintbrush, Logitech's Scanware software, Corel Draw and associated applications, MicroGrafx ABC FlowCharter, FrameMaker, etc. I can't remember having a problem running any of these applications that was related to hardware. As I said before, given a little patience, 50z was a great machine.

From a duty standpoint, 50z was powered up for two or more hours per day, 7 days per week from 1989 through 1997. From 1995 through 1997 it was hardly shut off at all; I ran it 24 hour per day. During that time it has worked flawlessly and I have never had to replace any components due to failure, not even the battery. Few newer computers can match the reliability of 50z, even newer machines from IBM.

Throughout the 1990s, I accumulated several additional, more powerful computers (faster processors, bigger hard drives, etc.). By 1997, I was out of desk space and had exhausted my network ports. Thus, due to space considerations and the increased capacity and processing power of my other machines, I replaced 50z with a PS/2 model 77 and put 50z in storage under my desk in the den.

The Resurrection Begins

Over the last 7 years, I have expanded network capacity and increased the desk space in the house dramatically. Network ports were added to each bedroom, the kitchen, dinette, and family room and computers from the den moved to each of these rooms. The utility room in the basement that was used for storage has been converted into a second office/computer experimentation center. I picked up two additional MAUs and several cables from eBay. With the added space and network capacity, I started resurrecting my older PCs and during the week of March 18, 2001, it was 50z's turn.

Of course, to start the resurrection, I first had to find 50z. I checked behind the furnace where I have several old PS/2s stacked up, under the workbench where several more are stacked, and under the desk in the utility room. I found a 50 and 2 50z's that I bought in a lot of PS/2s from a local computer store that was liquidating them but not my original 50z. I then looked in the den and found it supporting one side of an Epson LQ 2500 printer. I put one of the "liquidation" 50z's in its place and took the original 50z to the utility room.

Hardware Setup

Now the real fun began. I wasn't sure what components were still installed in 50z since I had been moving parts between machines during the last several years. So, to start the resurrection, I removed the top cover.

Removing the cover on a 50z highlights one of the great features of these machines: it's a tool-less box. To remove the cover, I simply turned the two black knobs at the back of the box counter clockwise until they disengaged from the cover. Then, I pulled the cover forward and lifted it off. Note that the black knobs remain attached to the back panel of the PC so they can't get lost. Many times I've been putting screws back into other machines after disassembling them and come up short. I wish all PCs were tool-less. It would have saved me a lot of trips to the hardware store.

With the cover removed, I could see that the AST Advantage/2 memory card was still in place with six one meg SIMMs installed. So was the IBM 16/4 Token Ring Adapter/A, the Quantum DriveKit SCSI adapter, and the IBM 50z ESDI controller card. The IBM 486 SLC processor upgrade was still seated in the 286 processor socket. The original 3.5" floppy drive was in floppy drive bay 1 and the Quantum 100 meg SCSI drive was installed in floppy drive bay 2. There was also a 120 meg. ESDI drive in drive bay 1 that was plugged into the ESDI controller.

Interestingly, I have no idea where the 120 meg. ESDI drive came from. I was expecting to see the 60 meg. ESDI drive that I put in 50z in the early 90's. The 120 meg. drive must have come out of one of the PS/2 model 70's I picked up from PC Paradise. Maybe I put it in when I tried to install Windows 95 on 50z after installing the processor upgrade in 97 or 98.

The battery was still in place so the only question to answer was what size SIMM was on the motherboard? I remembered thinking about updating the original 1 meg. SIMM to a 2 meg. SIMM but wasn't sure if I'd actually done it. Oh sure, I could have just booted it to find out; but, it was more fun to pull everything out and visually confirm what was installed.

This highlights one of the less desirable features of the 50z: to get at the original SIMM you have to darn near disassemble the entire PC. First, I pulled all the cards out of the expansion sockets. Then I slid the ESDI drive back towards the power supply, disengaging it from the ESDI controller card, and lifted it off the support structure. I lifted the front tab on the floppy drive and slid it off of the support structure disengaging it from the Quantum floppy drive riser card replacement. I then disengaged the SCSI cable and power cable from the SCSI drive and slid it off of the support structure. I released the lock under the battery/speaker assembly and lifted it out of the support structure. Then, using the tool that is stored inside the case, I popped the snaps holding the fan in place and lifted it out. I popped the remaining snaps on the support structure, lifted it out and could now see the SIMM.

The SIMM didn't look original but I couldn't tell from looking at it what it's size was. So, I pulled a known, good 2 meg. IBM PS/2 SIMM out of my memory box and installed it in place of the SIMM that had been installed.

Now to reassemble 50z. I positioned the support structure over the pedestal and snapped it back into place. I then inserted the fan and the battery/speaker assembly into the support structure. I added two one meg. SIMMs to the AST Advantage card and inserted it back into slot 1. I inserted the Token Ring card into Slot 2, the Quantum card into slot 3 and the ESDI riser card into slot 4. I slid the drives back onto the support structure and connected the cables for the Quantum card. Note that this entire disassembly/assembly process was completed without the need for any tools. IBM really put a lot of thought into designing these machines.

Now to answer the real question: will it boot? With the cover still off, I connected an IBM PS/2 keyboard and a no-name mouse to the PS/2 keyboard and mouse connectors on the back of the system unit; connected an IBM 8513 monitor that my mother bought at a church garage sale for $2.00 to the integrated VGA port on the back of the system unit; plugged a spare token ring cable into the 16/4 Token Ring Adapter/A, connected power cables to the system unit and monitor and plugged the power cables into a surge suppressor. I dug up my 50z Reference Diskette and inserted it into the floppy drive, crossed my fingers and flipped the system unit and monitor on.

IT STARTED! I heard the fan come on and the drives start humming. The monitor blinked and then started displaying the POST memory test results. The memory test stopped at 1.4 meg. and an error was displayed. I don't remember what the error number was and figured the unit just needed to be auto-configured to recognize the additional RAM. So, I pressed F1 to start the reference diskette.

