View Full Version : 486 Laptop Networking?

April 30th, 2009, 10:41 AM
I have no PCMCIA, no USB (duh.. lol :D), no nothing. The laptop might have a modem, but I have serious inexperience with modems and prefer Ethernet.

I'd ideally like to get this laptop onto my Wifi. There are two options I see for this:

-Serial USB port
-Serial PCMCIA socket

Do either of these exist? Where do I get them (I tried googling all over for the PCMCIA one, no results but plenty that go the opposite way [http://www.usbgear.com/SS-232-1P9.html] )? Will Windows 3.1 see a USB device on a serial port as a serial device? Or will I need DOS USB drivers for a card I might hook up?

I have a PCMCIA wifi card (Cisco Aironet 350) that has DOS drivers in existance, so if I can get a PCMCIA socket on there I think I could get that working.

April 30th, 2009, 11:02 AM
you're kind screwed, if you don't even have a CAT5 port, I don't see how you'd do it. And modern BIOS usually can emulate a USB device as a serial for OSes who can't use 'em, if you're laptop has such an upgrade available, but there are USB-serial devices for what you wish, but they don't really sell anymore, If you want your laptop to detect it, you're gonna have to upgrade to the win95 with usb support most likely, but even that may not work.

April 30th, 2009, 11:33 AM
Xircom Parallel to Ethernet adapter and get used to having a cable.

April 30th, 2009, 11:45 AM
What make & model is the laptop ?

April 30th, 2009, 01:03 PM
Xircom Parallel to Ethernet adapter and get used to having a cable.

Yep - this is the way to do it. Look for a Xircom PE3-10BT. You plug it into your parallel port, and it gives you Ethernet.

Back before laptops had Ethernet built in this is what people did. It's not the highest performance interface, but it is far better than a serial port.


April 30th, 2009, 01:07 PM
What make & model is the laptop ?

Toshiba T4400C (With RAM upgrade! :O)

Ole Juul
April 30th, 2009, 01:51 PM
The laptop might have a modem, but I have serious inexperience with modems and prefer Ethernet.
Might? I assume you are not sure if it works or not. I think it should be a 14.4 (v32bis) which is fast for retro stuff. It could be fun to try the BBS thing of past lore eh?

Like others have said, there's not much chance of USB or PCMCIA on such an old computer. The parallel to NIC sounds like your best bet for modern networking usage unless you want to try some serious hardware hacking or perhaps some *nix SLIPP or thin client ideas. I haven't tried that myself, but it should be doable. Still, this is a retro machine, so why not use it that way? :)

April 30th, 2009, 02:02 PM
One option would be to dig up a Desk Station IV dock for it. It's got two ISA slots, so you can plug in a NIC.
Another option, and this I haven't tried, is a Noteworthy Ethernet Adapter. The Toshiba support site lists directions on how to get it to work on a bunch of T-series laptops. Check it out here:

The Noteworthy is PCMCIA-looking gizmo, the implication of the instruction at the above link are that either the Toshiba support site got it wrong, or that particular NIC can be made to work in the memory slot of the T4400C. Like I said, haven't tried it, sounds dubious, but worth a shot since NIC-cards that old aren't really all that pricey.


April 30th, 2009, 06:10 PM
The memory slot does look very similar to PCMCIA. If anyone has the docking station or this adapter, I'd be very interested in buying it from you. In the meantime I'm going to search around for them, and failing that, try to pick up one of those parallel port adapters (while keeping an eye out for the cooler solutions, ofc ;) )

Edit: I found a lot of two similar T4400XX models, one SX (monochrome) and one C (just like the one I have, active matrix color), which I bought immediately for parts and use. One is confirmed broken screen, the other is unknown. Either way the floppy in mine is dead, and I think the HDD just went today... (DAMN!), so this is great timing. I'll probably get two working systems out of this, one monochrome and one color. I'll put DOS (maybe a CP/M and DOS dualboot [adventure time ;)]) on the monochrome, and Win3.11FW (perhaps dualboot Win95OSR2) on the color one.

I also bought one of those Parallel Ethernet adapters. I was going to hold off, but someone put them up for $2/unit, $4 shipping... It was a golden opportunity! As well, the lot of two laptops was ~$33 with shipping and insurance, so epic deal... I'm so excited, lol! It's pretty easy to make me happy... Deskstation IVs aren't present on Ebay, unfortunately.. However, a website or two have them for $50-100, so I might pick one up in the future.

May 1st, 2009, 01:19 AM
Back 'in the day' when I was a graduate at an accounting firm I had a T4600CT laptop at work, networked with a Xircom PCMCIA network card. I'd guess the T4400 is the same series, so you can probably use a PCMCIA (not CardBus!) NIC in it.

At one point we had a couple of T4600CT's and a T1950CT. We did have a Xircom parallel adapter but I can't remember what machine we actually used it on - it may have predated these Toshibas. We also had a Compaq LTE 386 at one point but it was networked through the dock, and one of the older plasma Toshiba 386's with proprietary network card. All UTP with the new, fancy Systemax Cat 3 cable.