|PC Mag, November 1995
"The first notebook that can equal, and in some cases exceed the abilities of a desktop PC"-PC Mag, December 1995
The ThinkPad 700 series traditionally represented the pinnacle of IBM's mobile technology, shoehorning lengthy wishlists of features once reserved for high-end desktops and workstations into a powerful, portable package. The 760CD was no exception to this rule, carrying a Pentium-90, a 1.2GB hard drive, a CD-ROM drive, a 12.1-inch 800x600 color display, and even hardware MPEG decoding for seamless video playblack. These impressive features, of course, came with an $8000+ price tag to match it.
The 760CD was not the first Thinkpad with CD-ROM capability; that distinction, as well as that of the first CD-equipped laptop to hit the market, belongs to the earlier 755CD.
Aside from hardware specifications, the 760CD also incorporated design features like a keyboard that rises and tilts forward when the lid is opened for more comfortable typing and an LCD indicator on the keyboard that shows battery life in the form of a percentage or time remaining estimate.
Although the 8 pound, 3 ounce 760CD is already a fully fledged desktop replacement, a number of docking options, such as the Thinkpad Dock I/II and the massive SelectaDock could add additional features such as onboard SCSI, sound, multiple hard drives, 5.25'' drives, and even fullsized ISA/PCI expansion slots, further extending the utility of the system.
The Guide's 760CD:
- Intel Pentium 90 with 256K external L2 cache
- 8 MB of RAM soldered to mainboard + 2 additional expansion slots, one with a 32MB module
- 1.2GB IBM Travelstar XP EIDE hard drive
- Trident Cyber9320 graphics controller with 1MB RAM
- MWave DSP audio/modem chipset
- MS-DOS 6.22 + Windows 3.1
Setting up the system
After removing the existing Windows 98 install on the machine, the installation of MS-DOS was straightforward. No special drivers or software needed, and the system will perform basic tasks without any fuss. However, if you wish to install Windows 3.1 on a 760CD, you might find it a little challenging.
The problem, as always, is the availability of drivers. Lenovo's page for 760 drivers is, at best, sparse. And anyone installing Windows 3.1 with unsupported hardware is greeted with a bland, 640x480x16 display that, in the case of the 760CD, looks terrible because of the non-native resolution. Luckily, there are quite a few mirrors of IBM's PC BBS, which hosted hundreds of drivers for IBM systems through the '90s. The Video Features Diskette I (that can also be used on a number of other models) for Windows 3.1 is necessary to get full use of the 760CD's exquisite 800x600 display.
Getting audio support on a DOS/3.1 760 requires a number of disks that can also be found on the BBS. The MWave 2.24 drivers for the 760CD also support a number of other 760 models as well as much of the 755 series.
The MWave drivers, and its MIDI components, require 9 diskettes to install. If you lack that amount, as I did, you can simply re-write the same diskette every time a new one is requested. The following files are self-extracting and self-writing files, just run them on a 32-bit machine with a floppy drive.
- main driver - disk 1
- main driver - disk 2
- main driver - disk 3
- MIDI - disk 1 - unsure of this one
- MIDI - disk 2
- MIDI - disk 3
- MIDI - disk 4
- MIDI - disk 5
- MIDI - disk 6
The MWave DSP is SB compatible and should run most (but not all) SB software. I've found getting sound on games like Doom and Wolfenstein rather difficult in straight DOS, while Wolfenstein will run perfectly in Windows and Doom will play music but no effects when run in Windows. Games like Need for Speed will not run with sound in either Windows (where it doesn't run at all) or in DOS.
Finally, if you plan on running a few games, UniVBE is recommended, as the driver package didn't have much in the way of VESA support.
As a general-purpose DOS machine, the 760CD performs admirably as one should expect from such a high-dollar machine. It is capable of running games like Doom and The Need For Speed at good framerates, however SB support in these games has so far proven to be flaky at best. Doom will play music, but only when run through Windows 3.1. TNFS refuses to play any sounds at all, and fails to detect the VESA drivers when I attempt to run it in Windows.
Basic multitasking operations like running multiple Microsoft Office windows is perfectly doable with the machine's huge RAM compliment, and the spacious 1.2 GB hard drive allows for plenty of storage for any 3.1/DOS software I come across. Overall, the 760CD is an excellent performer.
The many bells and whistles and excellent IBM quality make the 760CD a great portable DOS/3.x workstation and something worthy of any collector's consideration. However, compatibility problems and hard-to-find drivers and software packages can make the system a pain to set up for a beginner.
Links and Articles
- November 1995 PC Mag First Look (second page) (on Google Books)
PC Magazine's first look and review of the 760CD.
- December 1995 PC Mag Technical Excellence Award (on Google Books)
PC Magazine's technical excellence award for the 760CD.
- January 1996 Popular Science (on Google Books)
Small Popular Science article about mobile multimedia systems, mentions the 760CD and some competitors.
- IBM PC BBS mirror (on oldskool.org)
All kinds of drivers for all kinds of IBM systems. Thinkpad-related files are in the "mobiles" directory.
- IBM PC BBS mirror (on mmnt.net)
Same mirror, different site.