The familiar IBM Reference Diskette splash screen was displayed and I pressed enter. A message was displayed on the monitor stating that if I had added or removed RAM I should run Auto-Configuration and asking if I wanted to run it now. I answered yes and Auto-Configuration started. At the conclusion of Auto-Configuration, a message was displayed stating that Auto-Configuration was complete and instructing me to press enter to restart the system. I pressed enter, the monitor went blank and the POST tests started.

Note that the POST memory count was now running at about half speed. This only happens on reboots and seems to be related to the 486/SLC upgrade processor. Flipping the power off on the system unit and back on again resolved this issue.

Same result: after testing 1.4 meg. of RAM, an error message appeared. OK, something must be wrong with the AST Advantage card or the memory I installed is incompatible with the card. I shut off the power on the system unit and removed the AST Advantage card. Flipped on the power and POST tested 2 meg. of memory OK. I booted into the reference diskette, Auto-Configured the system and cycled the power. It then powered up fine, beeped once indicating that POST had completed successfully and all components were working and started the reference diskette again. From the Reference Diskette main menu I selected the View/Change Configuration option and then selected the view configuration option.

Well, according the View/Change configuration screen, I had 2 meg. of memory installed and usable, a 16/4 Token Ring Adapter/A set to 16 meg. and an integrated ESDI controller. So now, everything was working except the Quantum SCSI adapter. The drive was spinning. Hmmm. Maybe I needed to reseat the card. So, I shut down, pulled the card, booted and Auto-Configured the system. Shut down again, reinserted the card, booted and auto-configured. Shut down and booted again and this time, the Quantum SCSI BIOS displayed a message on the screen and identified the drive. The system then beeped and booted the reference diskette. By reviewing the View/Change Configuration window I confirmed that not only was the memory, token-ring adapter and ESDI drive configured correctly but the SCSI adapter was now configured correctly as well. Now to get some memory into this machine.

I decided not to reinstall the AST Advantage/2 card since I wanted more than 7 meg. of memory and I didn't have any more 30 pin SIMMs to try in it. I've always had good luck with Kingston MCA memory boards so I pulled a KTM-609 memory adapter from my box of spare adapters, installed 3 spare KTM-0128 4 meg. SIMMs that I had in my memory box on the adapter, inserted the adapter into slot 1 of the system unit and booted the machine.

POST still only detected 2 meg. of memory but I expected that since I hadn't auto-configured the system with the Kingston adapter installed. And, as I expected, POST detected that an adapter had been installed and displayed an error message. I pressed F1, booted with the reference diskette, ran auto-configuration, and cycled the power.

Success! POST now detected 14 meg. of memory, the Quantum SCSI BIOS displayed the drive parameters, and the system unit beeped once. As soon as the unit beeped, I removed the reference diskette from the floppy drive and 50z booted into DOS 6.22 from the ESDI drive.

At this point, the features and advanced engineering of the PS/2 line of computers should be apparent. The tool-less case was a real innovation that made disassembly and re-assembly of the system unit quick and painless. And the advanced MicroChannel bus eliminates most of the hardware installation issues that plagued ISA based machines. Even today, very few systems are as easy and convenient to work on as the PS/2 line was in the mid to late 80's.

Selecting an OS

Now for an operating system. A quick scan of both hard drives showed that only DOS and Windows were currently installed. At this point, I remembered that just before decommissioning 50z, I tried installing Windows 95 on it. The installation didn't go well, it froze at some point repeatedly, and I reinstalled DOS and Windows. There was no point reliving that headache again.

I could have tried OS/2, but I know that my Warp Connect 3.0 CD is bad and I didn't believe OS/2 2.0 (which I also have) included the networking components necessary to connect to my Windows 95 and NT computers. I also don't have many OS/2 specific applications. I have several DOS and Windows applications that I used quite a bit in the late 80's and early 90's and I was interested in seeing how the features and performance of these older versions compare to the newer versions I'm now using.

So, for the true retro experience and to ensure this machine will be usable on my network, I opted for DOS and Windows For Workgroups 3.11. I had five choices for DOS: IBM PC DOS 3.21, IBM PC DOS 4.1, IBM PC DOS version 5, Microsoft MS/DOS version 6.22 or IBM PC DOS version 7.0. All of which I own.

IBM PC DOS 3.21 really wasn't a choice since it doesn't support hard drives. I was pretty sure the first OS I installed on 50z when I bought it was IBM PC DOS 4.1. But as I recalled, PC DOS 4.1's memory and hard drive support were limited.

PC/MS DOS 5.0 introduced improved memory and hard drive support as well as other features. I remember it's introduction in the mid to late 80's was a real event and it received great reviews in all the trade publications. I purchased PC DOS 5.0 when it came out and installed it on 50z. As I recall, it ran well and Windows 3.0 worked well with it. PC DOS 5.0 was a definite possibility.

MS/DOS 6.22 implemented several additional enhancements. I believe MemMaker was one of them allowing DOS and device drivers to be loaded into Upper Memory Blocks freeing up more conventional RAM. DriveSpace disk compression software was another enhancement that would compress files on a hard drive providing more free space for applications and data. I remember purchasing MS/DOS 6.22 when it came out and installing it on 50z. As I recall, I was happy with it and had no problems.

PC DOS 7.0 was largely ignored by the trade press. It included Stacker 4.0 disk compression software and RAMBoost memory management software. It also supported the REXX programming language and included the "E" editor which was similar to the editor IBM included with it's mainframe VM/CMS product. I know I had PC DOS 7.0 installed on 50z at one time. As I remember, it took up significantly more space than DOS 6.22. I didn't care for the "E" editor, RAMBoost was a headache and I didn't have much need for REXX (I knew the language, I just didn't have much use for it on a home PC). I remember after installing PC DOS 7.0 and using it for a while, wishing that it had been a more stable, compatible OS with less bloat. No point reliving that experience.

Having considered the benefits and limitations of each version of DOS that I currently own, as well as my experiences using each version, I decided to install MS/DOS 6.22. By far, it was the most stable version of DOS that I had used on this machine, was the version that was most compatible with the applications I had available to install and was the version I had the most experience with.

