Articles

LGR – Looking at the IBM PC XT

September 28, 2019


Greetings, just a completely off-the-cuff video here to just kind of show off the IBM 5160 XT, which I recently got at a Goodwill for $39. Actually, this was shown in an LGR Thrifts episode, and if you have not seen that, then just click that little video that’s popping up there. You can go and see me finding this thing and absolutely feeling like a kid in a candy shop, finding this – I was blown away that I was able to actually get a vintage computer at Goodwill for a decent price. It was still all there. It was in really nice shape, all I’ve had to do really is just clean it up and You know just just a little bit of, uh, magic eraser and some electronic wipes Tiny bit of Goo Gone on the top where there was some sticker residue, but other than that? It was fine. It really wasn’t even that dusty on the inside, so, uh, Yeah, what I’m going to do here is just sort of show the system as it is; what it actually does, and then maybe go on the inside and peek around in there and show you what it’s working with. It’s worth noting though that I actually already had this IBM 5151 monitor here as well as this IBM PC and XT-compatible keyboard And all this software and a bunch of other things It came with basically just this base unit here and everything inside of it, but anyway That’s that. It’s all plugged in, so let me just go ahead and show you what we got. But first, though, I’m going to actually put the operating system in here because, well, you’ll see why. This is MS-DOS 3.1 Sorry — 3.3, rather. And we got the RAM testing right here, everything’s whirring and booting up, and like I said, I didn’t have to do anything to this, really, except clean it. And, uh– Yeah, (Laughs) it works! It’s a $39 Goodwill IBM 5160 that freakin works. I am — just flabbergasted at the very notion. Because, like I said in the Thrifts video, as far as I knew, Goodwill got rid of their older computers. They would just either break them down for parts or send them off to Dell to be recycled But yeah, this is um — (Computer beeps) Okay, loading DOS there. 512K of RAM is installed on this thing, There’s actually a RAM card in there, but we’ll take a look around inside there, and this does have a Seagate ST-225 20 megabyte hard disk installed, But, as you can see, if we try to actually go to the C: Drive here, we can do a directory reading, It’ll show what’s actually there, but then when it gets here, and tries to, like, Um, You’ll see what I mean. Let’s see, we try to, say, open up the… I don’t even know… mouse directory? Okay. It’ll start really — yeah, it’s making some noise and protesting any time you try to read anything. Eventually, it’ll give you an abort, retry, fail error. Yeah, there we go. Abort, retry, IGNORE, fail error. So, it kind of sucks, because Well, you just can’t use that. So it doesn’t actually even boot from it, It says “insert a system volume” or something if you try to boot from the C: drive. Theoretically, you should be able to because it has DOS and everything installed on there, but there’s something wrong with that drive, so I’m either gonna have to try to find another ST-225, or something comparable, or just say “screw it”, and just go with like an XT IDE, which… That would be preferable. I would like to have something like a CompactFlash solution in here, So I don’t have to worry about this, because I would like to use this system as much as I would like to keep it original I mean, I’m going to keep the look kind of original In fact, on that note, I would actually like to swap out this disk drive here, and let’s actually just go ahead and, uh, switch over to the B: drive. Got a floppy here. This is a double density drive. And, uh, it works great. I mean this thing is… this thing is awesome. But I don’t like the fact that it’s, like, a beige that doesn’t match the rest. I’d like to get a black bezeled three-and-a-half-inch drive to stick in here. But, otherwise? I’m really happy with this. I mean, the A: drive works. The C: drive is there, and it looks cool, but it doesn’t work, but the B: drive works. That’s great. Let me just run ahead — run ahead… Run a game — or go ahead and run a game. I dunno what I’m trying to say. This is a game called “Set The Hostages Free”. It’s a very, very old game. Wow! Okay, so it’s not gonna read it? It was just reading it like 20 minutes ago. Huh, well the B: drive WAS working… Okay, for some reason, it wasn’t opening the disc. I don’t know why. But, I messed with a little metal piece on it, and seems to be working fine. Anyway, this is Set The Hostages Free, and yes, we are using a monochrome monitor. Not a color monitor, so.. No. This game kind of sucks. It was from 1981, which is like about as old as it gets for PC games, so… [Computer plays a song using its beeper] This is actually a game I had as a kid, too. It’s, uh, (laughs) about