Category Archives: PC history

Vague Standards are Trouble

Through the course of time I’ve been going over the IDENTIFY data of various old IDE hard disks. Today I happened to come across a Conner CP30254H drive, apparently made in June 1993 or so. This is a circa 250 … Continue reading

Posted in Conner, IBM, IDE, PC history | 4 Comments

FantasyLand on VGA

In 1984, Joel Gould of IBM Cambridge (that is Cambridge, Massachusetts rather than Cambridge, UK) Scientific Center wrote a demo program named FantasyLand. This demo was meant to show off the capabilities of IBM’s brand new Enhanced Graphics Adapter, or … Continue reading

Posted in IBM, PC hardware, PC history, VGA | 11 Comments

Reconstructing the EGA BIOS

A few weeks ago I had a sudden need to understand certain finer points of the operation of EGA/VGA BIOS. I found common reference materials to be inadequate—they tend to do a good job of documenting the data structures the … Continue reading

Posted in BIOS, Development, Documentation, Graphics, IBM, PC history | 28 Comments

Learn Something Old Every Day, Part IV: Ctrl+Scroll Lock is Ctrl+Break

The other day I tried running NSNIPES, a multiplayer networked game that came with old versions of NetWare. The game worked fine, but I couldn’t get out of it. Esc did nothing, any “usual” combinations like Alt+X, Alt+Q or similar … Continue reading

Posted in NetWare, PC architecture, PC history | Leave a comment

Where Did CP852 Come From?

In the 1990s, a lot of my documents were written in code page 852 (CP852), also known as PC Latin 2. This code page is sometimes called “Eastern European”, which is a bit misleading, given that it does not cover … Continue reading

Posted in DOS, I18N, IBM, Microsoft, OS/2, PC history | 47 Comments

XMVM Surgery

Last week I was prompted to take a look at the Intel Code Builder compiler from 1991, a 32-bit compiler targeting 386 extended DOS and shipping with its own DOS extender. It is what one might call an extremely obscure … Continue reading

Posted in 386, Development, Intel, PC history, Software Hacks | 10 Comments

Another Trip to Drive Geometry Hell

Recently I took another close look at the IDE.DSK driver in NetWare 3.12. Among other things, I wanted to know how it differs from ISADISK.DSK. On some systems, the two drivers are interchangeable and either will work. But there are … Continue reading

Posted in IDE, NetWare, PC history | 8 Comments

Another Myth Busted

More than once I came across a story of a heroic MicroPro programmer who in an all-night session managed to port WordStar from CP/M to DOS by patching a single byte. This is how the legend was retold by Joel … Continue reading

Posted in CP/M, DOS, PC history, WordStar | 5 Comments

Unidentified PC DOS 1.1 Boot Sector Junk Identified

Anyone trying to disassemble the PC DOS 1.1 boot sector soon notices that at offsets 1A3h through 1BEh there is a byte sequence that just does not belong. It appears to be a fragment of code, but it has no … Continue reading

Posted in Development, DOS, PC history | 23 Comments

First Dual-Channel IDE?

The OS/2 Museum recently came into possession of what may be the first adapter with support for two IDE channels… sort of: The adapter was made by Plus Development Corporation, a subsidiary of the disk maker Quantum. This particular specimen … Continue reading

Posted in IDE, PC hardware, PC history, Quantum | 29 Comments