Installing DOS

Rather than use the currently installed versions of DOS 6.22 and Windows I opted to make a clean start. Before moving forward with repartitioning and formatting the hard-drive, I thought I better check to see if there were any drivers or TSR's installed that would be difficult (if not impossible) to replace. A quick review of CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT revealed two: a SCSI driver required for the SCSI card and a cache initialization program used to initialize and start caching on the processor upgrade.

I was glad I checked because finding replacements for these files would have been time-consuming and, given their age, the files may not even be available from the vendors. I'm pretty sure Quantum was swallowed by another storage vendor and if I remember right, I had trouble finding the Quantum drivers a few years ago. IBM keeps drivers available on their site forever; but, it seems that the older a file gets, the harder it becomes to find it on IBM's site (that's a whole other discussion). I have the diskettes. But, I know the Quantum diskettes were bad the last time I tried to use them and who knows about the IBM diskette. Like I said, I'm glad I checked. I copied the files and the AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS files to a diskette.

Then, I dug out my DOS diskettes, inserted the first install diskette in the floppy drive and rebooted. After DOS booted off of the floppy drive and the install program started,  I pressed F3 to get back to a DOS prompt. I then used FDISK to delete and recreate the primary (and only) partition on the ESDI drive, rebooted, and used FORMAT to format the drive and copy system files to it. Then I restarted the install program for DOS and selected the custom installation option. I opted not to install MS DOS' anti-virus protection as well as some other components that I don't use. The install program then copied DOS to the hard-drive and rebooted the machine into a clean installation of MS/DOS 6.22.

At this point, I copied the SCSI driver and IBM cache program from the diskette I made earlier to C:\. I edited CONFIG.SYS and added a DEVICE= statement for the SCSI driver. I also edited AUTOEXEC.BAT and added the cache program name as the first command in the file. I saved the files, turned the machine off and back on so the device driver would be loaded and the cache initialized. Everything was working.

By the way, if you every install one of these processor upgrades in an older machine, check to see if you need to run a program to enable the cache on the processor. Without the cache, the processor upgrade runs dramatically slower.

I then ran MemMaker to create Upper Memory Blocks, enable expanded and extended memory, and to relocate DOS and as many device drivers as would fit into upper memory (the area of memory between 640k and 1 meg.). Again, no problems. MS/DOS was relocated to upper memory as was a portion of SMARTDRV.EXE. The SCSI driver didn't get relocated and my attempts to force the issue by manually changing the DEVICE command to a DEVICEHIGH command in CONFIG.SYS were unsuccessful. It wasn't a big deal though since even with the driver loading in conventional memory, I had over 600k of conventional memory free.

I wondered at this point if anyone remembers the headaches involved and hurdles we went through to manage memory with DOS and Windows prior to Windows 95. I think I read in PC Magazine in the early 80's that Bill Gates said something like the 640k barrier would never be broken. But, it was of course. As applications grew, expanded memory adapters were introduced that supported the Lotus/Intel/Microsoft (LIM) standard in the early 80's. The 286 and 386 chip could support larger address spaces and IBM introduced extended memory with the PS/2 line (at-least, I think they introduced it).

Of course, DOS still only supported 640k of conventional memory through all of it's versions; and, with a few device drivers loaded, that would quickly shrink to 500k or less. That wasn't enough to run several applications so we'd install memory managers, like QEMM from Quarterdeck or BlueMax from Qualitas Software, to move device drivers and TSR's into the unused memory between 640k and 1 meg. Memory management software was a good business until Windows 95 was introduced.

I remember that when DOS 5.0 was introduced, Microsoft was praised for having finally included support for Expanded (EMS) and Extended (XMS) memory with the operating system. Other memory managers still provided advantages over DOS. They usually found more available memory between 640k and 1 meg. and thus, would regularly free more conventional memory than DOS 5.0 would. If you let them, they would attempt to load additional portions of DOS into upper memory. And, their installation programs were a lot easier to use than manually determining areas of upper memory that could be used for TSR's and editing the the CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT files. I tried both QEMM and BlueMax. On my 50z with a 386 processor upgrade installed, 7 meg. of RAM and DOS 5.0, BlueMax worked best for me. It gave me more memory than I was able to free up on my own using DOS 5.0 and was more stable than QEMM.

Of course, with DOS 6 and it's various sub-versions, the benefits of using a third party memory managers dwindled. DOS 6 included MemMaker which, when run, would determine an optimal memory configuration for your PC and update your AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS files for you. I remember when DOS 6 was introduced, the cover of an issue of PC Magazine included a headline something like, "620K of Free Conventional Memory!" Like I said, memory was a big deal prior to Windows 95.

But I digress. Back to the job at hand: 50z's resurrection.

DOS was now installed and I had optimized memory. I toyed with the idea of switching to BlueMax to see if I could free-up a few more K of conventional memory but figured it wasn't worth the trouble. This PC wasn't going to be my main PC. I was setting it up to demonstrate to my kids how far we'd come and to gain access to some older applications that I won't load on my Windows 95, 98 and NT boxes. Anyway, I'd been working on this project now for 18 hours, it was 5:00 am in the morning, and I sensed that my wife wasn't very happy that I was in the basement instead of in bed with her. I laid down on the couch to get a few hours of sleep (I would have gone up to bed, but didn't want to disturb my wife at this point).

Next, Windows!

The next morning at around 11:00 pm, my wife woke me up as she was leaving for work. I sensed right: she wasn't very happy. I figured that she would come around when she saw the results of my work. Back to the basement.

It was time to install Windows. No decisions to make here. While I own Windows 3.0, 3.1, 95, 98, and NT 4.0, the only version I'd consider installing on 50z would be Windows for Workgroups 3.11. I remember installing Windows 3.0 on 50z in the early 90's and moving to 3.1 when it was released to take advantage of several improvements including TrueType fonts, OLE, an improved File Manager, Drag and Drop, and Performance Improvements. I moved to 3.11 when it was released in 1994 to take advantage of it's networking capabilities. As I stated earlier, I know I had trouble installing 95 on 50z the last time I tried it and if 95 wouldn't install, neither will 98 or NT. Given the limitations of 3.0, the lack of network support in 3.1, and the improbability of success installing 95, 98 or NT, Windows for Workgroups 3.11 was the only choice that made sense.

