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2023-06-14 19:29:22

The FREE ‘Never Obsolete’ PC from 2000! eMachines eTower 566ir

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Greetings .

And today on L G R , we have this debatably enjoyable new to me , old computer that I'm unjustifiably excited to have the E machines .

E tower 5 66 I R from the year 2000 one with the infamous never obsolete sticker emblazoned on the front of the case looking like some kind of scam .

Isn't it great ?

I think it's great in an admirably awful way which we get to .

But first where this came from , I picked this up recently while I was exhibiting at the vintage computer Festival Midwest show in Illinois .

And in between all the Apple leases S G I workstations , Amigas terminals , rare imported machines and so on .

There was this that's just talking to folks like , yeah , there's an incredible Twiggy Apple Lisa over there .

But have you seen that complete year ?

2000 S E machines E Tower with all the original stickers ?

I don't know .

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I've been looking for a complete set up like this for years .

So this was my one computer purchase at the whole show .

Go figure , I'll have a full video about V C F Midwest in the future .

But for now I feel like unwinding with some E machines , silliness .

Yeah .

I quite like these things .

Not so much for the machine's capabilities but more the context in which the system existed .

They're precisely the type of budget computer that was endlessly present .

Growing up with several friends and relatives grabbing an E Machines Tower as their first computer in the late nineties , early two thousands .

And with good reason , the E Tower 5 66 series was often available at retail for the cost of $0 .

That's right .

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Nothing for a handful of years around the turn of the millennium , you could wander into your big box retailer of choice and walk out with a complete brand new windows 98 or X P computer system without paying a dime from a certain point of view .

The catch was you'd pay the total cost up front usually between five and $600 and then you'd have three or four mail in rebates to take care of one from the store themselves , one from E machines and another , the largest one from a dial up internet service provider .

And often that meant committing to a couple of years of service at $20 a month or whatever .

After which you'd hopefully get all your money back through checks in the mail over the coming months minus local taxes .

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Of course , why go with a $2000 Sony Vio or $1000 compact Presario E Machines was the dominant choice for many , if you were seeking a full internet capable PC , on a budget , granted , you'd be stuck with a specific dial up service for a couple of years at minimum .

But , hey , free computer .

If you are already gonna sign up with an ISP , regardless , it might just make sense .

And of course , there was the claim of being never obsolete an absurd sticker that seemed like some kind of sick joke to anyone who knew anything about computers back then .

Of course , this was nothing more than a marketing tactic , advertising the E Machines network plan which for 1999 a month included both MC I dial up internet and an upgrade path to a new PC every two years .

And I've talked about all this in the company's history before on L G R .

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But the gist is that E machines tactics worked well becoming North America's fourth largest PC brand behind Compact H P and I B M .

Yeah , whatever though .

We've got a fine example of an E tower on the table .

So let's talk about it beginning with the case itself , which is this neat little beige micro A T X tower that was used in dozens of models .

Beginning in the late nineties , you get 25 and a quarter inch drive bays , one empty and one populated with an optical drive , which in the case of the 5 66 R here is a CD R W drive , an upgrade over the 5 66 I , which only came with a CD ROM .

And I believe it may have been replaced with a more generic drive here as others I've seen have this nice rounded face plate suited to the case .

Hopefully , I can find one of those to restore it someday .

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And right below , there is a 3.5 inch disk drive planted above the hard disk activity light in the same drive bay and a hard on off power button that has a light yet rather satisfying .

Click to it .

Then down at the bottom is a sliding door hiding a USB 1.1 connection at a 15 pin game port for joysticks and the like plus stickers , all the dag on stickers and these were useful when displayed on a store shelf , but they were always there on the case from the factory .

So it's neat to see them still applied and not peeled off like most others I've seen .

Although I'm disappointed that the tacky AOL five point oh sticker is missing leaving behind a rather nasty discolored area on the front of the case .

So I'm just gonna go ahead and slap on a modern recreation .

Mm Nice and fresh obligatory .

Shout out to dot com because their products are awesome .

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Anyway , around back is the standard I O allotment with zero surprises P S two USB serial V G A parallel and sound all integrated into the motherboard with undoubtedly mediocre results though this does leave four expansion brackets available since barely anything is installed inside .

On that note , three screws are all that's needed to free the case enclosure .

I like how that Q A sticker is still on there too .

Again , all these old stickers going on .

