Last Updated on October 1, 2010 by Dave Farquhar
I’ve been getting nostalgic for DOS lately. Well, certain DOS games *cough* Railroad Tycoon *cough*.
One of my coworkers’ wives is nostalgic for ’80s boy bands whose name I refuse to mention, so there certainly are worse things for me to be nostalgic about. Sure, DOS is terrible, but not that terrible.I’m using an old 128MB compact flash card in a cheap CF-IDE adapter. While 128 megs isn’t a lot, it’s adequate if you’re not going to have Windows and Windows apps loaded. After all, you can get all the DOS you’ll ever need for game playing in less than 1.5 megs. Even still, I’ll probably pick up a bigger card the next time I order stuff from Newegg. A 4 gig card is cheap, and to DOS, 4 gigs is huge.
DOS boots to a C prompt in about five seconds off the CF card, and a good chunk of that is the CD-ROM driver scanning the IDE channels for drives. The system takes a lot longer to POST than it does to boot.
The system itself is an old Micron Pentium II-266. Severe overkill, but I hear Railroad Tycoon Deluxe really wants a fast CPU. Plus, my 486 is missing in action right now anyway.
Now that I have the system running, I need to hunt down drivers for the system’s Sound Blaster card. Then I’ll get Railroad Tycoon Deluxe loaded, and then all I’ll have to do is find a little time to play it. That last step will probably be the hardest part.
If the games I want to play don’t like the P2 (unlikely but possible), I’ll just dig out a Pentium 75 or a 486 from somewhere. That won’t be a huge setback, since I’ll have everything I need gathered up to build the system at that point.
David Farquhar is a computer security professional, entrepreneur, and author. He started his career as a part-time computer technician in 1994, worked his way up to system administrator by 1997, and has specialized in vulnerability management since 2013. He invests in real estate on the side and his hobbies include O gauge trains, baseball cards, and retro computers and video games. A University of Missouri graduate, he holds CISSP and Security+ certifications. He lives in St. Louis with his family.
2 thoughts on “DOS nostalgia?”
I go back and forth between running a real old
machine and playing old games with DOSBox. I’ve
always contended that emulation is not equal to the
real thing, but sometimes it’s a lot more convenient.
In my game room I’ve simply run out of space for
any more consoles or computers. If I want to hook
something up, something else has to be dismantled
and packed away. In that respect, it’s a lot easier to
open up an emulator and play an old game or two,
especially when I just need a quick fix of a specific
With as much as I mess with VMWare, I should just
build a virtual DOS machine and see how that goes.
I remember trying it before and running into
problems, I just don’t remember what they were.
One of the problems I had was transferring software
to the virtual machine without making real 3 1/2
floppies. IIRC I was unzipping old zip files, making
them into IMG floppy disk files, mounting them on
the virtual DOS machine and copying them over. You
really have to want to play old games to go through
all of that.
Sometimes I don’t mind emulators at all, but sometimes I really prefer the real thing. I’ve played Railroad Tycoon Deluxe on DOSBox and it just doesn’t feel quite right.
But it’s possible that in the back of my mind, I want to justify having kept that 486 for all those years. Three years as a computer, two years in a closet, three years as a router, and now five years somewhere in my basement.
And I guess that’s why it feels weird to be nostalgic for it. I thought it was a piece of junk when it was new (and compared to my Amiga, it was). It gave me more problems than any computer I’d owned before or since. So why am I so antsy to see Railroad Tycoon and Civilization running on a Compaq 486 with a Creative 2X CD-ROM and Sound Blaster 16 in it?
I guess it makes the memories more authentic. And it makes more sense than 30-something women listening to boy bands that now have to use Just for Men.
Comments are closed.