As has usually been my experience installing Windows For WorkGroups 3.11, the installation was mostly without incident. After starting the install from diskette, selecting the Custom Installation option and confirming the setup program's choices for hardware, the installer copied software from the first two diskettes to the C:\WINDOWS directory and then started Windows.

I always select the custom installation option for anything I'm installing. I want to know what's being installed and to avoid installing those components I won't use. If there are additional options that aren't installed during a "Typical" install, I want to know what they are and I want the option to install them if I think I might use them.

Back to the installation of Windows. I provided the setup program with my selections for components and accessories I wanted installed, printers I wanted installed and network information. My first hurdle: no driver for the TCP/IP protocol on the installation diskettes. That was a problem because a few years ago I removed NETBEUI from my network and replaced it with TCP/IP. I never installed IPX/SPX; never had a need for it. I wondered if 50z was still on the network when I moved to TCP/IP? If it was, I would have at-least tried to find a TCP/IP stack and Winsock for Windows for Workgroups 3.11. I looked through my box of Windows diskettes for one whose label indicated that it might have a TCP/IP update on it.

At this point, I decided that I should become more disciplined about labeling diskettes. Only half of the diskettes in my box of Windows diskettes have labels on them and none of those looked like they'd have a WFWG 3.11 TCP/IP update on them. The update may have been on one of the hundred or so unlabelled diskettes but I didn't want to take the rest of the day to check them using DIR or File Manager. Having become resigned to my labeling disability (and, quite painfully, the limited lifespan of diskettes) a few years ago I started keeping all downloaded files in a download directory on my main PC so I opted to check it instead of all those unlabelled diskettes.

No luck! But then it occurred to me that my main PC now may not have been my main PC at the time I downloaded the TCP/IP update. That PC is in the family room now. I browsed that PC's download directory and there was a file named TCP32B.EXE. The name sounded promising so I copied it to a diskette, copied it from the diskette to the TEMP directory on 50z and ran it. Several files were extracted into the TEMP directory. A quick review of the README file confirmed that I'd found it. Back to the installation of WFWG 3.11.

With the Network Drivers window displayed, I clicked the Add button and selected an option to install a driver from diskette. I provided the name of the TEMP directory on 50z's C drive and the setup program installed the TCP/IP update. I selected the TCP/IP protocol and clicked the Setup button, then entered TCP/IP parameters (IP address, DNS, gateway, etc.) appropriate for my network. Closed the TCP/IP configuration window, removed the NETBEUI protocol from the drivers window, closed the drivers window and continued with the installation. At this point I heard the MAU click (as it should when a Token Ring Adapter connects to it) and a logon window was displayed. I entered appropriate values for User Name, Workgroup and PC Name and then went to another PC on the network to confirm that 50z was visible. Success – 50z was in Network Neighborhood.

I believe at this point, the setup program notified me that installation was complete and that I needed to reboot. I rebooted the PC, typed WIN at the DOS command prompt and Windows came right up, network and all. Now to check 50z's Windows configuration.

I opened control panel from the Main program group in Program Manager. Wow! It had been a long time since I had been there. Not that it was unfamiliar, just dated.

First thing to do was change the default Windows colors. I was never particularly fond of the default color scheme that shipped with Windows; although, it was a lot better than many of the schemes I've seen people create on their own. No, when Windows first came out I spent some time creating a color scheme that would be easy on the monitor, that would highlight active items, and that included colors that match (at-least in my opinion they do). This scheme has served me well on a variety of screens including standard desktop monitors, color laptop displays, grayscale monitors and gas plasma displays.

Starting with the default color scheme, I changed the desktop to black, the active border and active title bar to dark red, the menu bar to light gray (same color as the scroll bars), the menu highlighted item to dark red, The inactive menu item text to dark gray, the application background to dark blue and the inactive title bar to gray. Clicked OK and the desktop colors changed to those I selected. That was a lot better, easier on the monitor and the eyes.

What else did I set up? No changes were needed for Fonts, didn't need to check Ports since I'm not planning to connect anything to the serial port. Although, I remember that at one time, I had a cross-over serial cable connected to the serial port, the other end of which was connected to a Macintosh SE. Using Crosstalk as a rudimentary BBS server, I'd use terminal emulation software on the Mac to move files between the two machines. But I digress again.

No need to check the Desktop settings or mouse settings; the defaults were working fine. Maybe later I'd come back and set the screen saver to Blank Screen.

Printers! Anyone remember how to connect a network printer in WFWG 3.11? I didn't. I opened Control Panel/Printers and Windows displayed my installed printers (the Epson LQ 2500) and options for adding, configuring, and setting network settings. None of this was familiar anymore. I've really gotten used to Windows 95 and NT. I figured Network was the option I was looking for and selected it. Yup, that was it. The LQ2500 was connected to LPT1; all I needed to do was set a network path. I used the Browse option to view PCs on the network that were sharing printers, selected the PS/2 Model 77 that the LQ 2500 was hooked up to, selected the LQ2500 and clicked OK. Clicked OK again and the printer was setup.

Now to test it. I opened note pad typed test and clicked print. The LQ2500 fired up and printed the page. Success. Only 5 more printers to go.

I figured all I needed to do was click Add Printer, indicate that I was installing a network printer, identify it, and WFWG would install the drivers from the host PC, same as Windows 95 does. Wrong! With WFWG, I had to install the drivers first, then connect the printer to the network port. Installing the drivers wasn't a problem; the drivers for the LaserJet 2100M were on the CD that came with the printer and the drivers for the Color LaserJet 5, HP DeskJet 820 Cse, HP DeskJet 500, and HP DeskJet 560C were available on HP's website. I downloaded the drivers from the CD and HP's website to my main PC's download directory, then copied them to 50z and installed each driver by running it's setup program.

