Old laptop fun.

The rain hasn’t stopped since yesterday afternoon so I’ve been relaxing and tinkering with a very old Toshiba 320CDT laptop I liberated from work.

This thing is OLD !!

Here’s the specs -

  • Pentium 1 -  233mhz
  • 32mb ram
  • 4gb HDD
  • Floppy drive
  • x4 speed CD-Rom drive.
  • x1 USB port
  • Running Windows 98 (1st edition)

Out of pure interest, I’ve been trying to research the original retail price but can only find a one listed  for the next model up. In 1999 it was around £999 and today, I found one on eBay  for £5 :-)

Once, this may have belonged to a member of our Sales team until no longer up to the task and thus given to us (IT Dept) for spare parts.

For the next few years it served as a monitor to report on traffic/up time between two of our office buildings joined by Laser Link/Wifi Link (Mawse, if you’re reading this, you might have to correct me here – it was probably you who set this up!

A few years later, the wireless/laser link was replaced by a more resilient fibre optic  feed and the laptop remained where it was tucked away behind metal shelf racking. I’d completely forgotten about it until I happened to spot it on Friday. A quick look at the log shows it’s been switch on and running for years without even a blip. Considering the dusty warehouse environment I’m surprised it’s lasted this long.

Back in my office I stripped it down and gave it a good blast with plenty of compressed air, dollops of cleaning spray and lots of elbow grease. Looked as good as new when I’d finished.

So………what shall we do with it?

Toshiba 320CDT in all it’s ‘chunky’ splendor

IMG_2776 (1024x683)

Chunky it is, but with only a 12″ LCD screen it’s actually quite light compared to my regular HP notebook.

IMG_2768 (1024x683)

First thing I did was to replace the existing small 4gb hard disk with something bigger from my parts drawer. I found a 30gb drive that should do the trick. The orange/grey card in the following picture is a Xircom PCMCIA network card. With this I can connect to the internet.

IMG_2782 (1024x683)

There’s not much I can do to upgrade the 32mb ram as these are a very old sort. I’ll still keep an eye out on eBay though. Anyway, 32mb should be plenty for my needs.

My first test was to see how useful it might be as a regular everyday basic computer. For this I’d need a very small O/S that’s nice and light on resources.

I tried various flavours of Linux including ‘Puppy’ & ‘Damn Small’ Linux settling on the latter. Testament to the coders, it ran very well and has turned this OAP into quite a nippy net book.

D.S.L

Small Tux

Next up was to try MS Windows as I’ve got a few old programs from the glory days of DOS that I wanted to try.

I installed Windows 98 which also seemed to run quite nicely although I had a job tracking down generic USB drivers for my pen drive. It’s a shame the drivers for my USB based Wifi card wouldn’t work but the minimum is Windows 98(SE). I tried it anyway & was greeted by a ‘blue screen of death’ – aaah happy memories !! Think I’ve got a Win98SE CD somewhere though so maybe I’ll try again.

Using a Windows 98 floppy boot disk (I can’t remember the last time I had to use one of these) I was able to install my favorite game from my college years…Doom II.

IMG_2791 (1024x683)

I forgot how addictive it was.  I started playing  around 3:00pm and you can see by my clock, I soon lost track of time :-)

Next on my list was to run a few emulators – Maybe I could use it as a portable ‘retro’ gaming machine.  By far the best was Vice64, the Commodore emulator.

Here’s Californian Games running full screen at 60 frames per second.

IMG_2801 (683x1024)

My portable Commodore 64!

IMG_2798 (683x1024)

It’s been a fantastic afternoon messing around with this great little machine and looking on the web, certainly has given me a few more ideas.

Pong Clock and Picture Frame

pong-clock

picture frame

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