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ThinkPad 560E (pappp.net)
181 points by djsumdog on Aug 9, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 71 comments

>It didn’t come with a cap on the TrackPoint, so I swiped a proper “classic dome” from the spares that came with my T60p to make everything period correct (aside: why are classic dome caps so expensive these days? The soft domes are cheap and everywhere). I still don’t care for Trackpoints, but it has cachet.


>Ted Selker [1] is the amazing guy who invented and refined the Trackpoint [2] or "Joy Button" as he called it (but IBM refused to call it). He put years of research and development into the product, and I'm happy he's finally written up and published the story. [3]


>Once I was sitting in a coffee shop in Mountain View hacking on my Thinkpad, and Ted and his wife Ellen rolled in, sat down, and started chatting. Ted noticed that my Thinkpad's Joy Button was all worn down, and he was mortified and quickly excused himself to go out to the car. Ellen rolled her eyes and shrugged, explaining that he was always like that. Then he came back with a big bag of red Joy Buttons, and replaced my worn-out one right there in the coffee shop, and gave me a few extras as spares!

>He's a brilliant inventor, and a really nice guy, who apparently always carries around a big bag of spare Joy Buttons in case anybody needs one.

> why are classic dome caps so expensive these days? The soft domes are cheap and everywhere

The older sandpaper TrackPoint caps can scratch your display surface. Though some of the softer ones will also mark the display surface, but not as badly.

I have a small stockpile of caps of different kinds, including some originals (and in nonstandard colors), usually end up using the soft shallow concave or shallow convex ones.

Even if you mix up the colors, you can't escape the distinctive branding. Maybe several years ago, during an I-don't-wear-logos phase, I was using a ThinkPad T60 with black TrackPoint cap, and with black labelmaker tape carefully cut to obscure the branding. One day, I was sitting on the grass in front of the public library. Some group of kindergarteners is cutting across the grass, and one of them glances at my ThinkPad with the blacked-out branding, and immediately says, to no one in particular, "thassa IBM!" I would've gotten away with being branding-free, if it weren't for those meddling kids!

(Author's HN account) Hmm. Maybe I'll leave the cap off in storage, then. I do remember some of my more modern ThinkPads getting a screen dot from their TrackPoints, but those machines spent a lot of time in backpacks getting lugged around.

I don't recall whether the 560E was susceptible to TrackPoint marks, nor pressure marks. I definitely did get both on some of my ThinkPads of that era that saw lots of carrying in backpacks.

BTW, thank you for the writeup on the 560E. It's a good little laptop, and a lot of open source work was done on it, sitting in parks and cafes. :)

Oh how I'll miss my hands never leaving the keyboard when I have to give up my T430 for another brand... Ted Selker be blessed.

Those patents must be due to expire soon if they haven’t already. Maybe system76 can save us?

In order for System76 to save us, Clevo would have to save us, first (since the former sells rebranded laptops manufactured by the latter, last I checked).

Dell and HP already offer TrackPoint-equivalents on their Latitudes/Precisions and EliteBooks (respectively) and have been doing so for more than a decade now, so it seems the patents are definitely expired. I feel like the IBM/Lenovo version is higher-quality, though.

Wikipedia claims:

> Since ThinkPad computers have a nub that is responsive to pressure in a direction, and there is a patent for this,[citation needed] other companies have made it so a person has to move the finger a large distance to cause the nub to rock from side to side in a much less efficient way.

Oh don't start me on elitebook and HP's 'trackpoints'... So disappointing. Maybe it's the drivers, maybe it's some kind of placebo effect but the thinkpad one is and always has been so much better...

Well yeah, that's HP for ya, lol

The Dell ones are a bit better, but still nowhere near the same quality as a proper TrackPoint.

I really wish some of the good mechanical keyboard makers would integrate a trackpoint. -- unicomp did one but the response curve was all wrong and it was basically unusable (mine also died after a couple weeks-- which I didn't mind.)

