I’m trying to breathe life into an old IBM ThinkPad Pentium II. I think it runs Windows NT or Windows 98 or whatever came after that

It turns on fine and asks me to enter the year and date which I do. Then it gets stuck on next screen which shows a large window with an blinking image "0 > 1". But it won't respond to any keystrokes.

enter image description here

How can I get past this?

  • 2
    Unless I've missed a new consensus, the Thinkpad 600E is on-topic. What about this question "does not appear to be about Retrocomputing"?
    – wizzwizz4
    Commented Mar 7, 2023 at 20:13
  • For info "0>1" means "turn it off then on again". I'm assuming you've done that with no luck?
    – paxdiablo
    Commented Mar 8, 2023 at 8:44
  • @paxdiablo My interpretation of that "O > I" screen would be a pictogram saying "place a disc in the slot/drive to boot the machine", if not for the subtitles.
    – Kaz
    Commented Mar 26, 2023 at 8:00
  • Even without reading the subtitles, 0>I means 'turn off then on' to me. Those are the markings on many power switches.
    – dave
    Commented Mar 26, 2023 at 13:06

2 Answers 2


The most likely cause is a bad hard drive.

Get the Lenovo Hardware Test app, put it on a bootable CD or USB key and run hardware diagnostics.

Chances are high (because it turns on) that the hard drive has gone bad.

You can try replacing and see what you can install, if anything that old.

If you have a Dock, it can take an accessory CD.

If no external device (CD Tray), then you are out of luck and may not be able to revive it.

  • 2
    A computer of sauch vintage is unlikely to have an optical drive let alone USB ports! The only bootable media it accepts is diskette. Even if it has some USB1.x port it's unlikely it can boot anything from it. And in any case the modern Lenovo diags is incompatible. Commented Mar 6, 2023 at 19:44
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    Those devices often had accessory CD trays. I used them. I clarified my post
    – user18768
    Commented Mar 6, 2023 at 19:45
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    @john you were right. my Thinkpad 600E has a cd drive...and just about every other connection you can imagine! its a shame to throw it out. that being said. will the lenovo h/w test app that you suggest be compatible with my machine. im not sure that it can boot from cd rom. ** question 2 is can i remove the harddrive and test it with another computer. is there some kind of usb connector that i use to try to mount it on a modern machine to troubleshoot it?
    – Cool Pontiac
    Commented Mar 7, 2023 at 6:26
  • You would have to see if you can create a bootable CD and run Lenovo diagnostics. I believe Lenovo might have a version you can use. I am not certain. You may be able to test the drive in another computer but you need a way to rebuild the drive in the old computer.
    – user18768
    Commented Mar 7, 2023 at 11:59
  • @john do you think the 10GB drive inside my Thinkpad 600E is a sata drive? if yes, isnt there a little adaptor i can use to plug this into a modern laptop usb port to test as an external drive? this would avoid me having to find an old computer to install it intenerally Commented Mar 7, 2023 at 16:32

My Windows 98 IBM Thinkpad did the same thing. I unplugged it from the wall for a few minutes to let it cool down a little. I plugged it back in and presto Windows 98 started back up again with no problems. My old laptop is up and running in 2023, 1998 still is alive!

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