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Neat IBM 5150 Case Mod 155

kminogue sent in a case mod that definitely is different then the ones we've been seeing lately. Instead of tricking out something ultra modern w/ lights and windows, this guy modded an IBM 5150, yes, thats right, it's the original PC, back for a new generation. The color scheme is a little disturbing, but the end results are pretty sweet. To say nothing of the nostalgia I feel when I see that case. Update: 08/27 03:00 AM GMT by T : citroidSD wrote to say: "I put up a mirror at another stronger server."
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Neat IBM 5150 Case Mod

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  • by Huw ( 234808 )
    That's really, really cool.

    I just want to know if it's possible to squeeze something like a 12" SVGA tube (surely someone makes them?) into the old monitor casing just for added cheese value!
  • You know, he could make computers with that color scheme, and market them to little kids as "The Barney Computer"! Seriously though, it's great to see the cool things people do with their old computers. I have to admit, this one is unique!

    • Seriously though, it's great to see the cool things people do with their old computers.

      For sure!

      I built a server once for a guy who didn't want to replace an old case he had kicking around. It wasn't quite of this class, it was a really nasty old 486DX-25 fullsize tower generic clone. But he *loved* that case, and wanted it to have a little more oomph.

      Into that case, I was able to stuff an Asus ATX motherboard with a Pentium II 350 (back when they were still current), with many of the same obstacles this guy had in building his Barney case.

      In the end, the ole 486 looked completely original. Keyboard adapter to get a Compaq Deskpro 286 keyboard (the old two-tone brown one) connected to it, and an NEC Multisync 3D. He used it more as a lightweight server, but especially enjoyed the look of the front LED display on the case still set to 25MHz.

      One of my favorite pastimes is working on old cars, and this is very much the high-tech equivalent to stuffing a 7.2L Chrysler big-block V8 into a four door 1970 Dodge Dart. It's a Granny Car with an attitude. And I think a Celeron under the hood of an original PC certainly qualifies - especially with more attention to having it look dead original.

      Here's my own sleeper []. It's a Chevette with a Buick 231 V6 stuffed under the hood. It looks crusty, with faded paint and a cheesy hood scoop on it. But it pulls 12.8 seconds on the 1/4 mile, which is faster than the 13.1 the guy in the Camaro beside me pulled. Heheheh.

      I love sleepers, whether they're computers or cars.

      • That reminds me. The older Datsun F10's and 510's could take either a Ford or Chevy V8 without that much trouble. I had an old 1978 Datsun 510 that was suffering from an advanced case of salt-rot (rust due to salt on the roads in winter). It would have been fun to rip out that 4 cylinder for a nice V8, but I ended up junking it in the end. Fun POS to drive though. :)

    • Reminded me of the Extreme Networks equipment we're using at work now -- all purple, green lettering.

      Barney indeed!
  •, it's even got dual floppy disk drives!
  • Old saying? So is the case...

    Case closed.
  • ...Where do you get 5-1/4" blank floppies these days?


  • for letting users post HARDCORE ASCII PORN which hurt my poor eyes? At least if it had been a high-res jpeg...
  • I'm pulling from some really old memory here, but I recall from many years ago that the very first IBM PCs had slots that were just slightly closer together than the AT standard used today. I recall seeing upgraded original IBM PC cases with the metal cut from between the slots on the backplate, and new screw holes drilled because of this.

    This guy doesn't mention that he had to do anything special in order to make a modern ATX motherboard (still with AT slot spacing) fit.

    Am I hallucinating here?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      You remember correctly. The slot spacing was changed
      when the PC was supplanted by the PC-XT. It has stayed
      pretty much the same since then.
    • You are correct, the spacing changed between the original PC and the PC XT.

      I remember being very confused when my brand-spanking-new 386DX-20 motherboard wouldn't fit quite right in my old PC case. I think I used the get-a-bigger-hammer method until I managed to un-seat some surface mount chips.
    • One thing I hadn't noticed before is the AT-style keyboard-lock/reset button cutout was already there on the metal case chasis.
  • OK, OK pure caching is out of the question.

    But one more question:

    If google can link to both the original document and a cached copy, then why can't Slashdot?