That's half the reason I bought this inside is a standard socket , 370 motherboard shared with multiple E tower models and one that's luckily unaffected by the capacitor plague .

It's loaded with an intel cellar on running at 566 megahertz as implied by the E machine's model number .

And as for memory , it originally came with 64 megabytes of PC 100 S D ram .

But this one's been upgraded to the max supported 256 and hard drive .

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Well , it's been swapped out too now packing a beefy 90 gig S S D instead of the 15 gig ID E original .

And despite the claims of a GP graphics , there is no a GP slot with only a four megabyte intel 82 8 10 A GP chip set on board three PC I slots is all you get for expansion .

One of which used to be filled with a long gone 56 K modem card , considering there are four brackets around back .

It's a shame there aren't more slots .

But again , E machines built these cases to be used in tons of configurations .

So it is what it is on that note , the mouse is your standard E machines fare for the time .

A simple built to cost two button P S two ball mouse that is as underwhelming as it is decently usable in a pinch .

The same goes with the speakers which are unpowered , unbranded .

Little things that sound about as flimsy as they look , testing , testing .

This is me speaking through the speakers .

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I can only speak for myself , but this sounds bad .

I'm pretty sure my toaster oven has better speakers .

But hey , at least these have an oddly cute look to them .

The keyboard is another nifty thing to have with this whole set up , check this out .

It may be a mega mushy membrane affair with key caps that make me sad , but I don't actually hate it either .

I guess there's something to be said for the nostalgic squish factor .

It also has this fascinating array of shortcut keys largely related to web browsing but also volume controls , which is nice since the unpowered speakers it came with , don't have controls at all .

You also get this big old row of oddly specific nonsense with shortcuts to things like banking tickets , brokerage , paying bills , auctions , games , and so on .

And my favorite greetings .

How could I resist a system with a dedicated greetings key ?

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Unfortunately , I don't have the software that makes this work , but I believe most all of them just open a web browser to predetermined websites .

Finally , there's the E V 14 monitor , a 14 inch C R TV G A display built in November 1998 included with multiple E tower models .

There's a small selection of analog and digital controls for contrast brightness and basic geometry adjustments and around a 13 inch viewing area with a max 10 to four by 7 68 resolution at 60 Hertz that looks soft and shrunken .

So lower resolutions are ideal honestly , even with the light cosmetic damage here and there , the thing looks great , especially with low res doss games and whatnot .

All the phosphorus on this particular unit look nice and vibrant .

But what am I doing ?

Rambling on about all this ?

Let's move to a comfier spot and get stuck in with the E machine's E Tower experience circa 2000 .

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Uh those little toy speakers , they try not as bad as a five and quarter in drag based speakers , of course , but you know , they are what they are anyway .

Yeah .

B 5 66 I R here is ready to go .

Unfortunately not with the original installation as far as I can tell .

I mean , like all the original software and bundled stuff is not on here .

I don't have the recovery disc .

But anyway , let's go ahead and test out some things .

So the monitor I have set to 6 40 by 4 80 since that is by far the most readable .

Very simple stuff .

In terms of that graphics controller , four megs of memory of some kind , I don't know if Tom board or shared with the system or what it is there though .

And , uh , here's another thing too .

Yeah , the mouse you see every time I lift it , it , like , it , it scrolls upward kind of a lot .

Like , I'm barely moving it just off the pad there and it just whoop , whoop .

So , um , I , I've looked in there and like , everything is fine .

It's , it's all in place .

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It's just the roller , the one that goes vertical , uh tends to keep rolling whenever you lift the ball .

So if , if everything happens like that all the time when I'm moving the mouse or looking around in a game , that's why .

So while we don't have the original installation , unfortunately , the person I bought it from did fill it with all kinds of things to test out on here .

Yay ski free .

It looks and plays like ski free .

No surprise if it couldn't play this .

That would be devastatingly stupid .

Oh , it's also , I got the Microsoft Arcade one of these .

I remember playing this .

Uh , oh , man , I guess it was an Office Depot .

Never actually had it at home .

Uh , ok .

Well , that's not entirely true .

Uh , it was on an Office Depot demo .

PC could have even been an E machine for all I know .

And the games were small enough that I actually remember copying some of them and taking them home .

Don't tell anyone .

Yeah .

Look , at that .

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It's only two megs for absolutely everything .

I remember having a battle zone and missile command in particular .

And look , those are only about one meg .

