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I just came into possession of a Dell 316LT laptop, any old forums or information to help me get it working?

I found a listing from an older couple on Facebook cleaning out their old belongings. Bought it and figured I take my chance and see if it’s in working condition. It came with the carrying case, two batteries, and three ms-dos floppies. I plugged it in(without the battery) and turned it on, the power light came on but the screen did not, so I took it apart and checked some connections, and it turned on, sometimes, after running through the bios I couldn’t get the diskette to read anything, and I kept getting the message “missing operating system”, but not exactly sure how to get to the hard drive. From my knowledge it’s one of Dell’s first Laptops produced, which is pretty neat. But if someone’s been in the search for a (sorta) working one, let me know, they definitely will know more than I do. Here are some pictures of it. It has 1 MB of extended RAM, and a Dial up card that I took out to get to more wires.

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A3C24966-61F5-4197-8B11-3CD12DD26A45.jpeg

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Welcome to the forums!

First off... Wow, that's a gorgeous laptop. Might want to:

 

HDD might be removable, might not even be one. Do you hear a HDD spin up? AFAIK, a lot of these early notebook computers used 3.5", if any, so it should be very obvious...

image.png.594d78cd34d122d5d36b06329e97ce2c.png

This space looks HDD sized, maybe? Or is that the battery? Or am I just really wrong?

Try cleaning the floppy drive, it's probably impossible to find a replacement so if you don't know how DON'T mess with it and take it to an expert to be repaired.

Are those extra slots on the board memory? Hard to see just from the picture.

I'm not a professional, just an enthusiast. I don't know everything.

HGST Ultrastar: The last HDD you'll ever need to buy (and the one I always recommend).

Schrödinger's CPU: The Q9650. Is it irrelevant? Is it not? 

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Posted (edited)

***EDITED:*** -- Last updated 7:20 pm, EST, 6/25/2022

 

Holy MS-DOS, Batman! You are looking at an Intel 80836SX, without the 80387SX math co-processor installed.

 

My guess is, hard drive either was removed tor data protection, or died a long time ago and no replacement was available. They now have adapters to use SATA drives with PATA (formerly known as IDE, which is what it was known as when this machine was new). But what if I told you that you might actually be able to get this thing running? 😉

 

UPDATE: I wasn't sure that IDE / PATA drives were still available, but I found this one on Newegg, although I'm not really a fan of NewEgg as of late.

 

Alternately, while I'm not sure the older technology would recognize it to its full capacity, I'd say you could try getting a small SATA SSD or SATA M.2 and the necessary brackets / SATA M.2 - SATA / SATA - PATA adapter, and you should be able to install some sort of operating system. You may even be able to get up to 2TB partitions with Win95/98/SE using FAT32 if the 386SX allows it.

 

It ain't gonna run Win10, though. Those things were built for running Windows 3.0 and 3.1 as a shell over MS-DOS 3.3-ish. You might get away with WIn95 or Win98, but 2000 / XP and later are probably pushing it. The challenge will be finding a way to install it. Most original floppies may have degaussed and no longer work, and I'm not sure if a CD-ROM arrangement is feasible for an install with this one...

 

But IF multiple PATA / IDE ports are available, you might be able to set up two, one as an MS-DOS or Win95 bootable, with means to install to a second one on the other port. Means two sets of adapters and two drives, however. Another (easier) alternative would be to find another such legacy machine (any 80x86-class machine will do) still in use and format / set up the drive on that machine as a boot drive. It should then be usable in this one.

 

UPDATE: Found several MS-DOS versions available for download from this site:

 

https://winworldpc.com/product/ms-dos/3x

 

AND.... Dell still lists this thing in support...

 

https://www.dell.com/support/home/en-us/product-support/product/oth-386-316lt/docs

 

Here is a video explaining the SATA - PATA adapter.... Below is an image of parts needed to adapt a SATA M.2 to SATA with links to the items on Amazon.

 

 

image.thumb.png.aecf79e88e0eac858ee3b9538df26ee0.png

 

Cheap 128GB SATA M.2

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B079X7K6VP

 

SATA III to SATA M.2 Adapter Card

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B018ATXKLI

 

IDE Molex to SATA Power Adapter

https://www.amazon.com/Cable-Matters-3-Pack-Molex-Power/dp/B00STNUB04

Edited by An0maly_76
Revised, more info

MODERATE TO SEVERE AUTISTIC, COMPLICATED WITH COVID FOG

 

Due to the above, I've likely revised posts <30 min old, and do not think as you do.

THINK BEFORE YOU REPLY!

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Posted (edited)

***EDITED:*** -- Last updated 11:32 pm, EST, 6/25/2022

 

Would you believe I found another one just like it on eBay? $330 though... But it's not like parts are easy to find for this thing.

 

https://www.ebay.com/itm/264931509356

 

Looking at this thing, there is a side panel that opens up to reveal two ports marked External Drive and Expansion. While this external drive port resembles a SATA, I doubt SATA was a thing yet when this was built. Which means this is proprietary, and good luck finding the original hardware and connectors. I think I DID find one of the cables here, but it adapts to a DB25, which means the drive also has a DB25. However, check out what ELSE I found below...

 

image.png.f0de5a170c7fb79f7fc967ce40c5495a.png

 

Now THIS could help you, if it's still available... A 3.5" floppy to USB conversion. They make adapters USB to read TF cards, which can be had in pretty decent capacities, enough to get this thing running normally, at least... Apparently there are a few on eBay. There are also what appear to be actual floppies modified to be flash drives.

 

Here is a vendor selling something similar... https://hxc2001.com/

 

THIS guy takes the cake, though... An IBM Aptiva from the late 80s / early 90s, revamped with modern hardware with absolutely no hint as to what is hiding inside. It packs a specially modified 3.5" floppy adapter that reads high-capacity SD cards. Such modification could keep this thing running a LONG time, but likely more work than you'd like to put into it. You will have won the Internet with such a mission, should you choose to accept. Obviously, it would start with something like a mini-ITX or DTX board with some Intel or AMD with an iGPU... But this has given me some serious ideas.

 

Actually, while I have no idea if it would fit, I have an old Pansonic Toughbook laying around somewhere that was gifted to me by someone who was having issues with it. They said it ran, but the screen was playing peek-a-boo and the case looks like it's been through a war. It still runs, though, could be a worthy donor for an interesting "restomod" laptop build.

Edited by An0maly_76
Revised, more info

MODERATE TO SEVERE AUTISTIC, COMPLICATED WITH COVID FOG

 

Due to the above, I've likely revised posts <30 min old, and do not think as you do.

THINK BEFORE YOU REPLY!

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