back to article Dutch Gateway store was kept udder wraps for centuries until refit dug up computing history

A bit of computing history has been inadvertently unearthed in the Netherlands after a refit of a shop revealed signage for long-forgotten computer brand Gateway. The (in retrospect hideous, but also iconic) Holstein cow-print design was spotted by Reg reader Tom Hill while on holiday in the Hague. "We walked past this old …

  1. Ceiling Cat

    Relegated to the attic...

    Not all (Acer) Gateways have been relegated to the attic. I am currently typing this on a heavily reworked (new case, PSU, Video card, and CPU cooler) Gateway FX Gaming machine of 2011 vintage. Just to my side, in working condition (but waiting for a project) is a 2010-vintage Gateway DX series machine. Both, while a little long in the tooth, are still capable of providing the necessary grunt when needed.

    Missed the chance to own a Gateway during their heyday, but under Acer they produced reliable machines.

    1. Joe Drunk

      Re: Relegated to the attic...

      My Gateway MD2601u laptop from 2009 still chugs along, I mostly use it for testing OS installs.

    2. mykingdomforanos

      Re: Relegated to the attic...

      The above comment has been approved by Trigger's broom.

    3. Steve Button

      Re: Relegated to the attic...

      new case, PSU, Video card, and CPU cooler?

      Isn't that a bit like Trigger's broom?

      1. Spanners Silver badge
        Pirate

        Re: Relegated to the attic...

        Isn't that a bit like Trigger's broom?

        Sounds similar to the battle axe of Robert the Bruce in Edinburgh Castle...

    4. PassiveSmoking

      Re: Relegated to the attic...

      Hey, I've got a great name for that rig! You should call it the Ship of Theseus

  2. Peter Mount

    Some Gateway stuff is still out there unopened

    RetroManCave did an unboxing of a Gateway CRT last week (I'm a patron so saw it before the public release yesterday) on his channel so there are some unopened stuff out there - here's at the point showing the classic cow box with an unusual for them black crt https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCQuUwHH45w&t=969

    I do remember Gateway back in the 90's - was working in local government back then & Gateway was out supplier for a few years so saw hundreds of those machines. Some of their tower cases had an interesting design where you could convert to a desktop simply by moving the logo - there was no difference in the design between the two other than the logo

    1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      Re: Some Gateway stuff is still out there unopened

      I don't think Gateway were alone in designing PCs that could trivially rotate between desk & tower.

      1. GlenP Silver badge

        Re: Some Gateway stuff is still out there unopened

        HP certainly did some boxes where the logo badge rotated through 90 degrees,

    2. OssianScotland Silver badge

      Re: Some Gateway stuff is still out there unopened

      I don't know about moving the logo, but I certainly remember rotating the drive bays by 90 degrees to go to "desktop" mode

  3. keithpeter
    Windows

    Cow boxes

    They arrived one fine morning in Brum resplendent in their cowness. A Pentium P60 with 8 Mb RAM and a (huge) CRT. Unpacked, linked together and they ran Windows 95. Then a memory and hard drive upgrade and Windows 98. Briefly Sun Java Desktop (which was actually Linux and could not be got working with the Sportster modem). Replaced by an HP box, then an Apple iBook.

    I spent (relatively speaking) huge amounts of money on those computers. Now it is a recycled Thinkpad and Slackware...

    1. Oh Matron! Silver badge

      Re: Cow boxes

      My first ever PC was a P60, overclocked to 66 (jumper on the board) from Escom. I got both OS/2 Warp and NT4.0 included: None of that 95 junk :-)

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Cow boxes

        Ah, Escom, like Gateway, also a buyer of Amiga.

    2. Humpty McNumpty

      Re: Cow boxes

      My first PC was a Gateway, I seem to remember the adverts dominating the inside cover of my magazine of choice at the time (Practical PC??) a spot previously occupied by Fountain Highmead, they were a value choice tho' for sure, a DAN of similar spec would have cost more. A P75 with a 15"? Vivitron monitor, IIRC the monitor was an upgrade from the default unit on what was otherwise a pretty basic model at a pretty fair price. Of course this was still the era of computers coming with bundles of slightly shitty free software. I think we got Works rather than Lotus but I forget what else. The ~£800 price tag was probably less shocking than the sums spent later on what are now standard items. £130 on a sound card, £50 on pretty crap magnetically shielded speakers, another £100+ on doubling the RAM to actually handle running a soundcard

      1. Chris Miller

        Re: Cow boxes

        I, too, have fond memories of Gateway. Their USP in the UK was that they converted their (competitive) US prices from $ to £ at a reasonable rate, rather than the $1=£1 which was then universal (and still applies in some areas, though the real exchange rate has approached much closer to that mark).

