Proprietary Creative CD-ROM Info Request

Dell / Mxc051 (inspiron 630m)
June 2, 2009 at 15:41:23
Specs: any, any
Hi there

I have a Matsushita-Kotobuki (Panasonic, correct?) CR-563-B CD-ROM drive, with the infamous CRE-BTB sticker on it, and the faceplate that says Creative SoundBlaster. It has a connector identical to ATA.

This drive is 100% absolutely not ATA. From my research, I gather this drive must be used with specific models of Creative sound card (probably SB16).

I have a Creative SoundBlaster 32 PnP (CT3670) which has an interface labeled as "IDE". This creates some confusion:

IDE /= ATA...IDE can refer to any interface for drives LIKE ATA, but not only ATA. Is the interface on this card actually ATA, or is it perhaps this proprietary standard instead (would prefer not to mess with this stuff because wrong signals on wrong pins may fry either the card, drive, or both)?

I am well aware, I should add, that this drive would be total...uh, a modern system. This would be used in a project 386 I'm working on.

If anyone with knowledge of this old proprietary drive (and the controller it would go with) is around, I'd appreciate your input.


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June 2, 2009 at 21:13:00
The generic term 'IDE' would encompass the various types of ATA. IDE cdroms are typically Atapi, which is another form of IDE.

The connection that drive needs is a 40-pin panasonic/MKE which, as you've found out, is not IDE.

Best way to find one is on an older sound card. One that I recall had 3 different types of connections for a cdrom--IDE, MKE and a 34-pin Sony for their old 1X and 2X drives.

You need the right driver of course but you set it up the same way as any other cdrom driver in config.sys. Some of the drivers require you specify the port address. Sometimes it takes some trial and error to get the right one.

I probably have some of those cards around here somewhere. If you can't find one let me know.

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June 2, 2009 at 23:37:47

I suppose my ultimate question in the mess of ATA/IDE/etc was if the proprietary interface could fall into the category of IDE or definitely is not ATA, but it might still be a type of IDE (or at least that's what my blabber was about)

This CT3670 card is the only one I have with a drive interface and it does appear to be standard IDE/ATA/ATAPI/whatever.

If you think you may have a suitable card laying around (which, forgive me, you'd be willing to let go for cost of shipping only) then please PM me about it.

(Another proprietary adventure...I have a really unique Mitsumi drive (opens like a top-loading boom box with a flip up lid on the tray that you manually pull out) and a card which 95% likely matches it. Of course, when I first got the drive, I tried to put it on a normal IDE interface and for all I know trashed it by doing that...hopefully not though. The drivers for that are probably nowhere in existence by now.)

Edit: have found the driver for the Mitsumi drive, and have the Total Hardware 99 page for the controller card...I wonder if two proprietary interfaces and drives can co-exist on one rig?

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June 3, 2009 at 08:26:03
"I have a Matsushita-Kotobuki (Panasonic, correct?) CR-563-B CD-ROM drive, with the infamous CRE-BTB sticker on it, and the faceplate that says Creative SoundBlaster. It has a connector identical to ATA."

It has a 40 pin header that looks the same as for an IDE drive but the wiring of it is not compatible with IDE wiring. In fact, if you connect it to an IDE header, you can damage both the drive's and the ide controller's circuits in a short time. I once absent mindedly connected this or another similar "Panasonic" drive to an IDE data cable that also had a IDE hard drive attached - the IDE drive would not even spin up, and of course the CD drive was not recognized.

These drives were made to be used with headers/controllers for Matsushita-Kotobuki ("Panasonic") drives - many older ISA sound cards had headers for them you could connect them to - or much less often, there were dedicated drive controller cards, only available as ISA, you could use with them.
These drives were often bundled with a sound card, and somtimes had added labelling because of that, hence the Soundblaster labelling in your case.

If you don't have ISA slots on the mboard you want to use this on, there's probably no way you can use this drive.

If you DO have a mboard with ISA slots, and a suitable ISA card with a header for a "Panasonic" CD drive, Win 95 to ME, I don't know if there's support in any OS above that, has built in support, but you must use Add Hardware to find the proper drivers, and you may need to temporarily add real mode drivers and mscdex support in Autoexec.bat and Config.sys the first time you connect it (otherwise, Add Hardware won't find the drive).
If you boot your computer with a Win 95, 98, or 98SE Startup Disk floppy, you must add the drivers for the drive (controller) to the floppy, and add appropriate lines in Autoexec.bat and Config.sys, in order to be able to support using the "panasonic" drive.

There are still some of these kicking around that still work fine despite the fact they're ancient because they were well made, and most have a max speed of only 1X, 2X , maybe 4X.

If you need examples of what you need to add to Autoexec.bat and Config.sys, I still have a 98SE Startup Disk floppy I added the support for these drives too.

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Related Solutions

June 3, 2009 at 15:36:51
I'll check those cards in a few days. All of them are in bins behind a bunch of other stuff. I should have one. I was using one in an old P-I up until a couple of years ago.

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June 3, 2009 at 23:26:40
Hey Tubesandwires,

I would appreciate the info on what to add; it's probably a simple process that I could teach myself using the existing content of the files but it sure doesn't hurt to see how you did it.

DAVE: No rush, please do it at your convenience only. Thanks

(on the topic of IDE/ATA/random 40 pin connectors: when I say IDE I mean "integrated drive electronics", that is, the concept that the controlling circuitry is inside the drive rather than the card. therefore it is possible that these proprietary drives actually are "IDE"...though they are a different kind of IDE which is not compatible with the type we all know and love)

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June 4, 2009 at 20:31:53
IDE is a catch-all term but as far as I know they all have the same pin-out. The panasonic/MKE was just for those cdroms--there were no compatible hard drives for that interface.

If you could locate the pin-out for an IDE interface and one for the MKE you could compare the two There would no doubt be similarities between them but the MKE wouldn't qualify as IDE in the way we speak of it even if the controller circuitry was on the card rather than the cdrom.

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June 5, 2009 at 13:32:47
As I said previously.....
"If you don't have ISA slots on the mboard you want to use this on, there's probably no way you can use this drive."

These are OLD drives - the newest of them were made in about 92! I've never seen anything for them but ISA sound cards that have the header and controller for them. If they even existed, the dedicated controller cards for them were probably only available as ISA cards.

Even if you did use something to adapt the header wiring on the drive so it more or less conformed to the way an IDE (ATA a.k.a. PATA ) header is wired, it's very unlikely it would work - the drive's circuits would have to be compatible with what is required for an IDE (ATA a.k.a. PATA ) interface.

I made a standard 98SE Startup Disk (or you can use a 98 Startup Disk, or a ME Startup Disk)
If you don't have one....
- if you have access to a computer with 98SE (or 98) installed on it, you can make one in Control Panel - Add/Remove Programs - Startup Disk tab. You need to insert a Windows CD to make it.
- or - you can download a file that makes one from sites on the web, such as

The driver I used is Cdmke41.sys - 13,401 bytes in it's Properties - I copied the driver file to the Startup Disk.

Access the Startup Disk, RIGHT click on Config.sys, choose Open.

In the section [CD]

After the line:
device=himem.sys /testmem:off
I added these lines:

rem Next line added for proprietary Panasonic 56x CDrom drives.
DEVICE=cdmke41.sys /D:MSCD001 /SBP:220

Right click on File, Save.

/SBP:220 is for the I/0 port address - 220 - I think it was a SB sound card I had it connected to.
As I recall that varies, but it should work with a SB sound card - if it doesn't I may still have other info about what alterhnate I/O addresses that may work are, somewhere.

When you use a 98 or 98SE Startup Disk, that's all you need to do - it already has the correct line to load mscdex.exe (Microsoft CD Extensions ) in Autoexec.bat.

The rem line is optional - I made it so that I could easily find what I did to load the Panasonic driver.
Any line in Config.sys or Autoexec.bat that begins with rem ( = remark) is a remark or a comment and the line's contents are not executed - press Enter at the end of the line.

I placed the line that loads the Panasonic driver in that position so that if there is a Panasonic proprietary drive that CD drive driver is loaded first, but it can be anywhere under the [CD] section after device=himem.sys /testmem:off.

