So I always had a weak spot for vintage computing and nostalgia, and I always wanted an extraordinary old machine. My first idea was the old Sony VAIO PCG-C1VE. Rare, expensive nowadays and not many places to be found. :(
So my second favourite was the Toshiba Libretto. Also an ultra portable, old and not rare. Just slightly uncommon. The Libretto 50/70/100/110 series can be found with a 6.1 to 7.1 inch screen. Super small for it’s era (1996-1999)! Look at the sleek sexyness of a ’90s netbook:
But which one would I buy? Let’s look at the specs of the devices I wish to hunt down:
- Libretto 50 Intel Pentium 75 MHz 16 MB RAM (32 MB max) 810 MB hard disk 6.1″ TFT display
- Libretto 70 Intel Pentium 120 MHz MMX 16 MB RAM (32 MB max) 1.6 GB hard disk 6.1″ TFT display
- Libretto 100 Intel Pentium 166 MHz MMX 32 MB RAM (64 MB max) 2.1 GB hard disk 7.1″ TFT display
- Libretto 110 Intel Pentium 233 MHz MMX 32 MB RAM (64 MB max) 4.3 GB hard disk 7.1″ TFT display
The Libretto 110/100 seems just perfect, 32MB RAM, possibility to upgrade. And enough CPU power to play most old games. I am rather concerned the 50/70 will be too low on memory.
Ebay is the only source I could find em these days. However they won’t come too cheap. I bought one (with port replicator and PCMCIA floppy drive) off ebay for £49 (€ 59,67).
So one week later, I am the happy owned of a brand new used Toshiba Libretto 110CT:
A nice looking, Libretto in good condition. Just a few dirt spots, nothing a little bit of soda, water and some cleaning products wont fix.The screen is still quite bright, lucky me! There are some models on ebay which have yellowish/green dim screens due to age. But mine seems to be crisp bright.
Time to boot it up and inspect my purchase:
Perfect! This model seems to have Windows NT installed on it. However it seems to be password protected, and I want to peek around to see what drivers and software I can salvage off this Libretto.
No biggie, let’s hack it.
Cracking Windows NT (optional)
Step 1: Grab a Windows 98/95/NT 4.0 boot disk. As Windows NT 4.0 usually is installed on an NTFS file system you need to add it to your boot disk. (See below for download link)
Step2: Boot off the floppy and navigate to C:\WINNT\SYSTEM32\CONFIG\SAM . Copy this file to a floppy and upload it to a regular modern PC.
Step3: Cracking the SAM file. The windows SAM file contains all users and their password which are stored on the machine. However we don’t need to crack em all, if one administrator account is fairly light secured we can use this to open up all other accounts.
Use SAMInside to start brute focring the password file.
Bingo! First administrator password found. No need to crack the others, just login with the first administrator account. Open a command prompt (Run > ‘cmd’) and type the command
net use Administrator
Voila, access granted.
Time to look at the installed drivers and copy the OEM NT4 key in case I want to reinstall NT4 in the future. However the OS partition structure is in such a poor state it needs a reinstall and repartition.
Off we go, time to format!
Choosing a new OS
So my operating system which was preinstalled (NT4) seemed to be an ok choice for the little Libretto which sports only 32Mb of RAM. Indeed it might be a secure OS for companies back in those days. However for my gaming needs I don’t like it. It’s sluggish and a RAM hog. The original Libretto’s 110 and 100 came with Windows 95, and my 110CT seems to have a sticker on it saying it supports Windows NT and 98. Let’s compare:
– 386DX or higher processor (486 recommended)
– 4 megabytes (MB) of memory (8 MB recommended)
– Typical hard disk space required to install Windows 95 on a clean system: 50-55 MB The actual requirement varies depending on the features you choose to install.
– 486DX 66 megahertz (MHz) or faster processor (Pentium central processing unit recommended).
– 16 megabytes (MB) of memory (24 MB recommended).
– A full install of Windows 98 on a FAT16 drive requires 225 MB of free hard disk space, but may range from between 165 MB and 355 MB, depending on your computer configuration and that options that you choose to install.
Windows NT 4 Workstation
– 486DX 33 megahertz (MHz) or higher processor.
– 12 megabytes (MB) of memory (32 MB recommended).
– The requirement for the free hard disk space that is needed to install Windows NT Workstation is 110MB.
Clearly Windows 95 has the edge here. It doesn’t uses too much RAM and it is new enough for the games I am wishing to run. RAM is the only issue with these old PC’s, the Libretto 110CT packs enough CPU power compared the amount of RAM ( I wish I could find a 32Mb stick somewhere cheap :( ). So Windows 95 it is.
SAMInside: saminside.zip (3,75MB)
NTFS DOS: NtfsDos302.zip (40,0KB)