My quest for a suitable sub-300Mhz guinea pig led me on a cross-town chase yesterday, visiting three different secondhand computer shops, but coming up empty-handed anyway. I found a lot of desktop machines, some of them even slow enough to do the job, but making the jump from laptops to desktops isn’t what I want right now. I have too many machines on hand as it is, and taking in desktops (particularly desktops I buy) would be more space-consuming than I can afford.
The wild goose chase started when I heard a rumor that there was a decent Pentium II laptop at a shop that was relatively close to my office, but the machine I saw was a little different than what the rumor had suggested. This was an ancient — and I mean ancient — Pentium laptop made by NEC, a Lavie Nr13. This is a tiny picture, but one of the few I could find on the ‘Net. It’ll give you an idea, though.
It’s been a long time since I saw something that old. The keyboard was completely rearranged with the function keys having different labels — P1, Term, Stop, and things like that, if I remember right. There was no ALT key. It was labeled as a Pentium, but I have a feeling it was some sort of proprietary dumb terminal — I used similar hardware a very long time ago when I worked as a Sperry/Unisys mainframe operator. Our system interfaced with Sperry/Unisys desktops and laptops that were basically PCs with rearranged keyboards and repainted keys. It was a little bit nostalgic, I’ll admit.
However, that looked like more work than it was worth — the BIOS startup suggested it had 32Mb of memory, but beyond that, there wasn’t much information given. There was no operating system on the drive (I’m assuming it had a hard drive), or I would have taken a closer look. I brought along a CDRW with Ubuntu Rescue Remix on it, but it wouldn’t read the disc, or wouldn’t boot from the drive. I’d seen enough by then though. It just wasn’t a good fit.
Anyway, my quest continues. I still have a few feelers out there, and I feel like I can take my time with this. No rush, and it’s a buyer’s market, really.