Category Archives: Computing

Everything about computers – from new to old. Help guides to general trivia pieces.

Old Website Screenshots

This is a dynamic post, the original publish date is 11/08/19 but will be updated as this page updates – Dan

Although we are graced by the wonders that is the Way Back Machine (helpfully provided by which captures websites as they are and preserves them ready for your small research project or trip down nostalgia lane; it is sometimes a little fustrating to use for captures pre-2008. See the issue comes in that at that time a lot of the content on the pages simply couldn’t be backed up to the servers and so you may find that going to these pages in the Way Back Machine show up broken and badly formatted pages.

Now unfortunately I do not have a real time machine to go back and retrieve these websites (because if I could, I would) but there is something which can also prove helpful… screenshots!

OK so screenshots aren’t always the most helpful as they are not always ultra clear or high resolution, however they do capture all images that would have appeared on a page at the time of being taken. Many of the screenshots you see on this page are from magazines, and so can vary in their quality or resolution – but are useful all the same.




Retro Computers in Film – Part I

This post pre-dates the split of projects, future installments (if there are any, may end up on Computer Legacy instead) – Dan

I love film media – be it movies, television, music videos or even silly things like public service announcements or commercials – I consume it in droves second only to music. When I go through my period of consuming film I often will recognize various older/retro computers being used and always want to know more, like what they are exactly and more. So with that short introduction this series of posts will be a gallery of these finds, and me identifying where possible but also opening that up to the public to assist with documenting them.

Uninvited (1999, Carlo Gabriel Nero)

This rather run-of-the-mill see-every-twist-coming tale of childhood romance doesn’t actually feature many computers or related tech, instead it features more cars (which don’t worry have already been submitted to the Internet Movie Car Database. However while capturing the screenshots for those submissions I did snap two for some retro tech.

Exhibit A – Unidentified Terminal

This entry is currently without identification, help out by posting a comment of what you think it may be below!

Appearing in a “flashback” segment of the film, we are seeing inside a prestige car dealership (which seems to be selling mostly Mercedes-Benz cars) where upon the sales desks are what appears to be some old style terminal machines. However terminals are an area of retro-computing knowledge that I lack, so any help in possibly identifying this entry would be appreicated!

Exhibit B – Unidentified Terminal

This entry is currently without identification, help out by posting a comment of what you think it may be below!

In this scene where we see inside a private office, on the back cabinet we see what appears to be another terminal but looks to be a different model to that shown in the car showroom. Also in this shot is a large laser-printer, which is mostly obscured by the actor. Initially I thought it might be a HP Laserjet 5000 (as thats about the right date) however the side fan intake and general size does not match. Can you help identify either of these devices?


Archive Work – L.A. Blaster Soundtrack

L.A. Blaster is a mostly forgotten FMV racing game (remember those, think the first Need For Speed game – The Need For Speed) for Windows PC’s. Released in 1996 by Cryo Interactive Entertainment and published by Dice Entertainment (not that Dice, but a smaller company originally based in Hoorn, the Netherlands).

As with all of these types of posts, the soundtrack can be found below as posted to

For those sticking with us, I will now explain a little more on how I came to extract these audio files from the game files.

L.A. Blaster stores its audio files under the \DATA\Sound directory on the CD-ROM. Inside are 44 files. The audio streams themeselves are all marked as being .DAT files (which to any computer nerd means data file, effectively a useless, generic file extension). Each audio stream has a corresponding .DA0 file, with the same file name. This results in there being 22 unique audio files.

So I began my investigations. I uploaded one of the files to VirusTotal to see if it could work its magic to reveal if what kind of audio format I might be working with, but unforunately no luck – the system simply thought of it as just a generic data file. OK, so next option would be to use a hex editor/viewer application – something which I have found to be quite useful in the past as it can reveal information that might be stored in the file header. Loading one of the files in question into HxD revealed the strings RIFFbg and WAVEfmt in the first part of the file, so we are looking at WAVE files – a sigh of relief on my part, but not out of the woods yet.

Knowing the audio files are WAVE files I loaded up Audacity to use its RAW Data import mode. This mode is extremely useful for loading in data streams that have incomplete or missing headers (where useful things such as bit rate, bit depth and more are listed). Now began the guessing game. Understanding the game came from 1996 and the raw data files were only a few megabytes in size I knew that we would be probably dealing with reasonably low-quality audio streams, thus a low bitrate. However they could quite possibly be stereo, as in 1996 the height of MPC (Multimedia PC’s) I would guess that most systems were fitted with a set of Stereo speakers. So with these educated guesses, I set the import settings as follows:

  • Encoding – Signed 16-Bit PCM
  • Byte Order – Little Endian
  • Channels – 2 (Stereo)
  • Start Offset – 0 bytes
  • Amount to import – 100%
  • Sample Rate – 11025 Hz

By my complete surprise I hit it correct on my first go, the audio streams played back perfectly. OK at 11025Hz the quality is far from high, but the audio streams play at the right speed, pitch and tempo.

So what kind of music does L.A. Blaster give us. There are 6 “music” tracks which are typical butt-rock (a silly term for instrumental rock music that isn’t overly interesting to listen to. There are sound effect files for the cars in the game (Honda/Acrua NSX, Lamborghini Diablo, Toyota Supra, Dodge Viper, Chevrolet Corvette). The background music from the Car Choice screen (CARCHOIC.DAT). A sound effect file for the volume slider in the game (FXVOL.DAT). Two streams for the hall of fame (HALLFAME.DAT) and hall of fame view (HALLVIEW.DAT) screens. Intro sequence audio (INTRO.DAT) and loading screen audio (LOADING.DAT). Weapon select (WEAPON.DAT) and transfer screens (TRANSFER.DAT).

All of the tracks are setup to be looped infinitely, however it is important to remove the “clicks” at the start and end of each track – this is a common artifact of using the raw import tool, where it is reading data outside of the audio stream.

As for the .DA0 files – they are empty files, they have nothing. Opening them in HxD reveals them to contain absolutely no information, so I have disregarded. Their purpose? Unknown.

As for the FMV files, they appear to be encoded with Cryo’s proprietary UBB codec, an improvement to HNM4 – another Cryo technology.

If you enjoyed this article, you may enjoy my previous post about Theme Aquarium.

Archive Work – Theme Aquarium Soundtrack

For those wanting to get straight to the business, the track-listing is available below via

For those still with us, please let me explain how I came to retrieve these soundtrack files for this mostly forgotten game from the guys who brought you classics such as Theme Hospital and Theme Park.

Theme Aquarium (later simply Aquarium once ported to Microsoft Windows) is a simulation video game in which you create and control a sea life aquarium – similar in tone to the later Zoo Tycoon: Marine Mania title. Originally released for the Sony Playstation in Japan only (テーマ アクアリウム), the game was later ported to Microsoft Windows and renamed to just Aquarium. I came across this title at a boot fair and I have a thing for old “tycoon” style games, and was bemused by this title’s existence.

Unfortunately the game doesn’t run under Windows 10 (or any modern Windows operating system for that matter), and I am yet to organize myself to play this on traditional of the time hardware. So in the meantime I have, like always, taken a digital copy of the files (as more of a “just in case” and for convenience) and as I can’t play the game yet started poking around the files that are there.

