Compaq Presario 4500 (86Box)

86box has been able to emulate a large amount of motherboards, and has recently added a few OEM desktop systems to its roster. These are mostly faithful to the original hardware to the extent that you can access their bios. Quite a few OEM recovery discs have popped up on Archive.org which will only run on those actual systems they were intended for, since they often include an OEM copy of Windows.


Whilst this emulates the motherboard and the BIOS firmware that was shipped, certain pieces of hardware are left unemulated like the graphics adapter or the soundcard. Fortunately you are able to substitute alternative components, but you might run into issues upon first boot up since Windows may not have drivers preinstalled. The machine here I’m trying to emulate is a Compaq Presario 4500, of which the specifications can be found here: http://h10032.www1.hp.com/ctg/Manual/bpb12296.pdf

Compaq QuickRestore Utility

This ran straight off the CD-ROM which was bootable from the BIOS and performed a few tests before initialising the hard drive, which had been newly created and had no partitions. After copying was done, the system rebooted and Windows 95 started up.
This utility did require me to enter the serial number of the system, which I was able to find online.

Setting Up Windows 95

After the first reboot Windows seemed to have problems finding the graphics driver and reverted to using the failsafe VGA driver instead, which limited us to 16 colours. At this point we were prompted to register our system and to fill out the registration form. I somehow doubt Compaq (Or HP as its now known) have the registration servers active.
After manually installing the graphics drivers for the S3 ViRGE that I had selected for the system, Windows went to the desktop and we are presented with the default Compaq desktop theme.

Bundled Applications & Utilities

Compaq Quick Access: Runs in the background and provides functionality for shortcuts to be used on the keyboard that would have shipped with the system. Here you can reconfigure the different ‘Easy Access Button’ to perform different function. By default they are used for the calculator and to open in the internet browser.
This utility also manages the on screen display, which appears when the volume keys are pressed or if one of the media control keys (Play, Fast Forward, Rewind) are used. I’m not sure if 86box is capable of passing these commands through since it only emulates a regular PC keyboard.

Compaq Diagnostics: Displays information about your computer system and the Windows OS. You can view the specifications here

SPRYNET Connection Manager: Manages internet connections for the dial up analogue modem, replaces the standard Windows utility.

The Palce: A third party application that was bundled with the system, it seems to be some sort of online chat room server, similar to IRC but uses animated avatars and colour backgrounds to give the illusion of environment. Users could join different room dedicated to certain subjects. This Compaq system would have come with a free trial allowance to entice the customer to subscribe, beck before social media mould datamine the hell out of you.
Sadly the servers are long gone.

SimCity 2000: Not sure what this is doing here, its just the network client and not the full game, maybe it was bundled with the Palace as a game that could be played using it? The full game is not bundled here.

Microsoft Works: The OG Oxymoron, this was a basic version of Microsoft Office bundled with OEM systems to give them basic Office functionality. It is considered productivity software suite which combines a word processor, spreadsheet and a basic database system. As it was a lot cheaper than Microsoft Office, it was commonly bundled with OEM systems to increase their value, although it was also available separately.

Money 97: Software to help manage your bills and bank accounts, before internet banking was widespread. I like the interface design and art used here, you defiantly wouldn’t expect to come across design like this in accounting software

AOL: Also bundled with the system and serves as the recommended ISP

Compaq Quickrestore For Compaq Presario 4500 Series

86box Github

The Palace (Archive)

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