You’ve got a friend in the business

Gateway 2000 website, circa December 1996I was cleaning out some old files, when I came across a text document that contained the specs of a Gateway 2000 PC I purchased in early 1996. As there really was no standardized e-commerce in those days, you couldn’t order directly from their website (a reasonably close snapshot of which is pictured to the right, courtesy of the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine).

I remember finding the package in a printed catalog (I couldn’t locate a PDF to include here) and ordering it by telephone. The kind with a big rotary dial. The sales rep must have e-mailed the specs to me to confirm my order (yes kids, we did have e-mail back in those days), and I guess stashed the info in a text file for whatever reason (I’m a bit of a digital hoarder). Anyway, now I’m glad I hung onto it, because it’s fun to look back. Here’s the file is in all its geeky glory:

|              Information Addendum               |
|                  GATEWAY 2000                   |
|                                                 |

DIRECT LINE:   1-800-846-2042
EXT:           x25600
ORDER NO:      4-602-701

SYSTEM:        P5-120 Family System
PROCESSOR:     Pentium, 120 Mhz
RAM:           16 Mb EDO DRAM
VIDEO RAM:     2 Mb (64-bit, PCI Slot)
DRIVES:        3.5″ Floppy Drive
6X CD-ROM Drive
SOUND BOARD:   16-bit SoundBlaster
MODEM:         28.8 bps
MONITOR:       15″ Vivitron Monitor
CASE:          12-Bay Mini-Tower
KEYBOARD:      104+ Key Gateway Keyboard
MOUSE:         MS-Mouse
SOFTWARE:      Windows 95
Generations II Bundle:
*  MS-Encarta 96
*  MS-Music Central 96
*  MS-Works 96
*  MS-Cinemania 96
*  MS-Bob for Gateway 2000
*  MS-Julia Child: Home Cooking w/ Master Chefs
*  MS-Publisher 95
*  MS-Money 4.0
*  MS-Golf
*  MS-CD Sampler
*  MS-Entertainment Packs (1-4)
*  Ca$h Graf Home Office Plus
*  Mayo Clinic Family Health Book
*  Mediamatics Arcade MPEG Player
*  The Masters: Interactive Journey Through Its 60-Year History

PRICE:            $2499.00
ADD-ONS:          $  50.00
SUBTOTAL:         $2549.00
TOTAL TAX:        $ 201.02
SUBTOTAL w/ TAX:  $2750.02
SHIPPING:         $  95.00
TOTAL:            $2845.02

EST. SHIP DATE:   2/16/96

Gateway 2000 P5 120The case was freakin’ huge and probably had more steel in its chassis than a ‘57 Buick. It had 12 bays! What exactly did they think I was going to put in there? It’s obviously a full-tower case designed for a server but completely out of proportion for a home PC. I think its size was mostly intended as a theft-deterrent system, because you’d need at least three guys to carry it away. The 15” monitor sitting next to it looks dinky by comparison.

Also, notice the impressive 16 MB of RAM and whopping 2 MB PCI video card. PCI was still pretty cutting edge in those days. It also came with the full “multimedia” experience, which is to say it had a CD-ROM drive and sound card. Although they weren’t listed on the invoice, it also came with a decent pair of Altec Lansing desktop stereo speakers, which had little woofers built right into each speaker. I used those for many, many years.

The bundled software was mostly crap. Nice to know not much has changed in the past 14 years, eh? Nowadays, we’re used to finding everything we need conveniently on the Web, but in there was no Wikipedia, Grooveshark, IMDB, WebMD, or online banking, and forget about downloading warez over a 28.8 dial-up modem. At the height of the multimedia craze, it was considered chic to include a bunch of CD-ROM titles that you’d have to switch out every time you used the application. It was terribly inconvenient, but hard disk space was a premium, and besides they looked really cool in a caddy on your bookshelf. Yep, I actually used Microsoft Bob for about 5 minutes. It also came with Acrobat Reader, which I promptly uninstalled, because I had no clue what I’d ever do with a PDF.

Finally, check out the price: $2845.02. And remember that was in 1996 dollars, when a movie ticket still cost less than a week’s salary. Think about how much computing power you could get for that money today.

By comparison, $199 for a smart phone doesn’t seem so bad, now does it? Winking smile

– Greg

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3 Replies to “You’ve got a friend in the business”

  1. well hi my friend guise what iv got a brand new gateway 2000 sitting here at home never been ran its like new but only 1 thing is missing the key bord and mouse


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