Being the uber nerd I am I like to try and decode what files I can in the program files, just to see how they are made or encoded and what the possiblities might be to amend them (usually for comedic effect) or to uncover hidden items, hoping one day to have something worthy of a Did You Know Gaming episode.

The type of files I often like to try and extract are audio files. This covers both music files (for things like background music) and sound effect/speech files. The former I try and make available online as there is often a hidden beauty to a lot of video game soundtrack music, and the latter I usually keep for the day I finally get round to making music. Either way, its an interesting excerise to perform.

So in the case of Aquarium the soundtrack files are all kept under the directory path \Game\Sound and are all marked as .SDF files. When searching online for what an SDF file might be (using my recommended repository, there were no useful results. The most common file type that carries that extension is the SQL Server Compact Database File, which this certainly is not. The other results that are reported on the FileInfo page also do not match, and none of them are of a multimedia kind. So I took the original .SDF files and uploaded them to VirusTotal. Don’t worry I don’t think that these simple audio files would be malicious, but I like to see what the VirusTotal analysis machine can return about these kind of files while also creating a signature file for them and confirming them to be clean for the community.

Upon uploading the first file (bgm01.sdf) the following information was uncovered about the files; they were RIFF WAVE files using Little Endian encoding, 16-bit depth with a sample rate of 11025Hz. Excellent so these are effectively just .WAV files that have been renamed to obscure them from the system. Luckily for everyone these files feature a properly formed header and so you can simply rename them to .WAV (i.e. bgm01.wav) and they will playback correctly in any decent multimedia player (my preference being VideoLAN’s VLC Player).

I have converted them from .WAV to .MP3 files which allows them to be easily embedded and played back in a web browser, and compatible with probably 90% of audio players that exist. Unforunately because the game doesn’t use CD-ROM audio (the technology of having the audio tracks as Red Book audio tracks on the media), the files are compressed as to not take up too much space on the hard drives of the era. For that reason the 11025Hz bitrate has reduced the fidelity of the audio.

As I haven’t played the video game yet, I haven’t been able to give any of the tracks interesting names so they all carry their filenames as their titles. Almost all of the tracks are 3 minutes long and have a uniquely 90s “underwater” feel to them. BGM09 appears to be a success sound (4 seconds in length) and BGM10 appears to be a failure (game over) sound (5 seconds in length). BGM27 is the only other item that isn’t 3 minutes, instead 9 seconds, but it is unclear when it would trigger in the game.

Another item of extraneous information, there are 8 movie files (\Game\Movie) which are .MDF files, these are actually just MPEG Layer 1 clips and much like the audio files simply require an extension rename to .MPEG and they will then playback.

Well hopefully this was an interesting read for you. If you have a video game which features .SDF files then I hope this post will help you figure out how to play (and later convert) them.

Guide – How To Install Windows 98 Second Edition Virtual Machine using VMware Player [Out of Date]

This guide is now probably out of date a bit, some of the information here may still have value but I can’t confirm if these steps are still relevant. Leaving this published as there’s some community interaction below. I hope to review this guide at some point and re-publish on Computer Legacy – Dan

This is a quick guide that explains how to get Windows 98 Second Edition working under VMware’s Workstation 15 Player software.


Why VMware and not VirtualBox?

Although I personally prefer VirtualBox as a virtualization technology, I found that it was lacking in its support for Windows 9x operating systems. As Windows 98 Second Edition is my old operating system of choice (as it is the era that I am currently most concerned with) and is the operating system that I perform most of my testing in, I like to have a fully operational system with sound, graphics and networking.

I used to use VMware Workstation Pro, however Player does enough (feature wise) and is free to download.

For Windows XP however I suggest VirtualBox.

Virtual vs Physical

Personally, I would always recommend using a physical machine if you can. Certainly for gaming, as I have found virtualisation can get a bit iffy with some 3D acceleration. However virtualisation had benefits for testing/sandboxing or general tinkering as you can take copies of the system state before making big changes, allowing you to revert easily if you break something in a major way. Also virtualization is leaps and bounds faster than physical, even if you are running beyond the recommended hardware specs for the operating system.


You will need to know, or have the following to be able to proceed with this. Only begin the process once you have confirmed you have the following.


I’m expecting you are reasonably competent with computers to have got this far. I’m going to use straight computer terms without explanation here. I’m expecting that you are comfortable amending your system BIOS configuration, able to install software and are able to download items from the internet.

Installation Media

I personally have copies of the Windows 98 Second Edition installation media with me, I have digital copies of these on my personal home server that I use for setting up virtual machines.

Copies of the CD-ROM and bootable floppy disk are widely available online, however for safety I would suggest downloading it from somewhere like

As of publishing the following entries are suitable:

If you have a physical CD-ROM and floppy disk then you can certainly connect the virtual machine to these drives on your host, however you may find the installation process is much slower than using digital copies.

System Ability to Virtualize

For this to work properly you will need to be using a host that can do virtualization. This is enabled via a technology referred to as VT-x. For many custom PC’s (systems you have built yourself) this will be enabled by default and won’t require enabling. For many pre-built systems (such as those from large manufacturers like Dell, HP or Lenovo) VT-x is likely disabled by default and will require enabling. Check your vendors documentation on how to enable this – however the process between vendors is rather simple and this blog entry at explains it well.

Not all systems can virtualize however – some lower end processors, laptops or tablets may not support virtualization.

Beyond enabling VT-x, you will also need to consider system resources on your host that you will need to allocate to the virtual machine. This mainly concerns RAM, disk space and CPU cycles. With modern computers on average containing a dual-core or quad-core processor, 4 to 8GB of RAM and at least 250GB of hard disk capacity this shouldn’t be too much of a concern. My personal preference is overkill when dedicating resources to the virtual machine, this means that I need to ensure I can spare 256MB of RAM and anywhere between 10 to 30GB of hard disk space.

Host Requirements

In the world of virtualization you will often hear the terms host and guest. (Host may also be referred to as hyper-visor.)

A host is the system to which the virtualisation software sits on. In this case it is likely your normal desktop PC or laptop.

A guest is used to describe any operating system that exists virtually under the host. In this case Windows 98 Second Edition is a guest on your host computer.

I write this guide expecting that you will be using the latest Microsoft operating system at the time of writing, Windows 10. However the basics will apply to Windows 7, 8 and 8.1.

For Macintosh users unforunately VMware do not create Workstation 15 Player for Macintosh systems.

For Linux users VMware do develop a .bundle application package for Workstation 15 Player, so most of the information provided below should be the same.


Installing and Configuring VMware Workstation 15 Player

  1. Download the latest VMware Workstation Player software from
    (Don’t worry that it says Try, if you read the text you can use it in full without limits for free in non-commercial, personal and home use cases)
  2. Once downloaded run the installation on your system, you will reach the Setup Wizard. Click Next on the welcome page.
  3. Agree to the End User License Agreement (EULA), then click Next.
  4. Choose your installation destination, and tick the Enhanced Keyboard Driver option. Then click Next.
  5. Decide whether you wish for the application to check for updates upon startup or whether you wish to join the Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP). Click Next.
  6. Decide whether you wish the installer to create shorcuts, I suggest keeping the Start Menu Programs Folder option ticked. Then click Next.
  7. When ready, click Install.
  8. Allow the installation to complete.
  9. When the process is complete click on Finish and choose whether to kick off a restart now or later.
  10. Assuming you have restarted before reaching this step, open the software from the shortcut in the Start Menu or Desktop.
  11. Click on the big hyper-link on the right side of the window that reads Create a New Virtual Machine.
  12. You are first asked to provide installation media for the operating system. Select the middle option (Installer disc image file (iso)) and then Browse to the ISO file you downloaded earlier, or that you have of your copy of the operating system media.

