IBM PCjr & “Weird Computer” Antilust

Sunday, February 6th, 2011

Browsing randomly this morning for any special retro computer goodies on the E of the Bay, I ran across this little gem:

IBM PCjr Dual Disk Drives

That is one P-I-M-P purple suede-like background. 1337 seller skillz.

I think this is the first time on eBay I’ve seen a PCjr with its “dual disk” option installed. No PSU and untested, but free shipping and it looks to be in nice condition. I mean, I already have a PCjr that I can’t say I use that often, but it’s still cool. Honestly, I’m not sure of the point of a second drive on the thing. It’s still going to be somewhat useless for a lot of things unless you get a crapton more RAM (256K base on mine). Even expanded with IBM’s 128K sidecar, you’re still only getting 384K and most programs or games that required two disks are probably going to want more RAM as well. That’s putting aside the fact the game may or may not work, or if it does it will probably run too slowly anyways. Still a bit of awesome to the thing, from a collector’s standpoint.

That reminded me though: I really kind of like the PCjr. It’s pretty much the little punk of the IBM line of PCs, but it’s so bizarre and, dare I say, adorable that you just have to like it somewhat. I mean, I own quite a few games for the thing, and many of them were purchased in recent months. Games like F-15 Strike Eagle and Touchdown Football. I’ve been meaning to review them both, but I keep holding back due to one big issue: the keyboard. It’s sad but true. Still, I mean, that’s the way you interact with the thing! If it sucks, it’s really a downer. The chiclet keyboard is balls. Crap keys, it’s wireless, runs on batteries and even when the batteries work the IR blows. I have the second keyboard as well but the batteries have basically stopped working completely recently. When I first got it the last owner had left some early-90’s batteries in there and they had corroded the battery compartment. So I really just need to suck it up and get the PCjr keyboard cable so I can bypass batteries and the IR entirely. But for nearly $30 I find it kind of hard to justify buying such a thing for such a machine that’s essentially crap. I like it, I enjoy the weirdness, but it’s still a lackluster machine.

The 3DO is another one of those for me. Same kind of thing. It’s got some great points, some terrible points, and lots more massively mediocre points. Sure, owning the machine is a big part of it. Owning weird machines is going to be fun times to a degree. But without software and peripherals, I find it harder to justify owning the things. The mind is willing, but the body is poor.

Anyone else have one of those kind of machines that you want to enjoy and perhaps spend a bit of cash on extras for, but can’t bring yourself to do so?


4 comments on “IBM PCjr & “Weird Computer” Antilust

  1. Chris says:

    Another interesting read, Clint. If I came across a jr at a car boot sale or something, I might be tempted to buy it, but it’s firmly in the category of “interesting, but not interesting enough”. Same with any early MS-DOS PC, really…

  2. tom61 says:

    If that double disk drive is the same as the one I have, it actually expands the RAM to 640K. It also adds a RTC, but I never got it working on mine (there is a large button cell in the sidecar, though.

    Compatibility is pretty bad though on the jr, even with 640K of RAM. Back in the day, having two disk drives proved useful, though. I used to boot DOS in drive A:, and have a work disk for BASIC in drive B:, or run games from B: and be able to get back to DOS without having to swap disks if the game locked up, or I felt like changing games.

    Note: If you do end up getting one like this, you need two jr powersupplies, one for the jr, one for the expansion.

    • Very interesting and useful info, thanks! Didn’t know it added 640K and a clock, that’s a very useful addition. I wish had been able to purchase it, just having 384K and a single drive in mine. Having an extra PSU makes sense, although that’s also something I wasn’t aware of. All in all, an exceptionally useful comment that I thank you for!

  3. Nate says:

    That’s with all my (two!!)systems

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