Someone at worked asked me to take a look at their old laptop for them – apparently it wouldn’t boot, wouldn’t even power on some days, and generally was being a pain. I agreed to take a look at it, and see if I could get any data off of the drive. The owner offered me any payment I wanted; wine, women, song, cash, animals (!?!?!?). The laptop arrived on my desk a few days later, and I took a look at it today.

It’s an IBM Thinkpad 1400 model 2611. That’s a Pentium II 266 or thereabouts, running the original Windows 98 with a 5 GB hard drive. The original power supply had been replaced by a badly fitting Targus one, and the only nod to the modern world was a Firewire port and a modem. Plugged it in, hit the switch, and up it came, albeit slowly. I decided to strike while the iron was at least lukewarm, and pondered how to get the data off – there was no USB port so I couldn’t use a stick, the optical drive wasn’t a writer, and there was no network port either.

I happen to own a Dell Inspiron 8200 from 2001 or so – and it has all of the features I needed to get the data off. So, 30 seconds of searching on the ‘net for the 1400 service manual, 10 minutes of unscrewing and removing bits, and I had a hard drive in my hands. A hard drive that rattled. That’s never a good sign. 2 minutes later it was in my laptop drive bay, and 5 minutes after that I was staring at a KDE desktop (bootable Kubuntu CDs are good things). Grabbed my PCMCIA USB2 adapter (the laptop only has USB 1.1) and my portable drive, and started copying data off – which didn’t take very long, it was at most 500 MB of data. Copied the data from the portable drive to a CD-RW and everything is groovy.

I’ll take the disc to work tomorrow for the owner to borrow, and when they’re sure everything is off, I’ll re-assemble the Thinkpad and give it back.

Fiddling with laptops
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