Wednesday, June 25, 2014

IBM 7249 PowerPC Thinkpad

Subtitle: A story with a happy ending.  

Are you sitting comfortably?

Then let me begin.

Hard Lives
All the computers in the Marcus and Agata household have hard lives.  Whilst of course all our gadgets truly know that they will  end up in Silicon Heaven after a lifetime of service, my IBM PowerPC laptop's ascencion is postponed.   She is again alive after a 15 year rest....

What is a PowerPC ThinkPad
[Disclaimer: The following opinion is my own.  You might disagree, but then of course you would be wrong :-) ]

Even in the late 1990's the large and then still dominant computer company IBM thought though other companies like Microsoft or Sun Microsystems who were making computers could never overturn IBM's long term objectives in the industry.

Two of them were

a)  OS/2 would not just a  success but a dominant desktop OS

b) PowerPC computers could really overtake Intel

And so the IBM PowerPC Thinkpad was born.

Let me Sell it to you!

  • This is a Thinkpad laptop system circa 1996
  • It has a 32bit PowerPC processor i.e. totally incompatible to the Intel x86 processor
  • It's modular design allows you to open up

The laptop in about 5 seconds.  You will see that the hard disk (left), the CDROM (centre) and the battery (right) are all removable in seconds.

A truly brilliant design!

  • There is an 800x600 Colour Graphics screen driven via a Western Digital 90C24A controller

  • An Internal SCSI hard disk and an external SCSI port for external devices like disk or tape
From left to right the power socket, serial port, parallel port, Display port, floppy port, SCSI port. Amazing.

My Knight in Shining Armour
In England I had 2 PowerPC laptops.   When I moved from London I [stupidly] junked one and took the remainder and all parts to Switzerland.

10 years later I realised the laptop no longer booted.

15 years later I had sold a broken Apple Mac Mini to   Terunobu Akiyama.  I think the transaction was good for him and some months later he emailed me saying that he had just noticed that I was selling my broken Thinkpad also.

He wrote to me and offered to try and fix it for me, and even pay the postage.

A week later, my dead Thinkpad is resurrected.  Teru, I cannot thank you enough!   After his positive and selfless act I am smiling cheek to cheek.

More hardware Photos

 BIOS easy Setup

Booting IBM AIX version 4.  The most logical choice for this machine.

Obviously the logon required me to lookup my password for this machine from 15 years ago.  Of course my passwords are always randomised, different on every machine, and change frequently.  Lucky then that I keep some extremely precise records.

Here is the Hard Disk removed  (in just seconds) from the Laptop

 External 1.44MB floppy diskette

 CDROM drive

A solid underbody!

BIOS Screens

Wait, is that the top-secret resident monitor or did I eatabug

More Reports to Follow

Now that my baby is again working I would like to test out other Operating Systems that this wonderful machine is capable of running.

Yes, it can run other than IBM's AIX   (32 bit)

It should be possible to run PowerPC binary versions of

Microsoft NT
Solaris 2.5.1
Some variants of Linux
IBM OS/2 Warp

So if you know where these binaries are then please ping me so I can evaluate them.