the simplest thing ever. There’s not much going on. You’re trying to get these hostages out of this room, and you only have a certain number of bullets to do so, and my timing is terrible. Daggone it. Well, I just suck. C’mon. I only got two bullets left. Dang it! Yeah! I’ve freed five hostages! So you try to get all the hostages out. Super simple, and not the greatest game, but you know, whatever man. Uh… Is it going to try– okay, It’s kind of try to boot from that. Okay, one other thing I would like to do here — And this is quite fortunate — I was actually able to get the IBM PC/XT Guide to Operations on ebay, for a really good price not too long ago, and I didn’t even own an XT at that point. I just wanted one of these because I think these manuals that are bound in, like, cloth, and just nice really thick heavy duty things, are just amazing.. And, uh, Yeah, this right here comes with all the stuff that you need in order to really do anything to this computer, I mean, it’s got so much detail There’s several books that were originally going with these computers, but this is just a kind of the main one. Anyway, this has three discs right here: Exploring The IBM Personal Computer, both in color and monochrome mode, and then a diagnostics disk. Yeah, we’ll show the diagnostics, ‘cuz, I mean, it doesn’t really say much of anything… Actually, this five-and-a-quarter-inch drive needs a little bit of lube, because… It’s not — uh — it’s a little squeaky. I did clean it, it does sound better than it used to, but The plastic is grinding against itself when you try to open that door on the front, so I need to, uh, tend to that. I’m gonna go ahead and zoom in on the monitor though. All right, so here is the IBM PC Diagnostics version 2.05. Copyright 1983. So we can basically run the basic diagnostic routine, and this right here will just sort of, uh, check to see if your hardware’s there. (laughs) And if you don’t have any, then I guess there’s a problem. But this is nice, since you couldn’t actually… ..you know, there’s no OS or anything, like, convenient built into these things So you had, y’know, your operating system diskette But, the thing is, y’know, it still didn’t show — you couldn’t just go, like, System Properties and be like “Oh, what’s in my computer?” you’d have to run a diagnostic disk like this, so this right here says we have a system board, which, that’s… duh. 512K Memory, Keyboard, Monochrome & Printer Adapter, two diskette drives and adapter, and ASYNC communications adapter, which, yes we do, and a fixed disk “drive(s)” & adapter, and that’s correct. Doesn’t mean it’s all necessarily in perfect working order, but it’s there. You can run more tests and, uh, do other things like fop — uh, floppy — foppy — Frick, whatever. Format disks, copy disks prepare the system for relocation, and we’re going to exit to the system disk. [Disk hinge squeaks loudly] Man that thing is squeaky. Except this isn’t going to be a system disk. We’re going to run the “Exploring The IBM Personal Computer” disk for monochrome displays And what I meant to do was that. Okay, and yeah, this is actually running a monochrome display Preferably, I would like this thing to be running CGA, and I do have a CGA card, and an IBM 5153 CGA monitor as well, so I’m going to convert this thing over to CGA. [Computer plays a song using its beeper] Yeah, raise the roof to that. Well, anyway, uh.. Yeah, I want to keep my IBM 5150 actually with the monochrome thing going on. Probably gonna take this card out put it in that, then take the CGA card from the 5150, and put it in this one, because, I don’t know, for some reason, it just makes me happy to have like a series of IBM machines that just sort of get progressively more interesting or complex throughout the years, so Yeah, that’s my goal anyway, so I would like to have, like, say… the 5150 — [Click] Okay, “stay tuned for chapter one”. That’s right, I don’t have to press anything yet. — like the 5150 with monochrome only, and maybe, you know, 256 to 640K RAM, and then THIS one with like CGA and 640K RAM, (or there abouts) And then, like, maybe another XT, or like an XT 286? You know, something maybe in between there, like, uh, maybe put an XT with a V20 chip in there with a little bit faster speed, with like EGA, and, like, a 5154 monitor, and then I would like an IBM AT (laughs) with, uh, VGA, and an actual good 286 in there, but anyway, that’s my dream. As of the moment, I have an IBM 5150 and 5160. And yet, this basically right here just shows you the very basics… of learning about your computer, its keyboard, some basic peripherals, like the printer, and y’know, navigation, and things like that. It’s — it’s Exploring… Your IBM PC! “Welcome to FunWriter, the greatest show in word processing! Even if you’ve never used a word processor before, You’ll like this one.” Really? You’ll like this one. “Besides