  • by geomcbay ( 263540 )
    I'm not much of a Van Halen fan, but it would be pretty funny to see an IBM 5150 case modified with the Van Halen logo.
    • Heh, I was thinking the same thing (except for the part about not being much of a Van Halen fan, obviously)... ;-) I had thought about striping my computer case like I did one of my guitars [] but never had the time. Doing it to one of these IBM cases would certainly be an added bonus!
  • by nlh ( 80031 ) on Sunday August 26, 2001 @03:23PM (#2218933) Homepage
    Well, the site appears to be totally slammed.

    So....Google to the rescue!

    Here [] is google's cache of the main page.

    Here [] is google's cache of all the pictures from the site.


  • Wow (Score:5, Funny)

    by Sarcasmooo! ( 267601 ) on Sunday August 26, 2001 @03:26PM (#2218943)
    How the hell did he turn that laval lamp into a monitor?
  • " Instead of tricking out something ultra modern w/ lights and windows, this guy modded an IBM 5150,"

    Well, why does something that's already "ultra modern" need tricking out?

    Ok I can understand some good reasons why it's cool to rehash these old pieces of crap, ranging from "just plain fun" to "save the planet with the three R's". All very cool stuff, this example no less so.
    But so far I've seen articles demonstrating dozens of example of modern equipment which has been modded and customized, including some neat stuff using "lights and windows". I've also seen a dozen or so similar articles to this one showing off cool ways to reuse old equipment.

    What I'm wondering is why guys who are obviously talented at this type of reengineering don't design new and wicked cases *from the ground up*. So far I've seen only a single example, that completely transparent case (from those guys in Vancouver, BC ?). Sure there are a few mass-produced cases which have a custom look such as the penguin/cat/dog cases and such, and a few manufacturers have made the rare attempt (apple's cube anyone..?)but I'd love to see more.
    Why can't we have geometric shapes such as spheres and pyramids? Or if not *that* different how about just a really COOL personal design of some kind that doesn't start with the usual "beige-box" syndrome....
    • You mentioned Apple, who is one of the few manufacturers to use non-standard, non-boxy cases recently. Do you remember the reaction when the iMac was first introduced? I know some people who went ballistic over the thing: "How dare they try to make computers cute!", and whatever else. How do you reconcile the obsession many geeks have with tricking out cases to make them different, from this reaction to pre-built different cases?

      You have to take into account that when someone mods a case by themselves, it will then be considered unique to them (even if someone else is probably doing something very similar). This is the Slashdot crowd we're talking about, the people who like to compile their own programs. If it's already done for them, what's the point?

      • "You have to take into account that when someone mods a case by themselves, it will then be considered unique to them (even if someone else is probably doing something very similar). This is the Slashdot crowd we're talking about, the people who like to compile their own programs. If it's already done for them, what's the point?

        Very true and I am not implying that the results are anything less than unique and often very cool. But I would expect the difference between *unique* and *original* to be the very reason reusing or modifying *someone else's design* should be so much less gratifying than an actual original designed from scratch.

        Using your parrallel to source code; those that can write their own code do so and "publish it" (equivalent to mass manufacturing of cases) while those that can't make use of the existing source and modify it as best as they can (the equivalent of hacking existing equipment).
        It's all cool, but wouldn't everyone rather *create* rather than *maintain*...?!
      • I don't think a lot of us geeks who dislike the iMacs did so because of the form, it was because Apple had sacrificed functionality for the form. At least, those are my reasons. I can't really speak for others.
    • First of all, there is a limited market for these things. Very few people are willing to pay the extra it would cost to get a tricked out case.

      Second, they would be really expensive. If you make these as a hobby, part of the goal is to have fun building it, and in the end you have a unique case that you made yourself. If you make these to sell, you have to charge people for your time, and that bumps the price way up.

      In the PC market, you just can't make money off of this sort of thing. The only place it works is when you have a single supplier of something. Hence, the distinctive looks of Apples, SGIs, NeXT, and Cray computers (to name a few). You buy the hardware you want and automatically get a nice looking case to go with it (depending on your tastes).

      The other factor is availability of peripherals. It is difficult for an end user to even find black CD-ROMs, much less ones to go with a specific case design, or other peripherals that match their color scheme. Again, the only way this works is with a single supplier, or if you are going to do the mods yourself. Witness how you can get a keyboard, mouse, USB hub, scanner, and floppy drive to all match a G4 or an Imac, but in the PC world you don't even get perfectly matching shades of beige.
      • "...but in the PC world you don't even get perfectly matching shades of beige."