Even when you have plenty of room for a mouse the trackpoint is just better for switching. I think my ideal desktop setup would have a nice mechanical keyboard with trackpoint and a mouse-- the trackpoint isn't ideal for drawing but it's better for most other things.

There are the bluetooth lenovo keyboards, -- their trackpoint is good, but I'd only describe the keyboard as good 'for a laptop keyboard'.

[My idea of a good keyboard, trackpoint aside, is the 122 key model-f terminal keyboard I use.]

I'm surprised there hasn't been a spiritual successor of the original ThinkPads from a premium small-scale producer in Shenzhen (that I'm aware of), given the amount of niche mom & pop phone/PC producers over there.

(I know there's a company that puts new chips in old chassis, but it'd be great to see new chassis from scratch as well).

How I'd love to see something like classic ThinkPads again: completely self-serviceable and upgradeable with plenty of parts and lots of support available. So sick of glue and crazy proprietary chips and boards.

Modern ThinkPads are still best-in-breed for that (the T-series, at any rate). They still come with full service manuals and individually available spare parts, which can often be swapped between similar chassis. And the T480 is one of the last remaining holdouts against soldered-everything and razor-thin.

Hardware became a commodity over the past 2-3 decades. It gets replaced, not serviced. And most people got used to not caring about getting something serviced beyond a few consumables (like a battery). It's hard to stay afloat selling to a niche so not many companies try.

On the other hand the pace of evolution has slowed down and upgrading stuff is less of a necessity today. So most people no longer feel the need to pay for flexibility, they'll go for other things like design, thinness, weight, etc. Phones probably showed the way, they became the ubiquitous computing device and for anyone born in this era they simply set the standard fro all other devices.

I miss my ThinkPad 600x for example but not necessarily because I could (and did) tear it down and build it back over and over again. But also because it seems today we're sacrificing a bit too much for the sake of design. Like impossible to use keyboards, lack of ports, everything glued, etc. because anything else will make the device a bit thicker or heavier.

There's the MNT Reform, which is an effort to make a highly serviceable and modifiable laptop.


51nb is a premium small-scale producer in Shenzen that is kind of doing this.

Instead of making new laptops from scratch, they create modifications to existing ThinkPads.

For example, the X62: https://www.notebookcheck.net/X62-Laptop-Review.211598.0.htm...

Here's their website: https://51nb.com/portal.php

GPD Pocket et al?

Huawei MateBook X Pro?

Seems to be lacking a lot of what made the old thinkpads great in comparison to modern laptops like repairability, great keyboard, ruggedness, matte screens, great linux support, etc.

The matebook x pro seems more like just another modern ultrabook.

After taking a look myself, I agree with the above -- it looks like a wannabe MacBook. Hell, the name "matebook x" even implies not-quite-Macbook. Which is exactly what the old school Thinkpads are not.

I first heard of openstep from this brilliant post yesterday https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24091588 ... and here it pops up again.

Not just OpenStep, but Rhapsody! It was Apple's original transition plan for Mac OS X, basically OpenStep/Mach 5.x with a Mac OS 8-style Platinum UI done in NeXT-style Display PostScript complete with draggable menus. It's my favorite Apple product of all time just for the "what could have been" factor, but the Adobes of the world balked at "rewrite your apps in Yellow Box" so we got Carbon and friends in the rebooted Mac OS X project. There was one retail release as "Mac OS X Server 1.0", but the "Premier" desktop-user-focused version was canceled. I like to run Rhapsody on my Power Mac G3 Blue&White because that particular machine shipped with Rhapsody (in a Server G3 configuration) and is extremely well supported: https://cooltrainer.org/images/original/michiru-rhapsody-201...

And here are some good starting points for more info:




I had no idea Rhapsody OS existed! I really want to give the Mac OS Server 1.0 a spin on a PPC machine!

