Red Falcon's Retrocomputing Thread!

Discussion in 'All non-AMD/Intel CPUs' started by Red Falcon, Nov 16, 2014.

  1. Red Falcon

    Red Falcon [H]ardForum Junkie

    May 7, 2007
    Compaq Deskpro 8086 (1984) - The original 100% IBM-compatible PC Clone


    Now here is an interesting unit recently discovered... an original Compaq Deskpro 8086 from 1984!
    This was *the* very first system, along with the original Compaq Portable, to be 100% IBM-compatible.

    Of course other systems had x86 processors such as the 8088 and 8086 back in the 1980s, along with an 8-bit ISA bus, but many of them were only up to 95% code-compatible.
    This meant that the code either had to be patched to run on the non-compatible system, or a specific vendor-version of the software needed to be released.

    This was not the case with the Compaq Deskpro, though!
    This unit is running with the following hardware specifications:

    - AMD 8086-2 16-bit CPU @ 4.77MHz (the original CPU of which the x86 instruction set architecture was based on, from 1978 - second-sourced AMD model rated for 8MHz)
    - Intel 8087 16-bit FPU @ 4.77MHz ~ 50 KFLOPS computational processing capability
    - 640KB of DRAM (20-bit address bus - lower 640KB used for system memory - upper 384KB reserved for hardware)
    - ISA Compaq CGA Video Processor w/ 16KB VRAM
    - ISA 3COM 3C503 10BASE-T/10BASE-5 NIC from 1989 (the very first 3COM NIC to feature a built-in Ethernet transceiver)
    - ISA XTIDE Compact Flash card w/ 2GB CF Card
    - ISA FDD Controller w/ twin 1.2MB 5.25" FDDs
    - ISA ST-412 HDD Controller w/ twin Seagate ST-225 20MB MFM HDDs
    - ISA Serial/Parallel Clock I/O Card
    - MAGNAVOX Computer Monitor 80 composite amber monochromatic monitor from 1989
    - 65 watt AT-compatible PSU

    - AMD 8086-2 16-bit CPU was removed
    - NEC V30 16-bit CPU @ 4.77MHz - 8086-compatible CPU with 8080 ISA compatibility and an 18% performance boost clock-for-clock compared to the the 8086

    With the NEC V30, the disk transfer speeds are now around 160KB/s, and FTP transfers are up from 35KB/s to 38KB/s; a modest improvement for a simple drop-in CPU upgrade.



    Well now, I'm surprised to see everything this system from 1984 is capable of running!
    The system is currently running either MS-DOS 6.22 as the main OS, FreeDOS 8088/8086 for newer software compatibility, and MINIX 2.0.2 for UNIX kernel and application testing and compiling.

    I have setup this system with some of the mTCP networking software (special thanks to Michael Brutman) and have this system acting as a full-fledged FTP server.
    With the 8086 CPU @ 4.77MHz and 3COM 10BASE-T NIC, it is capable of 35KB/s upload and 25KB/s download.

    It may be possible to improve the speed by upgrading the CPU to an NEC V30 or V33, which are essentially 3rd party x86 CPUs capable of the Intel 8080 ISA or 80286 performance-per-clock, respectively.
    Both have a nice processing capability boost, which should result in higher transfer speeds; an 80286 or 80386 CPU accelerator board is also possible, which would improve the CPU processing capability by 30% to 100%.

    While this unit does not have a soundcard, it is still capable of playing games on this luxurious amber monochromatic composite MAGNAVOX Monitor 80 from 1989.
    Even Freddy Krueger enjoys playing a game or two!

    The benchmark program is CheckIt, and is freely available for download online.
    Disk speed with the 20MB MFM HDDs is around 50KB/s, but the 2GB Compact Flash card caps out around 150KB/s; a worthy improvement for such a venerable system.

    The Intel 8087 FPU @ 4.77MHz has around 50 KFLOPS of computing capability.
    While this may not sound like much by today's standards, considering a NVIDIA GTX1080 has SP FP32 computational processing capabilities of over 10 TFLOPS, back in the 1980s, a FPU in such a small system was invaluable for scientists, developers, and statistics computation.

