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I Need Suggestions for an Older Computer

Hey everyone,

I need a little bit of advice here with an older computer that I bought at a garage sale the other week.

OK, basically, the computer that I'm having troubles with is a 386 20MHz desktop PC. Currently, there is a 5 1/4" floppy drive, a 3 1/2" floppy drive, and has a 5 1/4" hard drive, that it doesn't want to boot to (it's not being recognized in BIOS either).

I'm not sure if that's the problem with this machine, as in nearly every older computer (like this one) there is a key slot where you turn a key to turn something on or off, as I read on this Computer Hope entry, that key can be used to turn on or off access to a hard drive ??

I can only use this machine to boot into a word processing program off of a floppy disk, though I don't know what I can do with this machine now.

I can't change the hard drive as it uses a very old connector, older than anything that I have lying around as parts. I want to use this machine for something, I don't want it to sit around and clutter up space. It's like 20lbs of equipment there.

The only reason why I bought this (along with a lot other stuff) was because it was dirt cheap. Came with a 14" CRT monitor, a dot-matrix printer, keyboard, and mouse, all for $5.00.

Thank you all in advance. Please participate in this topic as I am in need of a bit of help here. Smile

- Mike.
Hard drive is most likely dead. There's not much use for something that old anymore. I used to work at a computer store 4-5 years ago and we just threw out 486s and didn't even bother keeping them. Now it's probably to the point where p2s aren't even worth keeping imho.

If you want to mess around with it you can probably find some part lots on ebay with some of the stuff you need, but you'll have to find something with a decent shipping price, maybe around $20 or so.
Yep so cheap and slow now there not worth it, you can pick up a pentium 3 for a few quid on ebay that will do the job better.

The pentium 1 and 2's hardly sell on ebay anymore people just scrap them.
There may be main reasons to keep that old of a computer, especial if its free. However if I came across something newer for the same price or less (ie free) then I would scrap it.

I am an amateur radio operator myself, and a computer like this would power a packet radio terminal, keep a contact log, do simple word processing, etc..

There are many other nitch groups that could use it as well.

There should be two wires runing up to the key lock. With the computer off, you could try sniping them off the key side, stipping the ends, and tying them together. Depending on how its attached to the motherboard, you might just be able to unplug it and put a spare jumper block where it connected.

Is the harddrive jumper set to master? Is the cable connecting to the hard drive reversed? Is the hard drive cable seated firmly on the motherboard?
Is the harddrive setup in the bios?

These are just a few things for you to check.

Cheers Dave on following up on that. I'm not exactly sure what the thing is like right now, currently it's stuffed in my closet doing nothing. I will unbury the machine tomorrow and test what you've listed to see what it will do.

The reason why I bought the machine in the first place is because of the history of what computers has evolved into. It's interesting in seeing what things were like many years ago to how they are now.

That computer wasn't at all a complete waste, as the keyboard that came with it sold for about $120 on eBay when I listed it on there about a month ago. Surprised

- Mike.
Just wanted to keep everyone informed on what happened.

Ok, I just tried what was suggested but that did nothing. It looks like the hard drive is bad. They're selling replacements for that type of computer all the way up the wazoo on eBay, so I don't think the computer is worth the effort any more. First thing I tried is I took apart the switch to try to switch it to the 2 positions to see what happened, but when I tried doing that, the switch fell apart in my hand. Then I unplugged the cable from the motherboard and put jumpers on where the cable would go, that didn't work, then I cut the wires and spliced them together to see if that would work. It didn't. I got the computer at a garage sale for $15 with a 14" CRT monitor (which I gave away to a friend), the keyboard I sold on eBay for about $120, and a serial mouse with no ball in it. So I might just throw the machine away as everything inside of it is too old for what I would need. Thanks to all who participated in helping me solve this issue, but I don't think it's worth the effort any more.

- Mike.
I think the most likely reason is that your Hard Disk has crashed. I used to work on a 486 computer some years ago and the problem occured to me several times. Later, I found out that my Hark Disk had crashed and could do nothing about it.
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