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View Full Version : What was the last notebook/laptop ever made with at least two legacy ports?



eccofonic
September 22nd, 2013, 02:38 PM
I'm thinking it's the pro-business series HP/Compaq nc6320, released in 2006 and sold through 2007. It has one parallel and one serial port built in.

It seems that starting with the Core Duo CPUs most notebooks had USB/firewire only. At least none that I have seen from IBM/Lenovo or Dell.

Anyone more knowledgeable about this?

Hopefully this isn't off topic... it is about legacy PC stuff.

orion24
September 22nd, 2013, 02:59 PM
Personally I was surprised why the kept these ports with laptops/desktops for this long in the first place. They should have been gone from the early USB 2.0 days. Those very few that need them could use a USB or express card converter for laptops.

SomeGuy
September 22nd, 2013, 03:13 PM
A couple of years ago I was looking for a laptop with a real, honest to goodness, serial port and came across the Dell Latitude E5510 Laptop: http://www.dell.com/us/business/p/latitude-e5510/pd But as I recall, I found it just after they discontinued it in favor of a model with none. (don't know about current laptops)

A machine without a parallel, serial, and FDD just isn't a real computer.

But I'm sure it has bright blue LEDs. We NEEEEEED those :mad1:


Personally I was surprised why the kept these ports with laptops/desktops for this long in the first place. They should have been gone from the early USB 2.0 days. Those very few that need them could use a USB or express card converter for laptops.
They need to keep them because USB is inferior in many respects. USB serial and parallel adapters don't work with many devices - and some of these devices aren't just going to magically disappear over night. Gamers will tell you all about how slow USB mice and keyboards are to PS/2 (but what I do I know, I am typing this on a keyboard with an XT/AT plug :P )

eccofonic
September 22nd, 2013, 03:55 PM
A couple of years ago I was looking for a laptop with a real, honest to goodness, serial port and came across the Dell Latitude E5510 Laptop: http://www.dell.com/us/business/p/latitude-e5510/pd But as I recall, I found it just after they discontinued it in favor of a model with none. (don't know about current laptops)

A machine without a parallel, serial, and FDD just isn't a real computer.

LOL, you are right. They might as well be a tablet or a smartphone.

I'm probably wrong, but I think the last laptop that had serial, parallel and a floppy drive (via an expansion bay) was the HP/Compaq nc8000 (Pentium M, 400mhz FSB).

I think these were released late 2003 and were sold up thru 2005.

Unfortunately the PATA hard drive interface in the nc8000 is pretty slow. An nc6320 with a newer SATA-300 hard drive is very snappy.

orion24
September 22nd, 2013, 04:34 PM
A machine without a parallel, serial, and FDD just isn't a real computer.


I wasn't even using them in the MS-DOS times. Serial mouse in my 386 only, until I started using the PS2. No parallel. But I'm with you about the floppy. In fact a couple of days ago I tried hooking up an 1.2MB floppy in my main PC (Intel Core i7-920), alongside the 1.44 it already has. To my displeasure I found out that the onboard floppy controller of the Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD7 board does not support dual-floppy mode and I could only use either the 1.44 or the 1.2 drive. Never had this problem in any old PC ever.

Tr3vor
September 22nd, 2013, 05:19 PM
I wasn't even using them in the MS-DOS times. Serial mouse in my 386 only, until I started using the PS2. No parallel. But I'm with you about the floppy. In fact a couple of days ago I tried hooking up an 1.2MB floppy in my main PC (Intel Core i7-920), alongside the 1.44 it already has. To my displeasure I found out that the onboard floppy controller of the Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD7 board does not support dual-floppy mode and I could only use either the 1.44 or the 1.2 drive. Never had this problem in any old PC ever.

Well, to be honest, who uses FDDs anymore besides the people that like older computers? Most of the people I know don't even know what a floppy drive is, and really to be honest I'm glad they died off in favor of faster and bigger storage mediums.
If motherboard manufacturers put FDD interfaces on their boards it would be wasting money and time.

What I think we need is a USB based or some sort of FDD PCIe or PCI card that will work in modern systems and software so that the newer windows OSes can access the drives, that would be much more practical. There have been a couple, but they have been very expensive though...

