I wrote my last column using my PowerBook Duo 280c, a computer that is fourteen years old. Although the comparison isn't exact, it's roughly the equivalent of a 486-era notebook. Mac laptops just seem to dodge the landfill long after they are completely technically obsolete.

The idea inspired me to go crawling eBay to see if I could find an equivalent DOS-powered machine. When I moved, I realized that I had a slew of games still on 3.5" (and even 5.25"!) floppies, as well as plenty of old MS-DOS install disks. Rather than go through the workarounds required to get them to run on my present-day XP box, it'd be nice to have a machine on which they could run in their native environment, yet is easy to stow away when I'm done playing.

Unfortunately, on eBay you just go to "Vintage Apple" to find the old Mac you want, but you have to go nose through "Vintage Computing" for a DOS box. Do you know how long scrolling through those listings takes when you have to stop and look at every Timex Sinclair and Mattel Aquarius ("NEW IN BOX!!!1!!")?

Sadly, the old DOS laptop market is nowhere near as robust. To be fair, neither were most old DOS laptops. With the exception of a few name brands like Toshiba, most PC laptops of the era were pretty flimsily constructed, uninspiring affairs. I wonder what the comparative ratios are between keepers and landfill fodder for both DOS laptops and Mac PowerBooks?


Butch_S said...

For a true DOS based portable system your best bet would be a Zenith, but outside of text adventures they're horrible for gaming.

I'd look for a P2-200mHz system running Win 98.

Tam said...

I have an 800MHz Celeron running 98SE, but when I say old games, I mean OLD games. Like, Test Drive 3 and the old SSI gold box D&D games.

As a matter of fact, back when my ex got a 486SX-25, TD3 wouldn't work on it. You'd hit the accelerator key, and the car would rocket into the nearest hillside at Warp Factor 9. I've also never been able to get the old Sierra/Dynamix flight sims running on Pentium/Win95 machines...

bumper sticker philosopher said...

I've still got my old Toshiba Satellite laptop that I paid $..., uh

Well, lets just say I bought it instead of a pretty nice used car. back in the early-mid 1990's.

It's one of the first Pentium machines and maxes out at 40 MB of ram. It's tough and still works great with Windows 95 and an upgraded 6Gb (from 540 Mb) hard drive. It ran win 3.11 and DOS 6.0 along with OS/2 back in the day.

I bought a docking station for it a few years ago. It drives a 17" monitor at 1024x768 and thousands of colors.

I saw one on Ebay the other day for $20. I nearly wept.

Butch_S said...

You might want to rummage around at:


They have a bunch of vintage systems, including desktops, laptops, and Apple stuff as well.

I'm calling dibs on the RS/6000. ;)