Mystery eBay PC hides SURPRISE | Nostalgia Nerd


This is a Mystery PC. I say mystery for 2
reasons. The first is that I found it on eBay and I don’t know what’s on it. – don’t ask me exactly why I bought it, but
there was something incredibly nostalgic about that case. It’d been sitting in my basket
for months, and despite the fairly high price tag, I needed to re-home it, and do something
with that dormant hardware. The second is because it’s a mish-mash of
parts. This case, that CD-ROM drive, the turbo button. It doesn’t fit. The mystery deepens
when you realise that an AMD K5 100MHz lies at the core of this beast. It’s clear that
this PC has a story. Like many PCs, it’s evolved with the owner. That yellowing isn’t discolouration
by the hands of UV radiation… it’s a part of this machine’s life. Those cracks around
the plastic, isn’t brittle plastic yielding to the unforgiving metal frame… it’s an
intertwining, an evolution of the case. That dirt in the corner of the floppy drive and
around the buttons isn’t everyday filth… it’s… yeah, ok it probably is, and that
broken plastic is actually a result of the absolutely inadequate packaging used to send
this thing from Hungary to the UK. Because that’s where this metal creation hails from.
You can see the badge says “Ready Computers, 1054 Budapest”, which is of course the nation’s
capital city. Why it has a cheese sticker on the side, I have no idea. But there’s no
denying that this thing looks the epitome of 90s retro. All of the 90s in one box. Opening her up, reveals the timeless circuitry,
ready to fire up once more. I mean, there’s also a loose speaker knocking about, but you
can see from where it fell. For now I’ll just disconnect it. Here’s the AMD K5, secured
under a small heat sink and fan. Connecting it to the outside world is an Intel PCIset
chipset and a 1995 Award BIOS. The PCI and ISA expansion slots are mostly bare, save
for a faithful Trident TVGA9000i video card. An incredibly common range of cards on base
PCs, and actually the very first video card I had myself. Housed in the top expansion
bay is that mighty 52X LG CD-ROM drive, interestingly both the CD-ROM and 270MB Conner Hard Drive
underneath are setup as Primary and secondary IDE master devices, no slaves here. Incidentally,
Conner Peripherals were acquired by Seagate in 1996. All of this splendour is powered
by a JNC Power Supply, packing a beefy 200W of pure POWER. Ok, we’ll need a monitor to find out what
secrets lie within. This Dell Trinitron will do nicely, as will this IBM keyboard. There
are no PS/2 or USB ports here, just a good old fashion DIN connector for the keyboard,
and serial connections for whatever else takes your fancy. With everything ready, the first problem I
encountered was the power switch. It’s obviously taken a hefty knock in transport, which has
moved the switch away from the plastic housing. Pressing it delivers no response and no feedback.
Still I can undo this screw and then click the switch from here…. and there we have,
the sweet, sweet sounds of a 90s PC, booting. Listen to that hard drive spin up, the sounds
of the floppy drive. Obviously there’s no BIOS beep as I disconnected the speaker, but
it matters not, for all is well. 64MB of RAM means the triple memory check
takes a worthy amount of time, but then, we’re in. Well, actually, Windows ’95 didn’t seem
to like the Turbo button being deactivated. But a click and a reboot and we’re good to
go. Now, the turbo button was actually designed to slow faster machines down to run older
DOS games… you know, ones without decent speed compensation, but it would be incredibly
rare to find one on a Pentium era machine. They were generally found on 386 hardware,
possibly the odd 486, which tells me that this machine has almost certainly been expanded
past its years. Actually, before we get back to it, let’s
have a look at the BIOS…. ohhhh yes. Look at all these legacy options. I remember spending
hours playing around in this exact BIOS, with these settings. The options fill me with excitement
and possibility just looking at them. This was the early days of Plug & Play and you
still had to set aside your options for legacy cards. Amazing stuff. Anyway back to Windows loading. I don’t know who set this Windows ’95 colour
scheme, but he’s a masochist, whoever it was. My first problem is that I think all my mice/mouses
are PS/2 or USB… so I thought this might have been game over (for the time being).