        But if we want to compare historic prices, take a look at this 1986 price list from Tandon (a tier 3 PC supplier, so they had to be cheaper than Compaq, who had to be cheaper than IBM).

        1. Ken Shabby Bronze badge
          Alert

          Re: Cow boxes

          Basically, a cash cow

      2. Jay 2

        Re: Cow boxes

        Memories! My first PC was a Gateway running a P75, 4MB RAM, 790MB hard drive, 15" Vivatron, came with Win 3 (WFWG?) some proper MS Office stuff (the version without Access) and Encarta! Cost me about £1500 back in mid 1994. I think it was either that or the Dell equivalent, but the extra software sealed it.

        A year or so later it got another 8MB RAM and Win 95. That soldiered on for a few years and then I purchased another Gateway with Win 98 on. After a few years of that I built my own.

      3. hoola Bronze badge

        Re: Cow boxes

        Years ago (early 1990s) I had a system that had 16MB of memory, an insane size at the time.

        The memory was on one or two DIMMs and cost £399.

        I cannot remember what the hard disk was, probably will under 1GB.

        My current laptop has 16GB and 1TB of NVMe.

        Ah those were the days.......

        1. WereWoof

          Re: Cow boxes

          Somewhere in the loft I have an old catalogue that had a 386 with 4Mb ram for £800

          An extra 4MB was to bring it up to 8MB was almost as much as the system itself.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They were "Gateway 2000" for quite a long time (1985-1998 according to Wikipedia) but as Y2K approached they dropped the "2000" as it no longer sounded futuristic.

    They started to experiment with physical stores in ~1999 - I was working in silicon valley at the time and they opened the first store at the end of the road where I lived in Cupertino ... they were still resolutely "mail/online order" as while you good look at and try out machines in the store all purchases just ordered online in the store (this wasn't too much of an issue as at that time I remember ordering a laptop 8:55pm on a friday night from an East Coast company 5 mins before their "next day delivery" deadline assuming that meant monday and then being stunned to find it was delivered (air freight from warehouse collacted at a Fedex airport in Indiana) at around 11am on Saturday!)

    N.b. disappointed that an article about Gateway in theReg fails to mention its role in the rise of the "everywhere girl"

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sounds like a fitting location

    Kalvermarkt = calves market aka the place were young cows were sold in the (sometimes very) old days.

  6. skotl

    Gateway servers running Citrix in Scotland

    We had a contract, maybe around 1997, to supply Citrix WinFrame to the Scottish Health Service and they ran it on big (I mean 3ft cubed) Gateway servers.

    IIRC, these top of the range twin Pentium IIs!

    Sadly, they were later replaced by Dell servers :(

    1. dc_m

      Re: Gateway servers running Citrix in Scotland

      I used to use winframe in a school. Head thought it was the best thing since sliced bread being able to run modern software on 486 machines! Problem was, on 10mb hubs they ran like crap.

      Found out the lease was up as the server was sat in the disposal pile. Nobody knew it was leased!

  7. rjit
    Pirate

    't was in 1996; I (dutchie) read a PC magazine and applied for a job in Dublin....with Gateway 2000. My entry in the ICT business as a tech-suport guy.

    some memories!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      ...1997 - The Gateway 2000 building just south of Dublin Airport is an enduring sight of my first visit.

      Not long after "2000", it was to close...

      https://www..com/news/900-jobs-lost-at-gateway-as-company-closes-dublin-base-1.321678

  8. chivo243 Silver badge
    Happy

    I've been there! 1998?

    I don't know if the shop was open, but I saw the Cow pattern on the marquee. It's on the Spui if I'm not mistaken, there used to be a KFC across the street? And a Burger King on the same side of the street. It was over 20 years ago, so some details maybe colored by time...

    1. MatthewHughes

      Re: I've been there! 1998?

      Yep! Our tipster said it's on the Spui. Any idea when it closed?

      1. chivo243 Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: I've been there! 1998?

        Didn't get to the end of the article, soz... I saw the photo and read about half!

      2. richdin

        Re: I've been there! 1998?

        Cow tipping?

        And what is this infatuation with bovines? Tucows? Cult of the Dead Cow? Gateway...? Mad Cow disease?

