Typical PCs Each Year

1992

In 1992, CDs overtook audio cassettes in sales of recorded music for the first time, Silence of the Lambs hit the cinemas, and Isaac Asimov died. IBM launched the first Thinkpad which had a 10.4" colour TFT display and a Trackpoint, and the first 7200 rpm hard disk was manufactured by Seagate.

On the music scene, Michael Jackson released "Black or White", Guns 'n Roses got a hit with "November Rain" and some of us would "Jump Around" or think "I'm Too Sexy".

CPUs

In 1992, the 80286 CPU was in major decline. Its successors, the 80386 had been out for 7 years and the 80486 3 years. This was the year that PCs really started to become popular for gamers. Before 1992 no DOS game really needed something as powerful as an 80386 to play.

Intel introduced the clock-doubled 486DX2 chip on 2nd March.

Motherboards

The motherboard chipset market began to get hotter around this time - Intel's 420EX "Aries", 420TX "Saturn 1", and 420ZX "Saturn II" chipsets competed on 486 motherboards with OPTI's 82C495, UMC UM8498F and SiS 85C471. VLSI had really dropped out of the chipset market at this point, though still provided their Topcat chipset on 386 motherboards.

VESA Local Bus was introduced this year, which was a first attempt to get ancillary cards off the very slow ISA bus standard. Graphics cards were prominent on this bus, as were disk controller cards.

Memory

In late 1992, DIPP RAM and SIPP RAM were giving way to the new 30-pin SIMMs. The old "pin"-style memory wasn't favourable due to the difficulty in installation and removal, often resulting in bent pins. The new SIMM package offered an edge connection that tilted into place before locking. Some 286 motherboards supported both the older and newer types of memory to give prospective purchasers an upgrade path for their existing components.

Graphics Cards

Diamond launched their latest SpeedStar VGA graphics card, the SpeedStar 24X this year, which had up to 1 MB of video memory onboard and sported the Tseng Labs ET4000AX chipset.

Number Nine launched their GXiTC SVGA card that brought Windows 3.1 resolutions up to 1280 x 1024. Meanwhile Trident were still churning out their TVGA-8900C and 8900D cards by the thousands to OEMs.

Other manufacturers still holding out were Video 7, Genoa and Hercules. Orchid remained a popular choice in the professional and CAD markets.

Audio

On the audio side, Aztech launched their "Sound Galaxy" range of sound cards to compete with the already-popular Creative Sound Blaster.

Creative had already released the Sound Blaster Pro a year before, and 1992 would see the launch of the Sound Blaster 16 at the high end of the consumer PC audio market.

Also still in the fight were MediaVision with their Pro Audio Spectrum series, and Gravis entered the fray with the launch of the Advanced Gravis Ultrasound, or GUS, which was the first the PC market saw of sample-based synthesis (referred to as "wavetable") since the Roland MT-32 and compatibles.

At the 'really' high end we saw Roland MT-32 support begin to drop off in games as General MIDI began to be the new defacto high-end option, though some games developers would still continue to support MT-32 up to around 1996.

Operating Systems



Microsoft released Windows 3.1, and it sold more than 1 million copies in the first 2 months.



Games

Some of the more prominent game titles released this year were Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, Wolfenstein 3D, and Alone in the Dark.

If you had an 80286-16 you could reasonably play the following titles:

    • Indianapolis 500 (Electronic Arts)
    • Lemmings (Psygnosis)
    • 4D Sports Driving (Mindscape)
    • Prince of Persia (Broderbund)
    • Flight Simulator 4.0 (Microsoft)
    • The Secret of Monkey Island (LucasArts)
    • Formula One Grand Prix (MicroProse)
    • Leisure Suit Larry 5 (Sierra On-Line)
    • Pirates! (MicroProse)
    • Speedball II: Brutal Deluxe (Bitmap Brothers)
    • Commander Keen 5 (id Software/Apogee)
    • Dune II

 

 

ACTUAL US DESKTOP PC Prices

Cheapest/Clearance PCs

80286-16 1 MB RAM, 1.2 MB & 1.44 MB floppy disk drives, 40 MB HDD, 14" monitor $1,099

Premium PCs

80486-33 1 MB RAM, 1.2 MB & 1.44 MB floppy disk drives, 40 MB HDD, 14" monitor, mouse $1,935