    1. For those who wish to use the CD-ROM drive in their systems and have a physical copy of the installer, you can choose the first option and select your optical drive. Insert your physical media now.
  13. After selecting your ISO file, VMware Player should now detect that you are going to be installing Windows 98 (this will show for either the first or second edition). If it does not, check your ISO file has downloaded properly or locate a different ISO file. Click Next to proceed.
  14. You now need to give the virtual machine we are creating a name, this can be whatever you like – but for simplicity here, mine will be called Windows 98SE. You can also choose where the virtual machine files will be kept, I like to keep mine on my larger second hard drive – but you can keep the original location if you wish. Click Next when ready.
  15. You are now asked to specify how large the hard disk should be. By default VMware will choose 8GB, which is plenty – however I like a lot of space so I have increased mine to 10GB. I also set the option to Store virtual disk as a single file. Click Next to proceed.
  16. On the summary page quickly check that everything looks OK. You will see that VMware has automatically allocated 256MB of system memory (RAM) for the virtual machine, we can change this soon if this is too little/too much. Untick Power on this virtual machine after creation and click Finish.
  17. Now you should have one entry in the left pane of VMware Player with the name you specified in step 14. Click on Edit virtual machine settings on the right pane.
  18. The Virutal Machine Settings window should appear. It will open automatically on the Memory option, you can specify how much memory you wish to give the virtual machine.
  19. You may notice that something is missing, we have no floppy disk device listed. Click on Add at the bottom of the window, the Add Hardware Wizard dialog will appear.
  20. Choose Floppy Drive from the list of options and click Finish.
  21. You will be returned to the Virtual Machine Settings window but with the Floppy device selected. On the right side ensure that Connect at power on is ticked. Select Use floppy image file and then click Browse. Locate the bootable floppy disk image (.img file) you downloaded earlier. Click OK to save changes.
  22. You are returned to the VMware Player overview, click on Play virtual machine in the right pane.
  23. The virtual machine will begin to boot up, click into the black window to gain control of the virtual environment. If you need to leave the virtual environment and return to the host you need to press CTRL+ALT on the left side of your keyboard. I would take this time getting used to switching between the environments.
  24. Hopefully by this point the virutal machine has loaded the bootable floppy disk image, and is awaiting your input. See the next section which will guide you through the Windows setup process.

Installing Windows 98 Second Edition

OK so hopefully you have successfully set up the virtual machine as per the instructions above, and you are sitting at the Microsoft Windows 98 Startup Menu prompt.

  1. Click into the virtual machine window to gain control. Using the cursor keys on your keyboard select the first option Start Computer with CD-ROM support.
  2. The screen should fill up with some text as the virtual machine loads the CD-ROM driver from the floppy disk image and loads a basic DOS operating enivronment. You should then reach a prompt that reads A:\ and a flashing cursor.
  3. Type in the command fdisk and then press the enter/return key on your keyboard.
  4. You will now come to a screen with a lot of text. The fdisk application is simply asking whether you wish to enable Large Disk Support, as our hard disk is at least 8GB we will press enter/return on our keyboards to accept the default value of Yes.
  5. You should now be at a menu. We are going to begin to format our virtual hard disk file into a format that Windows 98 can understand, press enter/return on your keyboard to accept the default value of 1.
  6. You are now asked what type of partition we wish to create, again accept the default value of 1 to Create Primary DOS Partition by pressing enter/return on your keyboard.
  7. You will now be asked whether we wish to use the maximum size available, the answer to this question is Yes – so press enter/return to accept the default value of Yes.
  8. You may hear a beep to confirm that this process has been completed and a message asking you to reboot your system. Press CTRL+ALT to release control from the virtual environment and from the top toolbar choose the arrow next to the Pause button and choose the option Restart Guest. Accept the warning that may display. The virtual machine will reboot.
  9. The system will boot back into the first menu of the bootable floppy image, again choose to start the computer with CD-ROM support.
  10. You will now be back at the DOS prompt reading A:\ with a flashing cursor type the following command format C:
  11. Type the letter Y and then press enter to accept that all data on the drive assigned letter C: will be lost. The virtual machine will then begin to format the virtual hard disk, this is extremely quick in a virtual environment.
  12. Once the format is completed you are asked if you would like to provide a volume label for the C: drive, I do not bother with this but you could type something like OS if you wished.
  13. Now the disk is formatted you will be returned to your DOS prompt reading A:\ with a flashing cursor. The CD-ROM driver that ran at the beginning of this process should have assinged the virutal CD-ROM drive a letter such as D: or E:. Normally this is E:, so when accessing files on the CD-ROM (or inside the ISO) you would begin the path with E:\. At the prompt type E:\setup.exe – this will start the Windows Setup stored on the CD-ROM.
  14. The setup program will now inform you that it wishes to perform some routine checks – this is mandatory, press enter/return on your keyboard to start the checks.
  15. The routine checks is actually Microsoft lingo for, we are going to check your hard disk isn’t broken. Microsoft ScanDisk will quickly check your hard drives, again this happens very quick in a virtual environment and as the virtual hard disk file is brand new it is unlikely to report any issues. If this step fails it likely means that you have not formatted the hard disk partition properly. Press x on your keyboard to leave the Microsoft ScanDisk program.
  16. Now we are cooking! You should be greeted by the Windows 98 setup wizard. Don’t worry that it thinks the installation will take up to an hour to complete, it will happen much quicker (although not as quick for those using physical media). Click on Continue to proceed with the installation.
  17. The setup will then load some files from the CD-ROM.
  18. The first step is to agree to the License Agreement, choose I accept the Agreement and then click Next.
  19. The first hurdle you will need to provide a product key. Product keys for Windows 98 Second Edition can be obtained easily online, type in a product key you find online and click Next.
  20. You are now asked where you wish Windows to be installed – my personal opinion on this is leave it as the default value of C:\Windows for compatbility with applications. Click Next to proceed.
  21. Now you are asked what kind of setup you wish to perform. There should be no need (except for curiosity maybe) to choose Portable or Compact. Typical will serve most people plenty, but I like to have mostly everything included so I choose Custom. Click Next to proceed.
  22. Now the wizard will ask for your name and company. The name will become your username. Type whatever you feel is appropriate here. Click Next when you have completed these fields.
  23. If you chose Custom on step 22 you are probably going to be asked what components you wish to have enabled. You can choose to remove or add certain features, I will try my best to explain what these will do:

    1. Accessibility click Details to view sub-options
      1. Accessibility Options this enables the accessibility options control panel options – although I do not have any accessibility issues, I like to keep this enabled.
      2. Accessibility Tools this enables the magnifier, the Accessibility Wizard and adds the high-visibility cursors (which are black). I enable this option as I like the additional cursors.
    2. Accessories click Details to view sub-options
      1. Briefcase this is a way for power users to quickly synchronize their data from their local C: drive to a removable device (such as a floppy disk, ZIP drive or USB drive). Later removed in Windows 8, there is little use for this but as it takes up no space and I like the icon so I enable this.
      2. Calculator this will either add or remove the calculator from the operating system. I like to keep this enabled.
      3. Desktop Wallpaper if you are wanting to make the most of the nostalgia experience of Windows 98 then I highly suggest enabling this which includes a selection of background images for the desktop.
      4. Document Templates honestly never really had much use for this, and templates are included with most word processor/spreadsheet/desktop publishing packages (such as Microsoft Office or Microsoft Works). I keep this enabled for compatibility sake, although disabling it will likely have little negative effect.
      5. Games much like the Desktop Wallpaper option, you’re likely here for nostalgic purposes so I would enable this as it adds FreeCell, Hearts and most imporantly Minesweeper and Solitaire to your installation.
      6. Imaging I keep this enabled as it provides an Image Viewer and TWAIN support – it is helpful in regards to compatibility.
      7. Mouse Pointers same reason for enabling Desktop Wallpaper and Games, enable this to get all the fun cursor packs included with Windows 98 SE.
      8. Paint although many will also want to keep Paint for nostalgia purposes, I suggest keeping it for compatibility so you can easily open supported image file types.
      9. Quick View this was like an early preview pane, of which a preview of a document will appear on the left pane of Windows Explorer. I enable this because it can be quite a nice visual effect – however it is not mandatory, and has little negative effect if left unticked.
      10. Screen Savers this makes up the nostalgia part of the Windows 98 install, enable this to get the standard screensavers such as Flying Windows and the 3D OpenGL screensavers. Click Details and enable the Additional Screen Savers option to also add Flying Through Space, Mystify Your Mind, Curves and Colors, Scrolling Marquee and Blank screen saver options.
      11. Windows Scripting Host leave this enabled for compatibility reasons.
    3. Address Book I keep this enabled as it is selected by default but it ultimately has little use.
    4. Communications click Details to view sub-options
      1. Dial-Up ATM Support – seeing as VMware doesn’t have a modem option you can leave this disabled.
      2. Dial-Up Networking – much as the same as before you can disable this if you wish.
      3. Dial-Up Server – see previous notes on Dial-Up components.
      4. Direct Cable Connection – really only useful for physical setups where you may wish to connect two devices together via serial or parallel cable (to share files for example). Little use in a single virtual machine environment. Leave disabled.
      5. HyperTerminal – if you are intending to dial into some Telnet servers using your Windows 98 virtual machine enable this.
      6. Microsoft Chat 2.5 – a utility that can be used to chat with other people via IRC. If you have an IRC server you wish to connect to using your Windows 98 virtual machine then enable this. This is also the name for Microsoft Comic Chat if that is your kind of thing. I enable this because it can be useful.
      7. NetMeeting – this is effectively an early version of Skype or Windows Messenger. I’m not aware that it has much use anymore, and is unlikely going to be of much use if you are just running one Windows 98 client on your LAN.
      8. Phone Dialer – Enabled by default and takes up little space, but ultimately useless without a modem device – which is not supported.
      9. Virtual Private Networking – VPN’s are quite common these days and people are becomming more and more used to their presence. VPN’s were quite new back then, enable this if you want to do some VPN testing 1998 style, otherwise you can leave this disabled.
    5. Desktop Themes if you are wanting to get the full nostalgic experience I suggest ticking this which will enable all of the below 17 theme packages.
      1. Baseball a theme about the American sport Baseball
      2. Dangerous Creatures a theme about Dangerous Creatures
      3. Desktop Themes Support a requirement if you want to use any of the other 16 theme packages.
      4. Inside Your Computer a theme that is computer hardware inspired
      5. Jungle a theme that is Jungle inspired
      6. Leonardo da Vinci a theme that has elements of da Vinci’s artwork included.
      7. More Windows another extended Windows 98 theme
      8. Mystery a mystery inspired theme
      9. Nature a nature inspired theme
      10. Science a science inspired theme
      11. Space a space inspired theme
      12. Sports a sports inspired theme
      13. The 60’s USA a theme with nostalgia from 1960’s America
      14. The Golden Era a theme about the golden era which if I remember is the 1950’s?
      15. Tavel a theme about Travel
      16. Underwater an underwater inspired theme
      17. Windows 98 a Windows 98 inspired theme
    6. Internet Tools click Details to view sub-options
      1. Internet Connection Sharing ultimately pointless to enable this for a virtual machine, has slightly more purpose on a physical machine.
      2. Microsoft Wallet a “secure” (for 1998) way to store private information when internet shopping – ultimately obsolete.
      3. Personal Web Server could be interesting if you are wanting to play around with early web design, enabled by default.
      4. Web Publishing Wizard again could be interesting if you are playing with web design, but is more intended for uploading to external servers.
      5. Web-Based Enterprise Mgmt ultimately pointless for most use cases, enable if you are wanting to play around with late 90s Enterprise management.
    7. Multilanguage Support click Details to view sub-options
      1. I’m not going to list out the languages which are on my installation media. The list of languages will vary depending on the installation media copy you have – honestly only enable languages if you require them, otherwise leave these all unticked.
    8. Multimedia click Details to view sub-options
      1. Audio Compression keep this enabled for compatibility when needing to playback multimedia files.
      2. CD Player ultimately not very useful in a virtual environment, but if you were wishing to connect the virtual machine to your physical optical drive you can play around with the CD Player.
      3. Macromedia Shockwave enabled by default, although a very old version of Shockwave. I keep this enabled (by default) for compatiblity with software that uses offline Shockwave content.
      4. Macromedia Shcokwave Flash kept enabled, see previous note for Macromedia Shockwave.
      5. Multimedia Sound Schemes enable this if you are going for the full nostalgia stack.
      6. Sample Sounds again enable if you are going for a nostalgia curve with this install.
      7. Sound Recorder a little difficult to get a microphone to pass through to the virtual machine, but you don’t gain much by removing it.
      8. Video Compression see note for Audio Compression
      9. Volume Control considering we chose VMware for its sound support in Windows 98 it seems silly to not include a volume control. Enable.
    9. Online Servies I suggest unticking this unless you are wanting to maybe play around with an early copy of AOL. These were included so that new Internet users could easily sign up with an ISP (AOL, AT&T, CompuServe or Prodigy) however none of these work anymore.
    10. Outlook Express if you are wanting to play around with early e-mail client and functionality Microsoft’s cut down mail client isn’t a bad place to start.
    11. System Tools click Details to view sub-options
      1. Backup useful if you are wanting to perform of-the-era backups, but there are much easier ways to backup your data with a virtual machine (explained later). I leave this disabled.
      2. Character Map I enable this as a character map can be helpful in some situations.
      3. Clipboard Viewer again this is a quality of life feature, if you think it will help you then enable it.
      4. Disk Compression Tools although we have a massive 10GB to play with (or more) I don’t think we require this, but its enabled by default so I leave it on.
      5. Drive Converter (FAT32) keep this enabled as it is on by default.
      6. Group Policies only enable this if you are wanting to see what an early adoption of Group Policy management is like. Otherwise leave disabled.
      7. Net Watcher really only for enterprise or network testing case scenarios. Leave disabled.
      8. System Monitor you can enable this if you are performing development or legacy app troubleshooting, otherwise leave disabled.
      9. System Resource Meter see System Monitor
    12.  Web TV for Windows this simply doesn’t work anymore due to it being obsolete as of 2014, and the software included here was probably long dead way before then. Keep this disabled.
  24. The setup will now ask you to provide a computer name. I suggest giving the computer a useful name. Don’t worry too much about Workgroup unless you are wanting to try and connect to other machines via one. You can set the Computer Description to whatever you please. Click Next to proceed.
  25. You are then asked for your keyboard and region preferences. This is likely pre-selected by the type of installation media you are using. Most images available online are from the USA and so this will likely read United States – however my image is from a UK released CD-ROM so it defaults to British. Ensure you have the right keyboard input selected for your hosts keyboard, makes things a lot easier. When ready click Next to proceed.
  26. You are now asked to confirm your location, choose your country and click Next to proceed.
  27. The wizard will now ask to create a startup disk, this is probably identical to the boot disk image you found earlier. I personally don’t like to overwrite this image with the data from this setup so I perform the following steps:
    1. Press CTRL+ALT to leave the control of the virutal machine
    2. Click on the button Player in the toolbar.
    3. Drill down through the menus Removable Devices > Floppy
    4. Choose Disconnect from the menu
    5. This has now effectively “ejected” your virtual floppy disk image
    6. Now return to the wizard and click Next
    7. It will attempt to create the startup disk but fail with an error, click Cancel to skip the creation of a startup disk.
  28. We are finally at the point where the wizard will begin to copy the operating system to the local hard disk. Click Next to start this process.
  29. You will now enter the famous Windows 98 setup process where you are bombarded with information about all the cool new features that Windows 98 includes. Allow this process to complete which may take around 10 minutes.

