10 Computer parts you never knew existed or forgot about

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When you’re above 25, you might have used computer equipment younger people never heard off, or even saw. Here’s a list of those computer parts you might remember if you’re old enough.

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I still use a combo PS/2 port on my main computer. A mouse or a keyboard can be plugged in there. I very much prefer cordless mice, but use a mechanical keyboard with a cord.

There are lots of other internal components that have disappeared or have become rare, IDE/PATA connectors on the motherboard for example. Firewire has become obsolete, not to mention SCSI. PCI slots are becoming less and less common too, replaced by PCI-e.

What’s interesting are the ones that refuse to go down for the count. D-sub VGA ports come to mind.Â

Only the Turbo speed button and clock speed display were not on my part list…:bigsmile:

If you by a mainboard they usually still have a combined mouse keyboard PS/2 port, admittedly most people won’t use it.

My local computer store SCAN still use dot matrix printers for the invoice

I was thinking of something similar to this the other week. Can someone who knows this answer please tell me why. IDE ports are a thing of the past. They are gone and no device now has them. You need to buy very old antiquated devices to get it. However if I go out even now and buy a brand new top of the range (or any range for that matter) PSU there will be a whole load of Molex power cables on it and likely either more than or at worst the same amount to SATA power cables.

This means you have to buy Molex to SATA power cables that catch fire (hence why I was thinking this as mine did and I was lucky didn’t burn down my house).

Why can PSU makers just say, right thats it, no more Molex on our PSUs, its done for. All you get now is SATA power and PCIe power connectors and nothing else. Why don’t they do that??

I know you can buy Molex to PCIe converters when you have a powerful graphics card, but those are not recommended and its a poor argument if this is all they are keeping them on the PSU for. Just include that second PCIe power connector.

My old IBM which still sees occasional use has & uses some of the 10.

  1. No Turbo button.
    2.No clock speed display
  2. Uses CRT monitor
  3. No ball mouse but I’m sure I still have one somewhere.
  4. Has parallel port / LPT but I don’t use it.
  5. Has Floppy drive but I also have an external Floppy drive just in case.
  6. Modem This meant a Dial-up modem . The internal ones have been removed but I still have them. I also think I have an external Dial-up modem stored somewhere.
  7. IBM has a mono speaker internally . (Rarely used ).
  8. No Matrix Printer
  9. Yes on PS/2 Port. The IBM keyboard is PS/2 but the mouse has a PS/2 dongle to USB corded mouse.

Ah memories! But who can forget the ever popular DIP switches and jumpers. Or if you’re really ancient (like me) individual DRAM chips. Then for true masochists MFM/RLL controler cards and Multi I/O cards. Finally RIP (rot in pieces) Tape Drives and Syquest drives.

there’s been an evolution of standards to be sure… the turbo button and lpt ports are obsolete technologies… to be sure they still have obscure relevance… but they’re days are primarily done… Modern PCs still utilize a speaker port for the motherboard “system post” code (one beep is what you want to hear otherwise, your day will be upset)…
CABLEmodems are still a staple in broadband… as are DSLmodems (the rotting carcass of ATT made sure of that). I also wrote college papers on floppies… usb were still quite expensive and cdrw not quite ready for prime time. BTW, my last (current) build in 2010 still has a 3.5" floppy drive… I don’t think it’s powered… why bother-- it’s jus for show.
It would take a free after rebate media card reader to motivate me to jettison the floppy… since 2007 that hasn’t happened! Besides, most devices are USB OTG ported anyway which gives access to the cards. My old computer 2006ish has the crt connected to it… but that system is pre PCI-E (AGP)… so it lacked upgrade path and direct-x extensions…

Soon Microsoft will push everyone towards direct-x 12 and try to make another generation of video card obsolete… thankfully pci-e is an evolution bus (1.0 - 3.x)  instead of a dated obsolescence standard (thanks for knowing better!)

