[ Retro Scan of the Week ] The Micron Millennia

August 11th, 2014 by Benj Edwards

Micron Electronics Micron Millennia P120 PC clone advertisement - 1995Ah, the beige box era.

What could $6,410.55 buy you 19 years ago? (That's $4099 adjusted for inflation.) Well, if you picked a Micron Millennia, you could get a 120 MHz Pentium CPU, 32 MB of RAM, a 1.6 GB hard drive, a 17-inch monitor, a 4X CD-ROM Drive, a SoundBlaster 16 sound card, 2MB 2D graphics card, a minitower or desktop case, a Microsoft mouse and keyboard, Microsoft Office, and Windows 95.

That's a lot of stuff. And yet most people's smartphones today pack far, far more power and functionality than that in a pocket form factor with a 10 hour battery life. It's all about integration, baby. More functions in fewer, smaller chips. I love it.

[ From ComputerLife - October 1995, rear cover]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Tell us about one of your beige box PCs from the 1990s. Who made it, and what did it have inside?



10 Responses to “[ Retro Scan of the Week ] The Micron Millennia”

  1. Steve Says:

    In about 1994 I bought a 486 DX4 100Mhz with a VESA bus, 16MB RAM, ~100MB HDD in a mini tower beige case. I can't remember the other internal details, but it was no slouch with decent sound and video. It cost me about £800 including a monitor, from a small non brand vendor from a Computer Shopper magazine. The price was really good for the time because it was just on the cusp of the Pentium era. The VESA bus was obsolete, but the machine saw me through my final year at University and then some. It was certainly a step up from the Amstrad PC1512 it replaced!

  2. Jistuce Says:

    My first IBM-compatible was 1995. The Pentium math bug was all over the news, and we built a 486/66 running MS-DOS 6.22.

    VESA Local Bus, some random Soundblaster-marginally-compatible sound card, 4x CD-ROM drive, a ONE GIGABYTE hard drive, and… at this point only God could say how much RAM and what video card was in it.

    There was rejiggering as we discovered, among other things, that the Very Long Bus didn't much like having multiple cards installed, regardless of how many VLB slots the motherboard actually offered.

  3. Eagles409 Says:

    I think it was about 1992 that I bought my first PC, up to that point I had been using Apple. It was a 486 with 2MB memory and 20MB hard drive. The sale price included the monitor, a printer and keyboard/mouse. The price was $999 at Montgomery Ward. I remember upgrading the memory to 10MB a year later and it cost me almost $100 to do so.

  4. Asterisk Says:

    At the beginning of 1993, shortly after my 13th birthday, I used money I'd saved up combined with birthday gifts to buy a 486-DX 50 with 8 MB of (30-pin SIMM) RAM, a 200 MB IDE hard drive, a SB Pro audio card, which doubled as the controller for the single-speed CD-ROM drive (with caddy!), and a Diamond SpeedStar 24X EISA video card. I don't remember exactly how much it cost - i think it was somewhere in the neighborhood of $2000 - but I remember we ordered it from a vendor called NCIC, which was a small mail-order shop that advertised in Computer Shopper, like most small PC vendors in those days.

    This system was an upgrade from the 640K 8088 with a 40 MB hard drive and EGA graphics that had been my computer since my father had bought his 386 in 1989 (and had been the family computer prior to that).

    The 486 came with Windows 3.1 and a bunch of CD-ROM software, including a copy of Grolier's Encyclopedia, which included a few video clips. The night we set up that system was the first time I'd ever seen recorded video playing back on a computer. It also came with a 14.4 Kbps modem - an upgrade from the 2400 bps modem in the 8088 system. This was also the first computer I accessed the internet on, initially via a text-only Delphi account, then via Prodigy's graphical web browser in 1995, and ultimately with a PPP account and Trumpet winsock not too long after.

    I kept using that system with those specs until about 1996, when I upgraded it with a CPU-and-motherboard combo kit with a Cyrix P5 120 soldered onto the board, 16 MB of RAM, and a 1 GB hard drive.

  5. Jim Says:

    It was some time in the early 1990s that I finally graduated from my older brother's unbelievably antiquated TRS-80 to a machine of my own. This machine was a CompuAdd 386, 25 Mhz, with a 40MB HD, 2 MB of Ram and a 5.25 inch floppy. We were running MS-DOS 5.0, where I spent most of my time, but it also came packaged with a hilariously useless copy of Windows 3.11.

    The machine was a gift from my mom. Thanks mom! She somehow conspired with my older brother (the same), and made the deal via an employee purchase program at Allied Signal Aerospace, where my brother was working at the time.

    The machine was somewhat notable due to the inclusion of a Number Nine video card which I believe was specialized for the purposes of work being done at Allied Signal. Sadly, I do not recall technical details, but I remember my brother explaining that I would be well equipped to play modern 2D games.

    My first real software purchase for this machine was Star Trek: 25th Anniversay. This was such a step forward from the artificial TRS-80 and Atari 2600 time capsule I'd been living in. These were heady days. I played so many great games on that 386… Railroad Tycoon, Wing Commander, Red Baron, Ultrabots…

    The machine grew a lot over the years, gaining an additional 2MB of ram, a sound card, 3.5 inch floppy, a 2X CD-Rom and, most importantly, a 2400 baud modem. I dialed up some local BBS, but it was really Prodigy that won me over.

