The story of my Packard Bell

Discussion in 'Packard Bell' started by philo, Feb 6, 2008.

  1. philo

    philo Guest

    Though I'm an old timer who took a few Fortran IV classes back in the days
    of punch cards.
    I hated those punch cards so much that I swore I'd never touch a computer
    Though I did briefly own a TI-99 back in 1982 or so...I eventually grew
    afraid of computers.
    Not only did I hate them. I hated people who used them...and my only
    exposure to them was at work
    when I needed to record parts I was taking out of inventory..

    For may years I did well by not using a computer...and whenever I wrote,
    I used an old L.C. Smith Corona typewriter that was probably made in 1939.
    I still recall getting a letter from a friend of mine...and it took him two
    pages to tell me
    all he had to do to get his printer working.

    I laughed and told him that with my typewriter I just put in a piece of
    paper and go...
    change the ribbon once a year...and a few drops of oil every five years.

    All was well until my girlfriend purchased a Packard Bell Legend in 1995.
    It was right after Windows95 was released...I thought she went off her
    when she dished out 1600 USD to buy it. That would have purchased 320
    rummage sale typewriters!

    I absolutely feared the thing and stayed well away from it. Looking back I
    realized that I though I was too stupid
    to ever learn how to use it.

    A few years later, my girlfriend and I broke up...
    but one day I wrote her a letter just to ask how she was doing and I
    released that
    we were still on good terms...and we'd talk a bit from time to time.

    In 1999 it happened. She got a new computer and asked me if I wanted her old

    It was *FREE* . Yes free is good. So I took it. (Not recognizing the fact
    that she knew I'd
    have to have her over all the time to show me how to use it. Sheesh, women
    are so smart, are they not?)

    It did not take me too long to learn how to use it...and in the process we
    got our relationship
    patched up and we've been together ever since.

    That old Packard Bell served me very well for many years and I learned a lot
    from it.
    When had only 8 megs of RAM. A p-75 cpu and an 850 meg HD.

    I soon was building up an assortment of computers around the house...
    and that PB would take virtually any hardware I could throw in it.
    Any parts that did not work on other machines...would happily work fine in
    that old PB.
    By the time I retired it many years later...
    It had a 20 meg HD and 128 megs of RAM and a 200mhz overdrive CPU.
    I had it dual booting win98se and Red Hat Linux.
    Also added a USB card and pulled the 14.4 modem /soundcard
    and added a 56k modem and SoundBlaster.

    Before I packed it away in my storage room
    and put it back in it's original factory box...
    I returned it pretty much to it's original state..right down to Windows95
    and the 14.4 soundcard modem!

    Now I am considered by my friends to be a computer guru...
    and I am repairing the machines of all the folks who gave me my first
    computer lessons.

    I sure learned a lot from that old P-1
    and I still laugh at the day ...well before I knew how to use it...
    when my girlfriend put some of my writing into Microsoft Word...and used an
    editing tool
    to put "dots" between all the letters to check for proper spacing...
    and I screamed at her for ruining the whole thing.

    "I don't want all those dots in there, I yelled."

    She pointed to the door (I ran out) and when I returned...
    the publication was perfect...and looked a lot better than it did
    when it was done by my typewriter.

    And that is the story of how I finally joined the 20th century...
    only to realize the 21st century had just arrived!
    philo, Feb 6, 2008
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  2. philo

    mc Guest

    Well I know the 72 dolphins are happy in their retirement since the patriots
    lost, but what ever happened to the original founders of packard bell? Where
    did they retire to, are they in the 21st century, I hope not the old stuff
    is fun...
    mc, Feb 7, 2008
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  3. Hello philo!

    Interesting story. It's amazing how we become "attached" to things.

    I still have my first computer, the first computer I built ( which quickly
    followed my first computer ), and various other computers that through the
    years were "important". (to me :) ( The Basement of Doom and Diet Cola has
    well over 100 computers, and truckloads of parts )

    I also have my Fathers last computer. Unfortunately, the batteries went bad,
    and ruined it. I may try to restore it someday, but the original (486)
    motherboard is beyond repair. That incident caused me to go throught my
    motherboard collection, and *save* quite a few of them that had batteries
    beginning to go by busting the cells off.

