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1998 PC

The specs of our 1998 PC. Still in use in 2015- see bottom of page!

The specs:

Our 1995 PC was still working fine but the hard disk was desperately full ( a mere 500meg) and we could not run the newer programs on a "slow" 66Mhz machine so off we go and....
Purchased a new PC in 1998- from Mesh plc:
Pentium 2 266MHz, 8gig Hard disk, ATI 8meg All in Wonder pro.
128 meg of ram.

The monitor did not work on delivery and had to be replaced;
the OEM NT4 was without the essential Service Release 3 (and Mesh- as OEM supplier- would NOT supply it!)

The system crashed when playing mpg or mov files - Mesh simply did not want to know, they had supplied thousands of PCs and they all worked. Zero out of ten for service. The problem was they had supplied an ATI video player for Windows 95 with a video driver for Windows 98, and they were not compatible. It was my responsibilty to diagnose the fault, locate a cure and then to download a new one from the web- eg as a PC buyer I HAD to have a web account to get the damned thing working.

My written order was for a V90 modem- in fact the PC has an unnamed HSP PNP k56flex modem, and again Mesh refused to supply any v90 drivers for it. They did give me a web address- when I demanded it - which had a "pre release" v90 driver, whatever "pre release" may stand for. Update- That web address has now been pulled and the Mesh modem is totally unsupported, especially by Mesh who sold it.

MESH PLC are certainly not recommended for service.

Nice PC though- we have worked on it and it has W98, W3.11, Dos 6.22 and NT4 all available. We have the ATI All in Wonder pro, which I have used to supply photos from videotapes of the family.

Update- the Mesh power supply failed so we went locally and seriously upgraded the power supply, at the same time binning the awful Mesh modem and replacing it with a true V90 modem, instantly getting faster downloads. The Mesh toy keyboard broke very early and has been replaced with a solidly built Hewlett Packard keyboard.

The com sockets were wired incorrectly with COM1 to the COM2 socket etc- not much of an error, but a real puzzler when you are trying to get new kit to work.

The front of casing fan mounting had been utterly blocked- not only no fan (not really needed) but also no air intake. The only ventilation grill was a small one at the back feeding a trickle of air to the PSU above. Drilling lots of holes in the casing front improved internal air flow no end.

We have also bought PC99 which allows me to run all the TI languages- 9900 assembly, TI Logo, several species of Basic. If I wanted I could also use USCD Pascal and TI Forth. I can also run all the TI modules and games. Either in pure DOS or a W98 dos window. (NOT NT4 with sound due to direct access to sound card).

And add the MAME emulator to play all your favorite Arcade games. Heaven.

Big downside- I have to abandon my old favorite pinball programs which require more conventional dos memory than can be made available - the plug and play cards require drivers in dos which my old PC never needed.

However, I can now play the DirectX pinball programs! Yes I adore pinball!

NT4 cannot access the Windows only modem, and due to the way NT4 dislikes removable media the zip drive is not available in NT. (Yes the Zip drive can be made to work but I can't be bothered with all the fiddling required to do it!)

(I see that a pre release NT modem driver is available so perhaps an NT4 modem is a coming possibility -but never for DOS. The HSP modem uses Windows multitasking instead of a firmware coding)

I have a scanner from Taiwan which said on the box it was not suitable for NT but actually works a treat. The NT printer drivers are far superior to those for W98 and NT is my environment of choice for printing colour pictures on my Canon BJC 4200.

After giving up on PC joysticks I have at last found a genuine Saitek 8 position joystick which is great for my purposes.

Cathy and I both use Office at work so Office 97 pro was required and runs in the NT environment quite happily. We upgraded with the Office Service Pack 2 with no difficulty.

I had to have Partition Magic 3 to install all the operating systems, and spotted on their site the need to upgrade to 3.05 to use Fat32 without damage! I also have Norton Uninstall (for w98 use only) and Norton Antivirus 4.

NAV4 caused us some difficulty as we could not make the DOS scan work. The problem turned out to be an overloaded upper memory which was cutting back our FILES=80 down to FILES=8 which NAV4 can't work with. Adjusting the CONFIG.SYS by altering the order of the lines did the trick.

Whatever MS say, we needed a defragger with NT4 and got Disk Keeper Lite, which is free. It trashed our W3 swap file, but with 128m of RAM we didn't need that so now operate W3 with no virtual memory.

We use Eudora Pro for mail (five mail boxes) and Agent for newsgroups.

Our browser is Opera and we also use Cute FTP. All good programs.

I especially like Agent as I don't ever need to download all the newsgroups my ISP supplies- I can use dejanews to find a newsgroup I want and then slot it into Agent with a simple pure text file called NEWSRC.

Opera is a good fast powerful browser, and I have upgraded the Realplayer 4 supplied with W98 to Realplayer 5. Cute. Now I can watch 1952 TV programs.

2015 Update: Yep, the Mesh is still working, 17 years later. New CPU. New internal modem. Now onto its third power supply. Added a network card. Mostly runs a specially crafted Linux (we still have the original RAM!) to connect to a 4-core CPU PC. The hard part was installing the Linux as the modern supplied installers seem to want more RAM. Natively the Mesh is handy for the old DOS games especially some of the pinballs which don't do well in Dosbox or Dosemu. But we are generally using Freedos rather than MSDOS. The MESH is also good for running DOS MESS and MAME.

And we have some Pinball games that only run in W98, nothing else, so again the MESH comes to the rescue. WE don't use NT anymore.

Whatever happened to Realplayer! HTML5 currently flavour of the day. MP3 files still popular.