    Microsoft QuickBASIC 4.5 can take full advantage of the FPU when designing 3D graphics and animation.
    Computation takes around 30 seconds with only the CPU and software libraries, whereas with the FPU included, computation takes only around 9 seconds.


    Now, the 8086 is a very interesting CPU, and unlike its 8088 brother CPU, this one has the full 16-bit data-bus!
    Both are 16-bit CPUs, but the 8088 only had an 8-bit data bus, resulting in half the performance at the cost of compatibility with 8-bit ICs back in the day.

    This is the same reason the 80386DX was such an advantage over the 80386SX as well, as the SX only had a 16-bit data bus, compared to the DX's full 32-bit data bus.
    The 88 and SX models were kind of the "Celeron" processors of their time, being low-cost but still keeping the compatibility of the full processors.

    Similarly, the Pentium Overdrive was also a real Pentium, but the data bus on it was only 32-bit, compared to the 64-bit data bus of the native Pentium.
    This was done in order to fit the 32-bit data bus of the 80486, but because of this, it took two clock cycles to do what the native Pentium could do in one clock cycle due to half the data bus.


    I do have a few upgrades possibly planned for this system, however.
    Included in those upgrades will be the NEC V30 CPU, which is now done, and if I can find it, the extremely rare and elusive NEC V33 CPU.

    The NEC V30 was an 8086-compatible CPU with 8080 ISA compatibility, but the V33 was an 8086-compatible CPU with 80286 performance-per-clock, had 80186 ISA compatibility, and was about three times faster clock-for-clock over the stock 8086.
    The NEC V20, on the other hand, was an 8088-compatible CPU which gave an automatic 10% performance boost over the 8088 clock-for-clock, and had 8080 ISA compatibility as well built in; it was a nice drop-in upgrade for systems back then.

    There was also an NEC V33A which was an 80286 ISA compatible processor with protected memory mode as an alternative, and those can be found pretty easily on Yahoo Japan Auctions (or a proxy like, but these are only for systems with an 80286 present.


    Stay retro! :cool:
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2017
  2. Red Falcon

    Red Falcon [H]ardForum Junkie

    May 7, 2007
    X68000 - NetBSD Update for 2017


    This is a topic which I have been working on for a while now, but haven't forgotten about!
    Well, this is pretty exciting, actually.

    Quite a bit has changed in the past few months, and not only has my original Sharp X68000 Expert-HD been upgraded with the Xpander-IV, but another gray Sharp X68000 Pro from 1989 has also been acquired and fully upgraded!
    The Expert-HD is currently running NetBSD 7.0 on a 6GB MicroDrive with the AztecMonster SCSI adapter (shown in middle panel), and can be seen using a Centronics 50-pin to HD-50 adapter cable, and a HD-50 to 50-pin SCSI cable, which is being utilized by the SCSI-1 expansion card in the back of the unit (shown in right panel).

    The system is currently compiling programs for m68k on NetBSD, and I hope to turn it into a local file-sharing server soon, utilizing the Neptune-X 10BASE-T NIC, shown sticking out of the back in the right panel (it's huge!).
    The gray X68000 PRO, sandwiched between the Sun SPARCstation 5 and the X68000 Expert-HD, has been upgraded with the KGB-PRK RAM+FPU 68882 16MHz Expansion Board with 2MB FPM DRAM expansion card (3MB total RAM), Sharp CZ-6BM1 - MIDI interface card, and is using the Mercury Unit V.3 44.1KHz 8-channel ADPCM audio expander card for full YM2151 FM + ADPCM8; this pushes the Motorola 68000 10MHz CPU to the limit!

    This PRO system will be used for music recording with X68000 games and custom music from the 1980s and 1990s, some of which have been uploaded to my YouTube channel already.
    ISO-9000, the giant isopod plush, is also chilling out and loving the new setup, heh.

    Here are a few examples:


    As for the black X68000 Expert-HD running NetBSD 7.0, I might also decide to turn it into an Apache web server, too, but the main limitation is the lack of RAM.

    Even though the Motorola 68030 has a 32-bit address bus itself, using the Xellent30 CPU accelerator means that it is still utilizing the 24-bit address bus of the 68000 CPU, which limits it to a total of 16MB of address space.
    The maximum RAM the pre-X68030 units can have is 12MB, mainly because any other components, such as the VRAM, will use beyond the lower 12MB RAM, but won't go beyond 16MB in total, since the upper 4MB itself is reserved for hardware.

