Hard drive in a PS/2

I have recently come across three free IBM PS/2 Model 30 286 / 386 computers. I have one 386 that I wish to add a hard drive, sound card and modem to. I am not familiar with the PS/2 archtecture. Is it possible to add a hard drive - it would have to be a special one. Which kind? The floppy's recieve power through the data cable -there are no internal power cables. Please help, as I don't want to fry a normal hard drive, by connecting it! :-)


Nat McGowan
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If you have an IBM PS2 386, you need to basically buy IBM stuff because of all the proprietory IBM crap. If you have a non-IBM, then you can still upgrade with other stuff that still can be found on the market.
The IBM hard drives for the model 30 were 20, 30, and 45 MB.  These are very small by today's software requirement and probably your best bet is to buy a newer system.  You can get very good prices (a couple hundred dollars for a used 486 system) at:


If you wish to persue the IBM 30 route further then you may be able to find someone willing to sell one there, or in the newsgroup.  Buying a new IBM drive for the 30 would be difficult and more expensive, but places like Comp/USA probably can get you one.

You will also need a bios program, available free, to setup the disk.  There are 5 drive numbers:
20MB: 26, 34,
30MB: 33, 35
45MB: 37
the 35 and 37 have auto head parking.

Good luck

More data on HDD types

The IDE connector works off a IDE interface to either an MFM or RLL hard drive.

           20M  20M   30M   30M  45M
type numb  26   34    33    35   37
cyl        612  775   614   921   580
Heads       4    2     4     2     6
sector/trk 17   27     25    33   26
encoding   MFM  RLL   RLL   RLL   RLL

Hope this helps

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IDE? Arent those old things ESDI?
Well, as a previous owner of a ps/2 486, I ran into a similar situation---

First of all, 386's are going to have limitations, but if you can get around them, you're ok.  You need to have enough controllers to be able to add enough devices like hard drives, etc.  2 devices work on one controller.  You need to have enough ISA Slots to add modems and sound cards.

Because the old BIOS does not support Hard drives larger than 540MB, to take advantage of larger HD sizes, you can purchase an EIDE Adapter card from SIIG which plugs into an ISA slot and next time you reboot, the BIOS will be read from the card and larger hard drives will work.

Understand though that if you are short slots and controllers, you are out of luck.  Otherwise, the EIDE Adapter Card is your first step to expansion beyond what is expected in a PC that old!

uuuuh Nate,
Can you please elaborate as to why you rejected my answer?
i owned a PS/2 and have gotten large hard drives to work in it.  If you need more info so my answer can be accepted, please elaborate in this forum...

nat2000Author Commented:
Steve -
Sorry about the lack of comments.
You were right, I do need more information!
I need about a 100mb HDD. How to I set it up in the BIOS. There is no "Press DEL to enter SETUP" etc? Because I don't need the EIDE card, can I just plug the drive into the IDE socket? If I can, how to I power it? The floppy takes it's power down the data cable, which as a concequence keeps melting and filling the room with smoke! I don't want to blow a normal HDD by plugging it in!

Any more help appreciated


for you hard drive you have 2 adapters to connect, the controller and power cables.  A hard drive controller on the motherboard can allow 2 devices connected to it.  You can buy a cable that will split allowing 2 devices.

Secondly, The power source should have a cable with a 4-prong attachment at the end connected to devices like drives.   You can buy a y-adapter and share the power between these too.

therefore whatever cables are currently attached to the first hard drive can be split with splitter cables to share the power with a second drive.  Be sure to specify which drive will be the master and slave on the jumpers on the hard drives.

The floppy will not be involved and the modem and sound just plug in to an available slot.

Does this tell you more?

It tells me that you haven't been INSIDE a PS/2.

Very odd Ralph, because my PS/2 has this capability.

Judging by the character of of your non-productive response I have forwarded this to Linda at Customer Service.

Please keep to the subject at hand to solving this persons problem.

Suit yourself Steve.
It's going to be very interesting to see you explain to Nat how to hook up a Y-adapter to a non-existant power cable!

There is a lot of info about your machine at the following site.  You can get specs on it as well as download the system files you need to set up the CMOS.


I hope it helps you.

I believe that the IBM PS/2 model 30 has an MCA, not ISA or PCI (or even EISA), architecture.  While it was the original plug and play, it worked about as well as plug n pray works today.  But for this proprietary reason, I would NOT recommend pursuing this rout any further.  MCA cards are hard to come by - especially multimedia - and if you *can* find them, they are expensive as heck.  And probably outdated.

Oh, and for stevemiller... I am fairly certain that there were no PS/2 models made without the MCA bus.  Are you sure yours is not a PS/Valuepoint?  (Of course IBM had to be *really* stupid about this, because they also have a PS/2 Valuepoint!)  The PS/Valuepoint has an ISA bus, but I believe it's a 486.

If you root around at the following site, you will
find links to ps/2 information.  There are repositories
of the configuration disks which you need to set up a system.
Western digital amongst others made mfm controllers for the
MCA bus.  Hopefully you can find surplus sources for the hardware
otherwise you will be answering the old question "how much does
a free computer cost anyways?"
you can find SCSI controler (MCA BUS) from www.onsale.com. Last time for $5 also they have many SCSI hard drives for $30 400 to 600 MB also you can use any IDE hard drive as pp but this will be slow. You can get 386 from the same web site for $30 too

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