        Anybody can buy a NeXT, an SGI, or one of the non-beige Apples, but the challenge in the PC world is picking and arranging just the right different shades of beige so that they co-exist in subtle and graceful harmony. :-)

        On a different note, I'd like to thank everybody destroying these irreplaceable early boxes, thus moving the negative worth of my boat anchor stock PC-XT and Apple IIe from not worth throwing away back up closer to zero and maybe even one day into the exalted realm of actual shiny copper-colored hundredths of dollars.

    • The limiting factor in all of this is that you can't mod a motherboard. Or at least you can't mod every motherboard anyone might want to use with your case.

      Apple, SGI, even Sony and Compaq all have custom internals that don't have to comply to the industry standards because the cases don't need to support more than one motherboard. Unless you started bundling custom motherboards with your cases, you simply won't be able to do much. For a niche company, it's not worth it.
      • Apple, SGI, even Sony and Compaq all have custom internals that don't have to comply to the industry standards because the cases don't need to support more than one motherboard.
        This may be true of older Compaqs, but I bought a 1.2GHz Athlon-based Compaq (7000 US, I think), and it has an utterly standard motherboard.
        • I was referring more to Compaq's Ipaq line, their response to the iMac craze. Basically any and all cases that try to be innovative, creative, or just otherwise different from the standard have to deal with these problems.
          • I was referring more to Compaq's Ipaq line, their response to the iMac craze. Basically any and all cases that try to be innovative, creative, or just otherwise different from the standard have to deal with these problems.

            Actually, the iPaq's use standard MicroATX motherboards. You can swap in any standard MicroATX board that has everything you need on board (i.e. there are no slots).

    • ... because its sort of an in joke.

      I just saw recently a computer in a He-Man/Greyskull Castle.

      Its cool techinically and invokes your childhood for those who included He-Man. Not everyone gets it.

      A computer in a globe is cool for about 2 seconds and your really can't talk/laugh about it.
    • What I'm wondering is why guys who are obviously talented at this type of reengineering don't design new and wicked cases *from the ground up*.

      I have to confess that I just don't understand this kind of attitude. Some guy goes out, on his own, with his own money, scratching his own itch, and The Taco feels it's worthy of /.. You then, feel the need to bitch that he didn't do what you wanted him to do. Guess what?

      Do it yourself!

      Don't know how? Learn. Don't have the skill? Practice. Don't have the time? Make some. But don't fscking whine that this guy didn't make your dream spherical box.


  • ok. it's slashdotted so I didn't see the case. Was it Van Halen-ified: painted bright red with stripes of electrical tape all over it, like Eddie VH did to his guitar way back when. It'd be fitting, with 5150 being the title of the VH album/tune.
  • I stole one of those old IBM's from someone's yard/trash pile last week, and I thought: "wow I should really make a cool looking case out of this!"

    But I gave it to my friend the art major so he could make a sculpture with it or something.

  • Dang, I was going to do an Apple II retro conversion, but this has taken the wind out my sails. :(
  • Irony (Score:2, Funny)

    by mbrubeck ( 73587 )
    CmdrTaco calls someone else's color scheme "a little disturbing"?
  • I have a friend that is doing the same thing. His website is come check it out.
  • Sun Box. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tinla ( 120858 ) on Sunday August 26, 2001 @04:12PM (#2219066) Homepage Journal

    I haven't got any pictures together yet but I've just squeezed a Celeron@1.1GHz (OCed of course) into a Sun SparcStation LX box.

    I used an excellent motherboard from shuttle (the 7"x7.5" FV24 []) which includes almost everything onboard (from audio to network via firewire. Everything), so the build was easy.

    I got the idea from a similar project I saw over at this place [] but because the FV24 is so tiny I managed to get everything, including a 1U psu, in the standard LX box.

    It looks very odd indeed with my massive monitor perched on top... Retro modding is the way forward :)

  • by TACD ( 514008 )
    Nostalgia, nice and all, but IMHO it would have been far better if he had stuck with the original system specs. What nostalgia will it be loading Counterstrike up on that machine, when instead he could have been playing good old Space Invaders or Pacman?

    Methinks the case will seem somewhat less quaint with a sparkling new 17" monitor (I highly doubt he will keep that current one) showing a trademark MS BSOD. A Quantum 20GB hard-drive? I weep.

