Watch on YouTube:

A PC-9821 HDD Recovery Update - And Some Donations!


I got the original NEC PC-9821 Windows 95 hard drive back from the data recovery specialist - and he also sent me some extras.


Now, here’s a sight for sore eyes. This, of course, is my NEC PC-9821, which has already featured in a couple of videos over on my main channel, ctrl-alt-rees - and yeah, I mean, what an absolute beauty it is!

If you haven’t seen those videos, I’ll link those down in the description. But basically, just a very quick summary of what they were about:

In the first one I repaired some shipping damage that this had received unfortunately on its way from Japan, but as you can see, it’s in lovely condition now, so that’s great. And I had a bit of a poke around the hardware and also talked a bit about the history of NEC’s PC-88 and 98 series.

Because I’d assumed that this was just a completely bog standard, off the shelf IBM compatible Windows 95 machine, and perhaps just had a couple of interesting little bits of hardware in it just to make it backwards compatible but as it turns out, no, it’s a very weird and wonderful machine and it’s fully backwards compatible with all of that old PC-98 software - or at least most of that PC-98 software - and that’s something that I have been Exploring and something that I showed in the second follow up video where I looked at something called YAHDI or Yet Another Hard Drive Image, which is a widely circulated hard drive image among PC-98 enthusiasts which includes a load of games and tools and other things, and that was sent to me by a supporter and a follower of the channel called Pirate Gamer Boy.

So again, thank you ever so much for sending that because it was a huge help in checking out what this machine was all about.

But, if you think back to that very first video this had a hard drive in it, which had the remains of a Windows 95 install - they hadn’t wiped it or anything like that, it’s just that the drive was very old, and it was very much on its last legs, and I did manage to copy some files across, and we had a look at some photos and things that I’d recovered from that.

So, like I say, a link to that video is down in the description - I won’t show all of that stuff again, it’s just a little second channel update video.

But yeah, there has been a development, and that development is that a supporter of the channel, a long term, a very long term fan and supporter of the channel, and a friend of mine, Carl who goes by the name of BitterBlitter online, got in touch, and he works-

I’m not sure I can really say what his job is, but basically he has a requirement sometimes to recover data from hard drives and he has access to all sorts of professional data recovery tools that I don’t and very kindly offered to take a look at the drive.

Now, spoiler alert - he did manage to recover quite a lot of stuff that I didn’t by the looks of it, and we think we’re probably able to piece together a working Windows 95 hard drive image for this thing which of course I’m really looking forward to doing - there’s a couple of other videos that I have to get out of the way first before I can get back onto this but it will very much be a priority as well as getting all the stuff working that of course I couldn’t get working in that second video with that YAHDI image.

But anyway the reason I’m making this video, if you hadn’t guessed from the thumbnail and from the title, is that he has now returned the hard drive, he’s done all he can with it, with all of the tools that he has access to.

So he sent it back and basically pointed out that it would come in a very large box - and when I queried as to why it would arrive in such a large box, he said that he’d put some extras in there for me, for the channel.

So no idea what he’s put in here, but I wanted to unbox this on camera just to show my appreciation to Carl, he also sent me a load of Commodore 64 stuff, which is a video that has gone out to my supporters - the unboxing of that - and that is something that I want to cover on the channel, in fact this is the C64 that he sent to me, and all the extra bits and bobs are behind it ready to go for a future video and I really need to get on with that one!

Thank you ever so much for sorting that hard drive out for me, Carl, and I think, without further ado, let’s open this box and see what goodies he’s sent to me.

So apologies for the rather janky overhead shot but this is the first time I’ve done any kind of overhead filming like this since I had to move the whole studio around so I hope it’s okay - this is a bit of a test - I’ve got to test all of that again, even though I finally managed to get it all working exactly as I wanted it but hey, that’s life, it’s good.

So, right, the box. And, yes, in another another fantastic display of jankiness, I just realised that I took all of my tools home earlier because I needed some tools at home to do a job and that included my Stanley knife that I usually use to open these boxes.

So the only thing I have to hand - and you’re going to love this - is my iFixit screwdriver set so I’m going to have to use a flat bladed screwdriver to try to get into this box. So if you’ll talk amongst yourselves, I already used this to remove the address labels, so at least that’s something…

And yeah, I’m not sure what Carl’s relation is to the the company name on this box. I hope he’s not going to tell me that this is his employer and I’ve got to blur the whole thing out because that’s going to make the video a bit more painful to edit, but that’s fine, it’s easy enough to do. But yeah, there’s no affiliation or Sponsorship or anything like that.

Actually, that was surprisingly painless - that’s a good advert for the iFixit screwdriver set.

#notsponsored - I really should put affiliate links and things in the description to stuff that I use - I tell you what, I’ll put an affiliate link in the description to that screwdriver set and if you want to buy one you can help me make a few pennies.

But anyway, yes, here we go!