BTW, if you wanted a whole bunch of obsolete technologies where is the RAMBUS ram/drams or the 5 1/4 floppy notcher (a pair of scissors did the trick too-- did anyone ever modify the drive to always read double sided?), b&w monitors (or DISTORTED DOT PITCH color CRTs), serial bus, firewire, ribbon cables, 5 1/4 hard rives, . Also, the keyboard disablement keyswitch?!? really? jeez… people were really thinking inside the box for security in those days. let’s not forget those custom franken-computer builds I’m sure you could dredge up. Let’s not forget the plethora of PROPRIETARY bus standards for laptops and styles worthy of a museum.

Last but not least… the modern iphone 6 / android equiv. is about as powerful as 200 of those old computers put together (~2.0 - 2.5ghz).

lpt ports are obsolete technologies… to be sure they still have obscure relevance… but they’re days are primarily done…

Not as far as business use goes, the lpt port still runs a lot of Dot Matrix printers in the world and probably still will for years to come.IMHO

I have used computers with all 10 parts and some don’t even seem that old to me. I did quite a lot of printing with a Citizen Swift 200 24-pin dot matrix printer while at college (third level.)

I’ve used or owned the following in the past:

[li]External SCSI CD writer (my first writer) - Made plenty of coasters and even managed to create CD-RW coasters!
[/li][li]A double-ended parallel port cable for transferring files between a PC and laptop (quicker than serial.)
[/li][li]ISA ports and expansion cards in PCs, before PCI took over.
[/li][li]AT port and mechanical keyboard with AT connector.
[/li][li]5.25" hard disk - These used a 5.25" open bay and had an LED on its front panel for activity.
[/li][li]A mouse with a serial lead - Most PCs that used an AT keyboard port did not have a PS2 mouse port.
[/li][li]Zip drive as well as 100MB and 250MB Zip disks.
[/li][li]ISA Sound card - Most older mainboards did not have on-board sound.
[/li][li]10BASE2 Ethernet card and 10BASE2 coaxial Ethernet cable with BNC connectors and end terminators.
[/li][li]Power supplies with a female IEC connector for the monitor.
[/li][li]Parallel port dongle for software copy protection (Autocad.)
[/li][li]Monochrome monitor with orange/brown text.
[/li][li]CD ROM drive that was silent - 4x speed.
[/li][li]Battery operated external SCSI CD ROM drive for a laptop.
[/li][li]ISDN modem - Used a digital phone line for a 64Kb up/down link or 128Kb with 2 lines.

Sadly I remember all of these and more.

5 1/4 inch and 8 inch floppies, Winchester hard disks, punched cards… :eek:


My first IBM computer ( I still have) used all of that stuff, I was so proud of the A drive 3 1/2 floppy and the B drive was 5 1/4 Floppy with a lighting 1200 K modem, and 40 meg HDD, 256 K ram and color RGB monitor


Yep, yep… and yep.

Got examples of most of those in my spares cupboard, and half of them in active use. And most of Seán’s list…

Other highlights from the spares cupboard:

A pair of networking adapters for running a 1Mbit (?) network through your phone line.

An adapter to convert a VGA monitor output to an Amstrad PC1512 type monitor.

A Pentium motherboard with a removable cache memory board. (Removable because the pipeline-cache memory prive spiked in 1995-6.)

Might also have a VESA graphics card in there as well, but I think the 486 motherboard it fitted went a couple of years ago.

Remember JEIDA RAM expansion cards? (The predecessor to PCMCIA/PC-Card.) In Spain, I still have a 1993 vintage Toshiba laptop with a JEIDA 4MB memory expansion card to supplement the 2MB onboard. Sadly its HDD or controller failed a couple of years ago.

Anyone else still consider the 50MHz 80486DX processor to be the pinnacle of computing? (Especially when combined with a rare VESA & EISA motherboard.) Or is it just me?

