Retrospective: Why Did Old PCs Have Key Locks?

Discussion in 'HardForum Tech News' started by Megalith, Mar 21, 2017.

  1. Megalith

    Megalith 24-bit/48kHz Staff Member

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    Hey, remember how PC cases used to have cam locks? No, grandpa, I don’t, but it is pretty crazy how some of them did nothing more than lock the keyboard input. Luckily, software got so advanced that users could secure their systems using complex algorithms called passwords. What’s with the wood grain on old PC towers…
     
  2. J Macker

    J Macker [H]ardForum Junkie

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    I remember the lock on my old Antec 1030 SOHO (yep, definitely the dream case). I thought it was neat at the time. Though after the honeymoon phase, I stopped locking it.
     
  3. ragnarz

    ragnarz [H]Lite

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    In 1987 I got an IBM RS6000 fresh off the assembly line. I wrote the first 'C' based algorithm to calculate the Option Adjusted Spread for Mortgages at PaineWebber. It had that very lock. In contrast the comparable HP machines of that time did not have locks.
     
  4. Setiri

    Setiri n00b

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    Look at this guy and his fancy 486/DX2... some of us celebrated the day we got a math co-processor for our 386/SX before having to save up for a 486 later in life. But mine had a lock too!
     
  5. westrock2000

    westrock2000 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    I'm not afraid to say it.....I actually never knew what the hell those did. I was too busy worrying about 640kb locking me out from playing my games, then a physical lock.


    I just assumed they locked the front panel on so no one could steal the dust off your foam filters.......or something stupid like that.
     
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  6. tordogs

    tordogs Limp Gawd

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    Not that long ago my Antec P180 had a key lock--never used it, never knew what exactly it locked!
     
  7. lollerwaffle

    lollerwaffle Gawd

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    I still have a basement server inside an Antec 1030SX. There, the lock was on the side to prevent unauthorized opening of the case. And, the case being metal, it actually wasn't all that easy to force open.

    Let's see if anyone can outdo the weirdness of my first PC. It was a Talon SuperCharger, yes, that external box you'd hook up to an Atari ST via external DMA cable. NEC v30 CPU, 80186 compatible. I mostly did Turbo Pascal on it, WordPerfect for DOS oh please may the Lord bring back dot commands.

    It had some issues with slow screen refresh, and a few (very few) things didn't quite work right because of the v30 compatibility and/or the weird DMA setup. But for the most part it worked fine and got you a PC for reasonable cost. http://www.atarimagazines.com/startv4n6/pcemulator.html
     
  8. Redmud

    Redmud [H]Lite

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    EMM386
     
  9. M76

    M76 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    I still use it daily on these.
    [​IMG]
     
  10. nutzo

    nutzo [H]ardness Supreme

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    Actually that looks like the front of an original IBM AT case, so it's a 286 running at 6 Mhz, or the later model running at 8 Mhz.

    If I remember correctly, the lock disabled the keyboard and also locked the case closed to keep someone from stealing the expensive 128kb ram chips or the $700 video card with 64KB of ram :p
     
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  11. prime2515102

    prime2515102 [H]ard|Gawd

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    Reminds me of a story...

    A long, long, time ago I talked my cousin into building his own computer after having built my first one. We got it all together and couldn't get it to boot. It would just stop at the splash screen and sit there. He was none too happy about this and yelled something about having the world's most expensive paperweight along with some expletives.

    Meanwhile, I'm sitting there starting at the tower wracking my brain trying to think of what to do next.

    Then suddenly I realized, I was staring directly at the key lock and it hit me! lol They shipped the stupid case with the lock on. The all-new hardware required some CMOS setup so that's why it wasn't booting, and we couldn't go into the setup because the keyboard was locked. Fun times... lol
     
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  12. Zarathustra[H]

    Zarathustra[H] Official Forum Curmudgeon

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    Yeah, I have a drive dock like that in my server. I'm not sure if I still have the key though. I've never locked it.

    I remember my first computer, a 286 had one of those locks on the front. I don't think I never had the key. I was never quite sure what it did.
     
  13. Romeomium

    Romeomium Limp Gawd

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    LOL. For some reason, this reminds me of what I thought security was when I was young. When I was younger, my "security" involved me making a bunch of shortcuts on a floppy drive, and burying programs etc. in a million folders with weird names. I'd pop the disk in the PC, and use the shortcuts to get directly to them.

    This was all to prevent my younger siblings and parents from finding/messing with my Rom/Emulator collection...among other things. Damn I miss Win 3.1/95 and the birth of the internet.
     
  14. ChoGGi

    ChoGGi [H]ard|Gawd

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    Assuming it's the same as the 183 I had, just the front door (I'll try anything once).
     
  15. Merc1138

    Merc1138 2[H]4U

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    Definitely. Or even just yanking the HDD and walking off with it since it also wasn't unheard of to bolt down or cable lock a PC to something so someone couldn't just walk off with it. Even without being worried about theft(of hardware or data) you didn't necessarily want people opening up that brand new(and expensive) tool(the computer) and screwing around with dip switches, jumpers, etc. or simply being curious and popping the hood to look around as if it were a car.

    Gotta remember that at the time in the early 80's, some of those workstations ran anywhere from $2k to $10k(we're talking $22k+ today if you count inflation, this is pretty damned expensive), and you didn't want curious employees breaking that expensive new gadget.
     
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  16. drescherjm

    drescherjm [H]ardForum Junkie

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    I have a few similar still on a shelf in the storage room at work. We used these probably a decade ago. One of the companies we do research for sent their data on them. Although I can't remember which or what data is on the drives.. Eventually I will get around to sending them out for disposal / recycling.
     
  17. Wrecked Em

    Wrecked Em [H]ardness Supreme

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    I wish I had one of these for my lawn.
     
