So… you’ve decided to build or maintain an existing vintage computer? Maybe you’ve got the same medical condition I have and you’ve found yourself with several (they breed at night – I get it!).
At some point you’re going to find yourself looking for a motherboard manual, a driver or a bit of information on your hardware.
Here’s some of my favorite places to visit:
The folks here are working hard day and night to build an amazing resource of every motherboard, BIOS and manual. Eventually they’ll move on to cards and drivers as well. It’s a pretty impressive bit of work they’ve started.
Edwin’s site has saved me on some of the weirder motherboards several times. He’s an INCREDIBLY knowledgeable fellow in europe who’s painstakingly helping catalog some of the stranger and harder to get info on boards and booklets you’ll ever find.
While it shows up in Google searches, it never hurts to do a search here. Chances are someone’s had a problem sort of kind of like yours and there’s an answer there. They also have the infamous Vogons Drivers database.
You can’t find EVERYTHING on Google
It’s true… and sometimes what you find on Google is actually just an SEO trap designed to get you to pay for something and they STILL might not have what you ultimately wanted. Pretty common with driver sites.
Archive.org’s Software Site
If you’ve got a piece of hardware you can’t find a driver for or you’re looking for a restore disk they might just have it. Even if you know a brand or a company that often bundled your card/hardware item with theirs or a variant like it… search that, you never know what you’ll find including on the multi-driver CDs of the same era.
The OTHER less-documented Archive.org Use
You can also look up the website of your motherboard, graphics card or device and in many cases, Archive.org has a backup of the zip file downloads that were available at the time as well!
For everything you can’t find on Google Web… there’s often sub databases that will never show up in your search results. Google Books has lots of info that you’ll never find in the regular results. Search your item there and any stories published in magazines, newspapers or textbooks will appear. You might not be able to read the whole book, but often just one or two pages are all you need.
There are also eBook sites which are not well traveled that you can get copies of magazines that are not available on Archive.org or Google Books. Sometimes your local library actually has access to databases you can access with your library card that contain licensed material (books/magazines) and you can get access to and read something that’s been taken down from Archive.org due to copyright.
1/10/21 – Just learned today there are some modern flavors of Linux that run on retro hardware!
One is Adélie Linux (more user friendly) which is based on Alpine Linux. Both can work on hardware as simple as a Pentium 166MMX.
Vintage BIOS analysis Tools from the X86 Project.