I've seen some HP Core 2 Duo laptops at my college classes with Serial ports, We use those to interface with PLCs.

SomeGuy
September 22nd, 2013, 05:55 PM
Well, to be honest, who uses FDDs anymore besides the people that like older computers?

Businesses. :D You know, the ones that "still" use spreadsheets, databases, and word processing despite PCs being "dead", and were among the first to spend thousands of dollars on Apple IIs, IBM PCs, and such. Yea, the same ones that "still" print multi-part forms on their 2013 dot-matrix printers, and "still" have serial ports on their proprietary industrial truck-weighing system. There are all kinds of special purpose computers out there, still in use, and and running on "legacy" hardware. Many only know how to read or store information with a floppy. And we are not talking small dollar amounts for complete replacement systems, so perhaps 20-30 years before they "go away", if ever.

Beyond that, I have several not-so-old computers here that for whatever reason don't know how to boot from USB. Fiddling with a boot floppy disk is much easier than constantly re-writing a CD-RW.

You are right, it wouldn't be such a pain if we could just plop in a PCIe floppy controller card, but none exist (WHY?!!). And typical usb drives can usually only deal with standard 1.44mb disks - most don't even do 720k!!


If motherboard manufacturers put FDD interfaces on their boards it would be wasting money and time
How about we go one further, and just stop making computers for people who don't actually need them. Just tape a picture of some cats to a block of wood and they won't know the difference. :P

Compgeke
September 22nd, 2013, 08:53 PM
The newest that I know of with serial and floppy are the Dell Latitude D630\D830, both being the same except for screen size. Parallel died off fast in the 2000s due to the widespread use of USB and network printers and few people ever really used parallel on a laptop, especially in business ranges (yet they retained it longest.).

njroadfan
September 23rd, 2013, 04:05 AM
There are some rugged Dell XFR models that have a serial port built-in. The problem is that they are "lame" ports in that electronically they are USB-to-serial and not the real thing hanging off of the LPC bus at COM1.

vwestlife
September 23rd, 2013, 04:46 AM
My circa-2006 Lenovo ThinkPad X60 has serial and parallel ports available through its docking base... but it was the first ThinkPad model series that they dropped the PS/2 ports from.

These days you're lucky even to just find a laptop without one of those extra-glare glossy LCDs. My MacBook's glossy LCD is OK at home, but I can't even imagine trying to use it in an office with overhead fluorescent lights!

eccofonic
September 23rd, 2013, 03:46 PM
My circa-2006 Lenovo ThinkPad X60 has serial and parallel ports available through its docking base... but it was the first ThinkPad model series that they dropped the PS/2 ports from.

On a Lenovo R60 I've got, the BIOS has enable/disable & config for both a parallel port & a serial port, so it's probably for a dock like you said.


These days you're lucky even to just find a laptop without one of those extra-glare glossy LCDs. My MacBook's glossy LCD is OK at home, but I can't even imagine trying to use it in an office with overhead fluorescent lights!

Yeah, I prefer matte displays too.

RWallmow
September 24th, 2013, 03:26 AM
My circa-2006 Lenovo ThinkPad X60 has serial and parallel ports available through its docking base... but it was the first ThinkPad model series that they dropped the PS/2 ports from.

These days you're lucky even to just find a laptop without one of those extra-glare glossy LCDs. My MacBook's glossy LCD is OK at home, but I can't even imagine trying to use it in an office with overhead fluorescent lights!

My Lenovo X61 also has honest to goodness serial and parallel on its dock/port replicator. I can also tell you Lenovos current "M92 Tiny" desktop has a COM header on it, however I have yet to find the FRU number for the cable for it.

g4ugm
September 24th, 2013, 03:14 PM
The Lenovo/IBM T41/42/43 have a printer port on e laptop and a serial port on the mini dock. These are also pre Core-2 machines. I think the issue is that modern chip-sets only implement a PCI-Express type bus which is why modern laptops have Express cards not PCMCIA style cards. So even if you get a real card like this:-

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/320895334586?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1438.l2649

it won't have the old style port address for LPT1. I have this issue with my desktop which is again PCI-Express only. I have PCI-Express printer and serial ports but they don't have the hardware addresses old software expects. I can runs some of the software by using a VMware Player XP VM which allows me to re-map the port address to what the software expects.