    1. If you haven’t already, I suggest disconnecting the virtual floppy drive device to avoid weird results when the setup wizard forces a system reboot
      1. Press CTRL+ALT to leave the control of the virutal machine
      2. Click on the button Player in the toolbar.
      3. Drill down through the menus Removable Devices > Floppy
      4. Choose Disconnect from the menu
      5. This has now effectively “ejected” your virtual floppy disk image
  30. The setup will now proceed to perform a Hardware Detection routine, you should encounter no errors during this part – simply let it complete.
  31. The setup will then inform you it is going to restart your machine. I hope you’ve disconnected your virtual floppy disk drive!
  32. After the system reboots you may return to the setup to a dark blue screen with no dialog boxes. Allow a few moments to pass and eventually the setup will proceed.
  33. You are now asked to set your date and time. I always suggest you make sure that the time is correct (VMware Player will be forwarding the time and date found on your host) as well as setting the appropriate time zone. Click Apply to confirm. Click OK to proceed.
  34. The wizard will now complete the last few sections automatically, namely Updating System Settings with a cool little drum animation.
  35. The wizard will now complete its last reboot, goodbye setup!
  36. The system will now boot normally into Windows 98 Second Edition, it will likely be very quick. You will also likely come to a password prompt. Don’t fret, you’re right we didn’t set a password so simply click OK to sign in.
  37. Windows will now begin its famous Hardware Dection sequence again you should not be prompted to provide any additional drivers at this stage.
  38. You will now be at the Windows desktop – a familiar place for sure. However it probably doesn’t look the way you remembered it. The issues are that we are in a very low resolution and color depth mode which makes everything look well.. crap. Not only that we also are lacking sound – “I thought you said that VMware Player supports sound with Windows 98” I hear you cry. Fear not, we are going to address these issues in the next section.

Finishing Touches (Driver Installation etc.)

So hopefully you have successfully installed the operating system files onto your virtual hard disk and the virtual machine is now showing a frankly beautiful Welcome to Windows 98 dialog box.

  1. Close the Welcome to Windows 98 box, we can come back and look at this later. I suggest not unticking the Show this screen each time Windows 98 starts just yet because this annoying little application is quite useful in that it blasts a fanfare each time it starts – great for testing sound. It also has some high colour images which will also confirm that we have graphics installed properly.
  2. OK press CTRL+ALT to leave control of the virtual machine and click on the Player icon in the toolbar
  3. From the context menu choose Manage and then Install VMware Tools
  4. You will then see a small information prompt, agree to override the CD-ROM lock. What this will do is unmount your Windows OS installation ISO image and mount the Windows 9x VMware Tools ISO image. Press Yes.
  5. Due to the glory that is Autorun you should see your virtual Windows 98 machine begin to twich as it loads the contents of the VMware Tools CD. An install wizard will now appear on screen, click Next.
  6. When choosing what to install, select Complete. This will ensure that everything we need gets installed.
  7. Begin the installation by pressing Install.
  8. The setup will then begin to install drivers for various components such as video, sound and mouse. This can take up to 5 minutes to complete.
  9. You may see the override lock message appear again, click Yes on this message only when the Installation Wizard Completed window appears in the virtual machine environment. You may in turn see an error inside Windows 98 that reads Eject Request to Drive in Use – click OK to this dialog and then Finish on the setup wizard.
  10. You will then be prompted to reboot Windows 98 – click Yes. This is to apply the changes.
  11. As the system reboots you will find your virtual machine window size will grow, this confirms that the video driver is working as it has adopted a higher, but safe resolution of 800 x 600. When you reach the Network Password prompt click OK to start Windows 98.
  12. Hooray we are back basking in the warm glow of the Windows 98 desktop in full 32-bit colour, Welcome to Windows 98 should have appeared automatically. But no fanfare, no audio and no volume control in the notification area.
  13. Once again close Welcome to Windows 98 and still don’t untick the Show this screen each time Windows 98 starts option. From the Windows 98 desktop double click on the icon for My Computer. You should now see a familiar Windows Explorer style interface, and that your Windows 98 Second Edition virtual CD-ROM image is still loaded into drive D:. Press CTRL+ATL to release control of the virtual machine.
  14. Download this small ISO image file to your hosts computer (don’t download this inside the virtual machine).
  15. Go back to VMware Player and click on the Player button on the toolbar, then Removable Devices, CD/DVD (IDE) and then Settings…
  16. With the Virtual Machine Settings dialog open click on Browse after Use ISO image file: and locate the ISO file you downloaded in step 15. Click OK to save changes and press Yes to override the CD-ROM lock.
  17.  With those dialog windows closed you should now see My Computer read that a CD named Sound Driver is inserted into the CD-ROM drive. If it doesn’t click View from the menu bar and choose Refresh.
  18. Double-click on the CD-ROM drive and it will display its contents, one file named SBPCI_WebDrvsV5_12_01.exe. Copy this file to the Windows desktop.
  19. Press CTRL+ALT to release control of the virtual machine and then click on the Player button on the toolbar, then Removable Devices, CD/DVD (IDE) and then Settings…
  20. Follow the on-screen prompts to complete the installation, first by agreeing to the EULA.
  21. From the settings dialog change the Use ISO Image file path back to the location of your Windows 98 Second Edition installation media (click on the dropdown before the Browse… button it should be in the list) and then click OK to save changes. Again accepting the lock over-ride dialog.
  22. Return to the virtual machine and close the automatically opened Windows 98 CD-ROM dialog that has appeared.
  23. Navigate back to the Windows desktop and double-click on the SBPCI_WebDrvsV5_12_01 file to begin the setup wizard.
  24. Click Yes to accept the EULA and the setup wizard will begin to deploy the driver files to the operating system.
  25. Allow the setup to complete adding each individual device – this can take up to 5 minutes.
    1. If you encounter an error asking for you to inser the Windows 98 Second Edition Setup CD-ROM ensure that you have loaded the correct ISO file in the virtual machine settings
  26. The setup wizard will then ask if you wish to restart your computer – choose Yes, I want to restart my computer now and click Finish.
  27. Allow Windows 98 to reboot. You will again return to the Enter Network Password screen, click OK to proceed.
  28. This time you should be greeted by the Welcome to Windows 98 dialog box and it should begin to play music at you – confirming your sound card is now functional.
  29. With that complete you are now able to do as you please with your new found Windows 98 Second Edition virtual machine.

