toshiba

Pocket Computing

HP 200lx (1994) and Poqet PC (1989) are x86/XT compatibles with DOS in ROM. Poqet PC is more like a standard PC and has a better keyboard. On the other side HP is loaded with full-featured productivity programs (PIM, Lotus spreadsheet, word processor, scientific and financial calculators…) and a special easy-to-use graphics environment.

Libretto 70CT (1997) runs standard Windows 95/NT. Except for the size this is a normal laptop. Toshiba somehow managed to squeeze a 2.5-inch hard drive and the Pentium CPU in a package with the size of Windows CE handhelds.

Laptop display troubles

IBM PS/2 Model P70 (1989) on the left side and Toshiba T2200SX (1991) on the right side. The IBM machine is equipped with a gas-plasma display and Toshiba has a typical side-lit passive-matrix LCD. The photo can hardly show how superior the plasma screen is. Its black is so deep that it cannot be beaten with any modern LCD. It is as fast as CRT monitors (unlike passive-matrix LCDs with 300ms response time) and as sharp as active-matrix LCDs (that were introduced a year after this machine).

There are no plasma screens in laptops today so where was the catch? It was in power consumption which was significantly higher. Typical machine with a gas-plasma display was either AC-only or with battery life usually up to one hour. Active matrix displays started to be affordable in 1992-1993 and with their color capability and lower power consumption they pushed plasma screens out of the market. Until then gas-plasma displays were the hi-end choice for many portables.

My P70 in action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RaaIg8mrBkE

4

My Toshiba Libretto 70CT finally got a few key upgrades.  It’s still got a few things that need tweaking, but it’s getting there.  Here’s what I did:

  • Updated the BIOS to version V6.40 from 1999!
  • Imaged the old hard drive onto a CF card, and swapped in a CF -> IDE adapter.  It runs silent and incredibly fast now.
  • Bought an old 16-bit PCMCIA CF card socket so I don’t have to use the external floppy drive to copy files back and forth. 
  • Bought a port expansion, providing me with serial, parallel, and VGA sockets (sadly no PS/2 mouse port).  A serial test with Hyperterminal to Vega (running 95C) was successful.
  • Installed 95Plus!
  • Tested Doom.

If I can find hardware specific drivers for the 70CT, I want try installing 95B from scratch.  It would let me take full advantage of all 8GB of CF card, in glorious FAT32.  Right now I’m limited to 1.5GB in FAT16, and all attempts at resizing to just under the 4GB limit render the drive unable to boot. 

Oh, and Critical Mass, one of my favorite old games, is apparently too taxing for this hardware to handle.  Bogus, man.