MS-DOS Machine Problem Question
JackInCT - 26-1-2017 at 20:57
MS-DOS Machine Problem Question
Today was a day that I decided that I would fire up my olde 1980's era Compaq "laptop". It's been sitting on a shelf unperturbed since the last
time I fired it up 3-4 yrs ago; it worked then.
It's battery is kaput, but it powers up with its brick.
This machine does have a purpose re being a last resort option re availability for a legacy software program that I still regularly use.
Today upon booting I got error messages, but no C: prompt.
I formatted a 1.4 MB diskette on my Win 7 machine [I have a USB 1.4 MB diskette gizmo], and used the "Create an MS-DOS Startup Disk option".
However when I insert the diskette in the machine, I don't get an A: prompt. Without a C: or A: prompt I presume that I'm at a dead end re
resuscitating this machine.
Can anyone confirm that I'm out of options re a resuscitation.
FYI: it's never been taken apart and I also presume that finding any spare parts such as a hard drive is zero. It does do a 'mem check' upon
powering up so at least that still works, and there is no discernible damage to any part of the machine whatsoever.
LSemmens - 26-1-2017 at 23:41
Have a look in BIOS and see what it reports as connected? You may also need to change the boot order to select floppy drive first or, maybe even
enable it in BIOS.
what was the OS on the machine before it was put away?
What is the program that you need to run?
JackInCT - 27-1-2017 at 00:37
This is a pure command line only MS-DOS machine. I don't ever recall seeing a BIOS/POST--BUT it's been years.
Boot Order: This machine has some version of MS-DOS on it; probably Ver 3 or thereabouts. There is not I think a boot order like Windows; you change
to, say, like Drive A (the diskette drive) by CD:A at the C: prompt
I DO recall that it has Peter Norton Utilities installed on it, and I do recall that it ran Peter Norton "stuff" on all bootups; I don't remember
what happened when that was done, but anyway that's not running now. I also don't remember if it has an autoexec.bat file either.
I have Q&A on it, and although I can't copy my current Q&A files to it cause they're too big (even one at a time to a diskette, the 1.44 MB
size, the major data files are too big), it does give me emergency database/file printing capability.
How desperate am I for long term "survival" for my Q&A financial stuff--I bought a 2nd refurbished printer with parallel port/centronics
capability this week cause they are not made by anyone anymore (and I really looked hard for one), and the only new ones are dot matrix which would
probably do the job if needed.
Would you have any idea what the hard drive is in these old machines, I. e., are they the same as the desktop PCs from that era?
Katzy - 27-1-2017 at 13:29
Out of curiosity, what happens if, at the "A:" prompt, you enter "dir"?
JackInCT - 27-1-2017 at 15:11
My MSDOS is very rusty AKA out of practice re command line--but I do (really) have an MSDOS manual that I came across.
I think I did a "dir"??? IF you familiar with Norton Utilities prior to it being acquired by Symantec way, way back, I did, after I let loose the
hounds, find a Norton Utilities "rescue diskette" which the diskette drive read (dated 1993 re the files on it); this is an end user created
diskette specific to the machine.
The rescue stuff did NOT show a "Drive C" to restore, i. e., only Drive A. Hoc Ergo Sum, it looks like the HD is dead.
I did find a site in New Zealand that the webmaster who specializes in very old machines had taken my model apart, and posted several pixs, and it
looks like an IDE HD cable (for some reason did not show a pix of the HD after he removed it).
I don't know just how large a HD my machine would support, but I have nothing to lose by taking it apart and swapping one of my Linux distro IDE HDs
and see what happens. Plan B would be to FDISK the Linux distro and see if can find some IBM OS to install that I MIGHT still have on diskettes!!!
Good olde FDISK--Hardly Knew Ya!!
LSemmens - 27-1-2017 at 21:01
If it's a DOS box then the drive will most certainly be IDE. What dimensions, I cannot even guess. Apart from the "fun" factor I'd probably be
relegating that one to the "museum". Given the cost of old technology these days, I'm sure that someone would have an old lappy of slightly newer
vintage that they may even give you, or sell for less than the cost of a new HDD for that beastie. Come to think of it Jack, pull it apart, I might
even have a drive to suit, if so, it's yours. Post a piccie of the drive and I'll have a look.
JackInCT - 28-1-2017 at 00:51
Very Brave Soul you are, i. e., in this era, if you ship (as a private citizen) a HD cross national boundaries, every MI5, Scotland Yard, FBI, NSA
type, Interpol, and the list goes on and on will be watching us in perpetuity. Your/mine emails, posts, replies, etc. will no longer be analyzed by a
supercomputer but by a highly trained, but very paranoid, civil servant searching for "clues". I respectfully decline on the advice of counsel.
So you think that just another ordinary kangaroo running around your environs???? And for some reason spends a good deal of time staring in your
dr john - 28-1-2017 at 12:09
There's a piece of software called DOSbox, currently in version 0.74 for the last five or seven years. It was created so you can use legacy dos games
on a modern computer, but in fact works with almost any dos program. I use it for one single program - the electronic version of my pilot's log book,
as I don't want to re-enter 10,000+ flights in new software.
It has worked for me in Windows Vista, 7, 8, and now 10.
I keep it in a folder, cleverly named dosprogs, and put the required logbook in a sub folder in there. Remember most old dos programs can be installed
by just copying the files/folders to a new machine, so if you can get at the files on the old machine you will have no problems installing it.
You can set up a little batch file that runs on startup, and loads the one program you need to use automatically, and if you study the configuration
file, you can make the DOSbox bigger to suit you needs, and set the speed of it's virual processor froom the default value. I missed this last option
for a while, and when I spotted it and turned up the cpu to a good speed (still a tiny fraction of the real cpu) the program I used became lightning
DOSbox is a free download. Google it.