It was actually fun to use. I had NeXTSTEP 3.3 and then 4.x with the developer tools back in 95. I was in love with PostScript and Objective-C so this was my favorite computer. I had it running on a custom Pentium 90mhz system. It was so easy to process data on that thing.

I agree! Circa 1998, I got a tip from a friend in university IT and "rescued" a few NeXTstations and associated peripherals (displays, mice, keyboards) from an Indiana University dumpster. I emailed NeXT, and they were nice enough to send me complete software kits for both NeXTSTEP 3.3 and OPENSTEP 4.2 (all platforms) at no charge.

The monochrome displays, in particular, were lovely, and, in spite of its outdated CPU (25MHz 040 IIRC), one of these machines, running NeXTSTEP 3.3, was my primary workstation for terminal-centric work for the next couple years.

While I never did get much into Objective-C beyond the basics, as a big PostScript fan since the red/green/blue book days, I did have a bit of fun with Display PostScript (and NeWS on the SPARCstation 1 the NeXTstation ultimately shared a desk with, although, quite unlike the NeXTstation, the Sun was nearly unusably slow for day-to-day GUI use).

Similar story. I was walking through the Physics building at the University of Maryland in the summer of 2004 and a brilliant looking black cube of a computer caught my eye. It was lined up along a wall with a bunch of drab, old computer equipment destined for the trash heap. This was before the era of web-connected phones, so I quickly peeked at the back sticker for some information (model, serial, etc.) and went back to my dorm and looked up what it could be. It was a NeXTcube, which I had never known about. So I hustled back with an empty backpack and managed to cram it in with the zippers barely holding it in and walked back to my dorm. Once I got back and took it apart and was amazed at the quality. I never booted it up, but I kept it for a year or so before selling it on eBay to a person named Chuck (vintagecomputermuseum) for $300. I really should check-in with them and see if they ever got it up and running.

Circa 98 that would have been Apple, which is interesting but not unbelievable at all.

Five or six years ago, I bought a lot of three ThinkPad R40 Celerons sold for parts, hoping to get one useable machine. I did, ending up with a rather pedestrian LXDE Linux laptop.

Just this week I got a second one running with a whopping 256 MB of RAM, and put OS/2 (ArcaOS) on it. It’s quite a snappy machine. Loads of fun.

I had an R40 run as a router / home server for 12 years, until this January. Lovely machines.


Its not quite low end but I use a T480 with ubuntu as a home server for plex etc.

I set it up to boot from the ACPI signal and run with lid closed so it boots from the wall switch.

"Not quite" is an understatement, that's a nearly brand new premium laptop. Isn't it a shocking waste to use such a thing for a server, and not - say - a Raspberry Pi 4? Like using a Porsche as a standing generator.

I actually used a raspberry Pi for a while as a Plex server but it's underpowered for transcoding.

I dont use that laptop at all these days so I put it to use there.

I had an r40 from 2003-2006. Shipped with XP, then I put Linux and later OpenBSD. I had to stop using it when the GPU soldering came loose. (I was able to fix it with a heat gun the first time. For a while. Then I gave up.)

Is it a collector thing? Do you use it or was it a fun project and now it’s idle?

I’m just playing. It will probably be idle before too long. The Linux box was used in anger for a couple of years.

I didn't imagine seeing a post about the 560E on HN, :) but here's some vintage Linux support and hardware notes: https://www.neilvandyke.org/linux-thinkpad-560e/

If you can't find replacement batteries, and you're willing to do the research to make sure you do it safely, you might be able to put new cells in an old battery.

Since (IIRC) you'll probably need PCMCIA for WiFi anyway, rather than getting past mini-PCIe allowlisting, there's less motivation to bring up Coreboot on it. But you could try. https://www.neilvandyke.org/coreboot/

The 560E was a fine machine, and probably close to the last best ThinkPad. A few ThinkPad models later, when I moved to the T60, I didn't like the T60 as much, including the keyboard and fit&finish. Still, today I transplant original T60 keyboards into somewhat newer ThinkPads (since, in the generation after the T60, the keyboard backing started flexing too much, and also, the key action otherwise doesn't seem as reliable). Another reason to find original T60 keyboards is that a lot of the new replacement keyboard parts now are very low-quality counterfeits, e.g., bad key action, and requiring multiple presses of a TrackPoint button to get one to register, on a new unit. (So bad, that cleaning 20 years of strangers' crumbs and dandruff out of an original keyboard starts to seem like even more of an attractive idea.)