        1. hayzoos

          Re: I've been there! 1998?

          Do not forget ACSII cows! They were all over BITNET, they ranged far and wide.

  9. ActionBeard

    When I first saw the headline I thought it was a reference to Gateway supermarkets, for whom I worked in the 80s (it was a Fine Fare when I started work there).

    1. Nifty Bronze badge

      "Dutch Gateway store was kept udder wraps for centuries until refit dug up computing history"

      Hasn't this story been milked enough already?

      1. Oh Matron! Silver badge

        Udderly brilliant :-)

        1. NoKangaroosInAustria
          Coat

          Ha! you had me going for a moooment there, but clearly, you were just being cheesy!

          1. quxinot Silver badge
            Coat

            Great, another useful discussion being steer'd to puns.

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Yes, it's getting a bit cheesy.

  10. Simon Robinson

    Reminds me...

    ...of the long closed computer store in Northampton, not far from the train station, which was still displaying an Apricot Computers 1996 calendar well into the 2010s, until it was converted into a convenience store.

    1. dc_m

      Re: Reminds me...

      I remember that one. I used to work on Mitsubishi Apricots as well.

    2. Steve K Silver badge

      Re: Reminds me...

      I remember that one!

      Was still there in 2013/2014 as I was on a project in Northampton and regularly got a taxi from the station that went past it.

      Never got close enough to see the date, but instantly recognised the Apricot logo.

      1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re: regularly got a taxi from the station that went past it.

        The landmark that most intrigues me about Northampton is the lift testing tower. A tower built specifically for testing lifts. (Yes, really).

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Lift_Tower

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Lift Testing Towers I Have Known

          This one?

          https://www.theregister.com/2013/07/04/geeks_guide_national_lift_tower/

          Readers who viewed that article also viewed

          https://www.theregister.com/science/geeks_guide/earlier/1/

          1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

            Re: Lift Testing Towers I Have Known

            Thanks for the link.

            I don't think the architect of it would take too kindly to it being classified as a Listed Building.

            Does the explanation about the jagged top apply to The Shard?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Always thought it was "Fine Fair" as a kid

    Not to be confused with the only-vaguely-remembered Gateway supermarket chain that took over Fine Fare, then soon after changed its name to Somerfield...

  12. LDS Silver badge

    "Apple and Dell swallowed up market share outside the US"

    Apple never swallowed up much PC market share outside the US, especially since most people needed to run Windows, and it wasn't even possible on a Mac until they abandoned the PowerPC platform.

    HP, Dell and IBM were usually the choices for companies that wanted to buy a "enterprise" PC, but many local companies that sold "assembled" PC - often letting people to select the parts, just like Gateway - were formed in those days in Europe too, so it was very difficult to compete in that market, most of those companies no longer exist as well.

    1. Spanners Silver badge
      Linux

      Re: "Apple and Dell swallowed up market share outside the US"

      Agreed. Apple is only seen to be a dominant force if you are one of their users. For the rest of us, they are an interesting minority.

      Their desktop PCs are good for people in very restricted "vertical markets" and users who have little/no experience of Windoze. Their laptops are famously shonky and their phones are account for perhaps 11% of sales globally although higher in the USA and UK.

      They are certainly financially impressive and their lawyers have been so successful in the past that I will not do business with them! I don't know about dominant though...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Apple and Dell swallowed up market share outside the US"

        "and users who have little/no experience of Windoze"

        Some of us are on Apple because we DO have experience of Windows....and just don't like it. It's the same with Android, it's not for everyone however much the Google using masses love it.

    2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: "Apple and Dell swallowed up market share outside the US"

      HP, Dell and IBM were usually the choices for companies that wanted to buy a "enterprise" PC

      Don't forget NCR, but it's been a while since I last heard from them.

  13. GlenP Silver badge

    For a while in a previous role Gateway were our (American) Corporate preferred supplier for laptops. We dropped them due to support issues when the first-level queues on the phone were 3+ hours long and there was no alternative.

  14. Peter Ford

    The SMB I still work for had Gateway2000 machines in the 90s when I joined - I got a new one in it's cow box when I started. I seem to remember them being made in Ireland, or was that just the european HQ?

    At least one of them was later repurposed as a server laid on it's side in a rack, although it needed some packing to accomodate the curved sides of the case...

    1. Just Enough

      Their Europe HQ was definitely Dublin.

      I owned a couple in my time. They had the advantage of being a notch above the average business PC clone, without a ridiculous corporate mark-up in price. Nicely put together too.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Gateway Dublin

      Indeed and there was a factory in north Dublin, near the airport.