    So basically, everything is being loaded into SWAP, which isn't too quick, even when using a CF card instead of a MicroDrive, since the SCSI-1 bus speed limit is 5MB/s.


    Upon booting into NetBSD from the X68000 (pre-X68000 XVI units), they must be first loaded with the custom firmware in the SRAM, Xellent30+SxSI+Omake driver.
    Once this is done, a SCSI disk drive (HDD or AztecMonster with compact flash or microdrive) can be booted with the SCSI-1 expansion card.

    The Xellent30 68030 CPU accelerator card must have the two left jumper switches in the "up" position upon bootup using a NetBSD boot diskette.
    After the diskette boots into the bootloader, run the command: boot sd1a:netbsd

    "sd1a" can have the number replaced by the SCSI disk's assigned number from 0 to 7; I had my disk on the assigned number 1, hence sd1a being used.
    Press "Enter" on the keyboard, and once the OS starts to load in the bootloader, move the two left jumper switches to the "down" position.

    This will allow the custom Omake firmware drivers to be loaded properly into memory and will allow NetBSD to properly boot.
    If this isn't done, NetBSD will only partially boot, and will halt at the initial hardware detection screen.

    These steps are critical in getting NetBSD to boot properly on this system, but things are much easier running from there!
    If you look closely, the gold chip is the 68030 CPU, the large vertical chip right below it is the original 68000 CPU, and the square chip in the middle-right is the 68882 FPU.



    I haven't really had the chance to showcase the X68000 Expert-HD running NetBSD until now.
    The top amber LCD monitor is the display which shows NetBSD on the unit, currently in the middle of compiling irssi, and all needed prerequisites, from source.

    The bottom green monochrome monitor is currently running off of an x86 server running a few VMs headless, just for fun!


    Stay retro! :cool:
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2017
  3. Red Falcon

    Red Falcon [H]ardForum Junkie

    May 7, 2007
    Compaq Deskpro 8086 (1984) - Network Configuration How-To


    Most everyone here under the age of 35 may not know or remember, but for those of you who do, Plug-and-Play (PnP) peripherals, which we all use today, and have for the last 30 years, were a thing of the future back in the early 1980s.
    On very early 16-bit ISA and nearly all 8-bit ISA based-systems, PnP devices normally won't work; these devices have to have four things set manually, normally via jumpers on the motherboard, the devices themselves, or in the software driver:

    - Reserved memory location for the device in the upper 384KB of address space - 8KB reserved at D8000 or C8000 for the NIC (hardware jumper).
    - I/O memory port for general device communication - normally set at 300 or 310 for the NIC (0x310).
    - The Interrupt Request Lines (IRQ) - normally set at 2 or 3 for the NIC (0x2).
    - The Interrupt Request Vector - must be manually set in the OS's AUTOEXEC.BAT file for launch at bootup (0x60).

    Running the Memory Mapping test in the CheckIt benchmark software for MS-DOS is a great way to tell where the NIC is physically located in the upper address space.


    A packet driver will also be needed, and the driver must work for the 8086/8088 x86 ISA, as some of the newer NICs will have newer drivers compiled for the Intel 80186 or 80286 CPUs and later, and will not work with the 8086 or 8088.
    Most of the NIC drivers, which are normally *.COM files can be found here:

    The 8086/8088 driver for this 3COM 3C503 10BASE-T/10BASE-5 NIC can be found here:


    The AUTOEXEC.BAT file itself is normally located in the root directory of any DOS-based OS.
    The line in the file should look like:

    loadhigh C:\DRIVER\8086\3C503.COM -p 0x60 0x2 0x310
    (the file will need to be in either that directory, or referenced in the directory of your choosing, but the file must be physically located there)

    Once the packet driver is loaded, the NIC will be initialized; when it is, the MAC address will show correctly.
    The next step will be setting up the unit to get an IP address from the DHCP server; remember, this all has to be manually invoked, either via the AUTOEXEC.BAT file or via command line - if you wanted automated, you need to do it yourself on these older systems!