PS That's one very old dos machine! I saw it's twin brother about 20 years ago and it was old even then!
JackInCT - 28-1-2017 at 14:07
I use DOSbox on my Linux Distros so I'm familiar with it.
On my two Win 7 machines, I can use my Q&A program AS IS right out of the box style (ditto re my old XP installs)--and I don't have to use the
Command Line/Run program stuff either. I of course cannot explain why that works, but.... As we both know well, it never ever hurts to be lucky in
the digital world re positive results.
scholar - 12-2-2017 at 01:06
I'm working from memory here. I used to have a portable DOS machine. It never ran from a battery, just from a cord.
I remember reading that, when the change was made which allowed the modern, lengthy file names, instead of the old-style short names, the floppy disks
formatted to accept such names had a slight difference in the way they were formatted, and all the modern operating systems use the newer formatting.
I don't know if the older machines are prepared to read floppies with the newer-type formatting.
scholar - 12-2-2017 at 01:13
Does anyone here know the techw0rm boot disk? It is a floppy disk of utility programs. You put the techw0rm disk in your A floppy drive before
turning the computer on, and it loads DOS into your system, and the dir command lists all the additional programs available on the disk. It may have
a DOS shell. I'm sure it has an editor. It was very useful in looking around in problem computers to find trouble.
I got such a disk years ago, when I was able to copy it for free. Later, the owner got onto some kind of network of sites where there was a fee, I
think, to access the sites on the network.
The DOS on it might be sufficient for Jack's needs.
scholar - 12-2-2017 at 01:20
I found it!
Prepare to be amazed, if you haven't seen this nifty set of programs before. It is a wonderful little tool kit.
JackInCT - 13-2-2017 at 17:39
Plan A: there is a (forum) group (website et al) in New Zealand that its founder specializes in restoring, etc., very old PCs. He has a few videos on
YouTube which include a tutorial on how to take apart my model laptop. This forum has the potential to be a resource since all its members do the
My experience taking laptops apart is very meager, and it's literally impossible, even with a laptop that's no longer manufactured but still around,
to find a replacement part if you break something while disassembling it.
Since it doesn't work, I'll try that route since it's likely, but not definite that one of my old still serviceable IDEs will fit.
At the very least, if I'm lucky, the original hard drive will fit into my IDE hard drive enclosure and I can see if I can reformat the hard drive, i.
e., with luck all the old hard drive needs is a "booster" shot. This enclosure plugs into my current desktop PC via USB. That allows for a try at
installing files on it; all my old IDEs already have a Linux distro on them, and it would be a rush if this machine can read a Linux OS.
But IF I put the old HD into the HD enclosure and I can read the files, that of course means that the problem is NOT the HD but some other issue that
I could never diagnose, never mind fix even if I knew what it was that was wrong (re the lack of parts issue).
dr john - 13-2-2017 at 18:18
I find this a very strange concept, as some data back-up companies will send you a hard disk with their copy of your data, or let you send a copy of
your data to them on disk that they send out, to speed up recovery after a crash or the initial setting up the back-up service.
And as you can buy a computer or tablet or hard disk from anywhere in the world, these devices come with hard disks or storage built in. So what's
the problem? I bought a tablet from czechoslovakia as the company there that I used seemed to be the only supplier with stock left of the rather
superior device I wanted.
If I wanted to send top secret info somewhere, I'd use dropbox or similar and send a simple "share" email or even, if I was paranoid like you, a
letter with the link written out in full. Or encode the link in a hidden web page that we spies frequently use or the dark web.
I think you should stop reading those conspiracy theory web sites
Katzy - 13-2-2017 at 20:55
Sending someone a file, which nobody else could see, unless they knew how, is pretty easy, really. Even as an e-mail attachment.
JackInCT - 13-2-2017 at 23:39
Every few months my local rag carries a story of someone who shipped illegal drugs and when it arrived, locally, the cops raided the place (typically
a residential site); typically the shipper is a major shipping vendor. There are obviously multiple ways that the gendarmes would know that this
package is in transit. And no would knows, OR is saying, estimate wise, how many such shipments go undetected.
Then on the humorous side, there is this story:
PHARR, TX-U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers in Texas seized nearly 4,000 pounds of alleged marijuana disguised as lime-shaped bundles.
The seizure occurred on January 30, when CBP officers assigned to the Pharr International Bridge cargo facility encountered a 2001 Freightliner
I must admit that I wonder who did all the labor of the coloring, etc.,. And I certainly hope whoever choose the paint, picked a brand that had no
toxic chemicals in it.
Judging by the pix, whoever did the painting didn't just slap the paint on any olde way, i. e., the color 'scheme' looks pretty uniform, and almost
Finally, re today's trip down memory lane, let us go back to the golden days of yesteryear when plastic fruit (or maybe they were wax) adorned the
center of the kitchen/dining room table. Have NOT seen that in many a year.
LSemmens - 14-2-2017 at 23:15
Do you have those Border Security and Customs shows on TV there, Jack. It's incredible a) what the couriers try and b) how customs finds them. I'd
go so far as to say that their techniques and methods of detection are just what customs want us to know.
scholar - 15-2-2017 at 00:18
Jack--I would make a techw0rm boot disk, put it in the A: drive, and then restart your briefcase-style laptop with the techw0rm floppy in it. When I
did this on machines with major problems, where the OS and hard drives were not working properly, I was able to get the DOS into RAM and work from all
the programs on the floppy. I considered it an amazing toolkit.