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I've recently picked up a Toshiba T1910CS 486 laptop. It's in OK shape, with a 500MB hard drive and DOS installed. I also ordered a USB floppy disk drive and some floppy disks so that I could install software on it.

Unfortunately when I insert a disk, I just hear a constant whine and disk reads timeout. I suspect the drive is broken. I opened up the machine and getting to the drive is going to be a pretty full on disassembly.

My question is: What is the best way for me to get software onto this machine? Should I get a new floppy drive? A floppy drive emulator? Some kind of hard disk replacement?

I'm a little lost, any guidance would be much appreciated.

  • New empty floppy disks may need to be formatted first. – Anonymous Dec 23 '19 at 6:43
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As far as I know this laptop can’t easily be connected to a network, which leaves three options for getting software onto it:

  1. transfer over the serial or parallel ports, using an appropriate cable and software such as LapLink or the built-in transfer tools in MS-DOS 6.0 or later, PC-DOS 5.02 or later, and DR DOS 6.0 or later;
  2. the floppy drive;
  3. directly accessing the hard drive.

Option 1 requires a matching port on whatever other computer you’re using, and requires getting the software set up on the laptop if it’s not already there. In the long run though I think it’s the best option if you’re planning on using the laptop much!

Option 2 will involve a lot of disassembly and perhaps a fair amount of trial and error. At least if you’re in the US, replacement drives for this laptop are readily available; that’s not the case in other countries. I imagine the floppy drive uses the typical (for PCs) 34-pin interface, so you could replace it with an emulator, but I don’t know whether or how well an emulator would fit inside the case — I get the impression the T1910’s drive is a slimmed-down unit.

Option 3 is the nicest if you have lots of files to transfer, and the T1910’s drive caddy simplifies part of the job (getting the drive out). You’ll need to buy a USB adapter for old laptop drives.

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