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Help an Apple Power User use a 755C in 2018?

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kmasterk
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Help an Apple Power User use a 755C in 2018?

#1 Post by kmasterk » Mon Aug 27, 2018 2:57 pm

Hi,

I'm new here!

When I was in my early teens (early 2000s), my dad brought me home an old ThinkPad (something from the XP era) to play with and use for schoolwork. I took that thing apart and put it together so many times, I could have probably done it in my sleep (but not anymore...)! I also did my first forays into audio recording and manipulation on that machine, and I now make a living as a composer and audio technician, so I owe that machine a debt of gratitude.

However, as I needed a new laptop for college music-work, I got a MacBook in 2008, and have been in the Apple world ever since. (And, honestly, it's been a few years since I've even owned a laptop.)

Anyways, feeling nostalgic, I just got a 755C (75 MHz 486, 32 MB RAM) on eBay that looks to be in great condition. I know it's a few generations older than my previous ThinkPad, but I was hoping to play some DOS and early Windows game on it, so the 486 and the fairly large 640x480 TFT screen seemed ideal.

The problem is: I'm not sure where to go from here; I'm slightly in the wrong generation and used to different styles of hardware. I'd like to be prepared when it arrives. So, if you'll indulge me, here's a list of questions:

1. It's got an install of Windows 95, but needs drivers. How can I get the drivers (such as from the link above) onto that machine?

2. The main battery is, of course, toast. I've not had too much luck locating a replacement, but I'm sure there are some NOS-esque ones out there. Where should I look?

3. The CMOS battery is obviously working, since it will boot into W95. Should I preemptively replace it, or should I just wait until it dies?

4. The 755C only comes with an internal floppy drive. I'd like to play CD games on it. Is the Dock I/Dock II the only option for a CD attachment, or are there external CD drives that will work?

5. I can't imagine that the HDD is worth keeping around. What is your favorite option for replacement (OEM style, SSD/flash with converter, etc.)?

6. It doesn't come with a case/bag. I remember the OEM bag from my first ThinkPad being really neat and sturdy, but I don't want to just get any old bag - even IBM branded - without knowing it will work with this particular model. Any suggestions?

7. Is it worth it to just assume I'll need a new rubber nipple?

---

Thanks so much for your patience as I try to re-navigate my former life! :D

Thinkpad4by3
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Re: Help an Apple Power User use a 755C in 2018?

#2 Post by Thinkpad4by3 » Mon Aug 27, 2018 7:10 pm

1) Besides sound drivers, almost every other component should work out of the box. Get a USB floppy drive and a disk or two if you can't find any, and copy on the HDD, run and install.

2) Forum user golden eagle could rebuild one for you. Past that you are out of luck.

3) If the CMOS battery is working...leave it. It is rechargable if it is still working, let it charge for a few hours and it should last you for close to forever.

4)A PCMCIA CD-ROM is cheap and plentiful on eBay

5)Besides a speed boost, no point. If it is crunching away, its fine. You could replace it with a CF card and an adapter but getting the plastic casing open is a PITA.

6) not sure, a generic 90s or a modern 12.5" laptop bag will suit. 755C is the exact size except thickness of X220 or X230

7)If the rubber nipple(known as a Trackpoint Cap) is either dirty beyond all cleaning or is cracked on the edges, replace it. Takes any Trackpoint can before 2013 if I recall correctly with the exception of a few models. Full height caps. Any T series from the time previously stated should work.
Thinkpad4by3's Law of the Universe.

The efficiency of two screens equally sized with equal numbers if pixels are equal. The time spent by a 4:3 user complaining about 16:9 is proportional to the inefficiency working with a 16:9 display, therefore the amount of useful work extracted is equal.

kmasterk
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Re: Help an Apple Power User use a 755C in 2018?

#3 Post by kmasterk » Tue Aug 28, 2018 3:26 pm

Thinkpad4by3 wrote:
Mon Aug 27, 2018 7:10 pm
5)Besides a speed boost, no point. If it is crunching away, its fine. You could replace it with a CF card and an adapter but getting the plastic casing open is a PITA.
I was thinking about doing something like this PATA/IDE SSD, but:

5A. Would this even work? I see that in this teardown and repair video of a 1999 model, he has to use a proprietary adaptor to get the IDE to mount in the machine; would that same adaptor apply in a 755C, or would this fit in "stock"?
5B. What's the maximum drive size I could do with a 486 and Win 95?
5C. ...But could I partition the drive into two or more concurrently-accessible partitions (e.g. OS, storage A, storage B, et al.) to get around 5B, if it's too constraining?

And, related to that, I've always been more of a console gamer, so I'm a little unclear on how this works: Say I get a game on either floppy or CD. Am I able to save the game onto the drive as, say, a .iso, and boot from there, or do I need to constantly be inserting the disk/diskettes?

Thanks again!

Thinkpad4by3
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Re: Help an Apple Power User use a 755C in 2018?

#4 Post by Thinkpad4by3 » Tue Aug 28, 2018 7:30 pm

Maybe...

The 755C was made when 840Mb HDD was the largest. The drive would need to support CHS IDE mode, not LBA. Also, if the 755C recognizes anything over 1.2gb, it might be a Christmas miracle. Machines prior to 1998 are very picky about their drives, I've seen ones from 1992 that refuse to initalize anything that it didn't factory ship with, not a whitelist but pure BIOS programming. There are tools that can help old machine s recognize it. I think OnTrack if I remember correctly.


A CF card of like ~512mb or 1GB is your best bet to go that route. There are plenty of videos on YouTube about it. Look up LGR and 380XD with the CF card. Might have been a 385, don't remember. Very good guide on how to put the CF card in the proper Moses and what to buy and set it up.
Thinkpad4by3's Law of the Universe.

The efficiency of two screens equally sized with equal numbers if pixels are equal. The time spent by a 4:3 user complaining about 16:9 is proportional to the inefficiency working with a 16:9 display, therefore the amount of useful work extracted is equal.

axur-delmeria
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Re: Help an Apple Power User use a 755C in 2018?

#5 Post by axur-delmeria » Tue Aug 28, 2018 11:35 pm

The 755C's IDE hard disk is is enclosed in a plastic caddy. It's not that hard to open, you do need to peel of the big sticker.
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kmasterk
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Hmm...

#6 Post by kmasterk » Fri Aug 31, 2018 4:16 am

Well, I received the Thinkpad, and was in the midst of a clean build of DOS, when I noticed that my Alt keys don't work. :|

As far as I can tell, all of my other keys do work.

There doesn't seem to be anything mechanical wrong with the Alts, they just have no effect.

Any suggestions?

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Re: Help an Apple Power User use a 755C in 2018?

#7 Post by RealBlackStuff » Fri Aug 31, 2018 5:06 am

Driver?
Check autoexec.bat and/or config.sys
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Re: Help an Apple Power User use a 755C in 2018?

#8 Post by hwattys » Wed Sep 12, 2018 11:08 am

I have a keyboard that would fit it and memory, hard drives, etc. The sound on that is a very odd system that actually uses a Windows 3.1 driver on Windows 95. It is minimal sound can't play modern media but does give like Windows startup sounds and such and I believe there is a microphone.

I have the drivers you will need stored on my server. The best way to load them is with a floppy. There is obviously no USB port so you had best hope the internal floppy works or you have to remove the hard drive and hook it to a usb adapter and transfer the driver files onto the hard drive from another computer.

I make the disk bootable to a C:\> with a boot floppy and transfer the Win95 install folder to the hard drive with the usb adapter from another computer and then do a DOS install of Windows 95. Happy to walk you through it.

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