RWallmow
September 25th, 2013, 08:54 AM
The Lenovo/IBM T41/42/43 have a printer port on e laptop and a serial port on the mini dock. These are also pre Core-2 machines. I think the issue is that modern chip-sets only implement a PCI-Express type bus which is why modern laptops have Express cards not PCMCIA style cards. So even if you get a real card like this:-

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/320895334586?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1438.l2649

it won't have the old style port address for LPT1. I have this issue with my desktop which is again PCI-Express only. I have PCI-Express printer and serial ports but they don't have the hardware addresses old software expects. I can runs some of the software by using a VMware Player XP VM which allows me to re-map the port address to what the software expects.

I am pretty sure up through T61 still had REAL COM/LPT on the docks and its a Core-2 machine.

We have used Brainbox brand expresscard COM and LPT cards, and so far they have worked for our applications, but these are ALL running Windows 7 64bit, so likely any software that REALLY has issues with cards like that would also have been replaced or otherwise mitigated already when we went Windows 7 64bit.

ajacocks
September 25th, 2013, 09:49 AM
The serial port can still be had on current laptops and desktops, if you look to the models targeted for business or industrial use. Just the other day, I found a mini-ITX board with something like 8 serial ports.

The parallel port and the floppy controller are another story. The death of the parallel port is directly attributable to Windows Vista. Any Windows OS, Vista or newer, has _no_ native parallel port support. So, why bother to add a port to your machine, if 99% of the users won't be able to use it? The floppy drive can still be had, but is not long for this world, in traditional form. The original floppy controllers are a part of the legacy 8086 ISA that is being removed, to save chip count, on modern mainboards. Lots of servers and high-end workstations still have a single 3.5" 1.44mb floppy drive, but a growing number of those are USB, internally, rather than being attached to a floppy controller.

- Alex

cr1901
September 26th, 2013, 08:26 PM
The serial port can still be had on current laptops and desktops, if you look to the models targeted for business or industrial use. Just the other day, I found a mini-ITX board with something like 8 serial ports.

The parallel port and the floppy controller are another story. The death of the parallel port is directly attributable to Windows Vista. Any Windows OS, Vista or newer, has _no_ native parallel port support. So, why bother to add a port to your machine, if 99% of the users won't be able to use it? The floppy drive can still be had, but is not long for this world, in traditional form. The original floppy controllers are a part of the legacy 8086 ISA that is being removed, to save chip count, on modern mainboards. Lots of servers and high-end workstations still have a single 3.5" 1.44mb floppy drive, but a growing number of those are USB, internally, rather than being attached to a floppy controller.

- Alex

Support for these legacy components could in theory be added back in if it didn't take 10 years and a degree in computer science to understand how to write a Windows device driver and create custom PCI express cards.

Okay I exaggerate a bit- writing a device driver probably isn't TOO horrible for simple hardware like LPT. However, I remember Mike Brutman specifically telling me that something along the lines of the following: "At this point in time, probably no one understands the PCI express specification well enough to implement hobbyist hardware using it." Btw, if I misquoted you Mike, feel free to correct me :P.

Yes, PCI express cores do exist, and you can buy proprietary Verilog cores/IP for FPGAs. But this is certainly a far cry from making your own ISA bus decoder (trivial) or PCI bus arbiter (nontrivial, but an open source solution exists somewhere).

ajacocks
September 27th, 2013, 04:35 AM
Actually, there still are PCIe parallel cards, for sale. I have one, in fact, and it claims (but does not deliver, as far as I can tell) DOS compatibility. http://www.startech.com/Cards-Adapters/Parallel/1-Port-PCI-Express-Low-Profile-Parallel-Adapter-Card-SPP-EPP-ECP~PEX1PLP

- Alex

yuhong
October 1st, 2013, 09:23 PM
The parallel port and the floppy controller are another story. The death of the parallel port is directly attributable to Windows Vista. Any Windows OS, Vista or newer, has _no_ native parallel port support.
I believe this is a myth.