I’d love to hear the modern “Be would have been better” case. Apple’s purchase / reverse acquisition of NeXT seems so obviously correct in retrospect.

Didn’t Steve Jobs carry around a ThinkPad running OpenStep (later Rhapsody?) the first few years he was back at Apple?

I think it might have been worth abandoning unix for a different paradigm. BeOS is one way that could have gone.. Even better I wish that plan9 had been taken as the basis of an OS with the backing of a big firm like Apple and serious commitment to developing it. (alas!)

(Author chiming in, you've given me an opportunity for one of my favorite sport-arguments)

I'll admit that even Jean-Louis Gassée (Former Mac head, Be founder) later said NeXT+Steve was the right choice (see: https://9to5mac.com/2011/11/11/gassee-thank-god-apple-chose-... ) - though he said it for personal reasons based on his contempt for Apple's management.

Some not-carefully-composed points of argument that Be might have been the right choice, because I like doing it for sport:

BeOS was truly a ground-up creation, OpenStep was a Display PostScript environment largely licensed from Adobe running on a hacked-up Mach with some BSD pieces pulled inside the kernel boundary to make performance acceptable (this is XNU, the kernel Apple still uses in everything). That had two points for Be - Apple had to replace the whole display layer, partly for licensing cost reasons and partly because developers weren't interested in dealing with the "Yellow Box" OpenStep API or being stuck in the "Blue Box" legacy compatibility jail. Equally or more important, BeOS was vastly more performant on the same hardware - doing the "the UI stays responsive while I'm playing a dozen media files back on this shitty Pentum MMX" stunt was always a blast around the turn of the century. BeOS was also naively SMP with a nifty and mostly pleasant thread model that has some advantages (and annoyances) over the dominant event loop way of things, but always remained responsive, while Apple inherited the spinning beach ball from NeXT.

For another big technical point that history actually agrees with me on, OpenStep used a passable UFS implementation (that Apple reverted to HFS+, which was already getting long in the tooth in the late 90s, apparently largely because Adobe wouldn't get their shit together to make their products run on a case-sensitive FS...), but BeFS was lovely in ways we're finally getting elsewhere 20+ years later - exactly so in fact, Apple eventually hired Dominic Giampaolo who designed BeFS to design APFS, and it really shows.

BeOS was also already suited for semi-embedded applications, both in various commercial multimedia gadgets, and also the BeIA internet appliance stuff. Since the bulk of modern NextStep-family devices are phones and tablets, there's no reason to think a Gasse/Be Apple wouldn't have thrived in this environment (I know, Palm borrowed Be parts for Palm OS Cobalt and didn't do well, but maybe they were already doomed by that time).

Also, Be was _profoundly_ personal, looking toward a "everyone has their own WebServer running their personal services" kind of future, rather than the "Everyone back into the ~~mainframe~~ major cloud provider" future we got, and I can't help but thinking having one of the big industry players not in the roach-motel platform game would have been good for society.

Jobs did in fact use a ThinkPad running OpenStep/Rhapsody builds around the time of the NeXT-buys-Apple-with-Apple's-Money situation. It was a 560 (not E), there is a NextComputers forum thread about it where Marc J. Driftmeyer who set up the machine Steve had at Macworld '97 talks about it http://www.nextcomputers.org/forums/index.php?topic=457.0 .

This is the first time I've heard of the "NeXT-buys-Apple-with-Apple's-Money" meme. That's hilarious! What's the back story behind that?