When you boot using the Startup Disk floppy, by default it loads the files for CD drive support after a few seconds delay, or you can select that yourself.

I see these lines for the "panasonic" driver:

"CD-ROM Device Driver Version 4.01
Copyright (C) Matsushita-Kotobiki Electronic Industries Ltd."

- if the driver finds a suitable proprietary drive, the driver is auto loaded, and Autoexec.bat and Config.sys continue to be processed.

- if the driver does NOT find a suitable drive, I also see:

"Inteface board or CD-ROM drive is not ready"

"Press <A>bort, or <R>etry"

In that case, I press A or a (you don't need to press Enter), then I see:

"CD-ROM device driver not installed"

and Autoexec.bat and Config.sys continue to be processed.

The drive letter the CD drive is using, if it's recognized, is stated at the end of loading files from the Startup Disk.

When you use a Win 95 Startup Disk, which does not have the lines in Autoexec.bat and Config.sys to support using a cd drive built in, or if you use just a bootable disk with system files on it, you need appropriate lines in Autoexec.bat and Config.sys to load mscedex and the cd drive (controller) driver (if Autoexec.bat andConfig.sys are not already there you have to make them), and mscdex and the driver must either be on the floppy or must be on the hard drive and the lines point to where they are located on the hard drive.

If you want to enable supporting using these drives on an existing Windows installation on the hard drive in Windows....
this applies to 95, 98, 98SE, and probably ME - I don't know whether 2000 and up have the driver for these drive controllers built in ....
you have to boot the computer using the real mode driver and mscdex and lines for them in Autoexec.bat and Config.sys the first time (because the controller is not Plug and Play compatible or detectable, and is not a standard non-P&P device that is loaded automatically), then once Windows recognizes the drive, you use Add Hardware to auto find the proper protected mode non-P&P controller driver, install it, then you can delete the appropriate lines in Autoexec.bat and Config.sys that load the real mode drivers.

I haven't used ME much, but apparently you can make a Startup Disk the same way as in Win 9x, and you add the line in Config.sys for the CD drive (controller) driver in the same place, under the [CD] heading.
ME's Config.sys on the Startup Disk has an extra section [HELP] - if you want to support the panasonic drive when you use that, you also have to add the same line to that section.

The line in Config.sys

Note that if Config.sys does not exist, you have to make a text file and name it Config.sys when you Save it. In order to save it properly, you must have Windows set so common file extensions are shown, otherwise you will actually be saving Config.sys.txt instead of Config.sys. If you can't see the common file extensions in Windows, see BELOW.

- if the driver file is on the floppy
DEVICE=cdmke41.sys /D:MSCD001 /SBP:220
- if the driver file is on the hard drive, e.g. in C:\Cdrom
DEVICE=C:\Cdrom\cdmke41.sys /D:MSCD001 /SBP:220

It doesn't matter what label you give the drive after /D: but that has to be the same as the label in the mscdex line in Autoexec.bat (although, it may have to be 8 characters or less).

The line in Autoexec.bat.

NOTE that
- if Autoexec.bat does not exist, you have to make a text file and name it Autecxec.bat when you Save it. In order to save it properly, you must have Windows set so common file extensions are shown, otherwise you will actually be saving Autoexec.bat.txt instead of Autoexec.bat. If you can't see the common file extensions in Windows, see BELOW.
- if an Autoexc.bat file already exists, RIGHT click on it and choose Edit, NOT open - choosing Open, or double clicking on it, will run it rather than you being able to change it's contents.

- if mscdex.exe has been copied to the floppy
MSCDEX.EXE /D:mscd001 /L:%CDROM%
or if himem.sys is also on the floppy and has also been loaded in Config.sys

- if mscdex.exe is on the hard drive, e.g. in 95, 98, and 98SE it's in C:\Windows\Command
C:\Windows\Command\MSCDEX.EXE /D:mscd001 /L:%CDROM%
or if himem.sys has also been loaded in Config.sys
LH C:\Windows\Command\MSCDEX.EXE /D:mscd001 /L:%CDROM%

The %CDROM% parameter assigns the first available logical drive letter alphabetically after all other drive letters have been assigned, to the CD drive.
If you like, you can specify a drive letter instead, but if the letter you specified has already been assigned, the first available logical drive letter alphabetically after all other drive letters have been assigned will still be assigned, to the CD drive.
E.g. on my 98SE computer I have frequently changed how many drives or drive partitions I have installed, so on the floppy I used \L:L, and in Windows I specified L as the CD drive's drive letter in Device Manager - that way, usually the CD drive's logical drive letter does not change when the number of drive partitions situation changes.


If you can't see the common file extensions when you are making a new Autoexec.bat or a new Config.sys file, you must make them visible....

In 95, 98, 98SE, and maybe ME, go to Start - Settings - Folder Options
In 2000 and up, and maybe ME, go to Start - Control Panel - Folder Options
Click on the View tab, and click on the dot beside Hide file extensions for known file types, or similar, to remove the dot, click on OK.

Win 95, 98, 98SE, and ME can't natively recognize NTFS partitions.
The files installed on a floppy when you make a bootable disk while formatting the floppy in 2000 or XP are ME system files - so they can't recognize a NTFS partition either.

Therfore, it is probable you can only use this drive for a hard drive in Windows that has Windows installed on a FAT or a FAT32 partition, unless 2000 and up have the required driver support for the "panasonic" drive controller built in, which I very much doubt they do.

A 95 Startup Disk floppy can't be used with a drive partition larger than ~2.1 gb because it has only FAT partition support, unless the Win 95 version is OSR2 or later, which has an earlier version of FAT32 support (most Win 95 CDs out there are earlier versions).

Win 98 and 98SE's Fdisk has bugs that prevent FAT32 drive partitions larger than 64gb from being recognized properly. The version on the Startup Disk is that version. The floppy recognizes existing FAT32 partitions larger than that fine, but if you need to use Fdisk on a drive or partition larger than 64gb, you must replace the Fdisk on the floppy with an upgraded version.

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June 5, 2009 at 14:16:58
This is hilarious. Your old system should be compatible with a new cd rom drive. They are $15 on Newegg and you should actually be able to see someones old computer on the side of the road and get one for free. Those old drives were crap in my opinion. They will not read any burned info. That alone should be worth the cost of a new one. The Sound Blaster cards that you need to interface to one of these will probably be more money than a new drive as well. Bottom line, get a new one.

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June 5, 2009 at 14:54:45
I don't know why anyone would bother with these ancient drives anymore either, but he wanted to know.

I avoided buying a proprietary drive at the time - I waited until the first IDE (ATA) ones came out. My brother had a Panasonic one that came with a Sound Blaster sound card. I fiddled with them later, when I had a few I got for free, along with appropriate soundcards. Burned CDs and drives that made them did not exist when they were made. They certainly won't read CD-RW CDs, but they might read CD-Rs.

The remarkable thing about these old "panasonic" drives is they are well made and tough - I have never came across one that no longer works. I've seen many dead IDE drives.

The IDE drive I first bought is an NEC 2X - I haven't used it for a long time, but it was still working fine too after many years of use. As I recall it cost me over $200 at the time.

Back then they usually had a 2 year or longer warranty. Optical drives haven't had more than a one year warranty since about when 4X drives were first released.

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June 7, 2009 at 21:50:08
Holy information Tubes...If I went through and individually commented on everything you've written I'd write 6 pages, so I'll avoid doing that. Thanks for the heads up about the difference on the ME disk; normally I like the ME boot disk because of the option for no Ramdrive, but I'll go with a 98SE one instead because of that.

RE computergroove and later tubes

I am not trying to build the system 'for the purpose of reading disks'. I am trying to build the system 'for the purpose of using the drive'. Two very different things entirely...sure, you use the drive to read disks, but I am trying to put the drive into use (and more importantly, find out if it still works so I can trash it if not). More or less, my goal is to test it, and assuming it works, in a number of years possibly sell it to some collector. I am an enthusiast, not a collector, so my "inventory" does rotate rather than stagnate. On a related topic I have an ever-growing pile of scrap case parts, roasted PSUs and motherboards with bad BIOS flashes and popped capacitors waiting to go out to the recycling centre. I've been testing all my hardware lately to find out what works and what doesn't...if it doesn't work, it gets put in that trash pile and will (once our CUPE union strike ends) be disposed of.