    Started collecting Packard Bells a couple of years ago. Got about 20, most
    of which I feel were the *important* versions. Still got a few to

    Nice post philo !

    Watts Carburetion Service
    Whizzbang Computers
    Official collector of: transfat asian plastic junk trinkets !
    Robert E. Watts, Feb 7, 2008
  4. philo

    philo Guest


    I try to keep my collection down to the best dozen or so.
    I've got a box of spare parts for my PB. Enough to replace I should be able to keep it running indefinitely.
    Other than that the only other PB I have is a p233 tower.
    The one that's often referred to as the "Empire State Building" .
    It's in the back of my closet... I can't recall the model #.
    Though I saved if for it's classic look...of interest is the fact that it's
    the only win95 I've ever seen that had USB support.

    Through the years I have tried to get USB working on any Win95b/c machines
    worked on. Though I was able to install any of the add'l software needed...
    and though the machine would recognize the USB ports and the drivers were
    I never got them to actually see any peripherals.
    The machine I've kept ...actually does recognize devices when attached to
    the USB port...
    but I never tried to install anything more complicated than a mouse.

    About the only thing of interest in my collection would be one of those
    "sewing machines" plus a Kaypro which runs CP/M

    Good luck of restoring your father's machine...I know there are still
    plenty of 486 boards out there. My father passed away before the computer
    really caught on...I know he never would have gotten the hang of it
    The telephone answering machine was pretty baffling to him <G>
    philo, Feb 7, 2008
  5. philo

    philo Guest

    I suppose the original founders are long gone.
    I live in the US and Packard Bell no longer exists here.
    I only found out a couple of years ago that the company is still around...
    just in different parts of the world.

    The machine I had was used almost continuously for ten years...
    so I'd say it was a good investment!
    philo, Feb 7, 2008
  6. philo

    mc Guest

    Just wondering ...but what kind of batteries damaged your computers?
    mc, Feb 7, 2008
  7. Hello !

    Very old computers had a 2 or 4 pin connector that you connected a battery
    pack to. ( for the CMOS settings ) This particular computer had a 3 AA cell
    battery holder velcroed to the side of the PSU. When the damn batteries
    leaked, they destroyed just about everything.

    I should have known better.


    Watts Carburetion Service
    Whizzbang Computers
    Official collector of: transfat asian plastic junk trinkets !
    Robert E. Watts, Feb 7, 2008
  8. philo

    Elector Guest

    The original Founder was Benny Alagam (Excuse the spelling) he went on to
    buy I think AST Computers. That company also ran into problems. Poor
    Quality, Poor or NO Support (as the Packard Bells of old). I did not do a
    Google on him but I am sure you can find out more about him on the net.

    Elector, Feb 8, 2008
  9. philo

    philo Guest

    Yep...I've seen that...
    those AA battieris can sure cause some permanent damage
    philo, Feb 8, 2008
  10. philo

    philo Guest

    I often heard about poor quality...
    but most of the PB's I've worked on were just fine.

    The only possible exception
    was a multimedia 486 I once had.
    Worked fine with the original win3.1
    but it could not take an upgrade to win95. The bottleneck turned out to be
    an amazingly slow HD
    FWIW: I actually have a 386 in my collection that runs win95 just fine...
    so any 486 should handle it.

    Other than that one machine...I've never had a problem with PB
    philo, Feb 8, 2008
  11. I always saw those as, or at least thought they were an alternative for a
    failed CMOS battery, meant only as a temporary power source until you or a
    qualified tech could replace the systems soldered on CMOS battery.

    At some point in the distant past I even saw a system where the battery pack
    had long enough leads that it was velcroed to the back of the case and the
    wires fed in through a slightly opened card slot.