    There is a great, and free, software suite available for just what is needed - mTCP for DOS, which can be found here:
    The manual for all of this software can be found here:

    Many of the tools in this suite are just what we are looking for, and they will all work on the 8086 and 8088 CPUs.
    Save these files in a folder called "mTCP" in your root directory.

    The program we are looking for is DHCP.exe, which will make an address request to the DHCP server on your LAN.
    However, another line will be needed in the AUTOEXEC.BAT file, which references the configuration file in which the settings will be made and saved from the mTCP software:

    (make sure the TCP.CFG file is located at this location - one might need to be made [blank file] if it isn't already there)

    Once this is done, you can run the DHCP.exe file from command line and the request for the IP address can be made.
    If successful, your system should be able to communicate with everything on your network and the Internet!

    Here is what my AUTOEXEC.BAT file looks like, for reference:
    [@]echo off
    loadhigh C:\DRIVER\8086\3C503.COM -p 0x60 0x2 0x310
    set TZ=UTC+7
    C:\mTCP\sntp.exe -retries 3 -set


    As for the FTP server software I am running, it too is also in the mTCP programs, and is called FTPSRV.exe.
    The TCP.CFG file will need to reference yet another file in order for this software to run, but all of this is covered in the mTCP documentation in the link listed above.

    Average transfer speeds were around 35KB/s upload and 25KB/s download from the server itself.
    This is really a limitation of the CPU, as an Intel 80386DX @ 16MHz can get over 200KB/s and a Motorola 68000 @ 10MHz will get over 60KB/s with the same or similar-era NIC.

    I do have to say it was quite the sight to see files tranferred from a Deskpro from 1984 onto an iPhone from 2015.


    Here are some additional helpful links to getting things configured:
    MS-DOS Network Configuration
    MS-DOS NIC Packet Drivers
    IBM 5150 with 3C503 NIC
    mTCP Software Suite
    SSH2DOS SSH and SCP Software for DOS
    Wireless Networking for Classic Machines with a Wi-Fi AP

    Special thanks to Michael Brutman for laying the groundwork for all of this.
    Good luck to you all, and stay retro! :cool:
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2017
  4. Red Falcon

    Red Falcon [H]ardForum Junkie

    May 7, 2007
    Compaq Portable II (1986)


    This unique unit was given to me back when I was in high school circa 2003, but finally got around restoring it in 2017!
    This is an original Compaq Portable II 80286 from February 1986!

    This was the second portable system designed by Compaq, after the original Compaq Portable, which is still 100% IBM-compatible.

    This unit is running with the following hardware specifications:

    - Intel 80286 16-bit CPU @ 8MHz (released circa 1982)
    - Intel 80287 16-bit FPU @ 8MHz ~ 190 KFLOPS computational processing capability
    - 640KB of DRAM (24-bit address bus - lower 640KB used for system memory & upper 384KB reserved for hardware in Real Mode - capable of Protected Mode up to 4.2MB in this unit)
    - ISA 16-bit Compaq CGA Video Processor w/ 16KB VRAM
    - ISA 8-bit 3COM 3C503 10BASE-T/10BASE-5 NIC from 1989 (gets about ~160KB/s with the FTP program listed above - quite a boost over the Compaq Desktop 8086/V30)
    - ISA 16-bit Winchester IDE Controller with 4GB Industrial DOM SLC SSD (~3.2MB/s on IDE bus)
    - ISA 16-bit FDD Controller w/ single low-density 360KB 5.25" FDD
    - ISA 16-bit Serial/Parallel I/O Card
    - Type-1 MiniScribe MFM-to-IDE 10MB 3.5" HDD
    - Integrated CRT Computer Monitor 80 composite green monochromatic monitor
    - 65 watt AT-compatible integrated PSU
    - MS-DOS 6.22& BIOS Setup Diskette

    I have to say that this is a really fun system to work with, and has quite a solid design despite it's advanced age (31 years as of 2017!).
    A word of warning with the XTIDE 8-bit ISA IDE/ATA/PATA adapter, this system refused to make it past the XTIDE firmware screen, so use with caution!

    The XTIDE adapter works great on nearly every other system I've set it up with, so I'm thinking that it isn't the XTIDE itself as much as it is the BIOS disk controller detection hanging up on it with the Portable II itself.
    DOM IDE/PATA SSDs and compact flash adapters work great with the original controller, though, and despite the height of the Winchester IDE controller card, a short DOM SSD can fit within the enclosure comfortably without touching the outer shell after installation.