I must wonder, actually, since I mentioned I would be using a 386...Tubes, you questioned I think twice if I had ISA slots. Aside from MCA, what other options for I/O would exist on a 386? (genuinely curious)

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June 8, 2009 at 11:35:06
I haven't fiddled with or investigated any 386 mboard since the late 90's, and I haven't used one myself since the mid 90's. As far as I have seen, it was only some of the IBM PS/2 computer models that had MCA (Micro Channel Architecture) slots. I've only fiddled with one friend's PS/2 computer, a model 30?, which as I recall did not have MCA slots, but it had some other superior PS/2 features - I investigated PS/2 computers in general at that time. MCA slots are like ISA slots on steroids - PCI slots/circuits have better features/specs than ISA and MCA.
Other than that, most if not all 386's have only ISA card slots - all the longer 16 bit ones, or some may have some of them that are the shorter 8 bit ones. As far as I know PCI slots were never available on 386 mboards - they were only on some 486 mboards, and higher.
In a tiny number of cases, other than MCA slots, the 386 mboard may have (a) proprietary slot(s) that I assume can only be used with certain proprietary cards - I have one with such a slot that looks like an extra long 16 bit ISA slot, but I never found a manual for the mboard (generic, Chips and Technology chipset, onboard 386DX 25mhz, no 387 co-processor installed) or info about what cards could be used in that slot.
I've seen SCSI controllers/headers on a few pentium and 486? mboards, but not on 386 mboards.
Vesa Local Bus controllers/slots was a late 486 mboard only feature - a VLB slot has a 16bit ISA slot with an additional slot at the end of it - often brown - that has contacts closer together than in the ISA slot. It was mostly, or exclusively?, used for VLB graphics cards.

Most if not all 386 mboards had no onboard IDE controller/headers, although the mboard bios supported IDE controllers - if they had any they had only one controller/header. In most cases you installed an IDE controller card in a slot, usually it was an 8 bit card, and usually the card had only one IDE header, and it's IRQ was 14 and was not changable.

Bundling these "Panasonic" and other proprietary CD drives, and the early IDE CD drives, with a sound card, or a dedicated controller card, with a controller/header on them for connecting a CD drive to allowed a mboard to support up to two IDE hard drives plus the CD drive. If the controller/header was for an IDE CD drive, usually the IRQ for it was the standard IRQ 15 used for secondary IDE and could not be changed, although on later ISA soundcards sometimes you could change the IRQ by means of a jumper or a few did that via PnP.
The "panasonic" drives did/do not require an IRQ, but some of the other propietary drive controllers do

E.g. My NEC 2X IDE CD drive came with a tiny dedicated ISA IDE controller card that uses IRQ 15 and that can't be changed. In theory you can't use such a controller card with it's IRQ as unchangable 15 on a newer mboard that has Primary and Secondary IDE built in, or on a computer with an IDE controller card that has the two controllers, unless you disable the Secondary IDE in the mboard's bios, or disable the Secondary IDE on the card, but doing that doesn't work properly for this particular dedicated card, I assume because both the card and the disabled Secondary mboard IDE are somehow still using the same I/O port - the dedicated controller card works with the 2X drive in that case, but it and the CD drive behaves weirdly.

On the other hand, on my 98SE computer that has a Via MVP3 chipset mboard (Epox MVP3-G5; Super Socket 7) and both Primary and Secondary IDE built in, I have a later ISA SB16 PnP card that has a IDE controller/ header for CD drives that uses other than IRQ 15 for the IDE on the card, and I have seen and fiddled with other later but older SB16 cards that are not PnP regarding that but the IRQ the IDE uses can be set to other than IRQ 15 by means of a jumper on the card, and the 2X CD drive works fine connected to those sound cards in that case. So, with such a sound card, on a mboard/system that has both Primary and Secondary IDE, you can have up to 4 IDE drives plus an IDE CD drive via the card - up to 5 IDE drives. However, I have disabled the "Creative" IDE controller on the SB16 PnP card in Device Manager in order to be able to use whatever IRQ it uses for something else PnP.

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June 8, 2009 at 12:13:30
Nothing much surprising there then...I figured the big ones would be ISA, VLB, and proprietary, then on a small scale MCA.

Actually I have to correct you on something - VLB was on 386 boards also; I have 2 of them in a bin somewhere, and recently sold one also. I have a VLB multi I/O controller also in a bin, but I know it's main purpose was video improvements at the time.

Useful note about the IRQs...I'd want to make sure that the controller card (be it a sound card or dedicated) was not using the same interrupt as the hard drive controller that I install (given this is a 386 I doubt ISA-PnP plays any role at all since it didn't exist yet)

Once upon a time I posted here (I think on my previous user name) about a tiny little weird controller card with CD31A written on it. You may have replied in that thread. I've since learned it is a Sony proprietary CD controller, with the 34 pin connector like a floppy drive. It has jumpers, which of course are not labeled.

I have a new antiquated technology issue which I've posted about...starting to wonder if I should find a new hobby...

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June 10, 2009 at 12:53:49
I have discovered I DO have a combo sound / dialup modem card that has the headers for Pansonic, Mitsumi, Sony, and IDE CD drives, and three sound headers for them, and I'm pretty sure I tried it and it works for a Panasonic drive. If I did try it with a Panasonic drive, that's probably the last card I used with that line I added to Config.sys and the driver file I added to the 98SE Startup Disk .
It's a full length 16 bit ISA card (~13 3/8" from the outside of the bracket to the end of the card) so it has to be installed in a slot that can accomodate a full length card. The IDE header /controller uses IRQ 15 and that can't be changed, but that can be disabled via a jumper. The Com port for the dial-up modem can be set to Com 1 to Com 4. I don't remember whether the modem or the sound (Crystal chipset) can be disabled - I doubt it, other than by disabling them in Device Manager in Win 95 and up. I have the drivers and info I gathered for it.
If you want it you can have it for the cost of whatever cheap way I can send it to you.

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June 10, 2009 at 19:52:10
Ohhh...that sounds intriguing actually (I don't know anyone else who'd find it intriguing or even remotely interesting, besides me, though).

The weight should make it rather cheap to ship...though the size might complicate it. If you can get a USPS shipping quote to Ontario Canada (they don't require a Postal Code for a quote), find out the cheapest option and let me know what it is, we can take it from there and I'll let you know if I can budget it (tough times at the moment). Sometimes the flat rate boxes are not the cheapest option so I suggest looking at all of them (not sure if there is a flat rate box big enough anyway).


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June 10, 2009 at 22:55:31
Let me know if you get the card from T&W. I've been straightening up that room but it's a slow process and haven't gotten to the card bins.

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June 11, 2009 at 08:18:26
So you're in Ontario. I'm in Alberta myself. That's a better situation.
Most people who post here are in the US.
I'll check out the shipping options.

If you approve the shipping cost, I'll test the card before I send it, but it may take me a short while to get to that, and I no longer have a "Panasonic" drive to test with it.

By the way, the card, as far as I could/can tell, had never been used when I bought it cheap years ago - it appeared it was someone's old stock that had been lying around in it's original bag.
There used to be a place here that speciallized in selling old computers and parts for them and that's where I got it from - but he dissolved the business about a year ago. I got some of the MFM/RLL controller cards from his place at a different location in the late 90's. His landlord had jacked up the rent too much, so he chose to build his own small building nearby and move his stock and business to there and be his own landlord. He's now out of the computer business as far as I know, but he has rented his building to a company, and he was making a good part of his income teaching Karate in the evenings, so he may be doing that more now. Down but not out.
There used to be a half dozen or so places where you could buy old used computers or parts for them here but I think all of them may now no longer be in business. There may still be one, but if so I don't think he would have old proprietary CD or MFM/RLL drives, etc.

