Long lost love

Sunday 26. April, 2009

Recently I have been checking the university’s “computer recycling area” in hopes of finding me a new ancient computer. I saw a couple of old machines in the student lab and after finishing my experiment I just couldn’t stop staring at them. They were so old and looked so nice. It was so nice, but then came a dude who took the machines from the floor and carried them away. I suppose they went to recycling, but they didn’t go the way newer computers go. Normally computers to be removed from service go to the IT department for some good blancking of the hard disks, the very same place decides if the machines go to other duties, to sale or to the “floor” where students and other people can grab them for free.

I though the two oldies would go to the same place and end up to the “floor” as the “MHz limit” for resale is about 1000 MHz, and any 386-machine is well below that limit with their blazing 16-33 MHz. Sadly though the machines never went to the department for judging, I even asked if they had seen those machines.

Afterwards I have been thinking more and more about my old Acer 1100SX, who, sadly, was sent to the landfill years ago. Now I want it back. I really want it back. I even checked local online action sites (by local I mean Finnish), but all the oldies there were too new for me. Ebay instead did have some 386 machines, but the prices… I really won’t pay $300 for a 20 years old computer (+shipping, of course). Crazy people… You can’t really do anything serious with it. It would just sit on the table (or floor) and look good. Maybe occasionally I would try to play or do something, get frustrated and shutdown the machine (that’s what I do with the other oldies I have).

I’m surprised that there’s no real information of the Acer 1100SX desktop computer on the net. Googling didn’t really reveal anything about the system. Except that it was Windows 3.0 compatible and that some companies claim to sell memory modules for it. There’s not even a picture. I don’t know if I would be more depressed if there were pictures of the system somewhere or, as it currently seems,  no pictures at all. Few pictures might make me want it back even harder.

Let’s at least put some specs up

Acer 1100SX

  • 386SX-processor, 16 MHz
  • 2 MB RAM
  • 3,5″ 1,44 MB floppy drive
  • 5,25″ 1,2 MB floppy drive
  • 40 MB Hard disk
  • Integrated VGA graphics card
  • 14″ VGA color monitor
  • 4(?) ISA slots
    • 1200 bps modem
    • Game port extension card
    • Diamond Sound Something sound card (I added it later)
    • Allied Telesyn AT-2000 Network card (this one too)
  • AT-power supply (surprise!)
  • manufactured 1989
  • I also got an Epson-matrix printer, I loved it

The machine was bought used in 1996-1997 I think. The monitor’s power switch broke 1999 and dad thought that we could replace the whole machine with a brand new model. I still used the machine more or less actively for a couple of years while my brother was playing with the new one. As time went by I used the machine less and less. Finally it just sit in the corner looking sadly at me until mom decided to throw it away.

It had MS-DOS 3.33 and Windows 3.0 installed including some Microsoft entertainment pack. It was all in English so I had to buy a Finnish-English-Finnish-dictionary to understand the system 🙂 Later my cousin gave me MS-DOS 6.22 and Windows for Workgroups 3.11. The Windows was in Finnish this time 🙂 Due to the DOS 3.33 limits the hard disk was originally partitioned in two partitions, 32 MB C: and 8 MB D:. The D:-drive contained all the games the machine had, and I still have kept the same partitioning: C: for system, D: for games 🙂

When the machine was about to be thrown away, I took several components from it to remember it by. Most notably the RAM-modules, power supply and the cool 5,25″ floppy drive, that I put on the Compaq P733 I told about in some earlier post. (The newest computer didn’t have BIOS support for it. I wonder why…)

I think the machine was originally equipped with only 1 MB RAM as the other four of eight 256 KB modules looked different than the other four. I also got 5,25″ floppies including MS-DOS 3.33 and Windows/386 for which I even have the user manuals. Sadly I didn’t have floppies for the Windows 3.0 nor the WordPerfect 5.2. There were also some Acer setup utilities that could lower the CPU speed to 8 MHz and other tool to park hard disk heads to the designated parking zones. I think there was also a text mode tutorial program on what exactly is a computer and what you can do with it.

Edit 12.07.2009:

Acer 1100SX Specifications

Acer 7013A Specifications (the monitor)

Edit 28.11.2010:

Some fucker was selling an Acer 1100SX motherboard on Ebay for $60. When did they become so expensive? Admittedly they are quite rare these days…

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