With some of the preliminaries out of the way, let's take a look at the system in hand and some of its features:
[NOTE: I took the lazy way out tonight and didn't bother to do any photo corrections since the only purpose of all this was just to do an initial test of the system.]
After taking the system, monitor, keyboard, manuals and software out of the boxes, I cleaned everything up quickly, noting that when it was sent to me, the keyboard was smashed.
This is the CPU. It's actually quite heavy. Apparently while its dimensions are significantly smaller than the IBM PC, it weighs about the same. I can vouch for that! That's one of the reasons why the keyboard got smashed - the seller put it right up against the heavy CPU in the box! As you can see it has the two 5.25" disk drives and to the bottom lower right is the reset button and power on indicator light.
Right side with a mystery case cover slot near the bottom right.
Rear. Note the generous fan. Bottom left is the proprietary keyboard connection. The first far left expansion card I noticed later on is the modem (possibly 1200-baud - I don't know), followed by a dual game port card, followed by the built-in (no slot) proprietary display connection on the far right, which both drives and powers the monitor. On the bottom, from right to left, are serial and parallel ports.
First things first, and that's to open this up and see what's going on inside before we plug it in. Supposedly flipping the CPU upside down and removing that cover gives you access to the motherboard. I'm not going to bother with that as I just want access to the top side.
It took some effort and the two rear holding screws weren't in right, but I figured out how to slide the lid off. Nice! It's actually pretty clean inside, with minimal dust. It's very sparsely populated as you can see, with just the two after-market cards (modem and gameports).
Note the Olivetti branding on the inside
I closed it back up, taking more care than the previous owner with resetting the case properly and making sure the screws lock into place. Note the bag of smashed keyboard bits and mystery cover, the latter of which I can find no match for.
I take the monitor and plug it in.
Yep, just the one cord that does everything. This is a monochrome monitor. I was hoping it was black and white and would have shades of grey since it's displaying a color signal in monochrome, but it is a green monitor and has shades of green. Maybe someday I'll track down the proprietary color monitor. The tilt base was actually quite progressive for 1984.
The infamous keyboard with its aforementioned damage. It's not too bad actually, but disappointing nonetheless. I don't know what the mystery port on the thing is and can't seem to track down any info in my documentation. Perhaps it's for a serial mouse? The keyboard layout is pretty much exactly the same as the original IBM PC by the way, with the function keys along the side, which helps even more with early compatibility.
Not bad, with only three connections for everything.
The binders it came with, again, very much like the original IBM PC. The only original software this seems to come with is the test disk. Otherwise the rest of the software is mostly copies and generic to any PC compatible. The blue book in the lower left is a kind of newbie's guide to the system and I've had it for years. I finally have a mate for that book!
Time to turn it on.
Obviously without a disk in the drive, it has nothing to boot to, especially without a hard drive. I noticed in the books that came with this that the previous owner did a BIOS upgrade from 1985 in 1989. He also obviously upgraded the RAM from 128K to the max of 640K.
Interestingly, the disk drives have what at first I thought were read/write protection sliders, but in reality, it just locks the drive door when the red is showing.
A closer look at the on light and reset button.
The lights on the keyboard flash red when the system first starts, then they turn off.
The page from the aforementioned ROM BIOS update.
I grab what looks like a good candidate for a boot disk and restart the system.
No dice. Hopefully it's just a bad disk and not a bad drive. I grab a Gabriel Knight boot disk from the box and try that.
Hmm, I wonder if the previous owner had a hard drive in here or externally that he removed?
I try another disk, this one hand labeled as an updated DOS 2.11.
Success! So at least drive A works.
I grab the disk for Where in the USA is Carmen San Diego (an original) and put it in Drive B.
That drive works too.
So overall an uninteresting test that doesn't really get at the system's personality, but at least it was a successful test.
I do have lots of miscellaneous old PC boards that I can try to work into this system at some point:
Note the similarity to how IBM packaged their software.
And the similarity of the better built and more responsive original IBM keyboard.