1989 – Toshiba T3200SX

Direct Access 5.1 running on a Toshiba T3200SX

Direct Access 5.1 running on a Toshiba T3200SX

This great portable machine has been a mainstay in my collection for quite a while now. It’s reliability, portability, and options make it a very handy tool for use with restoring older machines.

In 1989 portability was becoming a huge desire but often meant for many compromises. This machine was a good mix – yes it was heavy and did not have a battery – but it made up for this by being as fast as a desktop (thanks to it’s 386SX-16 processor), respectable 40Mb hard drive, and it’s ability to use standard ISA expansion cards. Also the Plasma screen was much easier to read than the common LCD panels of the time.

As a collector – ISA and no power pack make this machine quite desirable. VGA also makes game play easy, and an external colour monitor can be connected if you were so inclined.


CPU: 80386SX-16
RAM: 640Kb conventional and 384Kb extended (or more with SIMMs)
Expansion: Toshiba 16 bit slot plus 8 and 16bit ISA (one full length)
HDD: Standard IDE – Conner CP 40Mb
Video: VGA (256 colours with external monitor)

T3200 PRN Switch

Under the floppy drive, the PRN-A-B swtich is visible.

The PRN-A-B Switch

I have seen a lot of confusion over this switch. It’s quite simple however.

Toshiba offered an external 360Kb disk drive as an option. This plugs in to the parallel port connector but is not a parallel device. Setting the switch to PRN enables the printer port, setting it to A tells the machine there is an external disk drive and I want it to be A drive. Setting it to B tells the machine there is an external disk drive and you want it to be B drive. Setting it to A would allow you to boot 360Kb boot disks.

Unless you have the Toshiba external floppy – always set this to PRN.

Memory Upgrades

This laptop does use 30 pin SIMMs to add additional memory however like IBM’s PS/2 range – it’s not quite standard. 1Mb or 2Mb 80ns (or faster) with parity is what Toshiba shipped – so if you want to try – go for those. There are six SIMM slots in total unlike normal 30 pin systems which have a bank of four, the Toshiba uses the banks in pairs – so only two are needed.

If you need more than 1Mb of memory, it’s probably best to buy this system with the extra RAM already installed.

Hard Drive Options

While the T3200SX does use a standard IDE interface it was quite limited with options. In the BIOS (accessible with test3.exe or just create a keyboard error when it’s doing a RAM test) there are only two drive options available:

  • 980 cylinders,  5 heads, 17 sectors per track  (Conner CP-3044 or CP-3000)
  • 1024 cylinders, 2 heads, 40 sectors per track  (Conner CP-3000)

I haven’t confirmed which of Toshiba’s models do it, but it’s also been said that they look for the “CP” in the drive name. So replacement drives should preferably be from Conner Peripherals as well – I keep a CP-3044 on standby just in case. People have reported success using a larger drive from Conner and either hacking the BIOS drive type table OR using drive overlay software such as OnTrack or a simple tool like AnyDrive.

ISA Expansion

With the rear panel removed, you’ll see from top to bottom – 16 bit full length ISA, 8bit half length, and a 16bit Toshiba expansion slot. Due to space limitations, you can’t use the 8 bit and Toshiba slot at the same time. For most people you will never have anything in the Toshiba slot.

In mine I have a SoundBlaster 16 in the top slot, and was using the second slot for networking. A good card to use is the D-Link DE-220 – it’s PnP and 16 bit – but it works perfectly in 8 bit slots and usually has a UTP connector. Configuration tools for DOS are readily available and when the cards turn up – they’re very cheap. 3Com Etherlink III’s are another option however later models did not support 8 bit compatibility – so it can be hit and miss.

For DOS networking there are lots of options, but chances are you want to connect to a Windows 98 or 2000 machine – so MS LanMan for DOS does the trick and supports TCP/IP. If you don’t need to mount folders over the network – and don’t mind using something like FTP – check out mTCP.

More Photos

 Toshiba T3200SX  T3200_ports

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