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2 IBM AT's and a DataTrain

Super-Slasher

Experienced Member
Joined
Jun 21, 2003
Messages
222
Location
Ontario, Canada... the frosty north.
Anyways, three weeks ago I had a literal truck-load of old PC's given to me. I didn't know much about legacy computers aside from the Apple's and Altair's, and at first viewing the two dissassembled AT's amoung the pile, the size of their cases led me to bileve they were servers, possibly!

After giving away what I didn't want/didn't work from the huge pile I had, I was left with a working 8MHz/12MHz DataTrain and two AT's lying in pieces, including an original IBM AT keyboard and color monitor with adjustable pitch stand. Finally realizing what a gem of legacy computing I did have in my possession, I set out learning about and restoring them to working condition.

It took me three weeks to fish out all of the startup/setup errors, get myself some 5.25" floppies, and get those infernal MFM full height HDD's to actually work. Sadly I could only get one working, as the other's controller card is kaput, but I still have hopes for it as well.

ibm-at.txt


The top AT is the working one. 256/512K 6MHz system board from 1984, running MS-DOS v6.22, with a 1.2MB floppy drive, one Seagate 20MB HDD and one IBM 30MB HDD, also with ethernet card and (coming soon) a Kraft CAD joystick with card, mouse and SCSI sound card. The bottom AT is from 1985, 512K 8MHz system board with a Seagate 30MB HDD and 1.2MB floppy drive. It's a working system board with a replacement Intel power supply unit - I still haven't decided if I want to obtain a working controller card and get that one working as well, or give it to another vintage PC nut who would give it a good home. My main goal is to get the working one on the Intenet (possibly on IRC), play some games on it and find a CAD program to go with my joystick. The DataTrain under the monitor is my work computer, mainly used for transferring files from my up-to-date PC to 1.44MB floppy, to 360KB floppy, to the IBM.

The hardest part of the restoration, by far, was getting those infernal MFM drives to work properly! The majority of the time spent fixing it was spent in vain trying to remedy the recognition errors with FDISK (more useless than any other MS product, as far as I'm concerned). A copy of Disk Manager made an hours job only 5 minutes long and made the drives useable - no surface errors or bad sectors whatsoever! The IBM drive is a bit on the noisy side when winding up (sounds like a jet engine but adds to the character of the AT, I find).

The DataTrain was a very simple restoration - blew the dust out, formatted the HD and installed MS-DOS v6.22. Unfortunately the HD (40MB) has alot of bad sectors (almost 20MB in total). I would like to replace it, but I haven't yet mastered what different kinds of hard drives are compatable with HD types and such. Not an issue now, anyways, as long as it works.

Not bad for getting them free, huh? I'm sure glad I got them. It's been a real adventure learning about the ol' PC's and getting them running again.
 

barryp

Experienced Member
Joined
Jun 20, 2003
Messages
351
Location
Cary, North Carolina
Re: 2 IBM AT's and a DataTrain

Super-Slasher said:
The hardest part of the restoration, by far, was getting those infernal MFM drives to work properly! The majority of the time spent fixing it was spent in vain trying to remedy the recognition errors with FDISK (more useless than any other MS product, as far as I'm concerned). A copy of Disk Manager made an hours job only 5 minutes long and made the drives useable - no surface errors or bad sectors whatsoever!

Your major problem was probably that you had two things to do:
First select the right type of drive in CMOS. Modern computers now have just "User Defined" and the IDE interface makes it easy. The BIOS talks to the drive and saves the configuration. OnTrack's Disk Manager version 5.0 is my favorite. The later versions that I have are manufacturer-specific.

Super-Slasher said:
The DataTrain was a very simple restoration - blew the dust out, formatted the HD and installed MS-DOS v6.22. Unfortunately the HD (40MB) has alot of bad sectors (almost 20MB in total). I would like to replace it, but I haven't yet mastered what different kinds of hard drives are compatable with HD types and such. Not an issue now, anyways, as long as it works.

If the drive type isn't set correctly, you can have exactly that type of problem.

CMOS contains the CHS (# of Cylinders or tracks, # of Heads, and # of Sectors per track) geometry configuration. What is the MFG & Model# of the 40MB drive?
 

WayneT

New Member
Joined
Mar 22, 2005
Messages
8
Re: 2 IBM AT's and a DataTrain

Super-Slasher said:
I still haven't decided if I want to obtain a working controller card and get that one working as well, or give it to another vintage PC nut who would give it a good home.

I'd be very interested in one of the PC/AT's if you still need to find a good home for it; I'm looking for one, as well as an XT and a Compaq Deskpro 386/33 (or 386/25) in good clean shape. Please keep me in mind....

Regards,
WayneT
 
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