Alberta has a recycling program that accepts old computers and other used electronic and electric devices, but you aren't allowed to grab or even buy pieces once they are in a place in the city that gathers them for recycling. Once the computers etc. get to the actual recycling center the devices are taken apart and most of the various pieces are recycled in bulk (metals, plastics, etc.) , but circuit boards etc. are shredded, and drives are probably always destroyed. Although - there are places in the countryside - town dumps and such - where, depending on the operator, they don't mind if you take old computers or their pieces off their hands before thay are picked up to be taken to the actual recycling center in the large cities.

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June 11, 2009 at 12:08:54
I found the drivers floppy for the card, and more info.
All the files on the floppy were made in 95.

It's a Boca SE 1440
SE = Sound Expression(s)
Boca = Boca Research
Mutifunction card.
4 1/8" jacks, phone jack, joystick port.
Boca 1440 VSP (Voice, Speaker Phone? )
14.4kbps Data Fax modem, Cirrus Logic chipset.
There are three Cirrus Logic chips - I'm not sure if all are for that.
Crystal sound - chipset has both a Crystal and an OPTI chip
FM synth, MIDI support, maybe more.
It's got a stereo amp module and so you can connect non-amplified speakers to it to the Spk jack, or amplified speakers to Line Out jack.
A header for an add on wavetable accessory board.
A 2 pin header for connecting a speaker (it probably makes no modem sounds by default).

It appears only drivers for Win 95 / 98 first edition are available for it.

The joystick port is probably on all the time.
If the mboard has a joystick port, the two will conflict with each and one or both won't work other unless one is disabled. There is a drivers version on the web that has joystick support - with that you can probably turn the port on the card on/off.

I found the drivers floppy for "Panasonic" 56x drives.
All the files on the floppy were made in 94.

It has directions on it for the lines you need in Autoxec.bat and Config.sys for connecting to SB compatible sound cards, or other cards with Mitsubishi controllers.

I may still have the download that made the floppy somewhere.

By the way, you can make many PnP cards work on a non-PnP system by using a program that loads in Autoexec.bat and/or Config.sys - I have one such somewhere. Some sound cards come with one.

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June 12, 2009 at 10:15:43
DAVE, will do, thanks for looking.

Notice how I assumed you were in the US also?
I do have to worry though, since Canada Post seems to be considerably more pricey than least sometimes.

It's a shame that all those types of shops close sense they have no choice, business is so slow they're forced to. I'd really like to see a local repair shop with extra room start collecting older stuff, documenting it and reselling (at a fair price, none of this $500-for-a-20mb-drive nonsense). That way, they'd still make their main income from their other services, but they'd be keeping the older equipment alive, if only for the sake of hobbyists. I recently spoke to someone in a data recovery company and they do still get RLL/MFM drives in (he cited specifically an actual Seagate ST506 drive) and that a surprising number of businesses still use them.

About the recycling programs: we have a drop site at the local recycling centre (cans, bottles, paper...and computers seemingly). It's a pile in the middle of the parking lot. As long as you don't make a big deal of it, you can take stuff least I did once in the past, and saw others doing it. I doubt they'd let you tear apart systems on the spot to look for parts though. I'm sure I remember seeing a 5150 or 5160 clamshell case there...if I'd known how much I'd want one now, I would have taken it.

That sounds like one heck of a card, at least for ISA (given that components were less space efficient, even on a full length card they probably were quite proud of getting it all to fit).

Any floppies you find, if you can copy the contents and put them in a RAR or ZIP on a site like (plunder dot com) I'd appreciate it. I say copy rather than image because a disk imaging program would detect even the slightest error on the disk and probably fail because of it...possibly stressing the disk to the point of no return at the same time.

RE: PnP/non-PnP
I have two ISA network cards that are PnP but include instructions on how to use them in a non-PnP system using a utility they come with. Are you saying there is a universal program also, or are you talking about hardware-specific ones only?

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June 12, 2009 at 11:48:13
I don't think it's possible to ship via USPS (United States Postal Service or similar - a US government or government controlled corp. ) from Canada. I do know the situation for getting something shipped via UPS Standard (United Postal Service or similar - a private company) from a US web site - in many cases that's the only way you can select to Canada, and in most cases once the package crosses the border, you wait about a week extra while whatever Canada Customs now calls itself processes it, and you get whacked with an extra UPS charge. (There are exceptions - e.g. ships to Canada from California via UPS but you don't get whacked with the extra UPS charge; ships using UPS and ships some stuff from the US without you even being aware of there being anything different).

These MFM/RLL drives were expensive to buy when they first came out, they spin relatively slowly, and they were/are quite well made. Similar to the situation with proprietary CD drives - I don't think any of them were faster than 4X if not 2X - they're more likely to still be working after being used many years than newer drives.

I've occaisionally seen offerings on or for "lot of MFM/RLL drives" and/or "lot of MFM/RLL controller cards" or similar in the past - if you don't find that when you look, if you look there every once in a while you may see that eventually - that's the cheapest way to get them other than by scrounging at a dump or a recycling collection site or having someone give them to you - from someone who wants to get rid of them but doesn't want to throw them away.

Many of the earlier 286 models, and less so earlier 386 models, had MFM or RLL drives and controller cards - you're a lot less likely to find them in older computers (PCs, XTs) because they were very expensive when those computers came out and only businesses were likely to buy them.

"Are you saying there is a universal program also,..."

Yes, but they don't work for all cards.
You load the program while booting, and set up settings for the particular card or cards with it, then the bios/software knows which IRQs and/or I/O port addresses to use.

If I ship the card to you, I could include a CD-R with the floppy's contents and the "universal" PnP utility for non PnP systems, and the Creative one that came with my SB16 PnP card, etc.

I forgot to mention the card has aYamaha chip too, so the sound supports OPLx too.

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June 12, 2009 at 20:39:00
Oh no when I said USPS, I was working on the assumption you were in the I said, I assumed you were, like you did with me. Within Canada, Canada Post is definitely the cheapest option.

PC/XTs all had hard drives, whereas the PC itself would only have one if the owner added it. Though, the XT hard drive is, if original, going to be a full height 5.25" drive, possibly only 10mb, which just isn't worth the trouble. Anything older than a 486 is "rare and difficult to find" in my area...or at least the people who have them do not browse Kijiji. I won't deal with craigslist at all because of the absolutely ridiculous amount of scammers, dishonest users, and inconsistent/non-comitting people.

A CD-R of the files would do just as well, I figured though that it'd be easier to just throw the files online, but whatever suits you best...makes no difference to me.

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June 13, 2009 at 09:24:04
I stand by this statement...

"'re a lot less likely to find them in older computers (PCs, XTs) because they were very expensive when those computers came out and only businesses were likely to buy them. "

e.g. you might have paid $1000 or more for a PC with two floppy drives (you could install up to 4) - the mono monitor was on top of that ; a full height hard drive may have cost another $1000 or more. At first mostly only businesses were buying them.

The full height hard drives were only available for a few years, relatively few of them were sold, then came the half height 3.5" ones , until well after the first IDE drives came out, in about 87. The ~1" high (1/3 height) 3.5" ones started coming out in about 93, IDE or SCSI only. The newest RLL drive I had was an NEC model made in 92 as I recall - that's about when they stopped making them.
I've only seen one with a full height hard drive, other than in places that sold old computers - I've seen many with half height drives, mostly XTs, but the vast majority of them had only two floppy drives. The XT clone I had was my brother in law's - he never got a hard drive for it. Most of the PCs and XTs that had hard drives had them put in long after they were bought, after the prices of the drives had dropped a lot, often well after 286s came out.

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June 13, 2009 at 09:34:53
Well, Tubes...the PC/XT (that is, not the PC...only the PC/XT) came with a hard drive...every time as I understand it, since it wasn't an extra option (at least every piece of info I've seen suggests it was standard equipment). It was one of the very few things that changed from the PC itself.

For the record, my RLL drive is 3.5", and datestamped 29 Dec 1989. From what I can see, 3.5" MFM/RLL drives are flat out you said, since they don't seem to have been in production very long.

Agreed, though, that the PC would be very difficult to find with one, and PC/XTs are rare enough to make finding a drive in one next to impossible for someone in my shoes.

PS - Wrote this using a Model M keyboard with Model 001 mouse :)

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June 15, 2009 at 08:06:02
My brother in law's clone XT did not come with a hard drive. The vast majority of the IBM XTs I've seen did not have a hard drive - if they came with one, it and it's card had been removed.

