We've been doing some cleanup at work, and our IT department was throwing out some old laptops (and I mean OLD). I managed to get my hands on a tiny little laptop called the Toshiba Libretto 100CT. I have always had a place in my heart for (old) palmtops. I've always wanted one. This is by far the best find I have had digging in old Tech. Even better than the Tandy 102 I never should have sold.
The laptop itself doesn't have many ports. The entire front panel is battery, the left side is blank (HDD and battery). The back has mini headphone and mic jacks (3/32"). The right side showed the most promise, having two cardslots and an IR port. That's it. No floppy, no serial, nothing. USB hadn't even been inventged yet. A bit of research online shows two different docking stations (connection on bottom), and an external floppy that uses a PCMCIA (People Can't Memorize Computer Industry Acronyms) card slot. They didn't have any accessories for it, so I took it as is.
Anyway, the laptop was worth $2500 when it came out in the late 90s. It's worth about $100 today. The charging plug was similar enough to one I made years ago for an old Gateway Solo P120, and I was able to adapt it to the libretto easily enough. I charged it overnight and then brought it to work. Lo and behold, it booted! on battery! It came up in Window 95 (ick!), and I found out that it belonged to the CEO (2 CEOs ago). He apparently bought it back in the $2500 days. I also found out that the battery was still good for 6-8 hours of minimal use uptime! Not bad for a 9-year old OEM battery. Part of the deal was that I agreed to kill the old hard drive in it.
I grabbed some other old hard drives I had, stuck them in various laptops that had CD drives, installed various OSes on them, and then tried them in the Libretto. WinXP was a joke. Win2K booted into a BSOD, and Linux looked like a nightmare based on what I'd read.
I bought a floppy drive (same model) on Ebay, so at least I had SOME way to talk to it.
I asked IT if they found any of the other bits to the mini laptop. They showed me into the closet where they had squirelled away a few other bits of ancient hardware for me. They found the floppy drive, and a docking station that said Toshiba, but was the wrong kind (looked like a 2001/2002 model). Now I have two floppy drives, but they think they through out the docking station, based on my description of it.
More time passes...
Last week, I decided to give it another go (with FIRST season fast approaching), borrowed my USB floppy drive from work, and started hacking. I managed to hook a new 4.1GB hard drive to my P4 2.8GHz laptop, booted to a 98 floppy, and had to remember how to use fdisk. I managed to get the drive ready, and copy over my old Win98 CD to the drive.
Yesterday morning, I booted to the hard drive in the libretto, ran windows setup, and had win98 booting by 8AM. A few hours later, I had the video driver fixed, the floppy going, a network card,n a serial port, firefox, autohotkey, and a few other programs all going.
Last night consisted of some fruitless attempts at 802.11 (I had suspected the card was bad before I started), so tonight I blog via a wire, but it's all written on the Libretto!
Firefox is slow, so I have to type in notepad for now. Pandora won't run (maybe it will with IE6 or IE5.5), and I can't play youtube videos (skipping). At least I should be able to program AVR and Stamps from it. That (in theory) is the reason I fixed it, so we'll see how it goes.