    The case was desktop format, a tremendous landscape of beige sheet metal. I regret not keeping it, but I didn't altogether toss it out either. It was "The Giving Tree" of computers for me, as I slowly and sadly parted out a few bits here and there for the almighty Pentium.

  6. Bill S Says:

    Oh man…my early PC days. I left the Amiga in 1994 when C= folded, and jumped into the PC world. My first machine was a home-grown 486/DX4 100mhz machine with 8mb RAM, a 170mb HD, 2x CD-ROM and 1mb ISA video card. I then tried to install an 8-bit Soundblaster and shorted the motherboard (I'd improperly mounted it in the case). This probably could've been remedied with only a new motherboard but I didn't know any better and let a friend "fix" it for me - she brought back an 80mhz 486/DX2 with 4mb RAM and my HD full of bad sectors. She had someone else "fix" my system and the report back was that "everything was broken". My CPU and RAM undoubtedly found their way into someone else's computer.

    The DX2 was awful. I tried to make do; I upgraded the video card to a 2mb/1mb Chips&Technology card (2mb for the card itself, 1mb "local" memory for I can't recall what, possibly MPEG-1 decoding for video playback). But hey I got an 8-bit actual Soundblaster card out of the deal :P

    Windows 3.11 didn't "care" about the bad sectors as Win3.11 wasn't much of an OS in terms of disk swapping, cache, and that sort of thing and DOS programs just tended to ignore the HD once a program was loaded. But oh lord, Win95. It wanted to plant the registry right down where there were bad sectors, every time. An install would last about a week. Even after I "upgraded" to a 5×86 120mhz (and a new motherboard), and then later a new motherboard with a Cyrix 6×86/PR166 (LIES!), I was stuck with that terrible HD. Towards the end, I had it down to a science: I installed Win95 and various programs. Then, I immediately backed the registry up to a Zip disk connected via parallel port. Once Win95 became too unstable due to the physical problems with the drive, I'd boot from a custom floppy that would load the DOS drivers for the Zip drive, then copy the registry backup off the Zip disk back on to the HD.

    If I'd had any sense I wouldn't have bought the Zip Drive in the first place, I'd have just purchased a Jaz Drive or an internal HD.

    The day I could afford a real upgrade again I bought a Pentium 200mmx CPU and a 2.1gb HD…I skipped the 170mb drive off the pavement all the way to the dumpster (should've taken it apart for the magnets, though!)

  7. Moondog Says:

    In 1991 I bought my first pc "used" from a co-worker. He had just built a 486DX-33 with 8mb of ram, a 426mb Seagate hdd, a Video 7 graphics card, and 3.5″ and 5.25″ floppies. It also came with a 14″ CTX monitor. He needed money for a truck, and sold all to me for $2000, which was a very good deal. It also came with Windows 3.1 and bunch of games and other apps installed. First addition I made to it was install a 2400 baud internal modem. A Sound Blaster card with built-in CD support soon followed.

    At a later date, I upgraded it with a DX2-66 cpu and used it 'til early 1997. It was replaced with a P-166 running Win95, 32mb ram and a 1.2g hdd.

  8. Alexander Says:

    I honestly don't remember my first Windows machine well at all. I believe it was surplus from my aunt's office. They gave her 2 of them, and I was given the better of the two. All I can remember was that it ran Windows 95, and had a tower that laid down instead of standing up. I was only 7 at the time, and didn't understand computer specs yet so the only information about it's specs comes from my first benchmark (and first video game): Lego Island.

    So based off the packaging, it had to have been at least a Pentium clocked at 120Mhz, 16 MB of RAM, a good CD-ROM drive at 4x minimum, and a Soundblaster of some kind. I do remember that the graphics card had issues playing the game. Ah Direct X 5… I rebuilt a machine specifically to play this game among others.

  9. Space Harrier Says:

    Firstly, wow ASTERISK, that was some birthday present.

    I spent the late 80′s/early 90s in a shellshocked daze, not being able to cope with computers going from BASIC to this strange thing called an operating system.
    Then I was introduced to the world of DOS with my dad's Olivetti 286 with a VGA monitor and a 20MB hard drive. I mostly used this for playing Xenon 2 Megablast and Elite Plus.
    It wasn't until I went to university the second time in 1999 when I bought my own PC, somewhat behind the times, a Compaq Pentium 1, which apart from playing around with Powerpoint I mostly used for playing Age of Empires.

  10. fernando Says:

    In 1990 I enherited my dad's pc from his bookshop: an 8086 with a 12″ amber display that had the receipt outline burned into the CRT. It was a really heavy desktop beige monster made of metal with a huge red switch on the right side to turn it on and off. It had no HDD, just two 5,25″ disk drives and ran DOS.

    I remember playing Sokoban and a really cool animated chess game where the pieces fought each other. That one lasted about 2 years, when I bought my very first brand new clone PC; it was a 286 with 256kb RAM I think, and a 100Mb HDD with a mono VGA display. I remember spending lots of time with Zach McKraken, and Maniac Mansion. After those two I got really hooked up on graphic adventures and played them all (Monkey Island series, DotT, Indiana Jones).

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