I have 4 IBM model M keyboards myself, two are completely functional, one I use with the SS7 K6-III 450 all the time, one needs a cord (broken wires inside where it enters the keyboard), one has a fried circuit board (my nephew spilt pop on it).One has two sockets, a plug on the cord. They're bulletproof except for the spring under the space bar and Enter which tends to fatigue after a long long time (hence sometimes there is no space between words in my posts - I replaced both but I need to install a better spring under the space bar) . The oldest one (85?) has screws holding the bottom curved metal plate inside on rather than there being plastic pins with melted ends doing that - can take it apart completely to clean it.

The only other one I have that is almost as tough is the one that came with the Sanyo 286, made by Mitsumi.

I also have .....
- one clone combo PC/ XT / AT keyboard that has a switch for using it on either.
- three or four ancient Microsoft combo Serial-PS/2 ball mice, one of which I use all the time as a Serial mouse with the K6-III 450 (metal rollers rather than plastic). None came with the Serial to PS/2 adapter - that has oddball wiring and only one of many adapters I've tried with it over the years works. One needs a cord (broken wires inside where it enters the mouse).
- one old Microsoft (metal rollers) and two or three other Bus ball mice (Microsoft calls it an InPort mouse) - they can only be used with a Bus port - in most if not all cases that was only available on a dedicated ISA card, or some old ISA video cards had a Bus port and came with the mouse (I have two such old cards). All work.
- two or three Microsoft combo PS/2 / Serial ball mice, old but not as old, metal rollers - it also has an oddball adapter, but I have two that work with it. However, some mboards detect it when the adpter is used, some don't. All work.

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June 15, 2009 at 18:17:23
Aha! Another inport mouse owner!
I have one complete with the converter block and all three adapter cables (DB25, DE9, PS/2). It's quite likely to be a very rare thing to have both the mouse and the complete converter set.

Interesting about the XT hard drive thing...maybe many people opted to delete the hard drive and order a second floppy since, at the time, two-floppy operation is what people were familiar with.

Both of my two Model Ms are 1993 models, one US-made and one Mexico-made. Both are by IBM - not Lexmark. They're a joy to type on...I find I make far fewer errors, and the errors I do make are because I've gotten used to the closer, smaller arrangement of keys on my 14" laptop.

I have a Mitsumi board which is far from is rubber membrane style, but is AT/XT switchable...the only reason I keep it. I also have a BTC 5339 which is supposedly a great gaming keyboard of it's time (about 1990) even has macro functions, though I haven't figured out how to work them. It is auto-sensing AT/XT compatible.

If you feel like checking out my little collection, check out

It's far from perfect, is a work in progress, and is on a fairly weak free host, but at least there are no ads (the only one, I put there, since their customer service and features are great). Something I'm rather proud of is that I wrote 100% of the (X)HTML and CSS code on that site...and it is W3C validated. The webhost adds a traffic script though which added 2 errors to my beautiful code.

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June 16, 2009 at 12:05:38
The cost of shipping the card will be about $13.19 via Xpresspost, 2 business days, depending on whether the box I use is within the size limits for that price, which I have not been able to determine on the Canada Post site. However, I know the local postal outlets have that info. Is that okay?

If you prefer I test it before I send it it will take a short while for me to get that done.

I haven't attempted to compose web pages yet.

I wasn't aware there were adapters for the InPort mouse.
I've come across lots of InPort mice, they never came with adapters, and I didn't get any more of them because I don't have many things with Bus ports.

Your Microsoft Serial-PS/2 mice are the same model as I have.

The Sanyo supplied Mitsumi keyboard has the membranes but it still works, it's well built and relatively heavy, although there are a few keys you sometimes have to press on more than once.

I have some of the same cards as you list.
ATI Graphics Ultra Plus was my first new ATI card and I still have it. I have one or two ATI Wonder cards I got used. One of them I discoved ATI had the wrong driver downloads for on their web site, but I have the original floppies for it.
My ATI Rage Fury (128 bit; 32mb; 2X AGP; TV out; made in Canada) was the card I first installed on this SS7 mboard; The Rage Dawning demo that came with it on it's CD is an excellent one - ATI probably spent a lot of money on it (but it won't play natively in 2000 and up). I still have it; I installed a clone Radeon 7000 on the SS7 mboard since, but I don't notice much different at 2X.
I have several other lesser model ATI made 128 bit AGP cards, and some MACHxx AGP cards, other ATI chipset cards. I installed a 128 bit one a few weeks ago on a newer than SS7 mboard that the onboard video had failed on. They were a breakthrough at the time they first came out - as far as I know they were the first card series with built in hardware DVD playback acceleration support. The ATI DVD player software that came with them was considered to be one of the best available at the time I bought the Rage Fury.
At the time in late 99 I was researching which pieces to buy, mboards with Via MVP3 or MVP4 chipsets were on my short list - I chose a MVP3 one (Epox EP-MVP3-G5) and the ATI Rage Fury, and I found out later that was a wise choice. The MVP4 chipset has built in video (and audio), it would have been far cheaper for me to get that, but it's = Trident Blade video, which does NOT have hardware DVD playback acceleration support. I have a friend who later bought a Trident Blade card and I helped him install it - it's DVD playback was/is POOR in comparison to that of the the ATI Rage Fury card.
I was interested in the ATI 128bit Pro cards at the time, (very similar, except 2X/4X AGP instead of 2X) but they were not available until several months after I bought the Rage Fury (the Radeon 7000 series first came out about that time too) and there probably wasn't much if any difference on a mboard with 2X max AGP support anyway.

Epox EP-MVP3-G5
No place in the city had it - I had to order it via a friend's business from a place in Calgary (circa Dec. 1999) .
- has the last (newest) available combo of desktop Via MVP3 chips
- the bios already supported K6-III cpus - some other SS7 mboards at the time did not.
- supports UDMA-66 - most mboards at the time, including MVP3 chipset mboards with older chip revisions, supported UDMA-33 max
- 2mb L2 onboard - it will cache up to 512mb of ram - most SS7 mboards at the time had 1mb or 512kb of L2 - at the time that didn't matter much for 98SE or ME, but later on it made the mboard able to perform better overall with up to 512mb in 2000 or XP.
- the original specs said it supported up to 128mb PC100 SDram in each of the 3 DIMM slots for a total max of 384mb, but I found out later it (and all MVP3 and MVP4 chipsets) actually supports up to 256mb modules in each slot, 768mb of ram max for this mboard, but only if you use certain 16 chip 256mb modules, and if you use more than 512mb the ram runs slower overall because none of it can be cached (there's about a 25% performance hit when you exceed the L2's ram caching capacity) .
- 5 PCI slots, 2 ISA slots, as well as the 1X/2X AGP slot for a total of 8, the lst ISA slot shares resources with the last PCI slot so you can only use one or the other ; however I've never had a situation where I could install cards in all the slots - not enough IRQs available, at least not in 98SE.
- a very stable mboard, quality electrolytic capacitors used that are not prone to the bad capacitor problem, for this model.
- you can use some PC133 SDram (or PC125 which was briefly a standard; you can't use 4 chip 128mb - mboard won't boot - or 8 chip 256mb - mboard won't boot or only half is recognized - modules) but the only overclocking bus setting is 112mhz, which is apparently too high for the K6-2 and K6-III cpus.
- the cpu core voltage setting can be set to 2.1v, which is what K6-2+ /a.k.a. K6-III+ cpus require (those came out later and were used on laptops) - you can't do that on most SS7 mboards, excepting sometimes there are undocumented ways you can set the jumopers on those to get 2.1 v.

K6-2+ /a.k.a. K6-III+ cpus have the L2 cache on the cpu as well as the L1 the K6-2 cpus also have, the L2 on the mboard then runs as L3, the same situation as for the K6-III cpus, except the L2 size is smaller on the former , but only if the bios recognizes them properly, same as with the K6-III cpus - otherwise they run as a K6-2 cpu, the L2 on the cpu is not used..

- the last bios update allows you to use up to the max 128gb in Windows, the bios / 137gb manufacturer's size hard drives, and apparently it also supports recognizing K6-2+ /a.k.a. K6-III+ cpus properly.

