Typical PCs Each Year


486 systems were all the rage near the start of 1993. Most i486 PC motherboards had 4 SIMM sockets (in 1 or 2 banks, depending on whether the board had 30-pin SIMM slots only, or supported the newer 72-pin slots), usually populated with 1 MB, 2MB, or 4MB of memory, with the system limit usually 32 MB. This memory typically ran at 70ns or 80ns. Purchasing desktop PC memory cost on average £100 for 2 MB, or £160 for 4 MB. Expansion slots this year were the usual array of 8-bit ISA and 16-bit ISA, which all ran at 8.33 MHz regardless of the CPU clock, i.e. if the CPU was running at 25 MHz, the bus was still running at 8.33 MHz (CPU clock divided by 3). A lot of higher-end PCs came with EISA slots. Some computers (under 10%) got one or two of the new VESA Local Bus expansion slots too, which could run at up to 50 MHz. These were designed to help new computers break free of the now 'ancient' ISA bus speed limitations, but were typically only used for graphics cards and I/O cards.

An advert for Amstrad PCs from September 1993

Printers were as cheap as £135 for a 9-pin dot-matrix, or £210 for a 24-pin dot-matrix, but colour inkjet printers were now really the thing to have - an HP Deskjet 550C cost £430, and for the business buyer, a LaserJet 4M (600 dpi) would set you back £2,250.

(From left) Star LC-10 dot matrix printer, Hewlett-Packard Deskjet 550C colour inket printer,
and HP LaserJet 4M
mono laser printer

14" SVGA monitors were the norm when buying a new PC, but you could opt for 15" or even 17" if your wallet could stretch to it (see prices below). Quality multiscan monitors from brands such as NEC, Samsung and Viewsonic were the choice to own!

CD-ROM drives, whose discs were able to store up to 650 MB of data, weren't yet common apart from on very high-end PCs, but could be purchased as an external peripheral for around £100.

On the software front in 1993, Borland's Quattro Pro 3.0 (for DOS and Windows) was the front-runner in spreadsheets, whilst Quicken (3.0 for DOS, 7.0 for Windows) was still proving to be a great money management tool. WordPerfect 5.2 for Windows was still very much the choice for word processing, though Microsoft Word 6.0 was also released this year, and Word as an individual product was starting to gain market share over WordPerfect. It was evident that Microsoft Windows was here to stay and was the next evolution for business users. Microsoft Office 3.0, released in August 1992, which ran on Windows was the #1 choice for businesses looking to buy an integrated application suite.


A budget model looked something like this:

  • Intel 486SX-25 or 486SX-33 CPU, 64K of L2 cache
  • 4 MB RAM
  • 80-120 MB hard disk
  • 3 - 6 ISA slots.

Some vendors sold PCs with compatible 486 CPUs from Cyrix or AMD, though having an Intel chip was still synonymous with quality and compatibility amongst home users buying an off-the-shelf PC, and so the large OEMs tended to stick with Intel-branded CPUs only. AMD and Cyrix chips were usually purchased by the more technically-minded (or budget conscious) who were self-building their own custom PC.

A premium PC looked like this:

  • Intel 486DX2-50 or DX2-66 CPU, 256K of L2 cache
  • 8 MB RAM
  • 170 MB - 1.2 GB hard disk

All PCs tended to come with a 1.44 MB floppy drive, 2 serial ports, 1 parallel port, SVGA graphics (1024x768), 102-key keyboard, Microsoft-compatible mouse, MS-DOS 5.0, and Windows 3.1. IBM's OS/2 was being advertised in magazines.

Popular graphics cards were the Tseng Labs' ET4000 or S3 VESA Local Bus cards with 1 MB of video RAM.



Cheapest/Clearance PCs

Commodore PC-20 XT 640K RAM, 20 MB HDD, 10" mono VGA £175
Sanyo MBC555/2 128 KB RAM, twin 360 KB floppy, keyboard, amber monitor, MS-DOS 2.1, BASIC, WordStar, CalcStar, 12 mths warranty £199
Commodore 286-16 1 MB RAM, mono VGA £225
Commodore 386SX-16 1 MB RAM, 40 MB HDD £299
Goldstar 386SX-20 (GS318) 1 MB RAM, 40 MB HDD, 1.2 MB floppy drive, IBM 12" hi-res mono VGA display, US keyboard and DOS £325
Ericsson XT-compatible 8088, 640 KB RAM, Hercules adapter, serial and parallel ports, keyboard, Epson green TTL monitor, MS-DOS 3.3. Twin floppy drives. For 1 x 360K floppy and 1 x 20MB hard disk price is £599. £399
AGAtech 386SX-16 1 MB RAM, 40 MB HDD, 14" mono monitor £399
Commodore SSL386sx-16 1 MB RAM, 40 MB HDD, 14" Mono VGA monitor £480
Opus Technology 386SX-25 1MB RAM, 40 MB HDD, 14" SVGA monitor, MS-DOS 5.0 £599
AGAtech 386DX-25 2 MB RAM, 40 MB HDD, 14" colour monitor £699
CompuAdd 386SX/25 2 MB RAM, 40 MB HDD, MS-DOS 5.0, Win3.1, 14" hi-res VGA monitor £799