Connecting the LaserJet 2100M and DeskJet 500 to LPT 3 and LPT 2 respectively was no problem since these ports were already available in Windows. I simply selected each printer, clicked connect, selected the appropriate LPT port, and browsed to the appropriate path. Clicked OK, and used notepad to ensure that I could print to them. So far so good.

Connecting the remaining printers required a little more work. I assumed I could use the three COM ports as network ports but apparently you can't since they aren't available in the Printers/Connect/Network/Port dropdown list. I figured there must be a way to attach more than 3 printers to a WFWG 3.11 PC and that the answer would be in the WIN.INI file.

I opened WIN.INI in NOTEPAD and searched for the string "LPT". Sure enough, in the PORTS section of the INI file is a list of LPT ports and mine was showing LPT1, LPT2, and LPT3. I thought maybe by adding the additional ports to this list they'd be available for use with network printers. So I updated the list, saved the file, and restarted Windows.

Success again! Once Windows started again, I opened Control Panel/Printers selected the DeskJet 820 Cse and clicked Connect. Then, I clicked network, dropped down the Ports drop down list and there were the additional ports. I selected a port and entered the appropriate network path for each remaining printer and then tested each printer. All worked.

I then reviewed the other Control Panel options. No changes needed to be made to International Settings. I checked date and time and found they were a few days behind. Must need a new battery. I figured I'd pick that up later. I didn't need to make any changes to network or ODBC settings. But I did need to change the 386 Enhanced settings.

One of the most important settings to change in Windows is to switch it from using a temporary swap file to a permanent swap file and enable 32 bit disk and file access. This can significantly improve performance. I don't know the technical details of why this makes such a difference but I have witnessed the difference; not earth shattering, but significant.

I opened the 386 Enhanced window and selected Virtual Memory. Sure enough, Windows was currently using a temporary swap file and 16 bit file access. Clicked change, set up a permanent swap file of 8 meg. and enabled 32 bit file access. The 32 bit disk access checkbox was grayed out; I didn't know why and didn't feel like digging into it right then. I saved the changes and restarted Windows. It didn't seem like 50z was running dramatically faster; but, to that point, I hadn't done anything that would tax 50z either. It seemed to load a little quicker and a review of the 386 Enhanced/Virtual Memory settings confirmed that the settings had been saved.

I didn't need to review the Drivers or Sound options since I didn't have a sound card for 50z. Even if I had one, I was out of ports. I could have installed the Windows Speaker sound driver which will play WAV files through the PC's speaker. I even have it on one of those unlabelled diskettes and probably have it in one of my download directories. But, WAV files played through a PC's speaker wouldn't sound very good and I believe I noticed a performance degradation the last time I tried using the driver. No, I'll pass on sound.

Finally, Applications!

Time for applications. Since this effort had become a nostalgic experience, I wanted to install the applications I used to use in the early to mid. 90's. I dug out my boxes of application diskettes.

At-least in the case of applications, my diskette's are labeled, they came that way when I bought them. Same with the CD's. And, I've kept them pretty well organized. All the diskette's are in 5 boxes organized alphabetically by application name. All the CD's are in two 3 ring binders organized by application type.

To setup any PC, I leaf through my diskettes and CD's in order. That helps me remember which applications I own and ensures that I've considered all my application options while setting the PC up. So, starting at the beginning of my A-C box...

ABC Toolkit 4.0 by MicroGrafx – Great flowcharting/process modeling package. I believe they were the first to add the capability of assigning attributes to shapes and aggregate values. I used it to create some nice process flows. But it takes a fair amount of space (several meg as I remember) and, with only 150 meg. available, I figured I'd better pass on this on.

BlueMax – Great memory manager for anyone with a PS/2 and DOS. But it also takes space and I didn't seem to need it. Pass.

Borland C++ 3 and 4 – Leading edge C++ programming language in the early 90's. but, I doubt I'll be doing any 16 bit C programming in the near future. And BC++ takes a lot of space. Pass.

CatchWord by Logitech – Pretty fair OCR package that came with the Logitech ScanMan. But, I wasn't planning to install the ScanMan scanner on this PC (no slots left) and I have a much better OCR package, OmniPage 8.0, that I'm using on another PC with a MicroTek ScanMaker IISP. Pass.

CompuServe WinCim – No point. Haven't had a CompuServe ID since 1997 when I signed up for Concentric. CompuServe was great in the late 80's and early 90's; I used the support forums and download libraries on a very regular basis. But, as vendors began offering support through their web sites and dropping support for their CompuServe forums, I began to lose interest. Also, CompuServe's WEB support was pretty limited in the early days. Pass.

Concentric Network installation diskettes – no need. I still have a Concentric Network account that I upgraded to a CNCHOST account a couple of years ago. But I'm using RoadRunner for home internet access now and use the Concentric account for my web site and dial-up access when I'm on the road. Since 50z is on the network, it already has internet access through my proxy server. Pass.

Corel Draw 3 through 5 – Best illustration package I've used and also includes one of my favorite image editors, PhotoPaint. I have Corel 8 loaded on another machine though and Corel 3 and 5 take a lot of disk space. Pass.

Corel Flow – Not a bad flowcharting package but not as good as ABC Toolkit. Pass.

DCA CrossTalk – best general purpose communications package I've used. Included some very good 3270 emulators. But, no modem and I haven't done mainframe contracting for several years. Pass.

HP Dashboard – A Program Manager enhancement. I think I installed it once and didn't care for it. Pass.

DisplayWrite 4 and 4.2 from IBM – Nope! It's DOS based and I'm still mad at IBM for abandoning the product in the early 1990's and orphaning all of us DisplayWrite users. I'd spent somewhere around $400.00 on two versions of DisplayWrite (4 and an upgrade to 4.2) when IBM announced that version 5 would be it's last. I believe DisplayWrite was supposed to be replaced by a product IBM was jointly developing with XY Write but it never materialized. Definitely Passed on this one.

