Swan Computers in the 1980's

Discussion in 'Apple, Inc and Tech Industry' started by turboxt, Apr 29, 2010.

  1. turboxt macrumors member


    Apr 16, 2010
    Does anyone recall this mail order company?

    I bought my first mail order PC from them based on an ad in the old 2" thick Computer Shopper catalog.

    I bought the turbo xt model complete with the turbo button to really kick it into high gear!

    Did Swan morph into any worthwhile company?:)

    In fact, I still have it!
  2. jbbuch macrumors newbie

    May 2, 2010
    Swan Computers

    I worked there from 1989 till it closed in 1996. The last I knew, Swan became part of NEC. The manufacturing facility/offices located in State College,Pa. were closed and a few of the people from Swan were offered jobs with NEC.

    My first position with Swan was as an assembler of the computers. I built many XT10s. Most of the units had 640 MB of ram, a 30 MB seagate RLL hard drive, and a choice of mono, ega or vga video.
  3. turboxt thread starter macrumors member


    Apr 16, 2010
    Cool...thx for responding...hard to imagine you and I are the only 2 who can recall the good old days of pre Dell / Gateway / etc.:)
  4. pilotError macrumors 68020


    Apr 12, 2006
    Long Island
    It's probably because those swans are older than a good percentage of the members on here! LOL

    FWIW, I do remember them...
  5. mstrze macrumors 68000

    Nov 6, 2009
    WOW...I lived in State College ironically from 1989-1996 and I had not known that Swan was a local company. I HAD heard of them before.

  6. jbbuch macrumors newbie

    May 2, 2010
    Ya, Swan was started by a Penn State student, Pete Sattler, selling Commador 64 parts out of his garage. At that time it was called Tussey Computer Products. It later became Swan Technologies- located on Research Drive near Pine Grove Mills off route 26.
  7. tlm550 macrumors newbie

    Nov 4, 2010
    Tussey Computer Products / Swan

    Tussey was a Commodore & Amiga dealer. It all changed to Swan when they started selling other stuff.

    I had purchased a lot of products for my Commodore 128, then my Amiga 500 and all its accessories from Tussey. They were, by far, the best place in the country to purchase these things... for best service and best price.

    Evansville, IN
  8. Synchromesh macrumors 6502a


    Jul 15, 2009
    Not to be picky but do you mean 640KB, not MB? I would imagine 640MB of RAM would set one thousands of dollars even as late as 1996.
  9. Scrapmanluke macrumors newbie

    Nov 23, 2010
    Our Swan..

    Our first computer was a Swan 286/12 we got around 1988 or so.

    Believe it or not, we still have it, and it still works.

    I sometimes still play Blockout and Dept Charge on it.
  10. quattros macrumors newbie

    Dec 20, 2010

    thought you guys might find this interesting - was just searching for more info on Tussey and came across this post. Just dug this out of the closet.

  11. bd3500 macrumors newbie

    Jan 27, 2010
    I was born in '83 and remember Swan as one of my first PC's we had.

    The first computer was an Apple IIe then as a family we got a 486/25mhz Intel DX Turbo :).. Talk about nostalgia. This computer came originally with Windows 3.1 and I upgraded it to Windows 95. I remember watching the Rob Roy trailer included on the Wndows 95 CDROM.

    I lived in Central PA and then after swan was bought they became Zenith Data Systems direct. I had two more computers from them. I remember reading somewhere that Swan used to be bigger than Dell, but Dell started over-clocking intel CPU's which gave them a leg up.

    Final thought about Swan, I can remember calling them up to purchase a modem as a kid. I explicitly remember the guy asking whether we wanted a 14.4 or a 28.8. We ended up with the 14.4 because my father thought it was fast enough. Haha! I said no way, but he won since he controlled the check book :)
  12. sigamy macrumors 65816

    Mar 7, 2003
    NJ USA
    I remember Swan...along with Zeos and some other back page mail order outfits.

    My first PC was a Laser XT-close purchased at Sears. 8Mhz with the 10Mhz Turbo button! A few months later I got a 40MB (yep MB) hard drive and IDE controller card for around $300.

    btw, I'm a PSU grad and lived in State College from '92-'94 but I don't recall knowing that Swan was local.
  13. acorn00 macrumors newbie

    Feb 8, 2012
    I was there from 1991 to 1993

    I was at Swan back when they were in their heyday. Growing and hiring like crazy. I spent 6 months in London for them in late '92 early '93 trying to get a foothold over there.
    I was sad to see they didn't make it. Those were the fun days in the industry when people were still amazed by the new technology.
    The idea of having a PC at home was still a novel thing.
  14. westegg macrumors newbie

    Feb 13, 2012
    For what it's worth I never owned a Swan but I did receive one of their catalogs/brochures. Not sure if I was in the market for my first computer or not--my first was a Radio Shack Tandy model in 1988. Sorry to hear of Swan's demise in 1996; i always wondered about them.
  15. senseless macrumors 68000


    Apr 23, 2008
    Pennsylvania, USA
    Computer Shopper Magazine! Yes, it was a zillion pages and came out every month.
  16. dXTC macrumors 68020


    Oct 30, 2006
    Up, up in my studio, studio
    I remember the behemoth Computer Shopper and Swan, Zeos and several other makers. However, I liked PC Sources magazine better (slightly better article-to-ad ratio). From one of those, I bought my first "real" PC, a Quantex 486DX-33.

