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IBM Thinkpad 560

In 2009 I had the brilliant idea to give my collection of old DOS games a new life by installing them on a dedicated laptop that was typical of the pre-millennial era.

This IBM 560 Thinkpad (Type 2640-TFW) was donated by a colleague on 13. May 2009.

IBM 560N with huge power brick

User's Guide | Hardware Maintenance Manual | Large views: Outside | Inside

It soon turned out to be ideal as a "play station" for my stash of old DOS games because it was fanless and robust. It was also lightweight because it was missing the main battery pack.

Keyboard removed, battery missing

Further weight was saved by its lack of removable media drives which made it a minor nuisance to "install" the games on the laptop; I had to use another machine and a USB/IDE adapter to transfer them across. Trusty MS-DOS 5.0 became the OS of choice, and printouts of my tried and tested CONFIG.SYS + AUTOEXEC.BAT settings were referred to for memory optimisation.

The empty slot for the battery pack was filled up by a small block of wood that I painted black.

The main specifications are:

· 120MHz Intel Pentium CPU (P54CS)
· 24MB RAM (8MB onboard, 1 x 16MB DIMM)
· 810MB IBM DSOA-20810 hard drive (made by Hitachi in May 1996)
· 12.1-inch 800 x 600 TFT display (with brightness control slider)
· SBPro-compatible ESS1688 sound card (with rotary volume control)
· 2 x PCMCIA slots
· 1 x external floppy drive connector
· 1 x infrared + VGA + LPT + COM + PS2 port each
· an exceptionally long power cord!

With the machine booting and the games moved across it was just a matter of configuring them accordingly before digging into the past through old, classic games and other programs.

Despite the German keyboard layout (which often made me hunt and peck for the \ and ¦ keys), the device was wonderfully solid and a joy to play with. It ran as smooth as would be expected with software that was written for 286- to 486-class CPUs -- except for one major disappointment: "Wing Commander" was unplayably fast. I've lost count of the hours laying in bed herding Lemmings or shooting up Castle Wolfenstein during bouts of nostalgia since 2011.

The wife, meanwhile, did the same -- except she played modern games on a tablet with superior graphics capabilities. SVGA suddenly seemed so pithy. Neither can compare to a real PlayStation.

The end of its useful life was signalled in January 2018 once I completed "Duke Nukem 3D".

It's been fun but into the trash it goes.

This page last updated: 11-02-2018 | Related blog post