CiH's gear page!

Welcome to CiH's (not very) extended computer family.

Here lie the details of my small collection of hardware. I tended to think that having six old computers was excessive, but then I saw the size of some other people's collections and stopped worrying! (Hi Evil!)

For those of you reading this far without panicking and bailing out to look for a more sensible web page, this very first picture is a recently taken one featuring three decades of computer design. Click the thumbnail for a better look. The original picture, in super hi-res 5 mega pixel mode is clear enough to read what's on the screen. Ahh, LCD flatscreens, no more lines and flickering when you take a picture of it. Now that's what I call progress!

It progresses from the Apple Mac Mini at the top, (2005). It goes down to the Atari Falcon '030 in the middle (mid-nineties, and should now really be called a Falcon '060.) Finally the Enterprise 64, representing the bright hopes of computing, 1985-style, is artfully posed at the bottom of the picture.

Anyway, the obligatory bragfest and willy-waving tech-specs part now follows...

Atari Stuffs..

The Atari ST family was manufactured by Atari Corp from 1985 to 1993. These were based around a Motorola MC68K cpu, and a variant of the Digital Research GEM desktop, combined with a homegrown single-tasking o/s called 'TOS'. This compared quite well with the Apple Mac classic of that era.

The ST enjoyed some commercial success as a home computer in the European market in the late eighties and early nineties. The Falcon was intended as a higher performance successor, and was designated as a "multimedia" machine. Unfortunately, due to a combination of a half-hearted approach by Atari Corp, and the rise of the Wintel platform, it was doomed fairly early on. The good news is, that in the hands of enthusiasts, both these computers and other members of the ST/TOS family enjoy continued active use. Sometimes, new software and hardware is even made for them!

Atari Falcon with CT60 accelerator

Revision 6 68060, capable of clocking up to 100mhz with CTCM. Mine runs most typically at 90mhz, as it doesn't *quite* get to 100mhz and goes loopy at that point! 40mhz clocked DSP, 256mb SDram, 4mb ST-ram, 10 gig IDE H/D. TOS version 4.04 patched for fastram, Magic 6.01 multitasking o/s.

Soon to be added, 'EtherNat' Ethernet/USB combined card, and Supervidel graphics card.

  • Here's a lovely desktop screengrab of it running in CT60 mode, with Magic 6.1, and the Jinnee desktop in a nastily extended monitor torturing resolution!

    Atari Falcon with CT2 accelerator
    50mhz 68030, 50mhz clocked DSP, 64mb EDO fastram, 14mb ST-ram, 68882 math coprocessor, TOS version 4.04, Magic 6.01 multitasking o/s, 360mb IDE. Mounted in a Desktopper replacement case, which is a pig to open and do stuff...

    (Stuff to go with these, External cased SCSI hard drive, 2gb.. Double speed Nec SCSI CD-ROM, Yahama 4xspeed SCSI CD-ROM.. SCSI Iomega Zip drive (100mb)..

    Atari STe
    8mhz 68000, 4mb ST-ram, TOS version 1.6, hard drive friendly DMA chip.

    NEW! Now with added Satandisk. This is a handy little widget which allows a bog-standard STFM, STe, anything with a compatible ASCI port to read and write to SD-RAM cards as if they were a normal hard drive! You can also create PC-compatible formatted cards which can be read by the ST as well, so making bulk data transfer, in the order of more than 720kb, effortlessly easy between the two. Here's a picture of the beast.

    Remember this replaces a 1985-styled coffee-table sized hard drive enclosure. You don't get the Boeing 747 powering up for take-off on a full payload type noises with Satandisk either, that you might well get with an older mechanical drive. Portable storage with no breakable moving parts is the wave of the future!

    Acorn Stuffs..

    Acorn computers have a very long and distinguished pedigree, beginning back in the mists of home computing pre-history, but springing to pre-eminence in the educational market, with the 8-bit BBC Micro. The Archimedes series, based on early ARM RISC processors, was the natural successor to this, and did best in schools. Acorn progressed through various models of Archimedes, followed by the higher specification RiscPC, but terminated this line with the failure of the 'Phoebe' high-end RPC follow up in 1998. As with the Atari, these are supported by a diehard band of enthusiasts. There are even entire new models being manufactured by third party builders, and continuing development of the RiscOS operating system.

