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  • Unboxing a NOS Hidden Gem with a Shady Past
  • Unboxing a NOS Hidden Gem with a Shady Past



    eBay is a pretty amazing platform.  It allows people to sell just about anything and users can find just about anything.  For the Retro PC enthusiast eBay can be a gold mine of products that survived the electronics recycler and really highlights how many of us hold on to things for way too long.

    I am in the process of putting together a new Retro PC build on a platform that I never owned personally but, found extremely fascinating, The Intel Pentium Pro.  The Pentium Pro is a monster of a processor what not only defined its own socket but was the precursor to HEDT (High End Desktop) computing and laid the groundwork for many of the hardware separations we see between consumer/retail computer hardware and components used in the enterprise.

    Granted, Pentium Pro is a single core processor from the mid 1990’s but was also way ahead of its time.  The cores were used to create the Pentium II and Pentium III and would mark a point in time that processor design would eventually come back to once manufacturing technology caught up.

    All of my Retro PC builds are following a similar formula.

    • They must be a AT form factor. Most are Baby AT or an “extended” Baby AT
    • They must be in a proper AT chassis (or a case converted to be AT Hint:Hint)
    • Whenever possible the build needs to be modernized and/or pushed to the limits (practical or otherwise)
    • They must be a build. I have never endorsed ANYONE to buy a pre-build or OEM computer and find current Retro channels attempts to “restore” an old Gateway or Dell to be a stupid waste of time.

    However, this build will be special.  The motherboard I found is a Pentium Pro P6 i440FX Commander and picked it up off eBay a couple years ago.  Best I can tell this motherboard is a NOS based on the condition of the accessories and cleanness of the PCB.

    The rest of the build will likely be reclaimed parts but, I wanted something special for the chassis.  To keep with the formula, it needed to be an AT case and I have always liked having a digit display.  Sadly, the turbo feature will not be available but, a keylock would be a nice addition.

    And…  I found the perfect case!

    Now, when you buy things from eBay, you have to error on the side of caution.  Over the years I have been scammed and ripped off and while eBay has good protections in place, there is a limit to the compromise.

    As the story goes, The Model PD011D chassis was listed for $500 USD with $63 USD Shipping.  The photos illustrated a textbox NOS product, plastic wrap around the case, all the factory parts and came in the original box.  Still, $500 USD is way too much even for a rare item. 

    Shipping was also suspect but, I chalked that up to their East Coast location.  You see, I have noticed a trend when it comes to sellers on eBay in relation to their location.  Locations around New York have sellers who overprice their products and inflate their shipping charges AND, are often the worst at properly packaging an item.  Sellers from Floridia love to commit insurance fraud by shipping items, either broken, or packaged to become broken with the intent of refunding the buyer and collecting the insurance money.  Midwest and southern sellers cannot take a proper photo but generally sell items with good descriptions.  Given that I know a thing or two about Retro PC Hardware I also find it funny when sellers have no idea what they are selling, take product photos of items in incorrect orientations and leave extremely vague descriptions.

    Well, as it would turn out many of those trends proved true.

    According to the photos, this case was presented to be in great/perfect condition.  Assuming it survived in the box for 20+ years, there should be no question AND no indication of condition in the listing.  Overall seemed like a good buy and after a month or so a deal was finally struck

    However, when the case showed up, things quickly changed.

    The re-pack was superb.  Double walled carboard, packing strap and warning stickers.  Expanded cardboard was used to keep the case from moving around.  Once the case was removed the story changed considerably and tells an interesting story.

    I figure that this case was part of an estate sale and the previous owner had a computer shop that closed down.  They brought the unsold items home and there they sat.  Based on the unique damage this case could have been a “scratch and dent” with undisclosed damage and couldn’t be sold.  So, it sat in the corner until now.

    Turns out the photos the seller posted had obscured the apparent damage.  Maybe the technician didn’t notice and was just quickly taking photos.  OR, both of them noticed and purposefully obscured the damage in the photos. 

    Overall, I cannot be too mad, the case can be repaired and best I can tell the photos were not retouched AND, I still get an amazing NOS Baby AT chassis that checks all the boxes for my new Pentium Pro Retro PC Build.