Not that it was a bad word processor. I used it on my PC Convertible and then on my 50z for 3 years and was generally satisfied with it. Maybe I'll fool around with it the next time I get my PC Convertible out. But it's not going on 50z. And, HEY IBM! I won't put any more money into productivity applications from you, even if you do market them under the Lotus name. Once bitten, twice shy.

EasyCase – No, I had a better case tool coming up that I was looking forward to installing. Pass.

FrameMaker 3, 4 – It was a great desktop publishing package. I used it to produce a few newsletters. It was reasonably fast and didn't chew up an enormous amount of disk space. Version 4 was a huge improvement over version 3. It included a vastly improved user interface in a Windows environment versus prior versions. I installed it and played with it a little bit. Great package. Every bit as good as I remember it. It only had two limitations: it's vertical justification was limited and it's irregular text wrap around frames wasn't near as usable as Ventura's, PageMaker's or even Publish-It's.

Generic Cadd 3, 5.0 – This program is DOS based but I really liked it. I used it to redesign our kitchen, design some wall units, and design some other things. It's interface took a lot of getting used to and it took a long time to print but the results were worth it. It was a lot of software for the money, under $200.00 if I remember right.

The company, Generic Software, was great. Before they were swallowed by AutoDesk, they used to send out newsletters, run drawing contests, and send mailers announcing new products and upgrades. I miss Generic Software and liked their CADD package. Generic Cadd 5.0 is installed. I'll have to see if I can find the DWG files that contain the kitchen designs. My wife and I are still working out an agreement for a final floor plan. Maybe these old drawings will help.

Gramatik 3 and 5 – Gramatik is a grammar and style checker that I used quite a bit in the mid. 90's. I found it very helpful and I believe it helped me improve my writing quite a bit, at-least when I used it. I probably ought to run it against this story. Gramatik 5 is installed.

Gramatik was developed by Reference Software. I believe it was their only product and it showed, it was an excellent application. Unfortunately, Reference Software was swallowed by WordPerfect or Novell or Corel in the mid. 90's. I believe nearly all the other vendors of grammar checkers were swallowed up as well; and, to my knowledge, this category of software no longer exists as a stand-alone product category. Too bad. I liked grammar checkers as a separate product. The products integrated with office suites don't work as well and slow the word processing components down. I disable the integrated ones.

GoScript –This was a software based PostScript emulator for HP printers developed by LaserGo, Inc. I don't think I had much success using this package. Also, I don't use PostScript much, and if I did, I could print directly to my LaserJet 2100M. Pass.

Help Magician Pro – Great tool for creating Microsoft Windows help files. I used it on a couple of contracts and it worked well. But, I don't need it right now. Pass.

Internet Explorer 3.0 – Yes! I wanted a web browser on 50z and I prefer Internet Explorer – it seems to run better on Windows platforms than other browsers in my experience and I find it easier to use. Rather than use the version on the diskettes, I went to Microsoft's web site and downloaded version 3. Copied it to 50z and installed it. Configured the proxy settings and did some browsing over my broadband connection. It was somewhat sluggish, especially when browsing elaborate sites like my Excite page. Maybe later I'll try one of the alternative browsers I've been reading about.

KnowledgeWare Information Engineering Workbench, the Analysis Workstation and the Design Workstation – One of the reasons I wanted to set-up 50z was to install and play with KnowledgeWare. It was one of the premier CASE tools of the 80's and early 90's. With it, you build an encyclopedia of data and processes by creating structure charts, data flow diagrams, entity relationship diagrams, etc. You could also check the validity of your analysis and design using the tool.

And, here's a novelty. It's one of the few products I have that made use of the GEM (that's Graphical Environment Manager) interface from Digital Research. It was a GUI environment more similar to the MAC than Windows that ran on Intel based PC's. It also came out well ahead of Windows. Several vendors sold applications with GEM embedded in it (MicroGraphics and Timeworks come immediately to mind).

You know, It's amazing that Digital Research didn't do any better as a company than it did. They had one of the first operating systems for personal computers, CPM, but never really achieved critical mass with it on the Intel platform. Then, they had one of the first GUI environments for the PC and didn't achieve critical mass with it. I believe Novell bought them in the mid. to late 90's. It would be really interesting to research this company sometime.

Back to KnowledgeWare, I doubt I'll use it for any client work. Computer Aided Software Engineering (or CASE as it was called in the late 80's) is pretty much dead; clients don't have time for it now. But, it will be fun to experiment with. I installed both workstations and GEM.

This is the only machine I'd consider installing KnowledgeWare on, at-least the version of KnowledgeWare I have. It's DOS based and requires expanded memory. I once tried installing it on a Windows 95 machine and after enabling expanded memory (using EMM386), my 95 machine's performance was pretty bad. It doesn't seem to have impacted DOS and Windows 3.11 nearly as much.

McAfee Virus Scan – Nope! Virus scanners introduce a performance penalty I'm not willing to live with. Exercise a little common sense and you don't really need virus checking software, in my opinion. I've trained the family not to open attachments unless they know who their from and not to install programs without checking with me first. The only virus I ever encountered came from my Aptiva Recovery CD that I received with my IBM Aptiva 535. It's a long story.

Netroom – Another memory management and optimization package (I tried them all in the early 90's). I don't think Netroom yielded as much free conventional memory as MemMaker in my experience. Pass.

OfficeWriter – Quirky, DOS based word processor. Used it on one contract because it was the standard. Pass.

PageMaker 5 – Great desktop publishing package but I have 6.5 installed on one of my Windows 95 machines. Pass.

Paradox 4 and 4.5 – Good database package with an interesting programming language, ObjectPal. I installed version 4.5.

PowerBuilder 3.0 – Great programming tool that was very popular throughout the early to mid. 90's and still in wide use today. I have 5.0 installed on one of my Windows 95 machines, though, with the updated SQL Anywhere database. Pass.

ProComm Plus 2.0 for Windows (and various DOS versions) – Great communications program for dialing up bulletin boards and on-line services. The first version I used was a beta download I picked up on a local bulletin board system in the late 80's. Since then I've purchased a couple of DOS and Windows versions but as the web took off, my need for such tools quickly evaporated. I'm also not planning to attach a modem to this machine, for now. Pass.

