AliExpress’ Weird Laptop With Intel 8088 CPU Will Take You Back To The MS-DOS Era – Ars Technica

All modern Intel and AMD computers can trace their roots to a single system: the IBM PC. Originally released in August 1981, this computer became so popular and long-running that competitors reverse-engineered its BIOS so that their computers could use the same software and peripherals, a practice that eventually led to a de facto standard whose descendants we still use. Even today .

If you want to experience what it was like to use an old IBM PC, you can drop a few hundred dollars on a used one on eBay. Or you can roll the dice at this whimsical new laptop on AliExpress. The Book 8088 laptop combines modern components with an Intel 8088 processor and 640 KB (yes, that’s KB) of memory. There are few modern conveniences that make using it nicer than a 40-year-old desktop, such as a 640 x 200 16-color LCD screen, and integrated interfaces that allow USB peripherals and CompactFlash cards to interface with legacy components (a 512-capacity CompactFlash card works MB as the system hard drive).

Intel’s 8088 was a shortened version of the original 8086 with an 8-bit data bus; On the Book 8088 and IBM PC, it runs at 4.77MHz. This slow speed and low memory limits mean that it is best suited to MS-DOS, with its text-based interface and general lack of multitasking support. You Can Run very early versions of Windows on it, even 3.0, but according to old tech YouTuber it looks like a bad time.

There are several extensions intended to expand the capabilities of Book 8088; There’s an open socket for an Intel 8087 floating-point coprocessor, a Yamaha Sound Blaster-compatible sound card accessory, and an external dongle with three slots for ISA expansion cards.

An external dongle for ISA expansion cards, so you can install any old modems or SCSI cards you have on hand.

Xinrui Technology

There are reasons to be skeptical of the 8088 book, and a little research has turned up any company that makes this stuff. The images are credited to Xinrui Technology, a Hong Kong-based manufacturer that appears to make mostly cheap computer accessories and audiovisuals but their (very old) website doesn’t even mention the 8088. The boot screen visible in one of the images pointed us to, which lists The book 8088 and other old computer projects, but there is no information that has not already been provided in the AliExpress listing. The same company appears to be responsible for the old “Hand386” sold-out computer, a portable system with a more capable Intel 386 SX processor inside.

The AliExpress seller, DZT, seems to sell mostly small CNC machines and has a 90 percent positive feedback rate, so it looks like you’ll at least get one. someSomething in a box if you order one of these.

Whoever makes these laptops doesn’t make many of them; The base version retails for $200 with no accessories, as does the version with the 8087 processor. As of this writing, there are still about 80 sound cards preinstalled, available for $221. There are about 20 of the $241 version with the sound card and external ISA expansion dongle.

Obviously, you don’t need to buy a laptop with an 8088 to experience what life was like in the days of MS-DOS. Sites like PCjs Machines will emulate the original IBM PC right in a browser window, complete with period-appropriate software. Most people can run one of these emulators for half an hour and learn everything they need about re-computing (mostly, it was slow). But for diehards who demand hardware expertise, this could be a great way to get the functionality of an IBM PC in a package that takes up significantly less space.

Listing image by Xinrui Technology

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