Here is the box - I’ve just opened it, what’s this? I know in that Commodore 64 donation he did include a rather fantastic letter…

Right, take two. There is indeed a letter in here and it has Carl’s full name on it so I’ve had to fold it over so you can’t see that on camera, otherwise I’m going to have to blur it out in the edit and that’s going to be a bit of a pain.

So let’s start again and let’s see what the letter actually says. Thankfully I spotted that before I actually started reading it so I only wasted a second, but right, so thank you ever so much, Carl, for all of this. It’s really nice of you, as always, and I noticed there’s quite a few things in here, so let’s go over this wonderful donation.

“Enclosed is your PC-98 hard disk drive. Thanks for trusting me with it.”

No, thank you, Carl. Thank you for taking a look at it for me.

“Hopefully work and life will calm down in the next few weeks and I can get back to restoring, hopefully, a bootable image for you, which will be so cool.”

You really don’t need to feel obliged to do that for me, I think you’ve done more than enough with all the stuff that you’ve sent over, but of course, it’s going to help out so much with getting that PC-98 back up and running.

“I’ve also thrown in a few items that hopefully will be of interest or use to you. Otherwise, I’ve just dumped a load of junk on you…”

Honestly, don’t worry about dumping junk on me - I’ve got a whole studio full of junk here, so what’s a bit more junk to add to the collection!?

“…Apologies in advance if that’s the case. So inside you should find a couple of PCBs for the following projects: a Pico wifi modem, which is a Pico 2040W based RS 232 to wifi modem.”

That’s really cool. Okay! Yeah, that’s a really cool project.

I’m actually testing something - I mean, it’s not that - but it is something kind of in the same ballpark as that, which I am making a bit of a longer-term video about as we speak, it should be the next one on the main channel I think, so that’s very interesting. Thank you ever so much.

“A Pico based N64 flash cart.”


“I’ve already soldered the tiny MOSFET for you.”

Okay, that’s going to be loads of fun to check out so thank you for that!

“…and a couple of NES64 PCBs, a replacement PCB for the NES gamepads to Atari standard. As NES pads and clones are two a penny, no longer do you need to buy expensive Master System pads for your Atari Amiga C64, etc.”

Also, you know, butchering Master System pads is a bit of a shame really, because the Master System is obviously the far superior system.

So, yeah, thanks for that.

“A copy of WordStar for the original IBM PC. This was mine, i.e. my father’s original copy, courtesy of British Rail.”

Oh, thank you so much, that’s really generous.

Obviously that has some sentimental value.

“I noticed in your Doom collection video you had a copy of Doom 3 for the Xbox, here is a steelcase version of the same. It seemed wrong for your collection to be missing it.”

A steelcase version of Doom 3 for the Xbox, that will certainly-

I’ve actually made the Doom Shrine part of my main set now as you will have seen in my most recent video, so, yeah, thanks for that.

“…and likewise, as I know you’re a fan of the Boomer Shooters…”

Absolutely best genre of game ever made, as I’m sure we can all agree.

“…enjoy this steelcase version of Crysis. Must have in any PC collection. Now you can test all the things to see if it does indeed run Crysis.”

So - Crysis on a desk has to be a video and it has, of course, to be dedicated to Carl, aka BitterBlitter.

Thank you so much for that, that’s so cool!

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a boxed copy of Crysis.

Because it was kind of that era when stuff was starting to be download only and boxed copies were kind of becoming a lot less common.

“Keep doing what you do and thanks for both the entertainment and the nice little corner of the internet you keep for us.”

That’s referring to my Discord server, I guess - he’s a regular over there.

I’ll also put a link to the Discord server down in the description if you want to come and join us - and indeed it is a nice little corner of the internet, there’s a great community there. But yeah, let’s take a look at some of the stuff that they sent over.

Obviously it’s all been detailed in the letter, so no surprises - or maybe there will be some surprises? I’m not sure!

All very well packaged, as always, as you would expect.

I’ve just spotted that original hard drive down there so we’ll just get that out of the way, I guess.

This is all, this is like a laptop shipping box so it’s all very secure in here.


…let’s chuck that on the floor!

I can tidy that up afterwards, or maybe after my holiday. I’m away on holiday next week by the way - in fact this might be going out the actual week that I’m away, hence the the gap in releases with all the studio stuff and everything else that’s been going on.

Let’s go back to the old screwdriver.

That’s been shrink wrapped to there.

So that’s the original Seagate hard drive, I think it’s a 1.2GB, something like that, that was in the PC-98. So that has arrived back to me safely - not that hopefully I should need it, of course, because I think we’ve recovered everything that we could possibly recover from that and it’s dead.

I think the spindle - an issue with the spindle motor or something - I think.

But yes, let’s dig in and see what we have here!

So these will be those PCBs as promised.

Oh wow!

Do I have any chance - ah there we go, Pico WiFi modem.

So that’s going to be a fun little project to put together, it’s got some surface mount stuff on it as well.

Thanks for the work!

