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Not much space ? Vintage laptops are the solution !

Cedsrepairs

Well-known member
I don't have much space in my home. ;(

I like vintage computing...

The solution !

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So I only repair vintage laptops, I knew none of them back in the day (they were waaay too pricey and mostly most CEOs !) but now I'm rather proud of my little collection.

Starting right to left :
The black pouch at the top right is a Tandy Model 102. Below it is an epson HX20. Then two Atari Portfolios.
Powerbook 3400C, Powerbook 100, Powerbook 180
Toshiba Libretto 50C, 2130CT, 420CDT, T2000, toshiba floppies & batteries
Toshiba Tecra 720CDT, Apple IIC, 2x Toshiba T1100 aka "the first laptop"
Compaq SLT386, misc Modems (Apple 1200, USR 56k, and half a doozen of others etc)

Ok the IIc there is not really a laptop but it's compact :)

All of them are 100% repaired and work (recapped if needed, new cmos batteries, hd replaced by SD/CF, and some have new home-made batteries made out of N.O.S. NiCd, LiPo or NiMH)

You don't see the ones that are at misc stages of repair ; one of them is a Macintosh Portable M5126, the other is a Duo 230.
They are both on the bench waiting for parts, or time, or both.
 
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k24a1

Well-known member
Great collection! I too don't have much space but I work on desktops because that was the choice back then... ancient laptops are very hard to find, too. The oldest laptop I have is a PowerBook 145B, and the hinge mounts have fallen apart. I don't even have a power cord for it, but it's not hard to find one either.
 

Cedsrepairs

Well-known member
It's years of collecting... And not always successes, some of my buys ended up in the trash or sold "for display" as they were beyond repair.

Laptops are usually very hard to repair (everything is fragile, the components, the hinges, the plastic, everything !) , they are all subject to battery leakage (as they all had a cmos battery) and the chips cannot be replaced. The most likely causes of death are the screen, or CMOS leakage.
I also replace the hard disks with SD, CF, or whatever, as I want my items to work for the years to come. (It also helps with the battery replacement.)

But after many hours of work, frustration and money, it's nice to be able to use them well... on your lap sitting in the couch (most of the time with a power cable) which is what I like the most.

Most of the "best items" I got came from their original owners, although all of them needed repairs.
(Only my Libretto and my M102 came from "collectors")
I think it's part of the hobby, at least for me, is to be able to link each laptop with a back story, like I can put a face or at least a name on most of them, the 3400c came from a retired scientist in a local university for example. It's a bit like buying wine at the producer.

My favorites are the Powerbook 100 (I plan to retrobright it next summer) and my libretto.
 

Juror22

Well-known member
Nice representation of brands/years across all the laptops - that is a terrific collection (I'm very envious of a couple, including the Libretto!), especially the condition and restoration work that you have done. You are absolutely right that the collection will take up less space than their desktop brethren.

Its Attractively arranged too!
 

joshc

Well-known member
Nice collection. I generally avoid laptops because my experience of them has been that they are harder to repair, and you have to deal with things like battery rebuilds and other tedious things. But I can definitely appreciate that this is ideal for those with a small home and I really do like some of the old laptops - I have a fondness for the 180c and 540c.
 

k24a1

Well-known member
I usually work on laptops from the mid-late 2000s, so nothing interesting to anyone here at all. With much older laptops it's way harder to find parts, even if it's something as simple as a battery.
Recelling batteries scares me at the moment. Will get to the next league as soon as I get name brand soldering equipment.
 

3lectr1cPPC

Well-known member
Very nice collection! I’m jealous of that 3400 and 100. I can echo your reasons for liking laptops - I have the space for desktops but each laptop offers a unique experience, and I like that.
 

ArmorAlley

Well-known member
@Cedsrepairs This is a nice collection: bounded, not taking up too much space, parts may be reusable in other machines. You can stay quite narrow and can go quite deep.
However, as you mentioned, 30 year old laptops require lots of TLC. Opening them up may be easy enough, putting them back together often a lot harder (how many of us have laptops in a state of disrepair?). What is your plan for hinges, brittle plastics and so on? Do you plan to get a 3D-printer and make your own replacement plastics?
 

Cedsrepairs

Well-known member
@Juror22 I’m afraid to tell you my libretto 50ct is in a mint condition ; it was again from the original owner who was of the autistic type ( like most of us ? :) ) and took great care of the thing ( you should have seen the package he sent ! )

It’s fully functional, battery still holds charge , I replaced the cmos battery ( a nightmare ) , swapped the keyboard which was yellowed with a new old stock one , and put a CF drive .
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I use it daily - I love it .
I just used it 2 hours ago to make IrDA tests between it and the powerbook 3400c actually
 
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Byrd

Well-known member
@Cedsrepairs what a nice lot - I'm a big Libretto fan, they're the ultimate retro DOS/early Windows laptop in terms of compatibility and hardware support. Keyboard is passable for fat fingers and with a docking station they're probably all you need in a Pentium vintage PC. I own a 70CT and 110CT (CF cards in both - seeking more RAM for the 110).

I find keeping spare laptops for parts/plastics helps to keep things going. I'm noticing CCFL backlights failing a lot now, and hinges on previously solid machines.
 

Cedsrepairs

Well-known member
The backlight is suspiciously dim ; although some say it was like that back in the day . It’s usable unless you’re in bright sunlight ; which would have been unusual in 1996 :)

CCFL is certainly something I’ll try to keep spares of , or replacement techniques .
 

CircuitBored

Well-known member
Great collection!

I'm really glad to see the Libretto getting some love. It's my favourite portable computer design of all time. Luckily the screen on my 50 is still nice and bright but the case is extremely brittle. I've been thinking about backlight mods for a while. There are LED retrofit kits out there but I'm not sure any of them support such tiny screens. I still get about an hour of battery life from my machine so I imagine an LED mod would bump that up a bit more!

My current Libretto battle centres around trying to install netBSD on it but there are a lot of obstacles to get over, meaning I'll have to dedicate a lot of time to it. My end goal is to have the ultimate portable terminal for fiddling with Open Firmware on old-world Macs.
 

Spidey01

Well-known member
Sweet collection. I love how you've got them slotted into shelving instead of simply stacked. That must make it so much nicer to fetch one out, and not fear the juggling.
 
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