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The numbers are growing. Vintage computer users are beginning to pop up everywhere; some in organized groups, but mostly just individuals on their own. Most people who go into vintage computing do so with a particular reason on their minds. I have already discussed some of those, but today I will be focusing on an ever increasing number of vintage computer users whose main reason for going back, is simply because they’re tired of keeping up with the rat race.
Ever since Windows 3.1 was released, computer manufacturers were in a race. Software vendors were writing new programs that would constantly push the boundaries of what current computer system and their software could accomplish, and nowhere was this more true than in the area of games. Games became more and more resource hungry, needing more memory, and more storage space and even more processing and video power than ever before. This has continued to this day. And Windows itself is also to blame for sluggish response.
Back in 1995, a “decent” home computer was still an expensive proposition. Windows 95 was being installed on more computers, but in the manufacturers didn’t always install enough memory or include processors that were truly fast enough to run the applications they chose to include. Some systems, like the Packard Bell Legend had a 74 MHz processor coupled with only 4 Megs of RAM and installed on a 540 Meg hard drive. That all sounds good until you realize that Windows 95 really didn’t run well unless a minimum of 16 Megs of RAM were installed, 24 was even better. That particular system as sold was more suited for running Windows 3.1. The included “Packard Bell Navigator” would barely run at all. Only after spending more money to upgrade the system memory did the computer run as it was intended.
Which brings me to the subject of this article. If you’re one of those who have brought an old system back to life because of the continual costs of upgrading the PC to meet the minimum standards for the operating system, how far back did you go? Think about it. You can go all the way back to Windows 2000, Windows 98, 95 or even Windows 3.1. You could even go back to the days of DOS! Why not? Programs are all out there for the taking. You can download them onto your newest computer that is connected to the Internet, and with a little skill and know-how, you can save all these programs to be used on your older computer. Then gain, many of these old computers that folks are pulling from their garrage or storage room still work with the programming that was on them when they were put away up to and including 33 years ago.
Word processors for writing letters, or school reports; spreadsheet applications for bank records; and even database programs for storing recipes and other items. These programs can be just as useful as today’s’ counterpart.
Everyone who reads my blog knows I have been restoring and refurbishing an all original IBM PC system from 1984, complete with an IBM expansion unit. While most of you will never need an expansion unit, or for that matter, any computer as old as mine, I do have all of the programs I could ever want. Word Perfect, VisiCalc, Lotus123, and many, many more are in my software library. Most can be found by looking on the Internet, but you must be careful of the usual items when you’re looking for software. Viruses are more prevalent than ever before, and copy write protection is still in force on the majority of the software titles you find. It is usually best to purchase software from a known good vendor. But even those are getting harder and harder to find for very old software.
Another option is to look on abandon ware sites. These sites will have programs for which the copy write was never filed, or has run out, or for some reason makes the software available for free.
My point today is that vintage computing is a growing market. Prices have fallen as low as they are ever going to get, which I talked about in another article as well. Look for a computer you know will work for you, even if that computer is in your own garage. Break it out, set it up and start using it again. Who knows, you might even find an old game you forgot about.