Author Options:

What To Do With A Really Old Laptop? Answered

So I inherited this Toshiba laptop with Windows 95 on it. It has a ?86 processor and about 16MB RAM and about 800 MB hard drive. It has a laptop PC card that supplies dial-up access and a floppy drive. It runs on AC power.

(Edit: It has 8 Megabytes of RAM and a 750 Megabyte hard drive. More tiny than I thought.)

What are some good ideas to do with this? I am thinking about installing some kind of Linux on it, you know, to beef it up somehow, make every megabyte count. I'm especially interested in the dial-up card, specifically whether I can hack it to access wireless signals... My brain wheels move, but no work gets done! Aggghh!


Take Windows off. Check that the DOS version is up to date as it can be (6.22?).

Then build a telescope and drive system and use crap old software for DOS (still hanging around on the net) to track the stars and even get photographs. Should all keep you busy for a year or so.

Even in that totally out date state it has more processing power than the Apollo missions and the same as the current Hubble processor. Put it to work.

I realize you posted this many years ago but I was really intrigued by your post. My grandfather passed away a year ago and I inherited his old laptop. It's an Inspiron 1200 and after some substantial repairs (new keyboard, new trackpad, new wireless card, new battery, more RAM, etc) it is now able to run Windows 7 at least respectably. It's got 1.3 GB of RAM and a CPU capable of around 1.4 ghz clockspeed. How would I go about learning how to put this machine to work in the way you described? As far as building a telescope and "drive system" and using software to track stars and get photographs. That sounds so interesting and I was really blown away to read that these old laptops have more processing power than the Apollo missions and the Hubble processor. .

Build it into a leather briefcase with some brass etc - steampunk laptop.


I would say keep all the salvageable parts for further DIY or ible' projects. You never know what you might need :)

Take it apart (carefully), and salvage all the working parts, then just keep them safe for any future projects you may indulge in.


8 years ago

Make it a pimp projector? with pupylinux and a new backlight?


Actually, I'm wondering how you even found this post, it's so old. XD

Linux, definitely. I don't know what you are thinking, get Windows off it now!! :)

i totally agree ive got a old mac book and and putting Ubuntu on it

Hmm....This topic is a year old,  but you could wipe the drive and install Ubuntu, or Fedora if you like programming.

make a solar panal out of it

You could install Linux on it, install Apache, and use it as a web server.  But it's probably not very power efficient, so that might run up your electricity bill.

Digital Picture Frame.

UPDATE: Spare parts. Thanks for all the ideas, and may old-school rest in peaces.

make an ftp server, put your content on a portable hdd

sell it to some teenager who likes to take things apart

Lol, I think we inherited the same old junky laptop.

I thought of linux too...I tried DSL, and really liked it.

For the wireless, you can get a [http://catalog.belkin.com/IWCatProductPage.process?Product_Id=179211 wireless card or usb device.]

They've worked well for me.

i got one of those little thumbs it works fine on 98se and NT4 wont work on 95 or 98

Would there be a way to trick Windows 95 into supporting USB? I think I saw a cable that translates USB signals into I/O port, but I'm not sure...

I don't think there is, and if there was it would probably be painfully slow.

How about just putting some old freeware retro game clones on it and using it like a little arcade machine?

Yeah, lol, I sometimes forget if I've posted my idea yet...

its probably a tiny bit too old for wireless, or hacking. I suggest installing Damn Small Limux on it - its about the only thing that will run on something that old. And if you do get it to run, its going to run very slowly. I suggest making it into a cool clutch bag.

You need 16 mb of ram for DSL. I think you could salvage it into a contoller or something is you are good at programing.

Use it as a web server? It should have a good network card in it, about 100mbit. Would this work as a game lan server? You might need more memory, like 512mb. Or simply play old games on it for Win95 or DOS. There are still a few good games I like that I keep around: Stars, Warcraft 1, Doom.

Actually, yeah, I still play Warcraft II...

If they are functional, they make great "controllers" for simple home security systems one may wish to construct for themselves...

Put old freeware retro game clones on it and you have a mini arcade machine!

congratulations! you now have a laptop with less memory and processing power than an iphone.

[http://www.lemosint.com//bluetooth/bluetooth_lm048_adapter_details.php no usb needed]
make it a remote for a server it has everything it needs to do it slap a DBAN server footprint and let it be the eyes and ears for a wireless server
or make it into a cool alarm clock /calendar

What To Do With A Really Old Laptop?

You could give it to someone with a really old lap LOL

Pssst, I was thinking of me when I said that LOL