The original floppy controllers are a part of the legacy 8086 ISA that is being removed
Neither are floppy controllers part of the 8086 ISA.

Chuck(G)
October 1st, 2013, 10:13 PM
Well, perhaps they are in that in the PC world they use legacy (8237-type) 8-bit DMA (channel 2) and are pretty much tied to IRQ 6. There are, of course, some floppy controllers that allow changes in port, IRQ and DMA, but they generally have their own drivers and don't work well with low-level (e.g. IMD) software.

There are PCI legacy controllers that employ their own PCI-to-ISA bridge.

But the uPD765 FDC itself hails from the darker 8-bit (e.g. 8085, Z80) days.

SomeGuy
October 2nd, 2013, 07:32 AM
I have one of these PCI Serial/Parallel cards:
http://www.sybausa.com/productInfo.php?iid=604
You have to run a provided DOS utility to make it change its I/O addresses to the default standards, but once you do it is hardware compatible. If your DOS application happens to know how to directly access any I/O port and you tell it where the PCI PNP set the address, then it could access it without running the utility.

The PCIe version is probably similar.

njroadfan
October 2nd, 2013, 08:40 AM
The parallel port and the floppy controller are another story. The death of the parallel port is directly attributable to Windows Vista. Any Windows OS, Vista or newer, has _no_ native parallel port support. So, why bother to add a port to your machine, if 99% of the users won't be able to use it?

I have Windows 7 64-bit on a Core2Duo machine. It fully supports the on-board ECP parallel port (hanging off of the LPC bus at LPT1) and even PnP auto-detected the HP Laserjet 4MP that is plugged into it! I don't think Windows 8 dropped support either.

ajacocks
October 2nd, 2013, 09:39 AM
I have one of these PCI Serial/Parallel cards:
http://www.sybausa.com/productInfo.php?iid=604
You have to run a provided DOS utility to make it change its I/O addresses to the default standards, but once you do it is hardware compatible. If your DOS application happens to know how to directly access any I/O port and you tell it where the PCI PNP set the address, then it could access it without running the utility.

The PCIe version is probably similar.

I have the PCIe version. It is definitely not compatible with 2 different vendors' parallel-port EPROM burner software. The DOS software does indeed let you pick the I/O and DMA settings, but there's something that just doesn't quite play nicely.


I have Windows 7 64-bit on a Core2Duo machine. It fully supports the on-board ECP parallel port (hanging off of the LPC bus at LPT1) and even PnP auto-detected the HP Laserjet 4MP that is plugged into it! I don't think Windows 8 dropped support either.

That's interesting to hear. I was told by someone that I would have expected to know, though I don't have a Windows 7 machine, with a built-in parallel port, and I don't have Windows Vista, or 8, at all.

Thanks!
- Alex

yuhong
October 2nd, 2013, 12:13 PM
Well, perhaps they are in that in the PC world they use legacy (8237-type) 8-bit DMA (channel 2) and are pretty much tied to IRQ 6. There are, of course, some floppy controllers that allow changes in port, IRQ and DMA, but they generally have their own drivers and don't work well with low-level (e.g. IMD) software.
And BTW Intel has began to remove the 8237 completely from things like Haswell-ULT which combines the PCH and the CPU into a single chip. As far as I know the ordinary desktop/laptop PCH still have it, though as I said before they removed PC/PCI DMA support used by PCI to ISA bridges in ICH6.

Chuck(G)
October 2nd, 2013, 12:30 PM
We're sort of getting into the territory anyway where perhaps a good solution is to take an x86 MCU, say, an 80C188, stick the vintage peripherals on it and run a USB interface to the more modern host. PCI slots for consumer desktops are rapidly decreasing in number. This would keep the laptop folks happy as well.

ajacocks
October 2nd, 2013, 12:39 PM
That would definitely be an interesting solution. I wonder how low the IC count could be kept, and if we could build this in a board that is possible for a hobbyist to build? I.e., no/limited SMD components, 2 layer board, etc.

- Alex