View Full Version : Is there a wireless card which will work on a really old notebook?

12-08-2005, 06:50 PM
I have one particular ancient notebook, and I'd like to try to add wireless 802.11b, just to see if it can work on something this old. It's an IBM Thinkpad 380E. Specs: No USB ports, two old-style PCMCIA ports(16-bit, so CardBus cards wil not fit), 150MHz MMX Pentium I, 2GB hard-drive and 48MB of RAM.

I looked at a local CompUSA and the only thing I found was a PCMCIA D-Link card for $20, but the system requirements were listed as 32MB of RAM and 300MHz minimum for the CPU.

I've found a few cards of various brands on sale at Amazon, but it's been difficult finding the system requirements. Should I go ahead and take a chance on the D-Link card, or does someone here know of some other brand which is known to work on a notebook which is this ancient(e.g., Belkin, Netgear, etc.)?


12-08-2005, 06:54 PM
Good luck. It seems like if your system is more than a year old, none of the new stuff works well :-\

The are several members here who are pretty techy so maybe they can share some wisdom.


12-08-2005, 07:29 PM
I think the only only way you might be able to get that thing to go wireless is to get a standard 10/100 PCMCIA card for it, and try and find a wireless bridge like the ones used in some hotels. I don't think a wireless card is made for something that old.

12-09-2005, 05:24 AM
Old laptops drag you down.

You can get a new Compaq with built-in 802.11g and everything you need for $700. Pop in another 256MB for $50 and you're ready for 2006.

Here's a site with good info on donating/recycling your old laptop:

12-09-2005, 05:14 PM
If you're still running windows 95 or lower ( a guess since the machine is so old) You probably won't have much luck with the D-Link card. Thisd time of year you can score something new at a very reasonable price. It's hard to find ANYTHING upgrade-wise that will work with a machine that old.

Casual Observer
12-11-2005, 03:47 PM
Anything not running WinXP will have one hell of a time running wireless, hardware specs be damned.

You can get some good used R40 ThinkPads on eBay for around $400-$600, which have Wireless B built-in (Centrino). Save yourself the hassle.

12-15-2005, 08:51 AM
I should have mentioned before, and forgot, that this machine is running the dsl (damn small linux) OS. I've done a lot of internet searches over the last three days and did find several PCMCIA cards still available for sale. Several of which are listed as working "out of the box" with DSL. The best price I've found would be a grand total of approximately $30 for both an 802.11b PCMCIA card and a refurbished 802.11b router. So not really much to gamble, even if it doesn't work. And even if the actual total might be a little bit higher.

Btw, I do plan on donating this machine eventually, but I'm waiting to buy a new Intel-based Apple iBook or Powerbook next year. Basically so I can set the machine up for a triple boot into either Mac OS 10.4 (Tiger), XP or Debian Linux. I just hope there will be no objections to receiving a donated machine with Linux installed on it instead of Windows.