Reminds me of the old joke I heard years before I went to work at Kaleida, which then became my day-to-day reality:

Q: What do you get when you cross Apple and IBM?


The short version is most of Apple's management was replaced with NeXT folks within a few years, and the combined company behaved more like NeXT than Apple.

The degree to which Apple in the 90s was dysfunctional is pretty legendary, they started trying to replace the creaking 68k, cooperative multitasking hacked in after the fact classic Mac OS before 1988 and were still shipping what were supposed to be short-term life support releases until 2001 (...and really until 2002 because 10.0 on available hardware was miserable). They kept losing their replacement plans to development hell. A/UX was a nifty Mac/UNIX hybrid that came out in '88, and it was going to be the future, but was expensive (real UNIX license), deeply tied to 68k hardware, and the 4.0 PowerPC port never came out because it collapsed under the weight of "Build a combined OSF platform out of A/UX and (IBM's) AIX that takes over from both and rules the whole computing market" ambitions. That joint project also included Taligent, an OOP-platform-thing that is basically the benchmark for failed software development. There was also Copland, which was a separate in-house microkernel-based OS that was supposed to be MacOS 8, developed between '94-96... that the Platinum theme was the only survivor from.

I think part of the reason they _did_ go with NeXT is OpenStep looked a lot like the Pink/Taligent platform plan, but not bungled.

...I have a draft of a few-page humorous telling of the "How Apple and IBM spent 15 years failing to write OSes" story but I keep tweaking it and need to dig up my copy of _Apple: The Inside Story of Intrigue, Egomania, and Business Blunders_ to add a few references, and find some better reference material for the OS/2 fiasco between IBM and Microsoft that is one of the core "all this 90s tech industry dysfunction fits together" points most of the tellings miss.

Re: "BeOS was also already suited for semi-embedded applications, both in various commercial multimedia gadgets, and also the BeIA internet appliance stuff."; it's kind of funny to now be in a situation where Google's Fuchsia project has its origins in work done by ex-BeOS developers (Travis Geiselbrecht, etc.)

I'll bite, since I wasn't around at the time and am not deeply attached to either, but have some thoughts none-the-less for sport. I'm going to "flip" several of your points and "reword" them from the perspective of a dirty NeXT sympathizer ;)

OpenStep was built on top of a then rather battle hardened Objective-C toolchain and "IDE" which had been in development since the 80s, and was an open standard that would target both the Mach OS, Solaris, and Windows NT.

Mach 2 always shipped with a full BSD kernel running as a server -- the modifications were such that BSD would request resources like memory and process time from the mach kernel. This is why for many years Mach based systems kicked the butts of other BSDs. While CSRG's BSD kept its awful virtual memory system from VAX that crapped out after 30-40 MB of address space, Mach's VM system was scalable and performant.

(Mach 3 and above were "more proper", and indeed Darwin's combination of OSF/1's Mach derivative and 4.4BSD-lite's kernel/userland was for performance reasons.)

Mach also gave NeXT a threading model, something absent from BSD. It is exploited by the objective-C framework and the driver layer natively.


Because of its BSD roots, NeXT shipped with support for multiple users (something Haiku still lacks real support for to this day, with everything "Be" related stuck under a single user, although the underlying "not-unix-but-POSIX" layer does support it), and a mature BSD sockets library, along with its own (horrific, but there!) interpretation of domain services, NetInfo.

Be shipped with a pseudo-unix environment, with a fair amount of POSIX represented, and a bash shell and GNU utilities preinstalled, albeit lacking any concept of users or permissions...

And to me that's the kicker -- both OSes intentionally had "UNIX layers", Be's was just home-grown and lacked features compared to OpenStep's "4.4BSD but with patches and significantly enhanced resource handling" environment, with much greater software compatibility as a result.

NeXT had the advantage of being an older piece of software, with a much greater depth of "backwards compatibility" while also having a fairly well designed native framework with a well-represented stack of native software. If I was given some (ridiculous) mission of building <x> desktop OS from either BeOS R5's kernel/low level userland or some late release of Open/Rhapsody/Darwin, it'd be a no-brainer to me.

