A couple of years ago, I acquired an old Compaq 4110D laptop at a yard sale for $5. They “said” it worked and imagine my surprise when I got it home, plugged it in, and it DID work. Windows 98 and Microsoft Office loaded on and working. I discovered it had 24Mb of RAM and a 2Gb HD. Not much but still… my first laptop. Pretty exciting! So, what to do with it? Well first thing was, no networking… hmm. I ordered a PCMCIA network card but it didn’t fit. Bummer. It did come with a telephone modem that possibly works (I have no reason to believe it doesn’t) but since I wasn’t on dial-up (nor will I ever be I hope), this wasn’t an option. Luckily, the CD-ROM drive DID work. Ah HUH! Since blank CD’s are pretty cheap that’s the ticket. Download Win98 software on my main computer, burn it, load it on the laptop. Although I detest disks. this was the only option 🙁 I loaded on VBDOS 1.0, VB 1.0, QuickBASIC 4.5 and a couple other things. Worked amazingly well. The laptop then went into “storage” (ie. tossed into a storage box) and I moved addresses a couple of times.
Fast forward to yesterday. I needed to run some Kenwood programming software. It unfortunately needs “real” DOS (seriously, it’s 2013!) to run and my Win7 DOS emulator just wasn’t cutting it. Also, my main computer does not have a DB9 serial port (again, it’s 2013!). So, I dug up the laptop out of “storage”. Yep, still fires up. Battery was still at 62% charge even. Shweet. Next step, burn the software to CD and install it. Wonder of all wonders, it worked! I then proceeded to install EchoLink, DigiPan and EasyPal. Well, EchoLink works but no internet… oh right. Oh well. EasyPal TRIES to run but just sits there. Hmm. DigiPan however works pretty good. I plugged the MIC-IN into the SPKR-OUT of my HF radio, tuned to a popular digital mode frequency and was immediately decoding BPSK31 signals. Yummy!
Although the speakers in the laptop do not function (verily, there is NO sound out at all) and it’s not entirely speedy, for $5 I now have an emergency laptop that I can program with BASIC, make up docs and spreadsheets, decode PSK and program TK-760 radios. Beat that!
(PS. thank you lady at the yard sale)