The big problem with the thing is that it doesn't have any built-in networking ability. Hell, the design of this thing predates WiFi! The 802.11 standard was released in 1997 and as I said I bought this thing in 1998; because it wasn't brought down from on high by an archangel it had to have been in development before 802.11 was released. Besides, it was a budget laptop (at a time when "budget" in laptops meant around $1,200) so it wouldn't have had the latest and greatest networking features anyway.
In fact, in 1998, you couldn't expect to hook up to an Ethernet port while traveling; hotels didn't have in-room networking. That's why this laptop instead has a modem. So in order to connect to an Ethernet port I had to buy an Ethernet PCMCIA card (what we now call a PC card) which had a dongle that plugged into it, and thus I could establish a 10-BaseT connection (10 Mbit) to an Ethernet network.
Anyway, so Og wants the machine for its legacy capabilities, such as its built-in RS-232 port and floppy drive, so I wanted to see if there was any old data on it before wiping it and handing it over. I got it out, plugged it in, and turned it on, and mirabile visu it booted right up. Good old Windows 98! It asked permission to set daylight saving time, and the calendar reported the right time and date, so I hit "okay" and let it finish booting. Right into Win98; we were partying like it's 1999 here at the bunker!
...except that--as predicted--the computer cannot recognize a USB hard drive. "Unidentified device", it says, and asks me where the drivers are. Well, that's Win98 for you; it was the first Windows to have native USB support but it's not what you'd call "robust". Win98 has support for USB 1.0 built in and USB 1.0 ain't anything to write home about. For one thing, the ability to auto-install drivers from the USB device when it's plugged in was something that didn't really work all that well until USB 2.0 came along.
So I shut the thing down and thought, "I'll just have to hook it up to the switch." This was when I remembered this computer hasn't got an Ethernet port on it and thought several bad words. Especially since I'm pretty certain I recycled the old PCMCIA Ethernet card years ago.
But then I remembered something else: I had recently found my external hard drive interface and--I was certain!--it supports the miniature IDE interface that 2.5" IDE hard drives have. All I had to do--theoretically--was to take the HDD out of the laptop, plug it into the interface, and off we go to the races. Right?
Problem: Compaq just loved to use Torx screws in their products, and this laptop was no exception...but at least they actually had the sense to make a provision for using a flat-head screwdriver if Torx was not available. I have the right size Torx driver, but it won't fit in the screw holes, so I availed myself of my assortment of jeweler's screwdrivers and got the HDD out of the unit.
It plugged into the interface, the interface plugged into the PC and powered up, and almost instantly there was the old laptop's HDD, right there on my desktop. So I've copied the data to the computer's HDD, and now I'm making a second copy to a DVD-R. Then I can erase the stuff Og doesn't need.
I'm actually glad that Og spoke up about this. I felt a little bad about the idea of recycling the old girl. It was the most expensive computer I ever owned, and because of that I took very good care of it. It looks almost like new; it's a bit dusty and dirty but otherwise looks largely like it did when it came out of the box in November of 1998. And everything works except the battery. (It never did really have much battery life, though.)
...and the $20 he's paying me for the computer covers most of the cost of the new motorcycle chain I ordered last night.