No, I do appreciate it, that’s really cool. It might be a fun little project, I might do it as a second channel project, you never know.

It’s always good to have stuff that I can kind of jump on quickly to cover to keep the the old content flowing. - so this is the NES controller to Atari standard board.

Of course the way that the original NES controllers worked is there’s basically like a clock line and a signal line and the inputs as you press the buttons are actually kind of encoded digitally I guess, as they’re sort of sent to the console and polled by the console.

I’m talking off the top of my head here, I might be talking rubbish, but that’s basically the long and short of it - of course remember I did the USB - not USB - I did the joystick adapter series a while back so I did do some research into that at the time.

And this is that N64 flash cart!

And yeah, like he said, he has soldered that tiny little MOSFET to it, which is going to save me a big headache, so thank you.

I don’t know much about these - I knew it was a thing, but that’s all I know about it, so it’ll be interesting to have a play with those. I do love the N64.

So, yeah, thanks for all of those, that’s really cool.

We’ll get on to these these steelbook- steelcase games.

Let me just check.


Yes, sorry, I’m not a not really much of a modern gaming guy, as I’m sure you know!

Oh, look at that.

Look at that!

Now that is a beautiful thing. I was going to say it’s a bit rusty, but it’s not, is it? That’s actually part of the design.

Sending me your rusty old junk!

Look at that - oh wow!

I must admit - have I ever - yeah, I’ve got Crysis on Steam, I think, I was going to say have I ever actually paid for it but I do have it in my Steam library so that must be how I bought it back in the day but yeah, wow, I don’t know if this has, obviously it’s got Games for Windows Live so I guess it’s got some kind of online activation but still a very cool thing to put on the shelf.

And hey, maybe I could install it along with a nocd crack on some of my old systems.

Notice it’s on DVD, and recently I did put a DVD drive in the desk, so actually, that’s gonna work!


That was quite Ashens-esque, wasn’t it!?

Oh, look at that!

Ha! What a cool thing! I do love these.

They just have that kind of, you know, I guess they probably didn’t cost all that much extra to manufacture, but they just have that kind of air of quality about them. I have the - on the original Xbox and on the 360 - I have the steelcase releases of Halo for those, the various Halo games - I was a big fan of those back in the day.

So that is going to go very nicely with the collection so thank you ever so much for that. That’s really cool!

And here we have, finally - I think this is the last thing in the box…


Finally, that lovely boxed copy of WordStar, that family heirloom - and of course I’m going to hold on to this and take good care of it.

Classic word processing software for those XT-class machines, got all the manual and everything, this is like those big IBM binder manual type things, so it’ll go very nicely with those.

1984, that’s the year I was born, so there you go.

Copyright 1979, but yeah, it looks like this is a 1984 release. It comes with the WordStar tutor, so I can finally learn to type, rather than just using one finger, which is what I do at the minute, so, that is so cool, I mean, next time I’ve got one of these machines up and running -

In fact I’m doing something with one of these, with the Atari PC at the moment, spoiler alert, for those of you who’ve made it this far, I suppose you do deserve some background information on what I’m working on, so yeah, I am doing something with the Atari PC at the moment, so I can actually try this out.

Of course these disks don’t necessarily last very well, and it’s just kind of having the physical object is just kind of cool enough a lot of the time, but wow, that’s very generous, particularly with the the personal connection to that as well.

I know that you’re a bit of a collector of junk like me as well, and it’s hard to let go of this stuff when it has a connection so it’s gone to a good home and of course I will, I will take good care of it. So yeah, thank you.

I think the least you deserve is for me to dismantle all of this filming setup and stick the camera back on the tripod and go to a talking head closing shot just for you, Carl.

Yeah, my lovely new and improved tidy and clean studio - completely ruined!

But whatever, it doesn’t matter, of course, the important thing here is the generosity of that donation so thank you ever so much - and thank you for, of course, taking a look at the hard drive for me as well, which is going to be really, really helpful for getting that PC-9821 back up and running.

Doom 3 has joined its brothers and sisters over here as a permanent part of the new and improved Doom Shrine, and I’m in a fantastic mood, it’s been so sunny and lovely today, I’ve already got one video out on the main channel, I’ve got another video recorded for the second channel, tested my overhead filming setup, got some new stuff, got Doom, got hard drive things…

It’s all good, it’s all coming up Milhouse!

So thank you ever so much to everyone for joining me and for watching - don’t forget to subscribe to the channel if you like this kind of random madness, and indeed go and subscribe to my main channel, and go and subscribe to other channels, channels that you like.

It’s a nice day, make somebody happy by subscribing to their YouTube channel today.

Yeah, that’s all I’ve got for you, so thanks and bye!

Support the channel!
Become a Member:

Relevant Links:
NEC PC-9821 Part 1:
NEC PC-9821 Part 2:
iFixit Screwdriver Set (Affiliate Link):

If you liked this video please consider subscribing to ctrl.alt.rees on YouTube!