    ...You can stop laughing now. The Quantex worked well enough that a couple of years later, my wife got a Quantex Pentium II. This was a couple of years before Quantex started having serious build quality and financial problems and eventually folded.

    Most of the Pentium II is still with me, though the power supply is shot. The 486 is mostly long gone, the soldered-on CMOS battery having eventually leaked and ruined the motherboard; the only surviving parts are a ISA combo card (you know, the ones with all the serial, parallel and IDE ports on it to save motherboard real estate), the original Intel 486DX chip (it was in a ZIF socket, thus easy to upgrade, which I did to a Pentium-83) and a Cirrus Logic GD5424(or is it ..6?) VESA local bus video card, which for its time could move some pixels. It played Descent like a boss.

    ...Good times, good times.
    /...now get off my lawn!
  17. rjr162 macrumors newbie

    Mar 29, 2012
    going back away, but I recall there being a Swan building on Science Park road.. between Jostons and where the accu-weather building is at. It later carried the IBM name and then some charter school or something another. Next time I drive by I'll check and see...

    The only Swan I got to use was a 486DX my grandfather purchased when I was.. I honestly forget but I remember playing Wolfenstein 3D and Doom on it.
  18. chrono1081 macrumors 604


    Jan 26, 2008
    Isla Nublar
    Wow Swan is a name I have not heard in a long time!

    I thought they were only local to the State College, Tyrone, and Altoona area.
  19. phyxius macrumors newbie

    Mar 5, 2013
    Swan XT

    Wow, I never thought I'd hear that name again !!! I picked up one of there systems for me and my 11 yo. son in 88. We ran a BBS system on it for years and that's were my son got his start. He ended up learning so much with that system and ended up going to Carnegie Mellon for systems and now works as a Systems Engineer for Ebay.. I looked for another one of their system to upgrade but couldn't find them anywhere..
  20. dosware macrumors newbie

    Mar 31, 2013
    Swan was considered a very high quality American PC maker in the early 90's. I bought a Swan 386sx/20 laptop in 1992 but was sad to learn it was made in Korea. It was, however, a reliable machine for the next 5 years.

    Swan had a stellar reputation during the earlier days of mail-order PC's (c. late 80's early 90's).
  21. tonyunreal macrumors regular


    Feb 25, 2010
    This was the Swan computer that came to my mind when I saw the title...
  22. Kambo1 macrumors newbie

    Dec 10, 2013
    My first computer bought using CS magazine (useful for firewood BTW) was a Zeos 386-20 tower in 1986. 80Mb seagate SCSI HDD, zatio controller, CH gamecard III, teac 3.5 FDD & sony 5.25FDD. Intel aboveboard 2 w/ 2MB Ram used as ramdisk. Adlib soundcard and Intel Satisfaxion faxboard. Later added a Colorado DJ-120MB tape drive (CDs did not exist), Copy II PC Deluxe option board & Gravis joystick. Paired an ATI VGA wonder + 256MB card with an NEC 3D monitor (not really 3D, just a fancy name back then) and i am proud to report that the system is still functioning perfectly today...even the HDD still works. Using msdos 3 and playing 688 Attack sub and microprose F117 stealth fighter. Even the tape drive works well which makes easy work of loading/unloading archived programs&games. There was no copy protection then. The only headaches were caused by IRQ and DMA hardware conflicts. And there were LOTS of those with all that hardware!!!!! all still works perfectly today. Thanks Zeos!!!!
  23. Renzatic Suspended


    Aug 3, 2011
    Gramps, what the hell am I paying you for?
    It'd be more than that, by far. I think in 1993, 8MB of ram cost around $200 or so.
  24. dXTC macrumors 68020


    Oct 30, 2006
    Up, up in my studio, studio
    Not bad for thread necromancy, not bad at all.

    Update on my Quantex Pentium II mentioned above: A relative gave me her old XP computer after upgrading to a Win7 laptop, and I transplanted the power supply, so the Quantex is up and running now. I use it to play the occasional Star Trek: Armada map and noodle around with my old Turtle Beach Maui sampler soundcard, which I might reincorporate into my synth setup. Cakewalk's built-in sampler plugin, powerful as it is, doesn't have a "random pan" setting.
  25. rpenc macrumors newbie


    Sep 17, 2016
    I lived in State College 1989-1995, overlapping your time. I did know they were local, and every once in a while they held garage sales with a lot of parts for sale.

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