Those were the days, before all this clock-multiplication nonsense. Used one briefly back in 1992, and I swear nothing since has felt as quick.:smiley:

You say that “floppies are obsolete” and you show the 3.5" ones. You want to talk obsolete? How about the 8" floppy? or even the
5.25" floppy?

Remember “flippy” disks [single sided ones that you punched a notch in and flipped over to use the other side]?

The CRT isn’t recently enough obsolete to the 25-year-old crowd.

I’m really surprised to find PS2 ports still exist. And WHY firewire? WTF
uses FIREWIRE?? I never used it. It was obsolete on arrival!

SCSI isn’t dead – it’s morphed. It’s now SAS.

How about:

  • impact printing of any sort?
  • tractor-fed printing of any sort?
  • the ribbon colour dot-matrix printer?

And, in the collegiate/hi-tech sector:

  • front panel toggle switches
  • consoles with blinking lights?
  • consoles with printers/typeheads?
  • terminals directly attached to serial consoles?
  • terminals directly attached to serial ports (80x24 characters)?
  • magnetic tape?
  • PAPER tape?
  • Hollerith cards?
  • phototypesetters?
  • honest-to-god PLOTTERS? (pen on a head that moved on x-y, with pen-up/down capability)?

Damn, I’m old…

Reminiscing? How about the evolution of storage?

Over the years, I’ve played around with MFM, RLL, ESDI, SCSI, IDE, EIDE, SATA-1, SATA-2 & SATA-3 drive interfaces. About the only one I haven’t tried is SAS.

The HDD brands I’ve had were CDC, Imprimus, Priam, Maxtor, Conner, Data General, Fujitsu, IBM (yes, at one time IBM had their own disk drive manufacturing facilities), MiniScribe, Micropolis, Quantum, Rodime, Hitachi, Western Digital & Seagate. I can remember when the first hard disk drive became available to the general public. It was a Seagate ST225 20MB (yes, that’s Megabytes) drive and was advertised in Computer Shopper for $399. Before that hard drives were only sold to “computer professionals” or system manufacturers. The installation of a hard drive was considered to be way beyond the capabilities of the consumer. The best of the old bunch were the Quantum and IBM IDE drives. Buying any brand of HDD is pretty much of a crapshoot nowadays.

I’ve also played around with ¼” tape drives (boy, there’s an exercise in futility!), DAT tape drives, 8mm helical-scan tape (Exabyte), DTL tape & magneto-optical disk drives trying to find a good backup solution. All but the ¼” tape drives were SCSI interface.

I’ve always built my own desktops, from my first Intel 286 system with 1 Megabyte of RAM, a 20 Megabyte Seagate ST225 HDD and a 13" monochrome CRT monitor (back in the late ‘80s?) up to my current ASUS P6X58D Premium Intel Core i7-950 Quad-Core HT desktop system with 12 GB of RAM, a pair of 1TB SATA-3 HDD’s in a RAID1 array and a 22" widescreen LCD monitor. I wouldn’t go back to the “old” days for anything!

I’ve used the paper pounch out tape, and I still have my 5 1/2 inch punch to make the flippy


I remember growing up with great piles of computer printout lying around the house. There seemed to be an inexhaustible supply of it. Yellow plastic folders of 132 column tractor feed paper with alternating green & white lines, produced by a drum or chain printer back to the days before computers had VDUs.

Didn’t have a clue what calculations on it were for (something my mother did for her PhD in the 1960s). Just did what any three year old would do and used it for drawing on. :bigsmile:

The good old days I am sure glad they are gone

Yep had or remember every one of those. Memory was so expensive there were armed robberies where that is what they would take. My last CRT monitors were 21" and weighed close to 100 pounds, but looked awesome and could handle many resolutions. My first hard drive was a hard card 20 meg, used, I paid 200 bucks for so I could have all my files and games on the disk rather then floppies and they ran so much faster, or at least loaded things much faster.
After my 386dx 25 I started building my own and have ever since.