Tag Archives: Windows 95

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)

The Simpsons: Virtual Springfield

A look at Springfield in 1997

Simpsons Virtual Springfield

Released for both Mac and PC in 1997, Virtual Springfield puts you directly into Springfield where you can freely explore the Simpsons town, Springfield. Whilst promoted as being a 3D game, it’s actually 2D with a 3D-based perspective, using an engine built by Vortex Media Arts. This isn’t the first Simpsons game released, with previous titles being released on the NES and the Sega MegaDrive, and it wouldn’t be the last either.

Simpsons Virtual Springfield
Launcher where you can start the game

This game was an interesting look at Springfield since in the show, whilst there was never any continuity of the town itself, buildings would come and go and the layout of the town never remained consistent, not helping was the change of animation studio from the first few seasons. Still, a lot of references to the early seasons of the show are present.

Simpsons Virtual Springfield
Marge cooking the cat

The main object of the game is to collect all 74 of collector cards, which are hidden across 17 different locations. Some locations are locked and can be unlocked by collecting specific items. The game’s HUD is designed around the player wearing a VR headset and using it to navigate Springfield.

Simpsons Virtual Springfield

The game runs slowly on PCem when running it directly from the CD-ROM (being played from an external Blu-ray drive) so it’s usually based to create an iso image of the game, then mounting it into PCem. (Update: It seems that I had set the CD-ROM speed in PCem to 4x, which wasn’t fast enough for the game, since increasing it to 16x the stuttering issues have reduced, but you still get the odd delay, defiantly dump to BIN/CUE when running in PCem)

Simpsons Virtual Springfield

The game is navigated using a point-and-click approach, moving your mouse cursor to a specific area lets you either select or interact with an object or if it turns to an arrow, lets you move in that direction. If the game is left idle, random animations are played out.

Simpsons Virtual Springfield
Milhouse had a growth spurt

Some buildings (Like the Simpsons house) can be entered some have multiple rooms that can be navigated through. Some rooms/buildings are blocked and require an item to be in the inventory before it can be accessed, these can be obtained by picking up the item by clicking on it.

Simpsons Virtual Springfield
Who shot Mr. Burns – Part 3
Simpsons Virtual Springfield
Aye Caramba
Simpsons Virtual Springfield
RIP Krusty
Simpsons Virtual Springfield

It’s not really a game in the traditional sense, there’s no fail state or any challenge, except for collecting cards. It’s more of an application like the previous Simpsons Cartoon Studio. Nowadays you could probably build the same game within a modern browser, like Bing maps but for the Simpsons universe, and maybe leverage a VR headset for full immersion.

Simpsons Virtual Springfield
Sappy and Pelma

Being a long-time fan of the show (For seasons 1-9) and an obvious target for this product, my only gripe is that there weren’t more things to interact with per location. Sure the game will have a limited scope, imposed by the technology of the time.

There are the occasional mini-games featured in the Noiseland Arcade, but certainly more activities like this could have been sprinkled into the game.

Simpsons Virtual Springfield
Thought this was a banjo at first

Quite a few locations are missing like the Springfield dog track where they adopted Santa’s little helper, Krusty Burger (appears in-game but cannot be entered), Department of Motor Vehicles, Police Station (again cannot be entered)

Macintosh

Virtual Springfield uses a hybrid disc that allows the PC copy of the game to run on a Macintosh system. To get the game up and running, you simply insert the CD into the Mac and click on the Virtual Springfield icon on the desktop, the game will launch, providing you set the colour depth to 256 colours. No installation is required.

The game will run on a G4 PowerPC-based Mac, running on OS 9.2.2, but you must change the display colour depth to 256 colours, otherwise, the game will crash the system upon startup. Virtual Springfield will not change the display automatically. It also works by changing the resolution to 640×480 since the game will not scale for a higher resolution, resulting in the game being displayed in the center of the screen with black borders around, if run at a higher resolution. What annoys me is the game does not give an error message informing you of this, just crashes the Mac instead.

The classic environment on Mac OS X does not seem capable of playing the game, this was tested on both OS X Jaguar and Panther classic modes.

External Links

FOX Interactive

Virtual Springfield Technical Info

Windows 95 Chicago (Beta 3: Build 347)

Compiled and made available in March 1995, this was to be the Final beta build of Windows 95, with the release candidates coming soon after.

Installation

Windows 95’s setup procedure which looks the same as the final release. Towards the end of the install procedure, there is an option to use the program manager as opposed to the 95 interface, in practice this retains the default Windows 95 interface, just opens the program manager window.

Stage 2

The second stage of the install boots into the kernel, and prompts the user to enter information. Also, in Windows 95 you were able to select a time zone by clicking on a location in the map, a feature that was removed in the later versions.