I had a K6-2+ 550 running at 600mhz (6X 100mhz), 2.1v core voltage (the standard voltage for it) , on this mboard with the standard heatsink/ cpu fan suitable for it without it overheating, no problems.
The mboard has no X6 multiplier setting, but it's not needed on SS7 mboards for K6-2 and K6-III cpus. All K6-2 and K6-III cpus interpret the X2 multiplier setting as X6 on the cpu itself.
Sisoft Sandra rates the K6-2+ 550 running at 6X 100 being equivalent in performance to a K6-2 running at 720mhz.

I was not able to overclock a K6-2 400, my original K6-III 450, or a K6-2 550 on this mboard at all, with any setting. The only overclocking bus speed choice - 112mz - is apparently too high for all of them (and the K6-2+ 550). Upping the core voltage from that specified on the cpu merely made them run hotter at idle and heat up more under the same loads.
Some other SS7 mboards have lower overclocking bus settings to choose from.

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June 16, 2009 at 17:54:09
If you can try to find the quote for "Regular Parcel", it'll likely be cheaper than Xpresspost. I have no need for tracking or the additional speed in delivery (let this public forum post be proof of that).

I would appreciate you testing it (obviously testing the drive interface is a bit more tricky, don't worry about that, only make sure that it'll work for audio functions. if those work it's likely the whole card is good). Since I can't afford to pay you anything on top, please do this at your convenience.

I had an XHTML/CSS class in my first semester of this past school year; I've put that knowledge to good use (or so I think).

As far as I can tell, the InPort adapter block and cables are a very rare thing. I wasn't around when these things were sold, but I'm guessing it was an extra option, perhaps sold separately, otherwise everyone with an InPort mouse would have adapters tucked away in a box somewhere.

Something I always liked about the early to middle-aged ATI cards is that they were all made in Canada (I've never seen one that wasn't). That's a big selling point for me. Not only was the company headquartered here, they built the cards here. Impressive. All that combined with being a relative leader in the graphics market for the longest time and providing excellent value, even though they don't make the BEST products you can buy today, still make me prefer them over other brands.

My only experience with Epox was one slot 1 board, and, well, slot 1 boards were ALL terrible. It's like every manufacturer decided to completely ruin everything...ASUS in particular. The Epox board I was acquainted with had a bunch of power issues and I think it eventually died as a result of capacitor failure.

The board I am using my K6-2 450 in is actually not "SS7" just happens to be dual voltage, but offers miserable clock, voltage, and multiplier settings. I had to use the "2x = 6x" multiplier trick that those CPUs support to make it work at all. Fortunately you've had some flexible hardware which gave you a few more options...roughly 400-410ish is the highest I can get that CPU on that board (which I think is a J-Mark).

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June 17, 2009 at 08:46:00
What I did was go online and use Canada Post's Find a Rate tool or similar , for a parcel 14" x 5" x 1.5", .5 kg.
Xpresspost was the second cheapest option.
Regular was $11.29, but Xpresspost has $100 insurance included (I would at least want the shipping cost back if it were lost), for Regular that's extra - $1.05 per $100 unit - and Regular takes as long as 6 business days, Xpresspost is supposed to take no more than two business days.

I could maybe send it via a bubble pack envelope for a bit less, but then there's more of a risk of it being damaged while shipping.
My brother once worked as a letter carrier for several years. From what he saw, he insists you ship something packaged such that it's less likely to get damaged, and for larger parcels, always use string or rope as well as taping it up well.

Origin and history of ATI
Up to R200 series
April 11, 2001

All ATI made cards were made in Canda untill about 2000, and I believe even then they still made all the ATI AIW cards in Canada until they stopped making them themselves.
Relatively recently a new AIW HD chipset card came out, it's supported on the ATI site but the cards are only made by Visiontek and Diamond - I have recently installed the Visiontek one on a friend's system.
As a side note....
I have another identical Visiontek one I un-intentionally had to buy when I tried to order the Diamond one and they couldn't get it and I couldn't cancel the order. The package hasn't even been opened, and it was $2xx. Anybody interested in buying it?

I have two other SS7 mboards
- one is a slightly older Epox MVP3 (older main chip revisions) AT mboard - it doesn't support recognizing K6-III cpus, at least the bios version it has doesn't, and when the bios doesn't it can't recognize K6-2+ / a.k.a. K6-III+ cpus either. I have a K6-550 on it, and my Dad is using that system upstairs.
- the other is a Gigabyte 5AX with the ALI Aladdin V 1541/1543C chipset - it was donated to me when a friend died - I had been maintaining his computers for him - it had Win95/Win 98 originial version on tyhe system. I think it's slightly newer than my EP-MVP3-G5. It has a K6-III 400 on it. It has several overclocking bus settings, all of which are under the 112mhz the Epox mboard has. I haven't gotten around to testing that or the other K6-2and K6-III cpus on it to see if that mboard has better results regarding overclocking.

I try to donate older but not really ancient mboards/computers to those people I know with little or no means to buy a new one, and set up their systems for them, but not many would want a SS7 system these days, and more ram would have to be bought if one used it with XP. If you're interested I may consider sending it to you for cheap.

Just about all mboard manufacturershave had the bad capacitor problem on some of their mboards - but that seems to be less the case for Epox ones, and that did not apply to the two Epox mboard miodels I have.

Epox in Taiwan is now dead - financial problems - but their US site in California is still selling existing stock including older models and mboards that have had their capacitors replaced, and there is still a lot of support, at
HOWEVER, if you order from there, they only ship by UPS Standard, and you get whacked with the extra UPS charge once the package crosses the border - I can supply a specific example about that.

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June 17, 2009 at 12:15:54
Interesting point about the insurance. I think we'll go with the Xpresspost...the tiny price difference (and since this is all CAD, no upconversion to USD like if you were in the US) makes it definitely reasonable. PM me once you've tested the card and we'll take that from there.

I always feel terrible sending a functional (insert anything here) to its death, but I'm trying to make sure nothing with a Socket 7 in it ends up in this house again once the existing stuff is out. Nobody will buy it, and a lot of people won't even take one for free, in a full assembled working system.

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June 17, 2009 at 13:33:54
If you intended on selling a system with the Gigabit 5AX, yes, it would be hard to get rid of it, but if you just wanted to fiddle with it, a SS7 mboard with a faster cpu on it is still relatively useful, at least for XP or earlier.

Sisoft Sandra rates my K6-III 450 at about equal in performance to a K6-2 520, and I can run programs meant for a minimum 500 to 650 mhz Pentium III or Celeron no problem, when I have a decent video card installed. I have fiddled with various PIII and Celeron systems within the same mhz range, and my Epox MVP3-G5 with it's K6-III 450 performs better than all of them for most things (other than math intensive programs I don't use).
However, the internet is getting more and more demanding of resources on average, lots of video streams now skip frames (they didn't when I first built the computer and for years afterward, with the Rage Fury), so I may try installing the K6-2+ 550 and run it at 600mhz soon.

I still buy ATI chipset cards and ATI/AMD main chipset mboards, and recommend them to others because over the years their customer support has been among the best. They try to fix any problems reported to them with their drivers or related software within a reasonable amount of time.
Nvidia, on the other hand, has a reputation of NOT fixing problems with their drivers or related software versions for their video cards and main chipsets - sometimes you have no choice but to either have to find and use an older version, or put up with the problems and wait until a newer version comes out and use that. They especially don't care whether an ATI video chipset card or the software for it will work properly on a NVidia main chipset mboard (that's another story) . There has been several times in the past where NVidia released large amounts of seriously defective video chipsets - I've never heard of ATI doing that - e.g. Visiontek had been using only NVidia video chipsets and almost went bankrupt because of that - that's why they have only used ATI video and TV chipsets since.

Some don't like ATI's Catalyst because they don't need to use it and consider it to be bloatware. You don't have to install it and use it if you don't want to - you can load just the display drivers in most cases, or there are alternate drivers/related software choices e.g. there are Omega Radeon drivers on the web - they're fully approved of by ATI but support for the software is on the Omega site - the display drivers come with a Control Panel that does most or all the things Catalyst does and it doesn't require a .Net Framework version be installed as Catalyst requires -a Control Panel is what ATI used before Catalyst.