(as a final thought, it's curious you'd mention running a personal web server as an example, when the first web server was developed on NeXT)

(I also ignored Be's filesystem because it is, frankly, superior, however I believe it's not enough by itself to change the merit of the entire OS, since its value either depends on developer buy-in or how much utility it gives to the OS shell, and OS X implemented similar features within Finder using indexers and databases. Ugly, but if it works...)

Would they have done much worse with BeOs though?

Wow. I had a 560Z, which was the same form factor but with different options. I'm completely unsurprised that some still exist in great shape, because those machines were insanely overengineered. Mine showed no real wear after 2.5 years of daily use including no small amount of travel, and by that point it had stopped being appealing as a work platform.

It was actually my last daily-driver Windows machine. I was working mostly in Office apps at the time, and Win95/98 was just GARBAGE on a laptop. You couldn't reliably sleep. It crashed all the time. Eventually, it drove me to buy a Mac, based on the experiences of one of my business partners. This was pre-OSX, so the OS was only about 30% more stable than Win95, but sleep worked EVERY TIME, and the whole system was more responsive.

Then the dot-com crash happened, and OS X happened, and I went back to coding as a solo act.

But I sure have fond memories of that 560Z.

Imagine using a computer for, I don't know... Work or something. Typing a letter? Spreadsheets? Tax software, not taking. Seems like you could do all that and more on this.

Certainly with 80MB of memory you could do all that and more. This machine is more capable in most respects than the machine that was on my desk when that was supposedly a scientific workstation. With 80MB this laptop can easily run Pro/ENGINEER, AutoCAD, Maple, Mathematica, MATLAB, almost anything.

mSATA to IDE adapters in a ‘2.5” replacement’ are widely available and I’d prefer those to a SD card adapter over concerns about wear leveling.

I had one of those almost 20 years ago. It was already old by then so I install BeOS on it and used it for a while to play movies.

Now I regret that I got rid of it when it didn't boot. :(

I operated a 570 for a few years, back around 2006. I don't remember how I decided to get one, but it could run Win2K, my preferred OS at the time, and had a USB port. At the time I was doing most of my work through SSH and X sessions... Firefox ran but it was slow. I remember sending the original battery pack off to get rebuilt -- they probably weren't expecting such an antique!

Wow, I never thought of seeing the 560E on the frontpage of HN. I still have mine to play old win9x and DOS games. Runs Windows 98SE perfectly, on its original HDD and is still just a joy to use. Had to transfer most of my old games to it via IrDA, long before i finally bought a USB PCMCIA-Card. Never had the external floppy drive though...

>"Initially the battery was reporting itself dead, as you would expect for a 23 year old battery. On a whim I tried the “briefly near-short the battery with a continuity tester in both directions and see if it will take a charge” thing while I was probing to see if it showed any potential (it did, around 6v) – I got lucky, not only did it not catch fire, the original battery now charges to “full” and holds a nontrivial charge, it claims an hour or two in the battery meter which isn’t far from original claimed endurance."

Interesting! A technique for reviving (well, enough to boot and run!) apparently dead laptop batteries... I did not know this was possible!

It is neither reliable nor guaranteed safe. I have an MSEE and can't explain to my own satisfaction why it sometimes works. The only thing I've read that makes sense is that it resets the protection circuitry after an undervoltage or other lock-out event.

I had a 560X (233MHz Pentium MMX) that I loved. I was really into Squeak at the time and did a lot of hacking with it. The keyboard eventually fell apart, so I was surprised he found a usable one.

On a slightly related note, fun tip. If you have a ‘dead’ laptop or mobile phone battery that’s too dead to even recharge.. I have ‘jumpstarted’ some by connecting to a li-ion cordless drill battery for a few minutes.

I’ve managed to get a few old mobile phones back to life using this method.