    Acorn RiscPC 600
    33mhz ARM, 16mb ram, 500mb IDE H/D, built-in CD-ROM.

    Acorn Archimedes 4000
    12mhz ARM, 4mb ram, 85mb IDE H/D. (This system semi-defunct and not much used, it's been stuck in the cellar, to be brutally honest.)

    Apple Mac Stuff..

    I decided on getting the new Apple Mac Mini in the end. It has several features that appeal to me. It's small, unobtrusive, and relatively cheap, very cheap for a Mac. Plus you get the stylish OSX desktop in its current 'Tiger' 10.4 incarnation.

    I did consider a Wintel laptop as a second choice, or a low profile shuttle cased PeeCee, but the Mac won out in the end. Maybe it would have been different if you had a choice of Linux out of the box, and avoid paying the Windows lazy retailer tax? Still, now I've got the Mac, I'm not complaining.

    Apple Mac Mini
    1.25ghz PPC, 512mb ram, 32mb graphics card, OSX version 10.4 'Tiger', 80gb IDE hard drive, CDRW/DVDR Combi drive, USB floppy (Yes, I got one of those!) Other peripherals to be added... It is also the home to my broadband connection.

    I forgot to mention, I'm trying out various emulators on this, so there are about three different flavours of Atari on here already, not including the consoles.

    Enterprise Stuff..

    This used to be the bit of the page known as "Most yearned for", but after several Ebay auctions where these rare and interesting 8-bit machines went for prices often in excess of their original rrp, I finally got lucky and managed to win one at a reasonable price. The Enterprise 64 is one of the most fascinating "What might have been?" stories of the mid-eighties home computer boom. It was a stylish beast of a machine with an awesome killer spec for 1984. It would have done fine if it had been released then, but a delay of a year crippled its chances and the parent company went bust in 1986. Still, the unsold units were shipped to Eastern Europe, specifically Hungary, where it enjoyed a happy afterlife. I used to have one when it first came out, and foolishly got rid of it. Now I've got another one, and all is fine again!

    Enterprise 64
    4mhz Z80A, 64kb ram, IS-Basic, totally stock machine with no added extras.

    Wintel Stuff..

    There once was an unassuming chap called Bill Gates. He had a dream, to make lots of money. He succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. Depending on your point of view, a dream or nightmare partnership of Microsoft's operating systems, with the IBM personal computer (PC) hardware, has evolved to the point where it almost threatened extinction of all the alternatives, like a rampaging grey squirrel. However, you will find that you are dependent on one of these for something in the end.

    And here it is, the first Wintel machine to gain access to the CiH household. As the specs below will reveal, it is hardly a state of the art machine, but perfectly ok for running an emulator to make it a virtual Enterprise 64!

    Compaq Presario PeeCee
    Compaq Presario Tower, AMD K6, 533 533mhz, 64 MB RAM, 9 GB Hard drive, 8 MB graphics card, Win '98, CD-ROM and floppy drive built in.

    Amiga Stuff..

    Just for the hell of it, and because Ebay was there, I decided to dabble in an auction selling the rival machine to the Atari, the dreaded Commodore Amiga!

    In this case, the machine was the Amiga 1200 model, the final member of the official Amiga family (let's not get on the subject of CD32 and clones, eh!) This was an exact contemporary of the Atari Falcon, and it managed to outsell that machine by a factor of many to one, due to Atari's half-hearted and lame approach by that time. When comparing the two base machines side by side, the Falcon tended to be better specced in most areas, 68030 versus 68020, DSP built into the Atari etc. The major new feature of the A1200 was the more advanced AGA graphics hardware. Didn't stop lots of goodies being developed for it, and there were many many hardware add-ons, including some seriously powerful boosters of 68060 level and above.

    The machine I've got is of humbler stock than that, but I'm half-looking for an accelerator board to get it into the fast 68030 class at least.

    Commodore Amiga 1200
    Motorola 68EC020 14 MHz, 2MB Chip RAM, 4MB Fast Ram and 68881 co-processor, 4 GB Hard drive, Workbench/AmigaOS.

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