Some claim they have problems with Catalyst. That's often caused by them undating the display drivers (or loading older ones) without checking to see if the Catalyst version is meant to be used with the drivers version. The Catalyst version is matched to the display drivers version - the display drivers version changes more often than the Catalyst version - so the existing Catalyst version MIGHT work fine with the newer or older display drivers version, but it might NOT. You can easily find out if the newer or older display drivers version can be used with the existing Catalyst version on the ATI site, but sometimes people install the newer or older display drivers version without thinking about that, e.g. they get them from Microsoft Update when they manually select a Custom search, as an optional update.
Or, sometimes the Catalyst version that comes on a CD that came with the video adapter has bugs. That buggy version is eventually removed from or fixed on the ATI web site - installing a newer version of Catalyst that is matched with the display drivers on the CD or a newer display drivers version usually clears that up.

Similar can apply to the video related software for any make of video chipset.

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June 22, 2009 at 22:23:43
I just finished testing the card. I had a hexx of a time.

The plan was I would install 98 original edition on a spare hard drive on an older computer, then try the card on that computer.

A 43OFX computer that worked fine the last time I used it refused to boot all the way - no mboard beep - the lights are on but nobody's home. Nothing obvious wrong.

When I started up another 430FX computer it booted fine but then within about 15 seconds the power supply, a Startech I bought new in 2004, my newest one, made a hissing sound and spewed out smoke - I unplugged it right away, but to no avail. When I connected a working AT PS to that computer, same situation as the first 430FX computer - no mboard beep.
I looked inside the Startech PS - at least two smaller capacitors had failed - bulged tops. Sometimes a PS fries the mboard while failing, but I didn't expect than from my newest AT PS or the Startech brand. El-cheapo PSs are more likely to do that. e.g. BESTEC PSs, used in most if not all emachines desktops and some cheaper models of other brand name computers, are well known to be more likely to fry the mboard while failing.

I tried a little older SiS chipset AT computer - it worked fine but had a problem with the 80gb drive I connected to it - it recognized it as 8.4gb and 98's updated Fdisk wouldn't work with it - a 7.6gb drive worked fine but I didn't want to delete the data on it.

Then it occurred to me the SS7 Gigabyte 5AX K6-III 400 computer already had Win 98 original on it. I installed a PS in it, it worked fine.
I removed two cards (USR dial-up modem, ESS sound card) and installed the Boca SE1440 card.

Then came about 6 hours of fiddling!!
It can be difficult to get these non-PnP cards, especially multifunction ones, working properly if you don't have the original instructions or a web manufacturer's web site to look up support - in this case it was the sound I had most of the problems with.
Ten pages of messy hand written notes later, I think I've got it all figured out.
I even discovered I still have a "Panasonic" CR-523-B - it's one that has the cartridges you place the CDs inside and plug them into the drive - and I confirmed that drive works with the card, once you tweak the I/O address to be the same as the card is using.

I'm not certain the Fax modem works properly (it definately has Voice support) - when you run the modem diagnostics three commands produce an error - but you may not care about that.

If you want the CR-523-B and a cartridge, I could send that too if you're interested - I have no use for it - but the shipping would be a bit more of course.

I'll type up some notes about what it takes to get eveything working, and send along some other PS/2 data, etc., too.

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June 23, 2009 at 08:55:07
I have discovered....

- the 30gb drive Win 98 orginal is on, on the 5AX, may be failing - it is certainly getting hotter than it should - it's one of those slim Maxtor drives, about 5/8" thick rather than ~1". Slim hard drives are known to be more likely to fail than the regular ones.
- probably because the drive is overheating the sound no longer works on the card - an error message just before the Logon screen. I'll try to see if I can fix that.
- I have placed a case fan close to the drive's underside - the drive has passed the long Seatools test - SMART hasn't been tripped - but the current temp shown while running the test is stuck at a high temp, over the temp of boiling water assuming it's in degrees F. That may indicate the drive's circuits are already damaged.
- the partition 98 is on has passed a thurough Scandisk scan.
(The other partition has Win 95).

Update - I easily got the sound working again.

- I have another combo sound/ fax modem/cd drive interface ISA card!! - longer but not full length (10 1/4" from the outside of the bracket to the end of the card), that has a single header for a Panasonic drive. It was orginally in a Packard Bell Intel 430xx mboard model that had Dos 6.2 and WFWG 3.11.
I took it out before setting up the computer for my Nephew with 98SE because the computer was a slim one and had only a few ISA and PCI slots, I needed the ISA slot for something else (a 10 mbps network card) , and I didn't need the modem or the Panasonic interface. I have that model's original CD - it has the software for the sound, and many other things, in expanded, compressed (same as on the install disks, in one folder), and disk image (for making the install floppies) formats. The main sound chip is exactly the same model Crystal chip as on the Boca card, but it doesn't have as many chips and it probably doesn't have Voice capabilty for the 14.4kbps modem. The card has no stereo amp for the sound, so speakers must be amplified. It appears it was made by Aztech.
I have the two Packard Bell books for the sound.

Another Update
Regarding the "Panasonic" CR-523-B.

I used a laser lens cleaning CD in it several times in a row.
I've tried both data and regular audio CDs in it - it works fine.
The only slight glitch is you sometimes need to re-insert the cartridge in order for the change of CD switch to work or for Autorun/ Autoplay to work, only when you first insert a disk.

It appears it reads CD-R burned disks fine!

Not bad for an ancient drive!

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June 23, 2009 at 14:15:33
Wow...thanks for testing it/those, especially since it gave you a hard time.

RE Bestec...I put up a post about them just the other day...fantastic experience with like 5 of them blowing up in the course of a couple months.

Given the card works, and I believe you that it does, I'll definitely go for it (the original one we discussed). I've only got interest/use/space for one.

I've been interested in having a "caddy" type CD drive, but the shipping expense and again space issue make me say no to that.

I have 3 40GB Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 8 drives, all the slim kind, and they just run hot. It's how they are. I generally don't trust drives that aren't by WD...WD is the only brand I have not experienced reliability issues with on modern drives. Those Maxtors I have are 7200rpm so that explains the heat with mine. I got them for pretty much free so I don't mind if one kicks off...I have access to the PCB off the others to bring a dead one back to life just long enough to recover files.

I'm not allowed to PM you...something about how I'm the OP in this thread. Would you mind PMing me and we can switch the money talks to email?

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June 23, 2009 at 14:17:34
That 30 gig may be one of the relabeled Quantum drives from when Maxtor bought out Quantum. I had one that seemed OK but have heard they weren't very good.

I had one of the Sony proprietary drives, either 1x or 2x, that also read cd-r's. A lot of those older ones were built really good.

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June 23, 2009 at 17:19:50
Funny thing about seems it was only their later drives that had issues (by which I mean 20GB and up). I never had a single issue with one below that capacity and I've dealt with many.

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June 25, 2009 at 09:38:57
It probably won't cost any more, or very little more, for me to ship you both cards plus the books for the second one, if you don't want the cartridge Panasonic drive. I'll check to see if there are at least Win 95/98 original version drivers available for the second one.

"I'm not allowed to PM you...something about how I'm the OP in this thread. Would you mind PMing me and we can switch the money talks to email?"

I could PM you eventually. Do you use Paypal? Apparently you can send a payment to me with that, but I haven't tried that yet.

I talked to a guy who services servers, about 7 years ago, while at a place enquiring about RMAing a regular height Maxtor 80gb drive for a friend who had bought it from them, and he said he hadn't found Maxtor drives in general were any more likely to fail than other brands, it was just that at the time a lot of computers had Maxtor models and fewer models of other brands, and that the slim drives of any brand were more likely to fail earlier; they usually lasted beyond the length of the warranty but couldn't be counted on to last much longer.