  • check out a complete mirror with all the html and pictures in context on

    after i spend 15 minutes trying to get them, i might as well post them again - the server seems to be suffering bad.
  • numerism (Score:2, Funny)

    by chizor ( 108276 )
    isn't 5150 a british legal document or status pertaining to incapacitation or madness? ergo, van halen's album, as well as a black sabbath instrumental by the name of E5150.

    little odd that IBM chose these digits for its PC, eh?
    • Re:numerism (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      A little, personally I thought they meant the Nokia Phone [] when I saw the numbers first.
  • would be filling a Unisys AN/UYK-7 case with modern stuff. Actually wiring the control panel to work would be a trick...
    • I'd love to see the old NeXTcube case modified to take ordinary ATX-type components! Besides the sheer coolness of having a big black cast-magnesium cube with cooling fins, it really seems to cut those RF emissions down a lot.
  • by Medievalist ( 16032 ) on Sunday August 26, 2001 @05:16PM (#2219248)
    The original PC case had only five slots, so I ditched the bottom half years ago and installed an XT chassis with the full eight. This was about the same time I upgraded to a 386.

    I kept the original top half, though, so my case still looks like an original type A, which is what it started out as.

    The CD-ROM drive I put in it was a salvaged junker; it had a stripped gear which I rebuilt and now it works fine. But, while I had it apart, I spray-painted the faceplate and tray black to match the floppies.

    Currently it houses an ATX motherboard with an AMD chip, two IDE drives, a 3.5 floppy, and a CD-ROM. I just got rid of the last 5.25 floppy when I put in the 30 GB drive... I'm thinking about putting it back now and losing the older IDE drive.

    Despite what somebody else's post said, I've never had any problem with slot spacing. In fact, the AGP video card fits into the eighth slot perfectly, which is very convenient. And I salvaged a huge fan that fits exactly into the existing faceplate behind the slots (I haven't modified the front of the case in any way) so I don't require a blowhole. It's also convenient that my modern high-watt ATX power supply is so much smaller than the original 63.5 watt model... otherwise I wouldn't have enough airspace to cool the hotter modern chips.

    The only real problem is that I've hacked out so much metal over the years (as I've gone through half a dozen motherboards) that the bottom part of the case has very little structural integrity left. If you pick it up without the top shell on, it bends from the weight of the drives. I added a steel bar taken from an old lamp across the top but that hasn't helped much.

    My server, incidentally, is in a Honeywell DPS6 case. I find this highly amusing since I run linux on it... the gigantic case is nice for all my salvaged hard drives, and of course the UPS batteries.

  • Yeah, the color scheme is dumb.. and why did he throw a lava lamp in there? I guess it added the extra "piz-azz" to the newly modified case.
  • I had kept upgrading the internal Hardware in the case I got for the first PC I built for myself back in 1985. Looked identical to a 5150 Case. A 5160 case is easer because of the 8 slot design. The PC only had 5 slots and the spacing was wider than that used on modern MBs. The Last MB I had in the old case was a Pentium 133MHz. Went to a tower case in 1998. Got 13 Years of use out of the old case! I am resurecting the old machine with a 486-100MHz MB for running some of the old games I had back in the early 90's.
  • Taco, that box came out in 1981. Some of us here remember that year, with genuine nostalgia (Odessey, Coleco Adam, Apple // anyone?) You graduated High School (age 18, I'm guessing) in 1994. Which means you were born in 1976. Can a 5 year old honestly express nostalgia for a PC? You may have experienced the rise of the Internet and the Dot-Bomb Implosion with the rest of us, but call a spade a spade, and a kid a kid.
    • It may have come out in 1981, I was born in 1981, I remember my old XT case, it had two 5.25" drives sitting atop one another. I had it from 1988 til 1994, remember the 80286 only came around early 1990s (I am probably mistaken), and no way a ten year old like me was going to get something as high-end as that.
    • Just an anecdote, but I remember using IBM XTs as far as 1990 in my cash-strapped junior high school. It was quite a treat to move up to the new 286s they bought. The even had these cool "hard drive" things that let you boot the computer without a disk.
  • Cool, but... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by x136 ( 513282 )
    ...wouldn't a slot loading CD/DVD loading through the floppy slot be awesome?
  • by Scoria ( 264473 )
    The site is Slashdotted. I made a mirror here [], which is still being created at the time of this writing. It is mostly complete, though, so you shouldn't have much of a problem viewing it...
  • I can see having a retro case, but not something that was origonally purple! If I were going to do something like this, I'd make it out of a toaster. One slot for floppies, one for cd's.
  • I have an old atari sitting around its about 16 years old and spent the last 10 of those years in my closet. It runs the german atari OS and everything seems smooth except that i need to find a mouse. I'll post here if anything amazing happens.
  • Iy your expansion cards are not full height or SCSI with the cables coming out the top, you can do this. I used to have a '486DX66/2 in an XT case - only problem is that the drive cage makes for hours of messing about to get any drives in and out. You could easily get a K6-3 AT board into one of these, only thing being to move the MB post holes, which just requires a little redrilling. Clone XT power supplies could easily do 200W, maybe 250W.

