What to Do with a PS/2?

Mark J. Blair nf6x at nf6x.net
Mon Jan 25 00:29:40 CST 2016

To my surprise, I found something just barely old enough to interest me on the e-waste pile at work: An IBM PS/2 85 from around 1993 or so. The hard drive is long gone and it didn't include a keyboard, but it did come with a model 8516 touch screen display and original mouse. I already had a nice Model M to plug into it, plus some scsi2sd adapters sitting around waiting for projects like this one.

I'm new to the PS/2 line, but after some poking around I found images of the reference and diagnostic disks necessary to set this machine up. I also found the ADF file needed for the Cabletron ethernet card in it. The machine has 12M of parity RAM, with one SIMM slot pair still open. It has a 2.88M 3.5" floppy and a 1.2M 5.25" floppy. The 5.25" floppy is a motor-eject style which I haven't encountered before. This model has a 486SX 33MHz CPU, and the math coprocessor socket is empty. Aside from a bunch of dust that I cleaned out, it's in pretty nice cosmetic shape. This particular model was intended for duty as a server.

I've been posting pictures of the machine on Twitter over the last few days, starting on 1/21/2016:


I replaced the CMOS battery (conveniently, a CR2032 coin cell, available at the local supermarket), reconfigured the CMOS settings, set up a scsi2sd as four emulated 512M SCSI hard drives, milled a pair of generic PC hard drive mounting rails to length for use in a PS/2, and installed MS-DOS 6.22 on it. OS/2 2.0 would probably be more appropriate for this machine, but I don't have it. I see original OS/2 2.0 boxes in the shrink wrap on eBay, but eBay and I are seeing other people at this time.

Well, I seem to have it fully working aside from not having suitable software installed to test out the touch screen and networking card. The monitor sometimes makes a bit of high-pitch whine which by some miracle I can still hear. Younger folks might find it objectionable. I wonder if it would be effective as a child repellant? :) Thankfully, it doesn't seem to set my dogs to howling.

And now that it is cleaned up and working, I have no clue about what to do with it! I just didn't want to see it go to the landfill or end up as toxic dust in some poor guy's lungs in India, so I got permission and then carted it home. I am not normally interested in PC-family machines, but actual IBM ones interest me a bit. And the countless ways IBM found to make the PS/2 line incompatible with regular PC lines give me things to bitch about, and that in turn gives my life purpose. :)

So, would any of y'all like to help me brainstorm about interesting applications for this vintage heap, or maybe point me towards non-eBay sources of software that it would like to run?

Mark J. Blair, NF6X <nf6x at nf6x.net>

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