Long version: Back in 1991, my family's computer was the very outdated Apple II (and a clone at that). By that time I'd had 2 years of using Macs, and badly wanted to play the cool games my friends with IBM-compatible machines had.
Eventually I was told to pick a reasonably priced computer. My hardware budget could afford at best a tower containing a 386SX 20MHz, with 4MB RAM, an 80MB WD Caviar hard disk, Tseng 1MB video card and 14" Super VGA monitor. The CPU was an AMD, and I had no spare cash for a 387SX. Floppies were 5.25" Teac and 3.5" Panasonic. The Windows 3.0 supplied came with the mouse, a Z-Nix bundle. To get to this point I'd spent ages poring over specs and builds based on Australian PC User magazines, the Trading Post/Sydney Morning Herald advertisements, and any scrap of computer media I could find. The machine was put together by "L+C Computers" in Parramatta, who had the best prices at the time, but are long since gone.
Given how much time I'd spent on this machine, it's a wonder that 10 years later it was found to be taking up too much room, served no purpose, and was put on the kerb (no doubt the scrappers got it first). In fact at the same time the Apple II clone went as well. Everything was still pretty mint, no rust or yellowing. How I miss those machines!
Fast forward 15 years, and the hunt to build as close a replica as possible to the 386SX was on. I wasn't getting anywhere until one day I came across an AT clone with the same faceplate (seems to be a common one). Some time during its life this machine was built into a 486/DX4 100, with 64MB RAM (4x 16MB 30pin SIMMs), Tseng 4000/W32i VLB, and Adaptec 1542 SCSI. Basically that means I'm downgrading this machine! Managed to get the whole thing free as part of a mass cleanout. The Seagate drive in this one has died, but that's no problem. The only differences I can pick so far are that it has a rocker power switch (mine had a round push button), ventilation holes in the bottom of the case (original was solid), the molded faux 3.5" slot cover (why was this a thing? I have flat ones to replace it) and the rear backplane can be removed (original was one piece or welded). This is missing a top cover, but I've got an AT donor case for that. The shots don't show it, but the inside of the case is rusted at the front corner.
The 486 configuration does boot, and so I'll use that in a desktop machine, to replace a 486DX2/66. The board has some minor battery damage, but a PO has modded an off-board CR2032 solution, which is very thoughtful.
To match the old specs, I've purchased a 386SX20 board from Russia (Intel chip), used 4MB RAM from my parts stash, had a Tseng 1MB card sent by dacow (thanks! ), bought 2x 80MB WD Caviar 280s (these are fragile units), and will reuse the Teac 5.25" (mine had a green light like this one), and just cleaned up a couple of Panasonic 3.5"s. Also bought the same old mouse, a Honeywell AT kb (one of these was hooked up to the original in its life). Have DOS 5.0, Windows 3.0 ready to go as well.
Fired up the old combo with an Eagle IDE controller (probably Acer-based, can't recall what the original had), and it works! Played some Star Goose, Omega Chess, and tried Wolf3D but didn't get far with that. Contents of the HD haven't been touched since 1992!!! Seems slower than I remember, but then back in the day I was in awe of having an IBM-compatible, so that probably explains it.
- Fix rust on the case, and prime/spray
- Install 386SX setup into case
- Back up 80MB drive
- Wipe and install DOS/Windows/Office
- Install Mediavision Pro 3D
- Buy Toshiba XM-3501B 4x CD-ROM - this was fitted to the computer in 1994