Kartoffelkopf wrote:Some of this stuff makes me remember that computers used to be very basic...an audio board? The only reason I can think of that being there is that I'm guessing older computers DIDN'T HAVE SOUND. That just blows my mind. Even my fucking Amiga had sound.
Also, who still used a 386 in the 90s? Honestly?
People like my family; we bought our first IBM-compatible PC in 1990 (previously we had an old Z80A based early-80s computer), and it was a 386DX, because the 486 was brand-new and very expensive. We were still using that computer when I left home and got married at the end of 1996. And yes, it didn't have a sound card originally - I bought one in 1994.
Actually, the most interesting thing about that was the difference it made to games. Without a sound card, most games were content to just beep at you, but Star Control 2 actually did an impressive job of modulating the PC speaker to give you a reasonable imitation of digitised sound. So when I put the sound card in I wasn't sure how much more effective it would be, but when I cranked it up and met that Ur-Quan drone at the beginning of the game, it blew me away
At this point I should also note that one of the selling points of this particular sound card (Gravis Ultrasound Max) was that you could update the IRQ, DMA and port settings in software, rather than by opening up the PC and fiddling around with jumpers on the card. Yes, children, there was a time when you had to configure device settings manually -- in the hardware.
Now I'm used to old games taking up less than a gig of space (Fallout 2 is 32MB) but 8MB RAM?!
I'm still amazed that Encarta takes up less space than FO2. I know it's mostly text, but it has pictures and videos and stuff. How the hell can you fit that into 11MB?
Before Windows 95 came out, you could run an entire system in 4MB of RAM (though for later versions of Office you were well advised to have 8MB). But we expected a lot less from our software then, too. Bear in mind that software of the time was installed from floppy disks. Now ask yourself how big you'd want the program to be. (Of course, this didn't stop Microsoft from shipping Office as a box full of 40-odd floppies. And yes, we had to send it back because one of the disks was bad - I think it was disk 22 or 23, something like that - and had to wait a few weeks for a replacement box of floppies.)
Returning to the topic of Star Control 2, I still remember the apologetic note in the readme file explaining that the game had "expanded like a blowfish with water retention" to the staggering size of, IIRC, 9MB. And yes, that was important in the days of 40MB hard drives. Just as, a decade earlier, a 10kB user program was huge for the 8-bit micro systems. (In our 8-bit micro, the OS, the memory-mapped display, and device I/O memory areas all fit into less than 30kB. Now about 80% of single .dlls are bigger than that, and that's for a definition of "now" that includes Windows XP.)
tl;dr: Yes, computers back in the day really were staggeringly primitive by modern standards. Is it really that surprising?