Prodigy – Pass. I was a Prodigy subscriber in the early to mid. 90's. Prodigy was the first on-line service I signed up for. It's support forums weren't as extensive as CompuServe's so I switched.

Publisher's PaintBrush from ZSoft – I used Publisher's PaintBrush quite a bit through the early to mid. 90's. The best part of this tool was it's dithering algorithms. Take a color or grayscale picture, open it with Publisher's Paintbrush and convert it to black and white using one of it's dithering algorithms and you'd end up with a black and white picture that could be printed on a low resolution laser or dot matrix printer with surprisingly good results. It was a reasonable tool for photo-editing and creating bit mapped graphics, as well. With this package, my logitech scanner, and Publish-It, I created some pretty elaborate newsletters. I installed it.

Publish-It 2.0 for DOS and 4.0 for Windows – This was a desktop publishing package with a surprisingly strong feature set for such a reasonable price (around $100.00 street). Like I said before, I created some pretty elaborate newsletters with this package. In addition, version 4.0 ran well under Windows 3.11 and didn't require a lot of disk space. I installed it.

QEMM version 6 and 7.5 – Another memory manager that I used with mixed results. When it worked it yielded a boatload of conventional memory. But it took me a lot of tweaking to get it working on these PS/2's and not all applications were compatible with it. MemMaker and DOS are working fine. Pass.

Quattro Pro for Windows version 1, 5, and 6 – Quattro Pro version 1 was the first spreadsheet I used. I bought version 1 because it received high marks in the trade press for usability and compatibility; and, it was a lot cheaper than the competition. I upgraded to version 5 and version 6 when they came out to gain access to additional features. I found Quattro Pro version 1 and 5 to be easy to use, very functional spreadsheet programs. They ran well on modest hardware configurations and, with a custom configuration, the disk space used by the programs was reasonable (around 12 meg. for version 5). Version 6 had a new, rather sluggish interface with extra tool bars. I didn't like it near as much. I installed version 5.

Stacker by Stac Electronics – this was one of the premier disk compression tools in the early to mid. 90's. I have version 2, 3 and 4 and used one of these tools until I moved to bigger hard drives and Windows 95/98/NT. Each version worked well and truly doubled the size of a disk drive with minimal performance degradation. At this point, I was beginning to run out of free disk space (I had about 50 meg. available on each drive) and wasn't done installing applications. I decided to install Stacker 4.0 and compress both drives.

I started the installation program from within Windows and Stacker copied it's files to my C drive. It then closed Windows and began compressing my drives. It took a couple of hours but it compressed the drives successfully, updated my CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT files and rebooted 50z. After 50z rebooted and I started Windows, I used File Manager to check the available space on each drive and, sure enough, I now had at-least 100 meg. available on each.

But performance was taking a bigger hit than I remembered. At this point I opted to install Microsoft Office version 4.2 and performance fell through the floor. The install for Office was taking an inordinate amount of time and my hard drive was being thrashed constantly. It had to be Stacker. I finished setting up Office after 2 or three hours of feeding diskettes and rebooted. It was now taking Windows several minutes to boot and when I went to run Word, it took several minutes to start. Oh sure, it ran and I had a lot of additional hard drive space. But, I was growing old waiting for applications to start or exit. The performance degredation was really starting to kill the nostalgic experience and bring back the fury I used to feel after spending hours trying to get PCs, DOS, Windows, and utilities all working together. I could have spent some time trying to tweak stacker and Windows to work together, but the mood was almost gone. Stacker had to go.

I was so mad, I started over. I repartitioned and reformatted the C drive, reinstalled DOS and Windows, updated control panel settings, and reinstalled all the applications listed earlier up to Stacker. I passed on it this time around. My enthusiasm for this project was nowhere near as strong as it was before the Stacker incident; but, I still wanted to finish configuring this machine. I pressed on.

Typing Tutor – I bought this for my oldest daughter when she was 10. She liked it quite a bit, especially liked the games. She used it for about a year and, either due to this program, or her constant use of email the last few years, has become a pretty good typist. Maybe I'll install it on my youngest daughter's PC. But not 50z.

Ventura Publisher 4.1 – This was the last version of Ventura produced by Ventura Software prior to being bought by Corel in the mid. 1990's. It was the Cadillac of my publishing applications. I used it to create some great newsletters and to publish the results of Analysis and Design efforts for clients. It wasn't the easiest program in the world to learn but the results were worth the effort. It was somewhat buggy (I learned to save a lot using this program) but, like I said, the results were worth it. I've since purchased version 7.0 of Corel Ventura, though, and have it installed on one of my Windows 95 machines. I'll pass on Ventura 4.1 for now.

Windows Draw version 3.0 from MicroGrafx – Great illustration program for Windows 3.1 with relatively modest memory and hard drive requirements. I used this program to create some great network schematics in the mid. 90's. I installed it.

WinZip – A great file compression program. I downloaded WinZip several years ago and registered it a few days after installing it. It's a great utility for compressing and uncompressing zip files and each new version brings more features. The price was reasonable (sorry, I can't remember what I paid for my license) and the hardware demands are minimal. I'll definitely install WinZip on this computer (no computer should be without it). However, my diskette versions are pretty old. I decided to download a current version later.

WordPerfect 4.2 for DOS, 5.0 for DOS, or 6.0 for Windows – WordPerfect was the word processor I moved to when IBM orphaned DisplayWrite. In-fact, the day I read about IBM's announcement I went to MicroCenter and dropped $250.00 on WordPerfect 4.2 for DOS (I hadn't moved to Windows yet). It took a lot of getting used to. Version 4.2 had no menus; so, I spent a lot of time with the manual (remember those?) until I memorized the key combinations for various commands. But, once the key combinations became second nature, I found WordPerfect to be a very capable, fast word processor. I upgraded to 5.0 when it came out and not only found several new features, but also found they had implemented menus on the main window.

