Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Long overdue: video of the Compudyne 575HD

Here's a video I made of the beloved Compudyne 575HD. This should give you a better idea of what the thing can do. Also, I test out my $30 mic on this computer. I love how it sounds better than it does on my main computer.


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

NOT Playskool Magic Touch Books: CompUSA's "Compudyne" Computer Line

So I know I said I would talk about Playskool's Magic Touch Books today, but I figured instead that I would talk about a line of computers known as Compudyne.

The name is still used for a completely different business today and is not related in any way to the computers I am going to talk about. With that, let us begin.

Back in the 90s, you didn't only have to get computers from an electronics store, and the Internet was... very young. Too young to handle shopping. You had mail-order instead. But if you really wanted to get it from a store, there were plenty of stores that specialized in computers. Notable computer stores included Computer City and, my personal favorite, CompUSA.

At CompUSA, you had your Packard Bells, your HPs, your Compaqs... but if you were really on a budget, you went with their store brand, Compudyne. And really, like a lot of store-brand products in general, Compudyne computers were as simple as re-branded computers from other companies (in this case, Acer).

The Compudyne 575HD was the second home personal computer we had in this house, but it was the first that I remember using. As such, it means very much to me. It still works, surprisingly, and because of these factors I will never--never--get rid of it. Ever.

Sadly, there is not a whole lot that I know about Compudyne, as there is not a whole lot that anybody knows about Compudyne. But from what I have found out, Compudynes were simply re-branded Acers, complete with original Acer-branded parts. My computer, for example, comes with an AcerMagic S20 sound card, which is one of the many Sound Blaster clones of the time (1995).

Mine originally came with Windows 3.1, but soon the hard drive died (I do not remember this happening) and my dad went back to CompUSA to get it replaced. At that time, Windows 95 was the big deal and Windows 3.1 was obsolete, so he had the guy install 95 on it as well. As a result, some DOS games didn't work like they should have. SimCity Enhanced CD-ROM Edition, for example, always said "Insufficient funds to build that" after building a residential zone, a road, and a railroad. Either we (my sister and I) had spent too much time and money building those without realizing it, or the game was just broken in general.

And as of now, I have ruled out the latter. I bought SimCity Enhanced at a toy fair, but it was an earlier release, and it was not the Compudyne or Acer OEM version (which is the rarest of all of the versions of SimCity Enhanced). It also works perfectly on the Compudyne. The memories came flooding back for me and my sister.

Sadly, I don't remember what other kind of games came with ours. I do remember having a very strange collection of edutainment games, including "The Logical Journey of the Zoombinis," but I'm not sure if this was OEM software or what. There was also a Disney Gamebreak! Sampler, which included demos for both Timon and Pumbaa's Jungle Games and The Hunchback of Notre Dame Topsy-Turvy Games, but again, I'm not sure where it came from.

Most of the pre-installed software was uninstalled, so I don't really know what all else came with it. But if anybody else owned a Compudyne or Acer of that time, please, please, please let me know what kind of things came with it! I really want to restore my Compudyne to the way it used to be, but I can't do it without the original software and restore media. If anybody can help, I would really appreciate it!