Final Thoughts and Additional Tasks

If you follow this guide I am certain that you will end up with a high quality virtual machine ready for whatever you wish to throw at it. Of course things may be slightly different depending on the version of install media you choose – if things are greatly different please let me know in the comments as it would be interesting to see how.

Backing Up Your Virtual Machine

So you’ve spent all this time setting up a fresh Windows 98SE virtual machine, wouldn’t it be a terrible thing if the first application you installed in the virtual environment corrupted the operating system?

Well it’s actually quite easy for this to happen. So to avoid a lot of time loss I highly suggest following the following steps to quickly take a copy of the virtual hard disk file, so that in a case of emergency you can quickly roll back to this fresh copy.

VMWare Player doesn’t include an automatic backup solution – nor does it support snapshots, so this is a bit of an old-fashioned manual process.

  1. Shut the virtual machine down if it is already running
  2. Open the VMware Workstation 15 Player software from your Start Menu or from your Windows Desktop (host)
  3. Select your Windows 98 Second Edition virtual machine from the left hand pane and click on Edit virtual machine settings
  4. Select the Hard Disk (IDE) device from the list. The right pane will show a value under Disk file which will read back the path of your virtual hard disk file (.vmdk)
  5. Using Windows Explorer navigate to the file location and locate the .vmdk file. The file should be less than 500MB in size if you have only just completed the above process.
  6. Copy this file to another location such as a network storage location (e.g. NAS, home server), cloud storage (e.g. Dropbox, Google Drive), removable media or somewhere else on your hosts hard disk drive.

Now in the situation you break your virtual machine’s operating system you can come back and copy this .vmdk file back into the VM directory and start-over again without having to perform everything above.

Adding Additional Software

Many people after achieving the above wonder how they can get their software (such as old versions of Microsoft Office) or their games into their virtual machine.

The easiest way is via .ISO files. You can see this guide which explains how to create .ISO files in moments using free software such as ImgBurn.

Any .ISO files you find online you should be able to mount into your virtual machine without too much issue.

Getting Online

Take it from me, getting on-line with Windows 98 SE is pretty miserable. The operating system includes Internet Explorer 5 by default which can just about load over plain HTTP. As you can imagine anything remotely complex causes all kinds of strange behaviour and rendering issues.

I have had some success getting online with an old version of the K-Meleon web browser (version 1.5.4) which can display some modern web pages better than IE5 ever could.

Keep in mind that most software made for the Windows 98 era which had on-line functionality probably no longer works. If the software asks to reach out to the internet, try and get it to use your LAN connection (sometimes referred to as a T1 connection) which is how your Windows 98 SE virtual machine is connecting out to the internet. If the software insists on using a modem to dial out to the internet then frankly you’re likely out of luck.

High Resolutions

If you have followed the guide above your Windows 98 Second Edition virtual machine is probably runnning at a safe 800 x 600 pixels – which although perfect for the era, can appear tiny on 1080p screens (or barely visible on anything higher). Luckily the VMware SVGA II graphics adapter can support some truly bonkers resolutions for the era, with my virtual machine supporting a close 1080p resolution. I personally find 1280 x 960 pixels to be a comfortable resolution for Windows 98 but many software items from the era begin to look odd at any resolution above 1024 x 768 (for widescreen) or 1280 x 1024 (for standard aspect ratio). You’ll probably find yourself changing the resolution inside Windows 98 up and down depending on what you may be doing.

The World of DOS

Windows 98 was one of the last operating systems by Microsoft that was built on top of a DOS base layer. This meant that it has fantastic backwards compatiblity with software developed for earlier operating systems (Windows 95, Windows 3.x or straight up DOS) that was later lost with operating systems built upon the NT architecture.

I have had mixed results running DOS software, namely games, inside a VMware virtual machine. Simple DOS applications run OK but anything more demanding (such as games) can have performance, input or sound issues. Although I may one day investigate more as to why, my main suggestion is that if you’re just wanting to get in a few plays of Might and Magic IV then I highly suggest using DOSBox instead.

Internet Archaeology – IBM Global Network

As part of my research on the ins-and-outs of the IBM Aptiva Applications CD-ROM I came across an item of software by big blue (IBM) which included a few web-links to help start a fresh computer user in 1998/9 discover the wonders of the world wide web.

Thanks to the efforts over at, we can see what these websites may have looked like back in the day by using their Way Back Machine.

The links that were provided with the IBM Internet Connection v4.18.4 software were:

  • IBM Global Network Sites
    • Internet Help Desk –
    • Internet Home Page –
    • Intranet Help Desk –
  • Internet Sites
    • IBM Home Page –
    • IBM Internet Service –
    • Links to other sites –
    • New User Information –
  • Multiprotocol Tunnelling Sites
    • IBM FTP Server –
    • IBM Support Page –
  • Private Intranet Sites
    • IBM FTP Server –
    • IBM Support Page –

(We will ignore Private Internet Sites as this is a duplication of the strangely named Multiprotocol Tunnelling Sites.)

Internet Help Desk –

This is the first link that is provided and most helpfully it points the user right at the helpdesk.

This is a capture taken on 10th December 1997 and is the last capture to exist which doesn’t redirect to a different URL. Although the application files are from late 1998, this is the closest we can get due to no captures being taken in 1998 at all.

Ultimately a rather boring start, just a page of text with out much interesting to look at. I’m unsure why a Japanese NetPassport button badge appears at the top, or why it is streched to the width of the frame. Some of the links on here use some (now) outdated protocols such as news: for the links under IBMNET Newsgroups. Most of the links are to other internal pages of the IBM website, all lacking any form of graphics.

Internet Home Page –

This is the second link and is probably the link that got the most attention, or at least I’m sure IBM wanted it that way.

Now this is more like it – what a capture, we have all the pictures and the page renders nicely. The live version of this capture (found here) is even more glorious as the top banner is animated – corr! There is something about the colour pallette and use of white space on this page that really tickles my fancy.

Intranet Help Desk –

This IP address is no longer owned by IBM, and currently goes nowhere. Putting this into the waybackmachine reveals the domains that this IP address has been associated with and none of them are from the era, nor are any of them related to IBM… but there is certainly a lot of porn.

