Bringing “Vienna 286” back to life

A friend of mine found an early 286 computer from the 80s in his garage. It was built in 1987 in Austria and then sold to an engineering school in socialistic Czechoslovakia for an incredible amount of money. The system contains 8-MHz Intel 80286 & 80287, a 1.5MB RAM expansion card, a Hercules clone (the first ever PC graphics chip from ATI) and a 30-MB Seagate hard drive for the ST-506 interface. We were not sure if it worked after decades in garage but to our surprise, we were able to boot. The system was fully working once we set up CMOS variables.

A few notes:

  • Modern computers with USB floppy drives are still usable for creating and testing DOS boot floppies without a need for emulators
  • The Czech “old computing” community is very generous. We forgot to take a PS/2-DIN adaptor and didn’t want to go back to Prague for one (two hours of driving) so I wrote a message on Facebook and got a keyboard (with mechanical switches) for free from a person living in a city near us.
  • Copying a whole 30-MB disk drive over a 115 kb/s serial port is faster than copying modern drives over USB 3.0
  • Booting to DOS prompt takes only 12 seconds (including BIOS)
  • I had to find a generic BIOS setup utility, because the early Phoenix BIOS didn’t
    have it built-in. GSETUP31.EXE was a solution. Check this for good DOS stuff (more
    info in 00_index.txt).

4 thoughts on “Bringing “Vienna 286” back to life”

  1. Sabina Zelená.

    Beautiful PC!
    Just for the curiosity:
    Would not LPT laplink faster & simpler to connect then COM laplink,for which U had to use an adapter from big to small-COM?
    Or it had 1directional LPT port only?
    All my vintage machines r able to communicate via LPT,but in most BIOSes I have options for LPT as onedirectional(printing only) or bidirectional,was the early LPT ports 1-directional only with no option for bidirectional,when LPT was a new technology?

    1. LPT laplink would be better for sure. I used it decades ago but then I lost the cable somewhere. I was apparently too lazy to buy another.

      1. Sabina Zelená.

        I have last 2 of them.
        R they still in production,or discontinued?
        In other words,should I buy several spare cables be4 they will totally gone,as I recently did for IDE & FDD cables?

        1. At least the null-modem cables should be available without any issue. My problem (with laplink cables) is that I didn’t even try to find and buy any.

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