The Pentium Era – My Retro Computer Hardware Journey

In the mid 1990s at the age of 10 or 11 our family computer got an upgrade. Retaining it’s old beige ATX chassis, the internals were upgraded from a 486 DX2-66, to a Pentium 166 MMX. Quite the jump in processing power!

Unfortunately (for me) my parents were not keen on upgrading DOS and Windows 3.1 to the newly available Windows 98. My uncle, the seasoned computer expert, had convinced my parents that Windows 95 was evil and we wait for the bugs and other issues to be sorted out first. Not a bad software strategy in hindsight though.

DOS gaming on the Pentium

For the first couple of years I had to make do with DOS gaming, even with the ‘unlimted power’ the Pentium 166mhz processor could offer.

Windows 95 and DirectX had finally given a good, common API for game developers to use for game development. Gamers everwhere were starting to reap the rewards of this movement. Unfortunately I would have to wait until our machine got Windows 95.

For the time being games such as Duke Nukem 3D, Quake, and Carmageddon (all DOS compatible at the time) would have to do. Looking back I was quite young to be playing those games, but I knew it was all fantasy and they didn’t negatively affect me.

Windows 95 Upgrade

After a number of years, the system received the long awaited Windows 95 upgrade. Some of the first Windows 95 games I remember being able to play (and binging on) were:

  • Diablo
  • StarCraft (yes it was already 1998 by this point!)
  • POD: Planet of Death (first game to leverage the MMX instruction set as I recall)

Reliving the Pentium Days

In a moment of nostalgia, I recently picked up an old retro Pentium Compaq Armada 1592DT laptop. With Windows 98 installed, I’ve been enjoying some memories from the mid to late 1990s.

I’ve now got a bunch of DOS and early Windows games installed, including:

  • Turbo Pascal 7 (reliving my early teens programming memories)
  • Diablo. I own the boxed orginal, and loved this game. It runs great on this system.
  • DOOM
  • Duke Nukem 3D, and a bunch of old Apogee shareware games, like Terminal Velocity, Wacky Wheels, ROTT, Raptor, etc…
  • Final Reality benchmark – unfortunately this is too ‘new’ for the machine, and can only render in Direct3D Software Mode at a few frames per second.
diablo installer on the pentium system.
Diablo’s Installer – DirectX 3.0. Wow. This must have been one of the first games on Windows 95.

Even my son has shown interest in this aging system. He saw me testing some of the games out, and immediately took to playing Duke Nukem (1).

I’ve found myself getting this system out on quiet evenings to play the odd game here and there, and even tried my hand at writing some Pascal on it.

It may be clunky and extremely slow by today’s standards, but there is something magical about reliving parts of your childhood like this.

Follow my ‘Retro’ PC series blog posts:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

ERROR: si-captcha.php plugin: GD image support not detected in PHP!

Contact your web host and ask them to enable GD image support for PHP.

ERROR: si-captcha.php plugin: imagepng function not detected in PHP!

Contact your web host and ask them to enable imagepng for PHP.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.