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Bought a 90s laptop

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Some days ago, I bought a 90s laptop.  A Fujitsu Lifebook 420D, sporting 16mb of RAM, a neomagic 128 1mb video chip, with an ESS1876 sound chip.

Sadly, as a late 90s laptop, it has a passive matrix display, but that just adds to its charm.


It came without hard drive, battery or charging brick.


Over the past 2 weeks or so, I have been having trials and travail of getting it working.  It predates USB, has no optical drive, and suffers the 8gb CHS limit.

To top it off, the diskette drive's rubber drive belt gave up the ghost.


I have so far:


Cobbled together a working kludge for the broken drive belt,after carefully slicing a PET water bottle, then VERY CAREFULLY stretching the resulting plastic ring until it was the correct diameter. I ordered some rubber drive belts, but none of them were a fit. The plastic ring is thin, but very tough, and already at basically maximum stretch.  It is "sufficient" to drive the spindle, and allow the drive to operate, even if it is not proper. I looked up the actual diskette drive itself, and found that factory refurbished models are available for 35$ from Newegg. It's not important at this point though, as the ghetto kludged diskette drive is sufficiently functioning for me to have installed a 320gb hard drive I had laying around, install Ontrack DiskManager's DDO, and get a functional win98SE deployment loaded.


I dug around in my antique collection, and rounded up my old LPT based Iomega ZIP 100 drive.  Sadly, the media is very old, and full of bad sectors.  Surprisingly you can get NOS cheap on amazon, so I ordered some.


It has PCCIC PCMCIA card slots, so I hunted, and learned that a cisco aironet 350 is not only legit PCMCIA (and not cardbus! This unit predates cardbus, so bonafide PCMCIA is a must!), but can also do WPA.   I will use the zip100 to get drivers for it, and the odyssey client installed, as well as shuttle over some other useful stuff prior to getting the wifi card installed.


I did test out a small handful of "fits on a floppy" dos games. Audio works like a champ.


The damaged media has been running dos scandisk for several hours, and should be "Ready" (ahem) to attempt data transfers as soon as I go home, while I wait for the NOS media to arrive tomorrow.  The Aironet 350 is in shipping limbo at a postal processing center in indianna. Who knows when I will get it.



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The old media was just too janky. Too many bad sectors to correct.


New old stock zip 100s arrived though. Successfully copied over the IE6 update, msi update, WMP 9, the Odyssey client, an old version of daemon tools, and a handful of games. 


New disks work just fine, but the parallel port zip drive is so painfully slow. 


When the aironet 350 decides to show up, I can pull the 10+GB dosgame archive, and other useful stuff over.

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The Aironet 350 arrived today.


Cisco are a bunch of tools, and make it harder than it needs to be to get the drivers out of their support site, but it is fully working now.

Pulling the massive dos game archive will take awhile to complete though, since it is an 11mbit 802.1B card. That's fine. It   **DOES** do WPA2, and is playing just peachy with the Odyssey client.


I have noted something that makes me a bit miffed though.  Some games seem hit and miss on if they will work right.  Wizardry 7, for instance, has distorted soundblaster digitized sound playback, but only "sometimes". The audio chip is initialized by a bios routine, so it is not a problem with the ESS1878 chip being uninitialized. Games that have support for ESS chips work great. (Descent, et al)-- Most games that want a soundblaster / SB Pro, work just peachy too.  But a few of them have this hit and miss "Sometimes sounds all stretched out" audio distortion.


On a less important (since it will basically always live in DOS mode once set up anyway) but amusing note-- the video chip is PCI, but the hard disk controller is straight up ISA. (It has no PCI-ID!!) I was curious if UNIATA would work on it, since the best it seems to be able to do is multiword 32bit transfers in PIO4 mode (and that involves the CPU, making heavy disk access really hit the system hard between the legs, and not let up) but decided against, since you kinda sorta, **NEED** the PCI bridges to do busmastered IO. The baked in IDE controller is straight up ISA, and will never do bus mastering.



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On the “give them the benefit of the doubt“ side a lot of old DOS software is abandonware. It’s one huge DOS box collection for the most part. 


on the “legal“ side… This is why it is distributed as a torrent. ?


I have been using this since v 1.2.

Edited by ClassicGMR
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I see.


In other news, in case somebody else hits this problem:


The built in defragmenter for win98se cannot handle extra enormous huge disks. It throws a 'system has insufficient memory' error, but it has nothing to do with the installed memory compliment. It simply does not know how to handle very large fat32 volumes.  MS has an old KB article on it even.




There is a solution to this though.


winworld has the full version of disk keeper 6.0, which can defragment huge fat volumes.




Yes, it does work on win98se.


(Defragmenting 12+gb of data at PIO4 speeds, on a pentium 120, however, is a laboriously slow process that sees the CPU pegged at 100% for several hours. Given the terrible transfer rates with this controller, reducing iops to the minimum via low fragmentation is a must. I am considering getting a 32mb edo sodimm to slap in this thing, just to allocate all of it to smartdrv caching. On the plus side though, since it does not do bus mastered io, it does NOT need double buffering. That claws back 3k of low memory. Even with disk manager sitting like a fat hen on the bottom of low memory, i have 618k free, and a good chunk of UMB left over. That's not shabby at all. It does have a kind of kludgy map though. The video bios sits at C000-C9FF, and is roughly 40k in size. UMBPCI does not want to enable the fraction of 16k there as UMB, So I enabled CC00-DFFF with umbpci, then enabled the small chunk at CA00-CBFF with emm386. EMS pageframe is at E000-EFFF. HIMEM.SYS is loaded high using hiram.exe.  doskey and smartdrv are fully resident in upper memory.




Edited by wierd_w
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Since a thread like this is no fun without pictures:


You can see an annoying defect in the passive matrix display in the last few images, but for the most part, it does not show in games, or at the dos prompt.


All in all, it is a perfectly functional little amusement now.


















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