[vcf-midatlantic] IBM PC near-compatibles

madodel madodel at mac.com
Mon Oct 23 19:41:01 EDT 2017

On 10/23/17 5:26 PM, Herb Johnson via vcf-midatlantic wrote:
> As vintage interest increases in the early IBM PC era computers, and in 
> 386/486 PC's, I have a question. Is there any current interest in the 
> early semi-compatible PC's?
> I mean of course, the 8088/88 systems near and after the IBM PC of 1981, 
> where a number of manufacturers made MS-DOS systems which had most of the 
> IBM PC hardware, some PC functionality (or better!) but was not 100% 
> hardware compatible.
> It took some years for the "market" to decide, IBM PC software HAD to use 
> every hardware trick to gain performance, and it could only do that if 
> EVERY "PC" had the same IBM PC hardware. And, hardware HAD to be IBM PC 
> and ISA compatible so it would run with minimal grief in PC's of the day, 
> and their software. Eventually, the "Tiawan clones" came out, which were 
> 100% PC compatible, and cheaper, and thus "PC compatible" became a 
> redundant phrase.
> I know there's some interest in say Compaqs, which at times led the way 
> over IBM. But those were pretty compatible too.
> But that leaves a bunch of S-100 systems, some Heath/Zenith systems, 
> brands like Victor and God-knows how many others, who produced those 
> semi-compatible systems, which were soon abandoned.
> Now, S-100, I can deal with and those catch some people's interest. In 
> fact there's a lot of 3rd party PC hardware for the Heath/zenith Z-100 
> (Z-120 series). But Zenith 150-series systems, with five boards in some 
> super-ISA backplane? Forgedabotit.
> I show some of the Zenith 151-s on my Web site, and of course Z-100's; so 
> I get inquiries, like today, where someone has a Z-151 to offer. I tell 
> them "sorry, no one cares". Comments?

My first computer was a H-151. I soldered the boards myself so it had value 
to me. My wife doesn't understand why I don't send it to the recycling 
along with all the manuals and everything else I kept.  I still have a 
collection of Heath/Zenith Club magazines somewhere. I use to love looking 
at all the modifications for it and the other H/Z computers. The backplane 
seemed like a genius idea at the time, but technology overtook it too 
rapidly and at least it died a quick death. :-)


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