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This old tech: The Toshiba T1000 was my first step into the world of MS-DOS

Benj Edwards | Nov. 9, 2015
The year was 1987, and the Toshiba T1000 was a 6.4-pound IBM PC clone that you could fit into a briefcase. But wait'll you see the battery on this thing.

this old tech toshiba t1000 battery 
This Toshiba T1000 had a rebuilt Ni-Cd battery pack (thank you Radio Shack!) Credit: Benj Edwards

(I’m very lucky this pack did not leak and ruin the T1000’s motherboard. Batteries are the bane of most computer collectors, as their acid eats away at circuitry.)

Upon seeing that rebuilt battery pack, a vague memory flashed: I think I remember when he built it. Tinkering definitely ran in my family.

After clipping out the old battery pack, I rigged up a 7-volt VPX lithium-ion battery pack from one of my dad’s old cordless drills. After a few smelly burps of ancient capacitors settling, then stirring to life, the unit powered up again for the first time in over 15 years.

Then I smelled something alarming: burning capacitors.

As electronics age, the second components to fail (after batteries) are usually electrolytic capacitors, which break down over time and either deform or leak. It’s a big problem.

A small puff of smoke accompanied the fading-out of the LCD screen. The bad capacitor was located in that assembly.

Luckily for me, the T1000 also supports composite video output, so I hooked it up to an old Apple IIc monitor I have on my workbench.

this old tech toshiba t1000 insides workbench 
Luckily the Toshiba T1000 has a composite video output, so when its own display didn’t work, an old Apple IIc monitor could be called into service. Credit: Benj Edwards

Can you guess the first program I ran?

Tetris, of course.

With a little help from borrowed technology, the Toshiba T1000 lives on to fight another day. I still need to fix the LCD panel, but it’s been fun playing that classic again—even if it is rendered entirely in green.

 

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