    Another option at one time appears to have been simular, using a square,
    little brick like, battery of some type. I never delved in to one, but I
    always thought they were some form of rechargable battery. If I recall they
    cost a couple of bucks though.
    Kevin Childers, Feb 8, 2008
  12. philo

    Elector Guest

    The old IBM/PC-AT had a battery pack you are describing. In was not
    rechargeable as far as I can remember. Hell I remember when I worked on
    Sperry-Univac and it only did one thing at a time, nothing but tubes and
    took up a whole floor and man it had to be cold in the computer center. Ha

    And the old Raytheon CRT's which were green with white/yellow.

    Elector, Feb 8, 2008
  13. philo

    philo Guest

    I actually have one of those "brick" type batteries in my junk box.
    It's still good and has never been used...but I'm sure it does not have much
    shelf life left in it. <G>

    Also: Sperry-Univac wow that brings back some memories...
    My x-girlfriend worked there in the late 70's.(Minneapolis)
    She worked on a large project for the machine that processed the tickets for
    Republic Airlines...
    writing code.
    I think the project lasted a year or more...
    but when it was over, they wanted to transfer her out of she
    philo, Feb 8, 2008
  14. philo

    Ben Myers Guest

    Who ever thought that a Packard Bell computer would be an aphodesiac? Or was it
    like a pre-modern Viagra? ... Ben Myers
    Ben Myers, Feb 8, 2008
  15. philo

    philo Guest

    I think I'm too old to even open a bottle of that stuff <G>
    philo, Feb 8, 2008
  16. philo

    metronid Guest

    You can get the RX with an easy off top.
    You sound like there are no children around so safety caps would are
    not needed.
    Go for the 100mg tablets as they cost the same as the 50 and 25.
    About 87 dollars for 6 with a prescription.

    Most likely your insurance will not cover or it will need a special
    authorization from your doctor.

    The take about 45 minutes to an hr to work and last about 3 hrs with
    some variables.
    When and if you see a blue haze from lighting chances are the full
    effect has been reached.

    Rarely and very rarely the effcts can lst for hrs.
    In that case medical treatment may be necessary
    Or you must have a harem on hand
    metronid, Feb 8, 2008
  17. Cold? I actually took classes in the schools student main frame lab that
    was originally built as the schools morgue for the Mortuary Sciences
    Department. 20 foot ceiling with 2x2 Ft. cooling ducts every 4 feet or so,
    extending down from the ceiling. Everyone wore a hooded jacket of some
    sort, looked like a room full of monks. The Unibomber would have gone
    completely unnoticed in that crowd.

    Used to freak folks out when they found out that the new morgue was actually
    part of the English Department's building. And everyone at some point had
    to take an English class in that building.
    Kevin Childers, Feb 9, 2008
  18. Hello Kevin !

    ( inserting comments as I go....... )

    That is somewhat correct. Those goofy soldered on CMOS batteries would leak
    and fail, and fortunately, there was a jumper connection on the motherboard
    so that you could connect up the external battery pack.

    There were also motherboards that had the battery pack alone. Ah, the "good
    old days"..

    When I saw my Fathers old computer ruined, I went through my motherboard
    collection ( which is rather extensive ) and must have busted off dozens of
    those corroding motherboard batteries. Some boards were already ruined.

    Yes, there was all kinds of goofy stuff until the button batteries arrived
    on the scene.


    Watts Carburetion Service
    Whizzbang Computers
    Official collector of: transfat asian plastic junk trinkets !
    Robert E. Watts, Feb 9, 2008
  19. philo

    mc Guest

    I remember using some old green screens back in the seventies in a fortran
    class...trying to write a fortran sort routine. I think the instructor had
    the record time on that using some old radio shack machine that took 2 days
    to sort 30 lines of numbers...

    When did Raytheon start building computer equipment?
    mc, Feb 9, 2008
  20. philo

    philo Guest


    My first computer course in Fortran IV in 1968
    and we used punch cards.
    It took a week to get a program written and working.

    I went back to school in the late 70's
    and was still using punch cards.
    Though some students did have terminal access to the PDP-8's (IIRC)
    Anyway I sure hated those punch cards and swore I'd never touch a computer
    philo, Feb 9, 2008
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