Edit: as a safety note this is not recommended! Please read some of the comments below!

This is, in general, a bad idea.

Lithium battery charge circuits generally have a fully charged voltage (about 4.2v), a fully discharged voltage (about 3.2v), and a 'do not attempt to recharge below this' voltage (about 2.4v).

The reason circuits are designed not to recharge a cell below the 2.4v threshold is because when you recharge below that voltage, gasses are typically generated which eventually (many months later usually) burst the plastic envelope of the battery, and the battery electrolyte then evaporates as a highly flammable gas, killing the battery and potentially starting a fire if there is a nearby ignition source.

TL:DR:. 'dead' batteries refuse to charge for safety reasons, and tricks to bypass that safety mechanism might lead to a fire a few months down the line.

Appreciate the explanation, not information that’s readily found when you search explanations on dead batteries.

I believe this can work but please be careful doing this! Tool batteries are capable of supplying very high peak current and could cause a small fire. Lithium ion battery fires are not trivial, water alone may not be enough to stop it.

Good point - I didn’t add a disclaimer, not recommended! And probably not a fun tip but nonetheless saved my bacon a few times when I needed quick access to devices.

I've done this stunt a couple times, it worked on one device and caused the battery to puff up badly in the other. Much better to do this via a lab power supply limited to a hundred or so milliamps, or fake one with a 5v USB supply and a 47ish ohm resistor in series... Monitor visually until at 3v or so, then charge using original device. Then keep the device in a fireproof area or bag until you get a new battery.

I like to use an explosion-proof pie tin.

My iPad's currently in a metal tin in the garage (concrete floor, well away from anything flammable) after I bent it a few days ago[1] until I can get it repaired. I suspect I'd know by now if the battery was damaged, but I don't really want to leave it in the house overnight.

[1] Forgot it was there and put some stuff down on it - there's now about a 20° degree bend in the middle of the long side that goes about half way across the back. Somehow, the screen didn't break.

What flavor of pie is the most explosion-proof? Or do you take the pie out?


You’ll need at least one B-class fire extinguisher to put out this fire, in case any of you decide to play your hand at setting a battery aflame.

> It was listed as “No HDD” which was visibly a lie because this thing still has its screw cover stickers intact

I’m trying to understand why anyone would lie about not having a hard disk. Is there some rule on the auction website that hard disks must have been removed or wiped?

Seller not knowing combined with common approach of removing hard drives to either sell separately or because of data wiping. The CMOS battery error could have confused the final seller.

It's quite often that such finds come through multiple hands, and by the time it hits eBay/whatever the seller has no idea what they are selling except maybe for what's written on labels and can be decided in 5 minutes from looking at the wares :)

That's how I bought my (former now) AlphaStation 255/233, I noticed the case being sold as "old server case for use as HTPC" :)

This. Goodwill's policy is, AFIK, a "reasonable measures to wipe" so once they saw it fail to POST and no obvious HDD caddy they just listed.

I had a 600E! It was my very first laptop, and I learned Flash 4 (of Macromedia era) on it. It stood out so much against its contemporaries and made me a ThinkPad fan to this day.

In high school I ran Plan 9 on a 600E I found on ebay. The specs were plenty fast enough to run the fourth edition of Plan 9, which hadn't gotten any slower since the early 90s... and Bell Labs had thoroughly worked out the driver kinks on that machine. I was even able to join wifi networks through the PCMCIA card, which was also supported by Plan 9. Pretty fun to be running a fully graphical Unix successor on native hardware with what probably is a fraction of SLOC compared to most stripped down embedded Linux systems you'll find today. When something went south you could just peak at the kernel source code, and even on a Pentium II it would compile the changed objects in less than a minute! And not even knowing C that well at the time, I made several functional changes to the system. I can't imagine being that cavalier on Linux today over a decade later....

To this day I'm not sure I've used a laptop that has as nice a form factor. Especially wonderful was the tactile feel of the keyboard.

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