MavEtJu's Distorted View of the World

AT: AMD 386 40 MHz - 1992

Posted on 2008-03-01 09:00:04, modified on 2008-03-01 09:00:00
Tags: Memories, My Computers

This was only a motherboard change, but for the first time I made a real hardware change to my own computer.

The 386 allowed me to run Quarterdeck DESQview, a text mode multitasking program under MS-DOS. This was brilliant, it allowed me to edit my programs in one instance, compile them in a second instance and run them in the third instance. Because the instances ran in the so protected mode, any bad programming my side was immediately punished with an aborted program.

This was also the era of MOD files, the audio format which contains a track part and a samples part. By using a simple D/A convertor on the parallel port of the computer, you can connect the computer to your stereo and play all kind of music. By having two parallel ports on your computer and have two D/A convertors you could have stereo sound! The price of these D/A convertors? 15 resistors, one DB25 male, one tulip plug and one DB25 case: DFL 7.50. Much cheaper than a soundcard, and much more rewarding.

Despite that the operating system was MS-DOS, the command interpreter was replaced with 4DOS, a much more powerful commandline tool which made it much easier to run scripts and do interactive things with the user.

Later the operating system was replaced with OS/2 2.0, which gave me the first feel what a real operating system was and what it could do: pre-emptive multitasking, unlimited memory, an object oriented desktop and a filesystem with long filenames. Further a stream of strange tools became available, varying from a C compiler called DJGPP to an UUCP mail and news retrieval system called UUCP/extended. With the release of OS/2 WARP a lot more communication became possible, including TCP/IP based communication. And for the first time I saw include files with the text "Copyright by the Regents of the University of California." How much did I not know about what that meant.

Programming under OS/2 was a little bit difficult, but thanks to the book OS/2 Presentation Manager Programming by Charles Petzold and the EDM/2 (Electronic Developer Magazine) and the free DJGPP compiler I created a set of nice tools, mostly originated from other X11 applications like Spider and Xlock.

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