Useless computing history

I was lying in bed awake the other night due to my horrible bed (which is another story for another day).  When you are lying there the strangest subjects come to mind.  I think it is a modern day version of counting sheep, but I started thinking about the history of my PCs. specifically, the lineage of my MONSTER named PCs.  Some of this is vague from memory.  I will do something later for the computing entity known as Toady.

It is important to note that before MONSTER started I owned two other computers.  I started out with a IBM PC Jr.  I got this around….mmm maybe 1990? Anyways it was a piece of trash.  It had dual floppies (one of which died).  I was so desperate to get rid of this thing.  I remember we used to get these magazines of some discount liquidation joint, I forget what, and they liquidated old IBM PS/2s.  I managed to foist off the PC Jr onto some folks and I scored myself an IBM PS/2 Model 60.  This was a 286 which I later upgraded using an Intel Retrofit board to a 386sx.   This would allow me to play various modern games of the day (circa 1992-93).

When I went off to college I quickly figured out I couldn’t do much with my Model 60 because the campus ran on TCP/IP and all my Model 60 could muster was NetBIOS which didn’t route (very well).


This is where the first MONSTER came into being.  MONSTER V1 used a full tower AT chassis (weighed a ton).  Inside this thing I packed in a Sony dual speed SCSI CD-ROM which was attached to a Sound Blaster 16 SCSI-2 on which I had a Creative Wave Blaster mounted on it (awesome MIDI sound for games)

For the motherboard I had a very unique choice.  I came across a new kid on the block called Nexgen which offered a competing chip to Intel called the Nx586.  The "crummy" thing about this was that the CPU was soldered to the motherboard, unlike Intel boards of the day which were upgradeable.  The thing was really fast for its time.  You might have heard of this company as AMD eventually bought them and the chip became the K6 line of CPUs (very fast for their day).

For video I’m a little fuzzy on this, but I’m pretty sure I had a Voodoo Banshee.  On the hard drive I’m not going to be able to remember, but it was probably a Western Digital Caviar, maybe 100Gb or so.  My OS of choice for Monsterv1 was OS/2 Warp.

I later got rid of the NexGen board and in its place put in a VIA Technologies K6 class motherboard.  I think my CPU was running at either 166 or 200Mhz.  I’m also pretty sure that the video stayed the same.  By this time I had migrated away from OS/2 and was running Windows 98.

Monster v2 was a significant upgrade.  At this point I had stopped working at Datafix and while I worked at CAST I had my own business license and was building computers on the side.  MONSTER v2 was an Elan Vital Chassis with a K6-2 (Super 7) motherboard (most likely an Asus but maybe a VIA).  Graphics at this point might have been a Matrox Mystique, but I think I kept that Banshee for a long time.  Also by this point I had moved on from SCSI and the sound card was an Ensoniq PCI and all drive were IDE.

MONSTER v3 kept the same chassis but by this time the AMD Athlon processors had arrived. This was my first foray into 1Ghz computing and as such I had a Slot A Athlon sitting on an AMD 750 chipset motherboard made by Asus.  I have to say that Slot A was an extremely annoying socket technology, and I was really ready to move on to something else ASAP.

So MONSTER v3 was the first of the Socket A Athlons that I owned.  This was the Thunderbird Athlon and my particular chip ran at 1.1Ghz (just a small jump from the Slot A).  The big difference here was that I could upgrade the chip easier to 1.4Ghz if I wanted, but I never did.  I was still using the same chassis but these Athlons were getting really thirsty for power and the power supply that I had was only a 250W.  Combine this with the fact that I was running an Nvidia GeForce (the original) my PSU could barely keep up.

The last incremental upgrade of MONSTER v3 came along as an Athlon XP  and by this time I was also running Windows XP.  By this time though AMD chips were really stressing my power supply and I was having numerous problems with motherboards and finicky memory (again probably due to low voltages.  I was really not interested in going bigger, so I went the opposite route and went smaller.

MONSTER v4 was my first (and last) attempt at building a HTPC.  U used a very small case and power supply packed with fans to try and cool the hot Athlon XP 2400+ running inside.  Video at this time was coming from a Nvidia Nforce 4 chipset (essentially a Geforce 2).  I had managed to snag a copy of Windows XP MCE and I also had plopped in an Nvidia NTV Card.  This whole setup was a mess though.  It ran so hot that the machine would often times just shut down.  I had to run it with the top off all the time that I finally just said forget it and sold the whole mess on eBay.

By this time (2005) I had started working for a new company and they bought me a computer for use at home.  I decided to hang up my system building hat and get what would become MONSTER v5.  Monster V5 was a Dell E510 Pentium 4 with hyperthreading.  It only had 1Gb of RAM but it did have a decent ATI X600XL video card so it could support dual displays.  I couldn’t complain about free, but I wish it could have been an AMD.  Oh well.

MONSTER v6 is the most recent iteration of my systems.  It is the one I used to post this blog.  It is an XPS|One 24" all in one from Dell.  This was what I had in mind when I set out to build MONSTER v4.  It is a great HTPC with a Core 2 Quad CPU (Q8200 which is actually quite crap).  Again this was a work freebie so i can’t complain, but they actually gave me a horrible video card in it with some kind of Intel integrated graphics junk.  4Gb of RAM though, which is all it can use since Dell refuses to go with anything but Windows Vista 32-bit.


So there you have it, my computer ownership history in a nutshell.

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