      It closed in 2001, and has been empty since.

      You can still see some of the branding if you look closely.

      1. Gordon 10 Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Gateway Dublin

        This. I used to have a wry smile every-time I went past it on the Airport dual carraigeway.

  15. IanRS

    Robust case

    I had a Gateway in the second half of the 90s. Various bits got swapped out occasionally until just the original case survived. Eventually the changing form factors of various components meant it too had to go, but it was still in perfect condition. Built like the proverbial outhouse.

    1. Jonathan Richards 1

      Re: Robust case

      Ditto, although I think my Gateway 486DX66 (with a CD-ROM drive, gasp) would have been purchased in early 1994. As you say, form factors dictate much obsolescence so that the only thing that remains, 26 years later, is the keyboard on which I am typing this, an Anykey labelled "Gateway 2000".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Robust case

        My first PC, specifically bought early 1990s for WinNT familiarisation at home because my employer was stuck in the Win3.1 era, was a GW2K 486DX, not even DX2 initially, not much memory, proprietary CD-ROM on sound card, the first hard drive upgrade was 420MB. With an upmarket CrystalScan 1572 screen and 1280x1024 display resolution. Initial cost well over £1200.

        GW2K tech support for UK customers was in Ireland at the time. I had little need to call them but on one occasion I did call for some reason, I remember their music on hold sounding familiar:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_QXCJAEXQs

        Almost three decades later, the default vertical resolution on "modern" displays (laptops tablets etc) is still less than I had back then. Except on phones, obvs, where the display resolution is a bragging factor but of no real-world relevance.

  16. RM Myers Bronze badge
    Thumb Up

    Memories

    El Reg has definitely been pushing the memory buttons this week. My first "PC" was a KIM-1 from MOS, and El Reg just had an article on the 6502 processor used in that machine. My third PC was a Gateway 486 powerhouse (for some definition of power). Now we just need an article on Osborne Computer (my 2nd PC).

    Wow, I just realized my first 3 PC's came from companies that have all bit the dust. Time for Dell to worry - they build my 4th PC. After that, I started building my own desktops.

  17. aki009

    Iowa at -10F

    My first experience visiting Gateway back in the 90's was in January. I left the Bay Area on a nice 60's F winter day and arrived in Sioux City, Iowa on a -10F blustery afternoon. No jet bridge meant a full icy blast for the walk into the terminal.

    I quickly learned to appreciate the joker who assigned that place the airport code SUX.

  18. Martin Howe

    At the charity shop we are very occasionally given Gateway machines from the early 90s or late 80s, with processors like 120MHz P1 or P3. They all worked immediately on powering up. Must be a lesson there :)

  19. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    it would be

    interesting to see the cost of an off shore build vs the cost of an on-shore build...

    A few years ago it came to about 25 dollars for an iPhone.....

  20. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    Gateway shop

    I'm sure that had a store in Covent Garden.

    I think round about the time of Escom. Ha, Escom opened shops everywhere, thinking that people would continue to buy from them, even though the prices started to head northwards. Escom were indelibly engraved in my memory when I had to explain to a client (still a client to this day!) that the UART's they used in their hardware were different to those of other companies, which is one of those non-visible consequences of buying cheap. This was to do with faxing from a program which worked on other pc's, but not on Escom's. I had some fantastic diagnostic tools in those days which could (among other delights) display Post Codes when you stuck the board into a PCI slot.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not quite the full computer,

    But still at least one critical system on the U.K. rail network has a Gateway CRT monitor as it’s interface. The actual desktop box is a custom built job by a signalling vendor, but the CRT is a blast from the past.

  22. Buster

    While a Gateway coloured box, that seems never to get thrown out, haunts the less frequented corners of the loft, my daughter still uses the speakers that came with it in her own home.

  23. sitta_europea

    I've still got one of those from my turn-of-the-century contracting days in Los Angeles.

  24. neutronwrangler

    I once had to look for an address on Spui, unfortunately I was looking in the wrong city as I assumed Amsterdam and not Den Haag

  25. DJSpuddyLizard

    Ah.... Gateway.

    I remember 1998? 1999? (well, somewhere around then) - working Gateway tech support from a skyscraper in downtown Houston, trying to convince callers that we were in rural farmland in the great wesern plains....

    I'm trying to remember if we got points for getting users to reboot, or if that was just a drinking game we did on the night shift.

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