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  18. csgill75

    csgill75 [H]Lite

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    My Osicom 286 had one. It was my first pc after my TRS-80. It was fast at 16mhz. I jumped it to 20mhz though with a desk fan to keep it cool.
     
  19. nilepez

    nilepez [H]ardForum Junkie

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    my last box with a key was in 2008, when I bought an Antec P18x.
     
  20. nutzo

    nutzo [H]ardness Supreme

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    I still remember getting a call years ago from a customer (large areospace company).
    They needed a new 486 CPU board for the new Compaq server we had just sold them. Seems someone had stolen the 486 board out of the server.
    The server was in a secure area, so I'm not sure how the thief got the board past security, but if it had been reported I'm sure they would have had a lot of government paperwork to fill out :p

    Even worse, a few weeks later I get another call because they needed to buy a new 486 CPU. Somebody had stolen the CPU out of the new board. :eek:

    Worse security ever :nailbiting:
     
  21. Merc1138

    Merc1138 2[H]4U

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    LOL. CPU is easy, but even the few ways that come to mind to sneak a board out of a building are pretty ballsy. Damn that's just... no security whatsoever, heh.
     
  22. westrock2000

    westrock2000 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Uh huh. Did your ROM's need to a sock to play too?

    [​IMG]
     
  23. tordogs

    tordogs Limp Gawd

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    Yah, just looked at some pictures and guess it locked the door to cover the power buttons--maybe a good idea for those with curious little fingers around or nosey spouses--have neither.

    The key always stayed in the little inside compartment that held extra parts and pieces--now that was an idea I liked.
     
  24. Tweak42

    Tweak42 Gawd

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    I'm still using my P180 to this day and never even noticed it had a keylock on it.:confused:
     
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  25. M76

    M76 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    This is a highly durable drive enclosure, it's made of thick steel, probably would survive a meteor hitting it. And it's certified for 25.000 insert cycles. We use it to move data from the field to the office.
    Sets of 5 drives, fitted with 500-1000GB SSDs. Between the enclosures and the drives, a set could easily cost a few thousand USD.
     
  26. SvenBent

    SvenBent 2[H]4U

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    Now im gonna safely lock my computer with this key that everybody else has as well WOOHOOOO
    It was te same with those typical floppy disk boxes/containers.

    I actually used my lock on a jumper instead so i could select the multiplier i wanted to run with on my pentium system. or was it the turbo button... soo many years ago.
    turbo on 16mhz turbo off 8mhz ... woohoot the speed :D
     
  27. viscountalpha

    viscountalpha 2[H]4U

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    LGR is a cool dude. He even has a sandwich channel.
     
  28. Private_Ops

    Private_Ops [H]ard|Gawd

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    Link please.
     
  29. sir-gold

    sir-gold Gawd

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    https://www.amazon.com/Memory-Management-All-John-Goodman/dp/067230306X

    Why be lazy and use a simple 'loadhigh' command to optimize memory, when you can read a NYC-yellowpages-sized text on the intricacies of the high-memory space, including tricks like sacrificing all graphical abilities to squeeze out almost megabyte of standard low-memory.
     
  30. sirmonkey1985

    sirmonkey1985 [H]ard|DCer of the Month - July 2010

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    don't worry i'm in the same boat as you, i had no idea what the locks were for either and still didn't until this article was posted, lol.
     
  31. viscountalpha

    viscountalpha 2[H]4U

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    I hope he keeps doing these.
     
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  32. viscountalpha

    viscountalpha 2[H]4U

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    One game in particular squeezed everything it could. Zone 66. I still loved that game and wish I could have finished it properly.
     
  33. cyclone3d

    cyclone3d [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Try telling that to the games that still want about 600Kb of free memory not including XMS or EMS.
     
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  34. cyclone3d

    cyclone3d [H]ardForum Junkie

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    HEHEHE, I used to use a program to view the "free" space as well as memory space taken by adapters and then try to load everything in a specific order as well as grabbing stuff with the memory managers in specific ranges.

    If it crashed, I would try again.

    Most systems I could end up with about 620Kb free low memory and still have everything work properly.
     
  35. rudy

    rudy [H]ardForum Junkie

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    I remember getting a variety of cases later much later than 1994 that had these. And I also noticed that most of them used the same exact key, I probably still have some. And I don't mean the same type of key I literally mean the numbers on the keys from different case makers were the same. So you were highly likely to be able to open most cases with the key that came with your case. Which seemed stupid to me, or maybe I just got really lucky.
     
  36. SvenBent

    SvenBent 2[H]4U

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    Its get brorring pretty fast. i completde it in dosbox last year. all 6 maps
     
  37. SvenBent

    SvenBent 2[H]4U

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    yeah i remember poking thorough the memory to get a free of UMB.
    you could throw away monocrome suppot on some graphcis card and get up to 700 somehing Conventionel memory. or the hassle of memory
     
  38. r00k

    r00k 2[H]4U

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    I've had several pcs with the lock. Only time I ever used it beyond curiosity as a kid, was a few years ago when my home pc was in a reused antec full tower with the door across the 3x5.25 and 2x2.5 bays, as well as the power button. I'd lock it so my kids couldn't get into it or turn it on or off.
     
  39. Dead Parrot

    Dead Parrot 2[H]4U

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    Just checked my Antec case. Yep, has a front panel door lock. No clue where the key might be. Case is on its 3rd MB and 2nd PS.
     
  40. fuzzylogik

    fuzzylogik Gawd

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    Can't remember clearly enough, but I think the key locked the case and/or disabled the power button if it was "locked." I'm leaning toward it being just the power button though... I think we messed with it and then it was decided "we'll never use that" and never locked it again.