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placemat
August 4th, 2017, 03:29 AM
Hello!
I have just been given a very old portable computer by my uncle who hasn't used it in ages. It's an old 286 laptop by ICL. I couldn't wait to switch it on to see how this thing operated and as soon as I switched it on I heard lots of bleeps and it came up on the screen that the CMOS battery needed replacing which I could understand due to it's age.
When I pressed escape to enter the BIOS I was a bit confused when selecting the hard drive as it seemed to be showing a different hard drive every time I press the space bar. All different megabytes in size. The first being 10 MB and the second 33 MB etc. Each time I pressed the space bar it would move onto the next suppose it hard drive which had different settings, cylinders and size in megabytes. There were approximately 62 selectable hard drives before it came back tto 'no hard drive present'.
That was the first issue that I came up against. In the BIOS it is set to floppy drive boots first then hard drive but when I put the DOS 6.2 disc in the floppy drive, it reads but then goes to access the hard drive and displays 'not a bootable partition' on the screen.
How do I boot from the floppy drive so that I can delete any partitions on the hard drive and then format the hard drive for a fresh install of Dos?
The computer also gave off a bit of a fishy smell for first couple of minutes that it was on, but the smell has dissipated and I've left the laptop on now for at least 20 minutes and it seems to be okay .
Any help would be much appreciated.

modem7
August 5th, 2017, 03:36 PM
When I pressed escape to enter the BIOS I was a bit confused when selecting the hard drive as it seemed to be showing a different hard drive every time I press the space bar.
It sounds like you are thinking that it would show you the characteristics of the drive within the laptop. This BIOS is more primitive than you think. What you, as the person configuring the BIOS SETUP, needs to do, is:
1. Identify the drive in the computer (e.g. ACME DD453); then
2. Using the Internet, determine the drive's 'geometry' (e.g. 300 cylinders, 4 heads, 17 sectors per track); then
3. In the BIOS SETUP, select the matching geometry.

There is a chance that once you do that, the laptop will start booting from the hard drive.


In the BIOS it is set to floppy drive boots first then hard drive but when I put the DOS 6.2 disc in the floppy drive, it reads but then goes to access the hard drive and displays 'not a bootable partition' on the screen.
That sounds like your boot disk is not in fact bootable, because the boot sequence is normally:
STEP 1: If a bootable disk is in A: drive, boot from that.
STEP 2: Otherwise, attempt a boot from the hard drive (if one is configured in the BIOS SETUP).

Temporarily, you can remove the hard drive from the boot order by changing the hard drive setting in the BIOS SETUP to 'no hard drive present'.
If you then still cannot boot from the floppy disk, then possible causes include (but not limited to):
* Your floppy disk has not been made bootable;
* Faulty floppy drive;
* Read/write heads in floppy drive are dirty.


The computer also gave off a bit of a fishy smell for first couple of minutes that it was on, but the smell has dissipated and I've left the laptop on now for at least 20 minutes and it seems to be okay.
Many many years ago, at work, I sometimes had to walk past a supercomputer. It sometimes smelt a bit like fish, but the operators always insisted to me that it was normal, because, as they would say, "One of the reasons why the Cray supercomputer is so fast is because it is cooled by crayfish oil." I never did understand why they smiled when they said that. Maybe they were just really happy about the MIPS they were seeing. :-)

placemat
August 5th, 2017, 10:46 PM
Many many years ago, at work, I sometimes had to walk past a supercomputer. It sometimes smelt a bit like fish, but the operators always insisted to me that it was normal, because, as they would say, "One of the reasons why the Cray supercomputer is so fast is because it is cooled by crayfish oil." I never did understand why they smiled when they said that. Maybe they were just really happy about the MIPS they were seeing. :-)

Many thanks indeed for your thoroughly good answer! I see that even from my first memories with computers running Dos 6.2 and Windows 95 it seems that this machine goes much further back!
I'm not familiar with the old HDD formats. I started with a 486DX4 100.
My friend also mentioned that the drive may be a 770k? My dos 6.2 discs are on high density floppies.
One other thing is that the screen's back light flickers then for a moment this will fade out and go out altogether but then upon restarting the computer the backlight will be back on. Maybe a dirty connector?
Thanks again for your help! I'll take it apart and see if I can locate the HDD model.

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