being fun, it’s great keyboard practice. Shortly, you’ll get a chance to type RIGHT HERE on its screen!” There’s hearts floating around it. Of course you’re gonna love it. Oh yes. Well anyway, I’m not going to show too much of this because frankly, it’s pretty boring. Yes, I am aware that I have a key that lets me use the numpad. Whoo. Okay, so let’s go ahead and actually take a look at, uh… The back of this thing, and a little bit of the internals, and y’know, that’s what I’m gonna do, so let’s do it. [Computer powers down loudly] I love the sound of that hard drive whirring down. It takes like 30 seconds. Okay, so here’s the back. There’s not an awful lot to see back here, but you know, it’s still cool. I like it. We got an Async card, y’know, floppy disk controller, a graphics card, RAM card That’s really about all we have in here, but yeah let’s go ahead and take a look at the inside, because there’s — this doesn’t tell you much. And here is the glorious inside of my 5160. I’m so proud of this thing. Anyway, really nice and clean, didn’t have to do much except get a little bit of dust out where it got in from the slots exposed over here, and there’s some kind of grossness on these cables I could probably fix up, but otherwise, yeah, really nice. It’s pretty packed in here. Everything’s just sort of crammed in place, but mostly. It’s just pretty straightforward at least for a PC like this. We got, of course, floppy cables here and, the processor right down there That’s actually an AMD version of the Intel 8088 running at 4.77 MHz. At least I assume… it’s running at that speed, I haven’t actually checked, but I think so, I mean it’s the 1982 version of that chip, so… Anyway, we got our Async card right here Let’s see, we got the hard disk controller right here This is actually the graphics card; the monochrome graphics card, and it’s not just any monochrome graphics card. It’s an original Hercules card from 1984. (laughs) That’s amazing, because I did a video on the Hercules card a while back, and, y’know, I was able to only get a clone, because the original cards go for like a hundred and fifty dollars, and that’s, like, not even this version, so… I don’t know. They’re worth a lot more than probably the machine is. And, uh, let’s see over here. We’ve got the RAM card. This thing is actually just packed to the brim with RAM. 512K, at least, is what it comes to total. I’m not sure how much this board had on it originally, But yeah, brings it to 512K at least, as far as the diagnostics go. And then of course we have the floppy disk controller right over here. And really, that’s about it. Oh yeah, it has a PC speaker. The original PC speaker. I love that thing. Man, you know I’m just super happy with this purchase. I couldn’t have asked for a better.. well, I could’ve asked for a better price, I mean free would have been cool (laughs), but as far as Goodwill computer finds go, $39, I am not complaining whatsoever! These things go for, I mean, You know, 100-150 dollars for a base system, packed with this much stuff, and possibly even more with this hercules card in here, and, Yeah, I mean, not only that. It’s just a historically significant system. I’ve got a review on the 5150, which is pretty much the same thing, just without well, as many ports and slots and hard drive capability kind of stuff built into it, but Anyway, yeah, it’s the very first PC, more or less, and that’s why I was just so excited about it, because, you know, Had a 5150. Always wanted a 5160 because even though it’s just an incremental improvement, it’s super cool. I love IBM computers, and this is just one of those that, y’know, I said “maybe I’ll get one someday” But I just I don’t want to spend much money on it. I paid ten bucks for my 5150 Which is probably an even better deal. What is an even better deal than this? Yeah. You know this is just.. this is so cool. I’ve been playing with this a ton. Just writing disks, and putting games on it, and trying out, like, software and Lotus 1-2-3 and different operating system versions just to see what goes on, and I can’t wait to dig in here and fix this thing up, y’know, swap this card out for CGA and put this in my 5150 and get a proper working hard drive in here and add some lube to, well, the rails need lube too as well as this door here. Which is just kind of… eugh, but, uh, Yeah, this is so cool! I love these machines, and I hope that that has gotten across in this video. It’s turned into a bit of a ramble, but I just don’t care. These things are awesome, and I hope that you, at least, find that I find them awesome. (laughs) And, uh, yeah, maybe this thing will make some appearances in the future. In fact, I have no doubt of that, because I play with these computers all the time. And that’s really all I got to say. Thank you very much for watching.

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