    If the Tadiran TL-5104 3.6v BIOS backup battery is dead, they can be found easily on Amazon.
    The one in my unit was from 1989, but must have died long ago; the battery replacement took about 10 minutes in total.

    Also, the original OS to be released with this unit was MS-DOS 3.1, but it is possible to boot it with MS-DOS 6.XX as well with full functionality.
    I have not tried FreeDOS, but if it can be ported to 360KB low-density 5.25" diskettes, then I would imagine it would work, too.

    Some great setup guides for this unit can be found here:
    Booting the Compaq Portable II
    Restoring a 1987 Compaq Portable II
    InfoWorld Magazine - April 21, 1986
    MS-DOS Screensavers (eye.exe - left picture above)

    Stay retro! :cool:
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2017
    Zedicus likes this.
  5. Red Falcon

    Red Falcon [H]ardForum Junkie

    May 7, 2007
    Happy Halloween!


    Yes, that is a real cellular phone from 2017, specifically, the LBER KR999 Classic Retro Thick Brick.
    Stay retro! :mask:
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2017
  6. NamelessPFG

    NamelessPFG Limp Gawd

    Oct 16, 2016
    Yeah, I'm mad envious the moment I saw that you had an X68000 in your fleet. Those things are dream machines for my eventual retrocomputing collection, even moreso than an Amiga A1200 or A4000, but perhaps not as much as an SGI workstation with N64 devkit hardware or something similar.

    The Quadra 950 also would fit into a nice gap that's between my IIcx (16 MHz 68030, and I can't get this board to see more than 4 MB of RAM for whatever reason because my extra SIMMs just give me Chimes of Death) and my Power Mac 6500/250. Heck, the Quadra might be able to run Wolfenstein 3D without dropping a frame for all I know; the IIcx is largely out of the question for games like that.

    Also, you got a Roland CM-500 in box alongside the X68000? I'm not sure I want to think about how much you must've paid for that. CM-500s are pretty much end game for anyone who needs an MT-32 deriative for DOS games and such.
    Red Falcon likes this.
  7. Red Falcon

    Red Falcon [H]ardForum Junkie

    May 7, 2007
    They are absolutely worth getting for the near arcade-perfect ports of the late 1980s and early 1990s, and the music is amazing, not even counting the MIDI capabilities.
    Oh, an Amiga A4000 tower would be awesome, and while they are normally lower-cost than most X68000 units, they are much harder to find, that's for sure!

    Heh, I've always wanted one of the SGI Crimson "Jurassic Classic" units, but those are about as rare as the holy grail these days, but I hear you on that.
    One with an N64 devkit installed would be an amazingly rare find.

    Yeah, the Quadra 950 will play DOOM with a 68LC040 (no FPU), 68040, or PowerPC 601/603 variants, all very well, so I would imagine Wolfenstein 3D would run no problem on anything down to a 68030 or maybe even 68020 at 16MHz or higher, so your IIcx might be capable of running it!
    Interesting, I do know that some of those earlier 68030 and 68040 board needed 4 pairs of matching FPM DRAM sticks; not sure if you have tried that or not, but it might be worth a shot - it also might help to put the memory controller in 32-bit mode instead of 24-bit mode so it can go beyond 16MB of RAM as well, but I'm not sure if that is part of the issue or not.

    You really don't want to know... :ROFLMAO:
    It was absolutely worth it, though, especially for the FM+MIDI soundtracks (will get these recorded and uploaded soon), and for versions of tracks that even I've never heard before:

    Just listen to that heartbeat at the beginning of the song... that's the CM-500 at work, and that won't ever be heard in the FM-only version!
    If you do decide to shop around for one, I highly recommend (Yahoo Auctions) as a proxy, especially for the base X68000 unit and all other attachments and expansion boards; I wouldn't even try to order any X68000 equipment on eBay, as all of it it usually 4-10 times the price it normally is in Japan, even after shipping.

    NFG Games is a great place for games, software, disk images, and hardware schematics as well - all free and easily available.
    Hope you can get one soon, and if you do, please share it on here, I would really like to see it and any other equipment (like that IIcx) you have in action or on display! :cool: