Stupid Dinosaur Computer Question: How to Connect to the Internet?

I had an old frankenstein of a desktop that I used as a backup. Old. The hard drive is fried, now, but I had enough spare parts to build another backup. I’m not sure how to connect it to my internet connection, though.

This thing maybe even older, though a touch less of a frankenstein. It’s an old “e-machine” that runs windows 98. Piece of crap. The thing is, it has no jack to put an ethernet cable into it, and it sure as hell ain’t wireless. It’s got two phone jacks and a USB as the only jacks. Can I use the USB as internet feed? Also, Radio Shack didn’t have something that goes from ethernet to USB, so how can I hook this thing up?

Are you doing this as an intellectual exercise? Because it sure isn’t cost effective. You’ll end up putting more into it than it’s worth, and you’ll still have an impractical, ancient machine.

If you decide to do it anyway (and it is possible), you can get an Ethernet card for about $15 or less. But how’s your RAM, CPU speed, version of browser, etc.?

Buy a PC ethernet card and install it…

I got this thing for free, and I’m only planning to use it as a back up. I do NOT want to spend more than say, 20 bucks. I’m wondering if I can use the USB port as a connection, or failing that, the phone jack in the back of it.

It is certainly not worth it to buy a card.

It’s an “e-machine”. I have vague memory of the company advertising their internet connectivity. Please somebody tell me that I can use the USB port.

Google is your friend: USB ethernet

you can get a usb to ethernet adapter for $15 to $30

or use the modem in it if you have a dial-up account

The cheapest PCI ethernet cards will be even a bit less than the USB adapters:

Yeah, but you haven’t seen this cheap ass motherboard. I said I didn’t want to spend the money on a card, but what I neglected to tell y’all is that I can’t anyway. I can’t even give the thing more memory. It’s what I took apart to make the Frankenstein I used to use as a backup. I really can’t add jack to it.

Still, maybe, I can connect via USB (thanks terminus est)

Just the guest bedroom. Not exactly critical.

It may have USB 1 ports which are horribly slow and not worth anything so don’t even bother in that case. USB 2 is reasonably fast and will probably work but there are much better ways to get a free backup computer. Lots of companies, including mine, have to pay to have 5 year old computers taken away and will just give them to you if you ask around. Windows 98 sucks too. Don’t waste your time.

All good responses, and I appreciate it. But I guess my question is will this piece of crap running Windows ninety fucking eight* connect through my router if I get the ethernet to USB adapter cable?

*Don’t take offense to the swearing. It’s only that I have a hard time saying “windows 98” without swearing. Just be glad it’s not Windows ME, otherwise I’d swear so much I’d get banned from the board :slight_smile:

If it has Windows 98 on it, please don’t put it on the Internet unless you’re planning on replacing the operating system with any OS—any OS—that still receives security updates. There are enough bots in botnets sending me spam already.

Very good point, but it’s for insurance and guests. It will be powered down 99.9% of the time.

You’d probably have better luck running a Linux distribution on it. There are some pretty light-weight ones out there.

Edit: Also, another problem with Windows 98 is that IE4 or whatever version it comes with will not be able to display most modern webpages. A Linux distribution will come with a modern version of many free browsers, like Firefox.

Will those USB devices even have drivers for Win98?

I would worry that the USB to lan connector won’t even work with WIN 98. I think Win 98 SE is the first OS that even supported USB and bit flaky at that.

You can get it to connect to the internet somehow but someone figured out how to make a circa 1982 Commodore 64 connect to the web as well. It depends on how much time you want to put into it. I am head of IT for a large pharmaceutical plant and we are trying hard to get all of our Windows 2000 machines out of production right now and make the major upgrade to Windows XP. Windows 2000 is a newer, much better, version and a completely different lineage from Windows 98. Those machines are a pain in the ass to support at this point and you are talking about a whole different class of suckitude. It just isn’t supported anymore in a meaningful way. I realize that this is just a ‘backup’ computer for incidental use but much better ones can be had really cheaply or free. I have stacks of them in office that I don’t know how to get rid of and lots of other people have them around as well.

I like retro-computing as a casual hobby but not as a practical exercise. If you can snag a newer machine, install some generic Linux package on it with Firefox and Open Office, you can have a decent working computer for almost no money.

You can purchase wifi USB adapters, and then connect to a wireless router, but it will cost more than $20. Also, as someone said, drivers for the USB adapter and W98 may be hard to find.

Oh, so not worth the effort. If this is really a solution you just want to work, I think you are going to be deeply disappointed.

It won’t work unless you have Windows 98 SE (not just 98), which it may or may not have even if it has physical USB ports. I supported a number of systems back in the day that provided USB hardware on the assumption that we would upgrade the systems to an OS with USB support. Of course we didn’t and for a half dozen years we would get periodic support requests for “USB broken, please fix.” At the very least I would test the USB with a thumb drive before you spend a cent on it.

And even if your system is all set and ready to go, the chances that an USB Ethernet adapter will work from the box, seem pretty minuscule. As had been said 98 SE’s USB support was still somewhat experimental. And I can’t imagine that any vendor is still making sure they are 98 compatible. So you better have a really bored hobbyist willing to write a driver for you. You might get lucky and find someone has already done so. But it seems like all the crackpots are trying to get PDP/11s, Apple ][s and Atari 400s attached to the Internet. I’m not sure that a 12 year old eMachines POS holds enough mystique for anyone to have written a driver for you.

So I third the sentiment. If you really want to get this particular hardware running, abandon Windows 98 and toss a linux distro and Firefox on it.

A simple question. And it deserves a simple answer. I say, “Don’t count on it.” And my magic 8-ball agrees. :slight_smile:

I have a Win 98SE machine connected to the Internet with an Ethernet card to a router. It has worked with a wireless card thru a USB port. Yes, it does work, and since it does, I use it. But I don’t recommend doing it, and I think SE is the absolute minimum OS that makes sense for this purpose.

Win 95 supported USB, but only in a version that was only sold OEM style.

Regular 98 supported USB, but it’s a crapshoot if you can get drivers for your devices or not. Mice and keyboards, you’re probably going to be alright. WiFi adapters, good luck.

I did manage to get a PCMCIA WiFi adapter that only supported 98SE to work on a plain 98 laptop, but it wasn’t easy and I don’t remember what all I had to do. So sometimes it’s less a case of technological limitations and more a case of they were too “lazy” to write one more driver for the small universe of people still running 98.

My 1TB USB HDD was easier to get 98 to recognize than XP for some reason (same system, dual booting each OS). 98 recognized it no problem, right away. XP would hang when I plugged it in, until I repartitioned it into smaller drives.