So anyway , uh go and try out a dos game or rather attempt to because uh well , this is interesting .

So these E machines have that integrated crystal sound thing which will be detected as a sound blaster of various types and things will detect it .

But whenever you try to run them , it will either straight up , freeze the system or shut down with an illegal operation like this .

And the same thing happens in DOS mode again , I don't have the original installation .

I really wish I did .

But uh , yeah , Crystal Sound Fusion is what it's recognized as in here and it's got the stuff , you know , 2 23 88 51 , I cannot get a single game to recognize the actual sound blaster portion .

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A label work , um , kind of more on that in a sec .

But the sound blaster now it just , it freezes crashes , everything that runs a sound blaster .

So , uh let me go into ad lib .

Ok .

Do you notice anything wrong ?

Like it actually sounds ok in terms of , uh , I don't know F M sent but the pitch is higher .

It's completely off like it's an , I don't know , an octave or two or something higher .

It's just bizarre .

Otherwise , it actually sounds like it's doing a decent job .

But uh , what's with that ?

Yeah .

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I mean , at least it doesn't sound like intermittent farts .

Like the E machines .

E one .

And then you got stuff like Doom Two for instance , will actually open up .

But only , oh , well , no , it doesn't anymore .

I think I might have tried to get the sound going .

It will only work if you disable the sound or put it to PC speaker .

Yeah .

And then the PC speaker , it just sounds like garbage .

It's very quiet .

Tinny , terrible .

This is not good for dos gaming in terms of sound .

So if I were to actually be using this for any length of time , the very first thing that I would do would be to put a proper sound card of any kind in here and then just disable the onboard crap entirely .

All right .

So here's something else I always like to test Unreal Tournament .

After all this came out in 1999 the game did computers from 2000 .

So , uh we should be ok .

Right .

So far so good .

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It will actually start up only in software rendering .

This doesn't have enough capabilities to do direct 3D .

It seems it just goes to a black screen and crashes when I try it , check out the player models it so you just get blocks , everything is made of blocks , Vaux looking dudes , but it is playable and perhaps not as badly as you might think in terms of speed and performance .

Don't get me wrong .

It's pretty bad but , uh , not as bad as I thought he'd be considering we're running purely out of software here .

Uh , there's that mouse again .

See that every time I lift up it starts raising , ah , uh , oh , I don't know what's going on with that .

Ok .

Ok .

Everything being made of blocks I think is pretty great .

Again .

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I tried to run it on higher settings and software and it just like it would load it , get to the menu sometimes .

Other times , you know , like if I skip the intro demo but other times , yeah , nothing would even happen .

It would just freeze .

Uh , the system would hang blue screens , all kinds of fun stuff .

But , you know , hey , this is totally playable regardless .

So , if I'd have gotten this computer for , for free at a best buy or whatever , with a crap load of rebates , I would have been somewhat satisfied , I guess .

Yeah .

Yeah , it would have been ok .

All right .

So another one here , let's try this optical drive out .

It's pretty slow , but at least it opens and closes .

It closes much quicker .

But anyway , I'm still not entirely sure if this is the original drive or not .

I've seen a number of other photos of these 5 66 with this drive in it .

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So it might actually be original to it just that they may be replaced it with a more generic one instead of the one that was shaped with the roundedness on the front .

I don't know , I would like the rounded one though just to match the case a bit .

So Moto racer love this game .

Yeah .

Ok .

Love that name thingy .

And it's pretty much ideal kind of game to play on a system of this speed .

Let's go from a few years before the system came out .

So , yeah , running in direct 3D , it's very quick and very satisfying .

Good stuff .

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I mean , I was still playing this game in the year 2000 .

So I would have been happy with this .

This is great .

Direct 3D acceleration .

Wow .

Ok .

Let's crash , bam .

Run me over , run me over .

Ok .

Yeah , this is so good .

I could play this forever .

Ok .

Let's , let's not though , try something else .

I do like that .

The CD ROM is nice and quiet too .

You really can't hear it , spinning anything up .

What you can hear is the fans , I think that may be the power supply .

Oh , here we go .

How about the one ?

I don't know if I've ever played on L G R before .

Command to Conquer Tiber , son , an old favorite and by old , I mean , I don't think I've played it in over 20 years .

So this will be good .

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Yeah , this like in engine cut scene stuff is pretty rad , not , they came out nowhere loud and clear .