I bought that Maxtor slim 30gb drive, model 6 E030L0, 7200rpm, new for my friend sometime in 2002? - his bios version on his 430FX mboard (the same one ruined by the power supply failing just recently) had a 32gb recognition limitation bug - it was used about 3 years but certainly not 24/7 - he was disabled (Myatonic Muscular Dystrophy) and after late 2004 he rarely used the computer himself, although I made sure his system was working properly and his anti-virus was updated and checked for e-mail for him. I hadn't used his newer 5AX system with the same drive on it since he died in Sept. 2005, until I was testing the card.
The board on the drive is exposed the way it's mounted.

I have another Maxtor slim 20gb drive, model 2B020M1, made 15 march 2002, 5400rpm, that was on 24/7 for most of the time for about 5 years in another disabled person's computer (Spinal Muscular Atrophy) , until I installed an 80 and 160 gb Seagate regular height drive for her, and it doesn't get overly hot and still works fine.

The difference in rpms alone doesn't account for why some of these slim drive models ran/run a lot hotter.

"I have access to the PCB off the others to bring a dead one back to life just long enough to recover files."

In my experience it has almost always been the logic boards (circuit boards) on the drive failing that have caused the drive failure, not the failure of anything else, but I don't know if that applies to the failure of these slim drives.

"... had one of the Sony proprietary drives, either 1x or 2x, that also read cd-r's. A lot of those older ones were built really good."

I came across the original bill for my NEC 2X IDE drive recently - about $249 CDN in late 1994 - as I recall it was on sale. They were making more money per each drive in those days, and could take the extra time to ensure good quality control. They often had 2 year or longer warranties.
Also, they spin relatively slowly; I don't think any of the proprietary ones spun/spin faster than 2X, or possibly 4X. I've never encountered an optical drive motor that has anything other than sleeve bearings, and when they have those they're a lot more likely to last longer when the max speed is a lot slower. I had an early Creative 52X IDE CDrom drive that had a motor that failed to spin at even 1X only a little after the 1year warranty had expired. I bought an LG 52X to replace it - I'm still using it - it was made by LG and not LG/Hitachi like newer ones are - I think I paid over $100 for it.

No optical drive has had more than a one year warranty since about when 4X or 8X drives first came out - the main reason for that is probably because of the sleeve bearings in the motors. I've encountered many faster optical druves that no longer work because the bearings have deteriorated to the point that the friction in them doesn't allow the motor to spin at even 1X, or it doesn't spin at all.

A side note -
I discovered while fiddling with the Creative 52X drive with it's top cover removed that Win 95 and up spin the optical drives more of the time than I was aware of, and you may not be aware it's spinning when it does. The led on the front of the drive does NOT necessarily come on when it does auto spin, and it's often spinning at a lower rpm and so you're not aware of it spinning by the meagre sound produced.
After I had noticed that, it became obvious all optical drives do that in Win 95 and up. You may have wondered why the optical drive won't open right away sometimes when the led on the front of it is NOT on - often the reason is it was spinning at the time despite the fact you weren't aware of that!

Therefore, since the motor bearings have a definite finite useful life, I recommend that if you remove any disks you have in optical drives when you aren't using the disks, your optical drive will be usable for a longer time.

I have and have had (and have encountered them on other people's computers while working on them) lots of old regular height Quantum drives, though none I have are larger than 7.6gb, and I can't recall a single one that has failed. This same 5AX system has a Fireball 1280 (1.2xgb) that still works fine he had used continuously since before I first started helped him with his computers (in the fall of 2000?).

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June 25, 2009 at 10:00:19
Good point about the shipping price, it would probably still be the same size of package, just packed more tightly and weighing slightly more.

I do use PayPal, but suggested switching money talks to PM because the email address I have tethered to paypal is the one which contains my legal name, which I don't disclose openly online.

Interesting, about Maxtor drives. I've not known Maxtor to be particularly unreliable...the drives I've had issues with were late-model Quantums (over 20GB) and just about all modern Seagates...they're seemingly designed to fail. They (modern ones) are built for the OEM industry primarily and rarely sold at retail (when they are, they're labeled OEM still). In the OEM world, a computer doesn't need to last more than about 2 years (since it will be replaced), and in my experience that's about how long you get out of a Seagate drive before it's trash.

Just to clarify, since your wording seems to be correcting me rather than agreeing (but it could be a simple misunderstanding on my part)...PCB = Printed Circuit Board = the logic board on the drive.

I've also never encountered a low capacity Quantum that failed...they're great drives. That's not entirely true actually, I have a 2.5GB Bigfoot that had too many bad sectors to function at all, but its PCB got swapped onto my 1.2GB Bigfoot (which had a bad circuit board) so now I got one working drive out of two not working ones.

I've had larger capacity Quantums in the neighbourhood of 20 and 30GB, a few of them, as well as had people bring systems to me with those drives (there's a 20gb behind me right now) and they all end up doing this weird thing where they just park the heads and spin down, as if power has been pulled from them. Giving the drive a good whack brings them back to life, so it's definitely a drive issue rather than a power supply issue. You can imagine that whacking drives doesn't make them last much longer, but it's long enough to pull the data before they become completely unreliable.

I don't even remember why I tried whacking the drive...I think it was in a fit of frustration. I do seem to remember an amazing feeling of satisfaction when it spun back up again.

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June 25, 2009 at 12:20:04
As far as I've seen, all hard drive motors have sleeve bearings, but because they are exposed to little or no contamination, they tend to last longer than the ones on the optical drives do.
Early MFM and RLL drives sometimes developed a problem called"stiction" (the spelling may be wrong) - the drive would not spin up after it had been used a lot - you could often get the drive to work again for at least a while by carefully, evenly slamming the drive's case against something.
I'm not sure what caused that, or what the drive manufacturers changed to avoid that happening (different bearing materials?) , but drives made after that didn't have that problem to any reportable degree.
Personally, I've never encountered a newer drive that had that problem.

"PCB = Printed Circuit Board = the logic board on the drive."

A logic board is a printed cicuit board, but a printed cicuit board may not be a logic board, as in, a board with more complicated circuitry. Regarding an IDE hard drive they refer loosely to the same thing.
The IDE (ATA) interface is a relatively simple cicuitry connection to the mboard's ISA and/or PCI bus - the board circuits on IDE (ATA) drives are relatively complicated - that's where most of the "logic" takes place.
For MFM/RLL drives, the circuits on the drive are relatively simpler, the circuits on the controller card for the drive much more complicated. The controller card is what interfaces with the mboard's ISA and/or PCI bus - that's where most of the "logic" takes place.

IDE stands for Integrated Drive Electronics - but that term doesn't apply to just ATA drives - IDE drives can also be SCSI drives. However, generally they're referred to as IDE drives if they're ATA drives (that became a.k.a. PATA since SATA drives came out; all drives previous to SATA drives interface with the computer via parallel data connections), and as SCSI drives rather than IDE (SCSI) drives.

About the time the first IDE (ATA) drives first came out, Apple was using SCSI drives in their computers instead, and for a long while after that only SCSI drives could be used with Apple computers . Later on SCSI interface cards were made available for PCs, and some PC mboard models had the SCSI interface built into the mboard.

I've found more recent Seagate drives to be very reliable. A few years ago Seagate felt they were justified in bumping the warranty period back up to 5 years for most desktop models after it had been reduced to 3 years for a while - they were the first one to do so then. I saw a lot more ATA Seagate drives on computers before Maxtor models became very popular starting in 1999 or so - at that time the Maxtor models were cheaper for the same sizes and features so for a while they were the most popular brand sold. Seagate noticed that and bought them out eventually..

Most of the models that I've encountered that had failed were older models that had been used a lot, years beyond their warranty period. You can't expect them to last years and years beyond their warranty period. That said, I had an < 8gb > 540mb Seagate that failed, a few Conners, several random old models of other brands, and I've seen several well used old Maxtors fail on other people's computers, but considering the numbers of Maxtors that were on the computers I've encountered, the numbers of them were not out of line.
My SS7 K6-III 450 computer has a Maxtor 13.xgb drive that's been continuosly used most days since the beginning of 2000 (I never run my computers 24/7, but sometimes I'm on the computer 6 to 10 hours a day), and a Seagate 15.3gb drive. I have had several Maxtors made in 2000 and 2001 that I have donated to others - e.g. 30gb, 40gb, 60gb - and they're still working fine, as far as I know.

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