    On that old case I even inserted a colling fan in the front of it blowing over the DX2/66 heatsink (with no CPU fan). Back then I found that most cheap CPU fans are not good for anything more than 6 months.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    put a single board computer in a timex sinclair and make the keyboard work and interface video in to a tv. now that would look cool

  • So I go to check my email tonight, and notice that Eudora can't find my mail server. Thinking that my crappy DSL connection is down again, I open up a browser. Well my default homepage (Slashdot) comes up with no problems. So I figure I might as well skim the headlines and see what's new.... "IBM Creates 1st Single Molecule Computer Circuit." Hmm that sounds interesting, but let me skip ahead and see what else we havew. Oh look, someone modified a 5150 IBM case, I did something similar a while ago, maybe I should check it out..... Oh wait.... It links to my site.

    Well, I'm happy and congratulate all that decided to slashdot my site and host into mush. I went ahead and mirrored it here if you still want to see my little mod. I think this server can take better beatings:

  • i've been running a web server and proxy box in this same case for 4 years now. somehow it didn't seem that cool.

    actually, it was all running on a 120 meg Mac IDE drive from Apple's first attempt at cutting costs by dropping SCSI. talk about a frankenstein machine, i didn't have the adapters to use a 3 1/4" floppy drive power with the big ol' honking drive power supply connectors, so to boot the box from floppy for the install I had to drag the thing over next to my main PC case and "jump" the floppy power over....

    almost makes me nostalgic for my first days of linux use. almost.
  • I saw the 5150 designation and knew immediately and intimately the model in question. I disposed of several old chassis, and for some reason, I have kept one old original IBM Keyboard. The one with the awful loud click. It is original, and new and still in the box. Anybody know of a museum or something that might be interested???
  • What's the point of sticking new hardware into old cases if the old case doesn't look like an old case anymore?
  • Best case mod I've ever seen was an Cray T3D unit case, the size of a fridge. It was sitting proudly in the middle of a lab at a software company I visited a while back, in the middle of the .com boom. It took me a little by surprise - This was a standard office building, on the eighth floor, complete with corporate pile carpet and flimsy ceiling tiles, and certainly not the right kind of environment for a Cray. But, then again, the company had just finished a remarkable round of financing, and their product had something to do with supercomputing (although it was clustering, not vector processing). The Cray was also making a really odd sound ... a high pitched whine, and a fast shuffling clicking sound.

    My fantasies of actually being able to check out a Cray were quickly swept aside when an employee trotted up to the case, popped it open, and revealed the Hewlet-Packard "mopier" tucked inside, furiously spitting out documents.

    After asking around, it appears they got the case (and it was a real case) from Cray because it had been seriously damaged when an (ex?) employee had dropped the unit to be shipped off a 4' loading dock.

    Talk about an "Oh Shit" moment.
  • When I saw this mod a couple of months ago, I had the idea of converting an old ('87-'88 model)Compaq Portable(III) to a l337 LAN gamer.
    I've yet to find one for sale down here and posting this probably won't help my cahnces...
    But here's what i mean: l

    They're not exactly the same machine I have in mind, the one my dad had back then had a more prominent handle but you get the idea.
    They're large enough and tough enough to fit anything you'll need for a damn fast gaming machine and be able to tote it around with you without fear of hurting it.
    Another cool thing would be to use the inbuilt CGA as a second monitor for runnning diagnostics, statistics or whatever during LAN games, that's if the drivers required are fairly standard.
  • I did that several years ago, upped it to a pentium 75 for my original BBS, I still think they are one of the best cases going, uses a standard AT motheboard...
  • At [] (down at the bottom) this case has been showing off for about eleven months now. Old news...

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