Waiting over .

Yeah .

Anyway , as you can see , this runs perfectly well , this is pretty ideal for strategy games .

From like the mid nineties to early two thousands .

You'd run into stuff or problems with stuff like age of mythology .

For instance , any kind of 3d game is going to be a bit rough .

Even like Sim City 3000 unlimited .

Yeah .

If you were content playing games that were a few years old , like , I certainly was at the time and , you know , friends who had never had a PC before or had really slow ones before .

This was a great option .

And you , this is not bad .

Not bad at all .

Hm .

Let's see .

I guess we could run clipping .

Uh , I mean , oh , he's a bike now .

There he is .

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Nope , that's enough of that .

I decline .

What's he gonna do if I decline ?

Is it gonna kick me out , uh , clip ?

He's like , I don't want no part of this .

You are declining anarchy .

Uh , oh , yeah , Tony Hanks per Cater two PC .

I might have to turn down the music because I know I was gonna get copyright stuff .

Unfortunately , as good as the sound track is youtube .

Let's go .

They'd help if I remembered the controls .

Ok .

I think , uh , this is gonna be ok .

It's like Z X CV or something along the , I'm not looking at the screen , I'm looking at the keyboard .

Ok , let's get this , let's get this .

Yeah , I landed one .

Ah , shoot .

Don't press that button .

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Yeah , it runs pretty good again , I got some direct 3D acceleration going here .

So , you know , it's not like an incapable little graphics chip .

It's just , well , he's gotta know its limitations .

Something like Unreal Tournament .

Uh , not so much .

It's again , technically capable .

I , I think it is .

Right .

All right .

Let me , uh , let me try one more time with Andre Tournament because , yeah , running a software mode perfectly fine .

Direct 3D on the other hand .

Well , crap .

It's actually working this time .

Hey , look , we got faces .

Wow , Lore , but they are there .

Yeah , this totally wasn't working when I first tested it , but then I have upgraded uh Direct X and a couple other things since .

Uh maybe it's just good now .

I don't know .

Sweet .

Oh , yeah , dude .

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Yeah , it's blurry and stuff but like whatever , this little tiny monitor , it actually kind of works well with it .

I , I would have been pretty thrilled for this for such cheapness .

I mean , in case you're not quite getting it , I was pretty easy to please when it came to computers .

I just wanted to play my games .

I wasn't like obsessed with visual fidelity or resolution or even frame rates .

I just wanted , I just want to be able to play my games like this was , you know , oh , heck of a lot better than what my A R S spire could do that .

A spire was a 233 megahertz K six .

Even with a voodoo card installed and everything and upgraded the ram to 64 megs .

It , it wasn't anywhere like this .

It's awesome .

Maybe not so much for the year 2000 , but hey , whatever .

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Can't complain with the price of almost free dish , sort of with lots of asterisks and rebates .

Heck yeah .

Head shot .

Well , sweet .

I didn't think this was actually working .

Uh , dude , this is , this is nominally better than I thought it was .

It's still slow and clunky and whatever .

But that's kind of not the point .

Yeah , like I said , for me , the point really is the context that this existed in , you know , all the never obsolete nonsense and the fact that it was such a decently capable internet PC that could burn C DS and play 3D games sort of and had a little bit of hard drive space and USB and like , you know , this was pretty cool for an intro to computing as it was for so many thousands of people .

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And that's really just what interests me in these systems , you know , I never owned and E machines like this , I think we maybe had one much later on , but certainly none of these early ones but friends did , family did random people .

I ran across it .

It was like , oh , yeah , this , uh , this silly thing with the never obsolete sticker .

I had one of those and maybe weren't the most fond memories , but they are memories regardless .

And I think these uh deserve a bit of preservation and their place as a weird footnote in computer history time when things were just hit rock bottom in terms of prices and mediocre .

But like , it was getting stuff out there to the masses , getting people online , getting them to burn C DS and play games and , you know , hop on a Napster and like , do all that whole turn the millennium thing .

I , I don't know , just filled a need and did it in an affordable way .

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And if you enjoyed this , look back at the machine that is absolutely never obsolete , then do check out my other videos on other things that are certainly obsolete .

But hopefully , I never am .

I don't know , I probably am .

I don't want to think about that .

Anyway , new L G R videos in the works , including the V C F Midwest one .

So stay tuned for those or subscribe if you like .

And as always , thank you for watching .


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