Standard Budget PCs

Compaq Presario 425 from 1993

ASI 486SX-25 2 MB RAM, 120 MB HDD (17ms), 1 MB SVGA card, 14" Tandon colour SVGA monitor (.28 dot pitch), 102-key keyboard, DOS and Windows 3, and mouse. £699
Morgan Generic 486SX-25 4 MB RAM, 120 MB HDD (17ms), 14" colour VGA monitor, 102-key keyboard, DR DOS 6 and mouse. Incl. Lotus SmartSuite, Windows 3 + 1-yr on-site warranty. £799
Commodore DT486dx-25 4 MB RAM, 52 MB HDD, MS-DOS 5.0, Win3.1, mouse, 14" colour VGA monitor £760
CompuAdd 486SLC/25 Cyrix processor 2 MB RAM, 40 MB HDD, MS-DOS 5.0, Win3.1 £849
Viglen Contender 486SX-25 4 MB RAM, 50 MB HDD, MS-DOS 5.0, Win3.1 £898
Morgan Generic 486DX-33 4 MB RAM, 120 MB HDD (17ms), 256 KB cache RAM, 14" colour VGA monitor with 1 MB SVGA card, 102-key keyboard, MS DOS, mouse. Incl. Lotus SmartSuite, Windows 3 + 1-yr on-site warranty. £999
Dell 333s/L, 386SX-33, 4 MB RAM, 80 MB HDD, VGA colour monitor, MS-DOS 5.0, Windows 3.1, mouse £1,009
Amstrad Mega Plus 486SLC-33 (incl. Sega Mega Drive!) 2 MB RAM, 40 MB HDD,, 512K video RAM, 14" dual-sync colour monitor with built-in speakers, Ad Lib sound, MS-DOS 5.0, Mindscape Games Pack £1,056
Commodore DT486DX-33 4 MB RAM, 210 MB HDD, MS-DOS 5.0, Win3.1, mouse, 14" multisync VGA monitor £1,200

Premium PCs

DEC Decpc 325SL 80386SL-25, 4 MB RAM, 80 MB HDD, mono VGA display £1,395
Dan Technology 486DX2-66 4 MB RAM, 100 MB HDD, 102-key UK keyboard, mouse, MS-DOS 5.0, Windows 3.1 £1,408
Mesh Computers Professional Multi Media 486DX2-50, 8 MB RAM, 250 MB HDD, 14" SVGA monitor, Sony internal CD-ROM drive, sound card, speakers, microphone, MS-DOS 5.0, Windows 3.1, 6 CD software discs £1,995
Dan Technology 486DX2-66 4 MB RAM, 1 MB S4 graphics accelerator card, 1.6 GB HDD, MS-DOS 5.0, Windows 3.1, mouse, 14" low radiation colour SVGA monitor, 102-key UK keyboard, Desktop case w/ 200W PSU £2,981


USA Toshiba laptop advertisement from 1993

Toshiba T1800SX 65 MB HDD, monochrome VGA display, MS-DOS 5.0 £860
Toshiba T3300SL 80 MB HDD, monochrome VGA display, MS-DOS 5.0, Windows 3.1, mouse & trackball £1,350
Viglen Dossier 486 486SX-25, 8K internal cache, 4 MB RAM, 9.5" Mono VGA 64-greyscale LCD display, 120 MB HDD, MS-DOS 5.0, Windows 3.1 £1,399
AST PowerExec 3/25SL 386SL-25 with 64K cache £1,695
Toshiba T6400DXC 200 MB HDD, TFT colour display, MS-DOS 5.0, Windows 3.1, mouse & trackball £3,800



Lotus 1-2-3 for Windows Release 1.1 £99
Lotus Symphony Version 2.2 £125
Norton Utilities Version 6.01 £29
Symantec JustWrite (for Windows) Version 2 £25
Lotus Freelance for Windows Release 1 £35
Lotus AMI for Windows Version 1.2b £29
Lotus AMI Pro for Windows Release 3.0 £99
Lotus 1-2-3 for DOS Release 2.3 £39
Lotus 1-2-3 for DOS Release 3.1 £99
Lotus Write for Windows Release 2.0 £39
Central Point PC Tools Version 7 £25

Other Stuff

Category Item Details Price
Printer Kodak Diconix 300 ink-jet £85
Printer Ricoh 4150, 15ppm laser £475
Printer Tandon TG0002 dot matrix £95
Printer Facit 132-column dot matrix £65
Printer Kodak 7106, 16ppm laser/copier £599
Printer DP 12ppm PostScript laser £600
Printer IBM Quickwriter III £150
Printer Fujitsu VM800, 8ppm, PCL5 £400
Printer IBM Proprinter 24P (24-pin, 80-col, 160cps draft, 4-cps letter quality, 32K print buffer) £175
Printer Star NL-10 dotmatrix, 120cps, 30 NLQ, 80-column, 5K buffer, push tractor, friction, auto single sheet feed £119
Printer Star LC-10, 144cps, 36 NLQ, 4K buffer, paper parking, sheet feeder is an extra £65. £149
Monitor Amstrad PC10 MD (mono VGA) £50
Monitor Amstrad PC10 HR CD (hi-res colour VGA) £150
Monitor Amstrad PC12 HR CD £135
Monitor Amstrad PC14 HR CD £165
Monitor Tatung 14" VGA colour £150
Monitor EGA colour £125
Monitor Mono VGA £50
Monitor Wyse WY700 DTP display £75
Monitor AST mono Hercules £75
Monitor Philips 4CM4770 17" SVGA colour, .31 dot pitch, non-interlaced 1024x768 with auto scan. Built-in stereo speakers £599
Hard Disk Western Digital Filecard - 20 MB £199
Hard Disk Western Digital Filecard - 32 MB £229
Hard Disk Western Digital Filecard (29ms avg.access time) - 40 MB £289
Hard Disk Seagate Hardcard (avg.access time 40ms) - 32 MB (ST138R) £279
Hard Disk Seagate Hardcard (avg.access time 40ms) - 49 MB £469

A very British PC mag advert from September 1993,
courtesy of Silica Shop