The only thing I didn't care for with WordPerfect was that it was a lot like programming. I found that I spent a lot of time with CodeView turned on so that I could see the codes that various commands inserted in documents and tweaking the codes to get the printed results I wanted. I yearned for a word processor that was much more visually oriented and much less code based (at-least from a user's perspective). When I saw Word for Windows 2.0, I bought it and never looked back. I haven't thought much about WordPerfect since. The only time I've used either DOS version is when I fool around with my PC Convertible which isn't very often.

I have WordPerfect 6.0 for Windows and never installed it. I used WordPerfect 6.x for Windows at a client site where it was the standard. But, I still found myself using Code View to fix documents that weren't formatting correctly. At-least in the Windows versions you could see problems before printing or previewing the document.

I installed version 7.0 on one of my Windows 95 machines when I purchased Corel Ventura 7.0 (WordPerfect 7.0 was included on the second CD). I experimented with it, found some great features, and didn't have to use Code View once. If WordPerfect had made this version available when I was switching to Windows, I may have stuck with WordPerfect as my main word processor.

But, they didn't. I moved to Word with most of the rest of the computing world and don't see much reason to install version 6.0 on 50z. Pass.

At this point, I was back to my box of Microsoft and Microsoft Windows diskettes.

Microsoft Office version 4.2 - I could have tried installing Office 4.2 again; but, I would have had to split it between two drives to make it fit and I wouldn't have much free disk space (if any) when I was done. It's the best pre-95 version I have, but I passed because of the hardware requirements.

Microsoft Word 2.0 for Windows – This was the first version of Word for Windows that I owned. I bought it shortly after I moved to Windows and, as I said before, I never looked back. Couldn't remember what the differences between this version and the newer versions were; but, I remember I used it quite a bit. And, being an earlier version, I figured it's requirements may fit pretty well with 50z's current configuration. I installed it.

Wow, it's different! No pop-up help when you move the mouse over buttons. And I need it; the buttons and tool bars are really different. Maybe I moved to version 6.0 sooner than I had thought, because Word 2.0's interface was really unfamiliar.

My 8 year old daughter happened to walk into the utility room as I was starting it up. Now, this kid uses Word 97 on a regular basis and has also become pretty proficient with PowerPoint (they teach this stuff in school now). As the main Word Window opened, she asked, "What's that Dad?"

I told her it was Word and she didn't believe me. I had to show her the Help/About dialog box to convince her.

Of course, she also wanted to know where the task bar and Start Button were. After a few minutes of my Windows history lesson, she left the room wondering aloud why I was doing this at all. Of course, the rest of the family was no help. When my 8 year old explained to them why I hadn't left the basement for four days, they all had a good laugh. I don't think they share my love of computers and appreciation for the wonders of technology. They tolerate it.

Excel 5.0 – I already had a spreadsheet installed, Quattro Pro, but Word and Excel go together. Anyway, at this point I'm a lot more familiar with Excel than I am with Quattro Pro, even if it's an older version so I installed it. I don't remember when I purchased Excel 5.0, it may be software that I grabbed when a company I worked at was cleaning out it's software room and throwing out old software. That's how I ended up with two versions of Microsoft Office 4.2.

The first version of Excel I remember buying was Excel for Windows 95. Then I moved to Office 97 when it came out.

That was it! I have several other applications I could have consider installing. But, I was running out of disk space and time. Those other applications will wait for the next restoration project.

The Resurrection is Complete

So what do I have after 5 days of non-stop resurrection work? For starters, a lot of satisfaction and a great sense of accomplishment having restored this old computer to working order. It was a great computer that served me well for several years. It didn't deserve to be moth-balled just because I had more powerful machines. It really feels good to have it running again.

I have a renewed appreciation for IBM's PS/2 line. The tool-less box, software based CMOS configuration and Micro Channel Architecture were real innovations when introduced in the mid. 80's. Other lines of Personal Computers (including those from IBM) are just now catching up. The PS/2s were built extremely well and included top of the line components. They weren't the fastest machines on the market; but, they were well engineered and very reliable. I'm convinced these boxes will run forever.

I also have a heightened appreciation for the advances Microsoft has made with Windows. Windows 95 and Windows NT 4.0 were huge improvements over the DOS/Windows 3 environment. Setting this computer up reminded me of many of them.

Of course, I have a fairly functional network workstation also. The only two things it's missing are e-mail and a presentation graphics program. Sometime, I may connect the mail client that installed with WFWG 3.11 to my Microsoft Mail post office. However, I don't believe it will be able to see the common inboxes that my other computers can see so it's usefulness will be limited. I could set the version of Outlook Express that installed with Internet Explorer up to access my POP3 accounts at Concentric and Roadrunner; but, it wouldn't save downloaded messages in the common in-boxes I have setup. I'll have to think about mail.

If I decide I want a presentation graphics package, I have a copy of Harvard Graphics for Windows that I intercepted on it's way to the dumpster. It may be a nice addition to the package from a historical perspective. Maybe next weekend I'll install it.

Other than email and presentation graphics, 50z is a very functional network workstation. It has full file and print sharing capabilities with the rest of the network. Most applications are loading within 20 seconds and, once loaded, they run well. It's disk space is limited; but, if I need more, I'll tap the network for some. Or, if I get ambitious some weekend, I may dig out my Quantum manuals, figure out what drives are supported by the Quantum SCSI card, and install a second internal SCSI drive. That would be a fun project.


Since I originally wrote this article, I did install a 2 gig. SCSI drive that I found at MicroCenter in one of their used equipment bins. To my surprise, the drive installed without incident; no problems with the quantum card. I partitioned it into 4 - 500 meg. partitions, copied everything off the other 2 drives onto it's 2 partitions, and pulled the other 2 drives out. It's working well.

Content created and/or collected by:
Louis F. Ohland, Peter H. Wendt, David L. Beem, William R. Walsh, Tatsuo Sunagawa, Tomáš Slavotínek, Jim Shorney, Tim N. Clarke, Kevin Bowling, and many others.

Ardent Tool of Capitalism is maintained by Tomáš Slavotínek.
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