IBM Home Page –

Consdering this is, and still is, the main home page for big blue – there are not that many caputres to choose from in the year of 1998. Most of them are lacking full capture, either missing pictures or other components. The best capture came at the end of the year on the 12th December 1998 – which takes on a different style to previous captures, which look very similar to the design used by the Global Services home-page.

IBM Internet Service –

Confusingly the website is not the same as the website, which may have proved confusing for many new internet patrons at the time. was closer in content to the Global Services home-page in that it is mainly focused on getting you signed up and on-line with IBM’s Internet Connection Services.

The later caputres in 1998 are broken with missing banner images and more, however a capture taken on 26th May 1998 is complete.


Links to other sites –

It was rather common for most websites to include a page of just hyperlinks to other web pages, usually endorsing them in one way or another. IBM are no different providing a links page which can take web users to non-IBM websites. Captures for this specific page are lacking and there are none for the 1998 year, with the ones taken in 1997 displaying with broken elements. The capture below is from a much earlier 6th November 1996, which displays the old theme of these pages. This page was retired sometime early 1999 causing this URL to redirect.

New User Information –

I was expecting this to be a page which contained a form to setup some kind of account but alas it is not, this page appears to be more in line with the Links page before.

This page contains a lot of links to externally hosted help guides including how to write HTML, what cyberspace is, ettiquette guides and library pages. The capture below was taken 16th April 1997 and unforunately is missing its images.

IBM FTP Server –

Lastly and maybe most interesting is the public FTP server link. Although we know that the IP provided here doesn’t go anywhere anymore, IBM still provide a public FTP.

The domain name is and can be connected using any modern FTP client that supports anonymous login (most do). Connecting to the FTP server a symbolic link (shortcut) for pub does exist but changes the path to be that for IBM’s Lotus software. So looking for a directory called Advantis doesn’t return any results in the top level folders, and considering this public FTP server is a labryinth of files and folders it would take quite some time to locate such a folder.

Advantis is linked to IBM, the Wikipedia page List of mergers and acquisitions by IBM mentions the following:

1995 Advantis (Advanced Value-Added Networking Technology of IBM & Sears), a voice and data network company. Joint Venture with IBM holding 70%, Sears holding 30%. AT&T acquires the infrastructure portion of Advantis in 1999, becoming the AT&T Global Network. IBM retained business and strategic outsourcing portions of the joint venture.

It could be that this directory used to serve old content for the then recently aquired Advantis company.

Conclusion and Further Reading

I hope you enjoyed this little bit of research work that I completed. I always find it interesting to see how websites would have looked at the time when the internet was fresh, however I often find these slightly more mundane websites more interesting than just looking at early versions of Google, Yahoo or Amazon.

As time progressed the WWW became a lot more complicated and web URL’s followed suit. In 1999 many of these web pages were retired and began to redirect to complicated URL’s – usually region specific. I think there was something so pure about how URL’s were formed back then.

If you like more of this kind of thing then I suggest checking out my post where I take screenshots that were printed in magazines and books here.

If you want to play around with the web archive yourself you can do so on’s website here.

AST System Recovery CD (1999) (PN: UK00001-00)

This is a post in the Desktop and Laptop Recovery Media series.

AST System Recovery CD part number UK00001-00 is a CD-ROM that would have been included with the sale of AST computer systems. The CD-ROM carries a copyright date of 1999 and has a matrix identifier of 91775811 MPO IRL.

The disc is of a bootable kind and contains four top level folders:

  • [BOOT] (Hidden: 1 files, 0 Folders – 1.4MB)
  • Drivers (277 Files, 54 Folders – 19.4MB)
  • System (1 File, 0 Folders – 486MB)
  • Windows (833 Files, 6 Folders – 34.1MB)

Quick Specs

Manufacturer AST
Models Applicable Unknown – likely to apply to all models from 1999 sold in the UK/Irish markets
Year of Manufacture/Copyright 1999
Media Identifiers Part Number – UK00001-00
Disc Matrix – 91775811 MPO IRL
Operating System Applicable Windows 98 (Second Edition)
Type of Recovery Media CD-ROM, Bootable
Software Types Included Drivers
Operating System

Media Content Breakdown


Drivers are all kept under the root directory Drivers (modification date 2nd November 1999).

The top level folder refers to drivers for firmware (fwh), chipset (inf), keyboard, modem and video.

Intel Security Driver v 1.00 (Final Release)

Directory: DRIVERS\FWH (date modified 25th January 1999)

This folder contains system files which will install the Intel Security Driver onto the system. It applies to devices which are fitted with the following Intel chipsets:

  • Intel 810
  • Intel 820

The file Release Notes for OEMs.txt provides a driver date of 25th January 1999.

The directory contains a Setup.exe Installshield executable file which can be run to automate installation of the driver files. The setup is smart, in that it will fail if it does not detect the correct chipset.

Click here for full directory listing.

Intel INF Installation Utility v 2.10 (Production Release Build 0002)

Directory: DRIVERS\inf (date modified 19th August 1999)

This folder contains system files which installs drivers for the following system components (as outlined in readme.txt)

  • Core PCI and ISAPNP services
  • AGP support
  • IDE/ATA33/ATA66 storage support
  • USB support
  • Identification of Intel chipset components in device manager

This installer applies to systems fitted with the following chipsets / AGPsets:

  • Intel 810 chipset
  • Intel 430TX AGPset
  • Intel 440BX AGPset
  • Intel 440DX AGPset
  • Intel 440EX AGPset
  • Intel 440GX AGPset
  • Intel 440LX AGPset
  • Intel 440ZX AGPset

The file RelNotes.txt provides a driver date of 19th August 1999.

The directory contains a Setup.exe Installshield executable file which can be run to automate installation of the driver files. The setup will install on any system regardless if it meets the criteria mentioned above.

Click here for full directory listing.

KeyMaestro Multimedia Keyboard Driver v1.01.00

Directory: DRIVERS\Keyboard

This folder contains system and help files which enable the multimedia keys of an Emprex KeyMaestro Multimedia Keyboard.

The root folder contains a selection of .cat and .inf files – no executables exist to install the drivers. To install the drivers right click on one of the files kmhid.inf, ps2win9x.inf or USBcmp.inf and choose Install from the context menu.

Opening these .inf files provides a short descriptor what each file does:

  • kmhid.inf – KeyMaestro Multimedia Keyboard (or) KeyMaestro USB Keyboard)
  • ps2win9x.inf – Multimedia Keyboard (Windows 98)
  • USBcmp.inf – KeyMaestro Multimedia Keyboard – Composite Device

Looking through the .inf file contents all installations require the installation of kmhid.inf. Then depending on the connection type supported by the Maestro keyboard it install either ps2win9x.inf for PS/2 configurations or USBcmp.inf for USB configurations.

The contents of kmhid.inf refers to the following Vendor and Part numbers – you can use this table to confirm if this driver supports your keyboard.

Vendor ID Part ID/Device ID
046E 5264 (Rev 0400, MI 00)
046E 511A (MI 00)
046E 5264 (Rev 0400, MI 01)
046E 511A (MI 00)

kmhid.inf will also install some additional application files to the computer – these files are contained in a sub-directory named Files.

