Retrochallenge ’14 Day Whatever: Angry Red Planet!

Now that the World Cup is over and my Germans are rightful World champions, and since the Bundesliga season doesn’t start for another month, I figured I could spend some time on my Retrochallenge… whatever the Hell it is.

Last week’s small victory turned out to be a loss… the floppy drive in my Tandy 1500HD is toast.  Since the hard drive is quite dead as well, I have no simple way of booting the laptop.  This model didn’t have the TANDY EEPROM that many other models had, which usually contained a small MSDOS logical drive with Tandy’s DeskMate software.   So, unless I can fix the floppy drive, it is unusable as a computer.

Speaking of floppies, I found a 10″ x 10″ x 10″ box full of ’em rotting away in a damp corner of the basement.  Probably a good 200 disks easily, most of which were rendered useless by the damp.  No real loss, as they were mostly Amiga MODs and BBS & internet downloads I’d since backed up to CD.  I didn’t lose any original software disks, as they were at the top of the box and therefore spared the damp fate of the disks on the bottom.

Of those originals, 90 percent were late 80s/early 90s PC games… chief among them was Fire Hawk: Thexder II.  One of my favourite games of that era, and the first PC game I ever bought!

So, I fired up Angry Red to see if any of the floppies still worked.  In doing so, I took note of Angry Red’s specs.

AngryRedDOSShown here booting to MS-DOS 5.0

Angry Red is running MS-DOS 5.0/Windows 3.1 and sports a 20MHz 386 w/387 Math coprocessor, 2Mb RAM on board (with 3 empty SIMM-like slots for proprietary RAM modules), 100Mb HD, and two ISA slots, 1 x 8- and 1 x 16-bit.  The slots are currently occupied by a generic 28.8 modem and a 16-bit Adaptec SCSI card, the model of which escapes me for the moment.  I wanted to replace the modem with an 8-bit Sound Blaster card (which would also add a game port), but the card is too long to fit.  Ah well, I think I have an AdLib card or a twin gameport card somewhere in the lab…

As I suspected, Angry Red is saddled with slow-ass 8250 UARTs, which might hamper a future plan involving the serial ports.


AngryRedWindowsWindows 3.1 and the laptop’s namesake


AngryRedFileManagerWindows 3.1 in all its glory

I tooled around in DOS and Windows for a bit, mostly to refamiliarize myself with Windows 3.1.  Using File Manager required a bit of an adjustment on my part.  I’ve been spoiled by later, better file managers… even Windows Explorer looks good in comparison!  Tonight’s project will be to connect a SCSI CDROM to the system so I can go through my old Night Owl CDs (et cetera).  I’m looking specifically for tweaks and user interface options for Windows, perhaps a decent text editor and terminal program (w/zmodem) as well.

I found a program called Rooms which, from what I understand, creates virtual desktops (similar to some Xwindows managers) in Windows 3.1.  I’ll try it out tonight to see if I can make use of it.


The rest of the evening was spent playing Fire Hawk.  The game’s sound and background music sounded passable through the PC Speaker, but certainly not as good as it sounded through my old AdLib.  I’ll have to do something about that…



While I have the original diskettes, I don’t seem to have the manual the game came with… which makes defeating the manual-based copy protection a random endeavour.  Thankfully I had a copy of CopyWrite and Rescue (cracking programs) on one of the floppies I found in the box, so I was able to enjoy my favourite PC game again.  Next up, Star Control!

I’ll report on tonight’s CDROM/Windows tweaking efforts tomorrow morning.

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