Windows 95 Beta boot

Boot screen, which was altered in the final release. The bottom segment is animated to indicate the system is actively loading. The final release replaces it with colour cycling bar

Desktop

When Windows 95 first boots, a welcome screen is displayed which shows useful tips

When a new plug and play device is detected, Windows will prompt for driver instillation. The Windows 95 CD has a moderate library of drivers on the disc, but this is mostly applicable to hardware from 1991-95

Adding additional features in Windows, some features don’t have their own icons and use the default Windows icon

Build Information

Microsoft Network

Microsoft bundled their own internet service platform, similar to AOL, Apple @World or Compuserve designed to get users online

The presence of this and the lack of a web browser being bundled with this release of the operating system signals that Microsoft intended for MSN to the primary way for users to access the internet, rather than using the http protocol that we all use today. Also TCP/IP not installed by default but can be added using the Windows components, you will be prompted to supply the Windows 95 CD to install it.

Accessories

Party Line

Not sure what this was intended for, some sort of multiplayer game like Microsoft Hearts? It seems to just open a blank window and sits there unresponsive.

Volume Control

The volume control, of which it’s appearance will vary depending on the soundcard and the driver installed

Microsoft Fax

Registration Wizard

You have the option to register your copy of Windows 95, which would send a description of your PC hardware to Microsoft, possibly for them to gauge which is the popular configuration of hardware (surely they can get that from the OEM sales?)

Disk Defragmenter

CD Player

Windows Explorer

The main Windows Explorer interface which gives a tree view on the left sidebar. This replaces the Windows 3.1 File Manager

Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer wasn’t included in this build, but was in development from around that time. To install I had to use the installer from oldversion.com, the WinWorldPC version failed to install.

This one failed

But this one worked instead, not entirely sure of the difference between the two installers but it could be due to this OS being a pre-release build.

Once installed a few changes need to be made before you can ‘browse’ the world wide web. Windows 95 did not include TCP/IP by default but could be enabled by installing it thorough the Network applet via the Control Panel.

The first version of Internet Explorer was based on NCSA Mosaic and incorporates various technologies that originated from Mosaic. Attempting to use these browsers on the modern web results in a bunch of garbled html, assuming the browser will even connect to a server. Most times you will gets an unsupported protocol since these browsers do not speak https. Here’s where theoldnet comes in

Trying to install Office 95 on Windows 95, which failed since it checks the OS build number

PCem Specifications

Motherboard: AMI WinBios 486

Processor: AMD Am5x86/P75

Video: Trident TGUI9440

Audio: SoundBlaster 16

Network: NE2000

Mouse: Serial Mouse

Microsoft Plus! 95

Sort of like an expansion pack to Windows 95, this adds additional features that enhance the Windows 95 experiences such as desktop themes, maintenance utilities and some bundled software like Internet Explorer which would be its debut.

Install

Looks like your typical Microsoft installer of the era

Post Install

The boot screen has changed!

Desktop Themes

A selection of themes from the Plus pack. Users of Windows 98 will find these themes look familiar as these themes later appeared in Windows 98 (Along with the Space and Underwater themes). These themes change everything, from the desktop icons to the toolbar layout and fonts (that carry over to the programs that you use), to the sounds and mouse cursor. Science and Inside Your Computer where my personal favourite, used to rock those a lot back in the day.

Utilities

DriveSpace: Compresses the entire dis to allow for more efficient use of hard disk space at the expensive of performance, only works on FAT16 volumes

Internet Starter Kit: Designed to help get users online

Task Scheduler / System Agent: Allows you to schedule certain tasks, such as programs being run at a specific time. Useful for maintenance tasks like Scandisk or the Disk Drefragmenter but also for anti virus programs. Also useful if you wish to run a program at a reoccurring time.

Visual Enhancements

These were designed for high performance systems of the time that supported graphics acceleration

High Colour Icons: By default Windows 95 only supports up to 256 colour icons, with the Plus! pack you can have icons with up to 65536 colours.

Window Dragging: The contents of the windows can be seen when the user drags the application window around the desktop. Previously only an outline of the window could be seen

Anti-Aliasing: Softens the edges of screen fonts and UI elements, similar to ClearType in Windows XP, using the hardware acceleration of the graphics card

Wallpaper Stretching/Scaling: Desktop wallpapers can be stretched to fill the screen if the image resolution does not match the display resolution, using the hardware acceleration of the graphics card

Product Catalogue

The multimedia catalogue, this isn’t installed onto the user system, instead its run straight off the CD-ROM. A showcase for other Microsoft consumer software and products.

Microsoft BOB, which was released from around that period.

Microsoft arguably made the most ergonomic mouses, and loved to show them off

Pinball

The Pinball game was originally developed by Maxis (Yes, the SimCity and The Sims Maxis) makes it debut here although the actual retail game had a lot more levels/machines, in plus pack only one level is featured.