Inside this sub-directory are 24 files – taking a mixture of image files (.GIF/.BMP), a .htm help file and application files. Staring the application KMaestro.exe will start the KeyMaestro software in the background. The KeyMaestro icon will now appear in the notification area. The software will then respond to the multimedia keys being pressed on the keyboard.

The included help.htm file lists the multimedia buttons that this version of KeyMaestro supports – the help document can be read here.

Click here for full directory listing.

Lucent Technologies Voice Modem Driver v1.51

Directory: DRIVERS\Modem

This directory contains 8 system files which will install the Lucent Technologies modem driver onto your system.

There is no encompassing setup.exe file here to automate the installation, instead you will need to install via the .inf files provided – ltdfv.inf, LTPORTS.inf and LTWAVE.inf.

LTPORTS.inf is the oldest installation file carrying a modification date of 10th December 1997. A comment at the top of the file informs us INF file to add port in Win NT for Non Plug and Play Hardware – Mars Modem, BIOS PnP modem. This is the ony file that refers itself to being intended for use with the Windows NT family of operating systems.

LTWAVE.inf appears to be a very simple driver installation file and refers to the model being a rather generic Voice Modem Serial Wave Device. However the file refers to files that do not exist in the directory such as serwave.vxd or serwvdrv.drv.

ltdfv.inf seems to be the main driver install file here, and is likely to be the only file you will need to run to enable the modem on this system. It refers to the model of the modem as being either:

  • LT Win Modem
  • UNIMODEM for 56k modem
  • Windows Modem with LT PnP chip

All of these are rather generic sounding and may not correlate to any identifiers on the modem itself. However the ltdfv.inf file does provide us with a Vendor and Device ID that we can cross reference: Vendor ID = 11C1 and Device ID = 0448. Running this through a PCI Lookup tool returns a vendor of LSI Corporation and a device description of 56K WinModem.

The only other file of note inside this directory is an executable named Ltremove.exe. Running this file from the Windows desktop environment displays a system warning You are about to remove all of your modem driver software. Are you sure you want to proceed?. Another executable with the name delmodem.exe also exists in the folder but appears to be intended for use with MS-DOS environments and does not display any warning messages upon execution.

Click here for full directory listing.

Intel 810 Graphics Chipset Driver v4.11.01.1361 (Product Version 2.4, Build 1239)

Directory: DRIVERS\Video

This directory contains three text files in the root and one sub-directory named Graphics. Inside Graphics are 18 system files with a further 5 sub-directories which all contain further system files.

This directory contains the installation files to enable the Intel 810 graphics capability as provided by the Intel 810 chipset. It refers to no other Intel chipset model number and is intended for use with all Windows 9X systems available at its release on the 29th September 1999 – the file readme.txt explicity refers to the versions that this driver officially supports:

  • Microsoft Windows 95 4.00.950B (OSR2.1 with USB Supplement)
  • Microsoft Windows 95 4.00.950c (OSR2.5 with or without USB Supplement)
  • Microsoft Windows 98 4.10.1998

This is a multi-region driver setup supporting the following languages:

  • Brazilian Portuguese
  • Danish
  • Dutch
  • English
  • Finnish
  • French
  • French Canadian
  • German
  • Italian
  • International English
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Mainland Chinese
  • Polish
  • Portuguese
  • Traditional Chinese
  • Norwegian
  • Russian
  • Spanish
  • Spanish Mexican
  • Swedish
  • Thai
  • Traditional Spanish

Installation is made simple by the prescene of setup.exe (under sub-directory GRAPHICS) – run this InstallShield wizard and it will install the relevant driver software automatically. The file readme.txt outlines how to perform a manual installation if preferred. The setup wizard is smart in that it will attempt to identify the prescence of the Intel 810 chipset at the end of the installation – if it fails to identify it will terminate the process.

The only other folder of note is the sub-directory UTILS under GRAPHICS – this contains the Intel Graphics Diagnostic Utility. It will not run if it cannot detect the presence of the Intel 810 chipset.

Click here for full directory listing.

Utilities & Software

As far as I can ascertain there are no additional third party utilities (that are not included with a driver package) nor any additional software included on the CD-ROM. However further content may be locked inside the system image file, see the Operating System Data heading below.


Operating System Data

Directory: SYSTEM

The CD-ROM includes a operating system image under the directory SYSTEM. This directory contains only one file, UK001-00.IMG. Although this file carries a .IMG file extension it cannot be opened with an archive tool such as 7-zip. Changing the extension to .zip, .wim or .cab doesn’t allow you to open the file. The file is 486MB in size.

It is more than likely this file serves as the basis for the main recovery process, however when attempting to boot from the CD-ROM or the floppy disk image [see below] the system locks up only showing an AST Computer logo.

Directory: WINDOWS

Also in the top level is a directory named WINDOWS – this directory contains 230 files and three sub-directories. These appear to be normal Windows operating system files, likely present for when the operating system requests the Windows 98 Second Edition CD to be provided during driver installation or for additional files required during the image deployment process. No setup.exe file exists, so the data in this directory cannot be used to install the operating system in a traditional manner.

Click here for full directory listing.

Bootable Floppy Disk Image

Directory: [BOOT]

In this directory exists one image file named Boot-1.44M.img. This file is a standard disc image data file and its contents can be easily explored using a tool such as 7-Zip or MagicISO. The contents of this image look very similar to that of a Windows OS boot disk with files such as AUTOEXEC.BAT, CDROM.SYS and SCANDISK.EXE being present in the file list. There are however a few items that are not normal, namely AST_CC.exe.

Looking through the contents of AUTOEXEC.BAT we can see the disk will perform the following operations when it is loaded:

  1. a:\flashscr.exe
  2. a:\mscdex.exe /d:mscd001 /l:q
  3. a:\AST_CC.exe

The purpose of this .IMG file is possibly likely to be as a fail-safe if the computer could not boot directly from the CD-ROM.

Through some light testing on my part I could get the floppy disk image to boot successfully in a virtual machine environment however it would simply hang with the following picture (below). I would expect that it is checking for the precense of some kind of hardware or is simply upset that it is being run in a virtual setting.

The error message I encounter when using the bootable floppy image in a VM. As you can see the graphics appear to be corrupt. Pressing any key restarts the system.

To make things easier for those out there with genuine AST systems they are trying to recover I have extracted this floppy disk image file and provide it as a sperate download below.

I hope to one day try this out on a physical system and see if the results change. Please do comment below with your results and if you find if the CD-ROM operating system image contains any interesting stuff.

Click here for full directory listing.

Download Link & Instructions

Usage Instructions

The following instructions are from the disk label, they are:

  1. Insert CD into CD-ROM
  2. Restart your computer
  3. CD will prompt for confirmation and begin download process
  4. When prompted please remove CD from CD-ROM drive

Alternate process could be to try and boot from the floppy disk image first with the CD-ROM in the system.

As this process doesn’t work in a virtual environment, it is waiting for someone to test it with a physical system. The only AST device I own is an Ascentia laptop from 1997/8. If you have an AST computer to test this, please report if the above method is successful and if there are any interesting goodies hiding inside the UK001-00.IMG file.


Further Reading