But then I remembered that hideous Star Trek mouse from a few weeks back, and we’re good
to go. Rather appropriate screen saver for this device. Obviously we’re booting into a different language
as well. We can change some region stuff in the settings, but to change the OS base language,
we’d have to do a re-install. Still, it matters not, we can muddle our way around. In terms of resolution, we’re operating at
good old 640×480 in 256 colours. We can up it, but, I dunno, this resolution feels kinda
homely. So time to nose about. Immediately in the
root direct a SIMSON image, turns out it’s a guy on a motorcycle. Oh christ, look, before
I continue I have to change these colours, it’s like being stuck in a sh*t pie. Apparently
media files are outside the scope of this thing. Probably an unsupported format, or
missing codec. Anyway, we’ve got all the usual Windows programs here… Paint, Wordpad…
WOLFENSTEIN 3D…. Now we’re talking. Actually it’s a Spear of Destiny demo… the sequel
to Wolfenstein. Completely devoid of sound given both the PC speaker is disconnected
and there is no sound card what-so-ever. I was having troubles with the controls, and
it turns out I wasn’t joking when I said this guy was a Masochist. The bloody fire key is
set to “M”. Who even does that? Anyway, the game runs fine. It’s Spear of Destiny. This
would run fine on a 386. At this point, it seemed better to exit to
DOS, as finding things under Windows 95 can be a pain. Of course, the main problem here
is the keyboard is setup for a different country. But a few lines in the config.sys and autoexec.bat
straighten that out. We’ve still got the wrong installation language, but at least the keyboard
works as it should. To be honest, the only obvious DOS program I found, simply entitled..
SEGA… tried to run at a resolution too low for this monitor, so let’s go back to Windows.
I’m presuming it’s probably Sea Quest. I thought I’d try it in a window, within Windows, but
’95 was having none of it, but then I noticed this folder within the SEA directory. O
M G Have we just stumbled across some 90s objectivity
right here? Within the suspect directory we have a Pictures folder, then Decadens, then
_ko_, and then we find the folders of truth. I don’t know if this guy was trying to hide
this stuff as deep in the directory tree as possible, but if he was, WHY CALL THE FIRST
FOLDER….. THIS? Kinda gives the game away chum. So, these are all JPG images. This machine
won’t open them, and Paint can only deal in Bitmap or PCX formats, so time to copy some
files across to floppy. Just to be fair, I thought I’d take an array of files. Some of
that… oooo, yeah, some that too. Great. and after loading them up on my PC. I CAN
INDEED CONFIRM. FILTH. Oooooo, oh hello. Wow. Yep, it’s what we thought chaps. Of course
it is. But I’m not going to display any here or indeed mention it by name, because this
is Youtube and THIS ISN’T THE TIME OR THE PLACE. I don’t
think we’re going to top that, but it did make me want to search deeper, for other suspect
directories. All I really found was Doom, disguised as Toca Touring Car Championship
for whatever reason. Maybe Tibi was happy to keep his explicit photo collection for
all to see, but wanted to cover up he was playing a game with demons. WHO CAN POSSIBLY
TELL. Doom runs fine, even under windows, although why it’s hidden in this bizarre directory
is beyond me. There didn’t seem to be anything else of value in there. There were a few more interesting program
on here. Daytona didn’t work, but we’ve got Windows Commander, which was always a handy
file navigation utility. In the recent documents folder there were some documents, in a language
I don’t understand. I presume that these are all the work of our friend Tibi. Who could
tell, or possibly know. To be honest, at this point I was bored. We’d peaked with the hidden
folder and now it was time to shut this beauty back
down. I have plans for it. Great plans. All of which
I will share with you all in due course. In the mean time, thank you for joining me
on this Mystery PC investigation. It’s been a blast.

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