Need help getting my old computer fired up.

I'm trying to get my old computer fired up again. It is an Acer w/ a Pentium 90mhz. The HD is a 2GB Mitsumi. It no longer has a CD-rom in it and the Hard Drive is apparently not installed in the BIOS.

I can boot to the A: drive. But I can't get anywhere from there. Trying to get to the C: drive gives me a  "Invalid Drive Specification" Message.

I have the WinNT 4.0  3.5in Installation Disks but during the hardware dection phase, it informs me I have no CD-rom and stops the install and I have to exit. My Win95 disk is on CD.

I guess my question is, how do I get my HD noticed by the bios.

Oh, one more thing. My keyboard which normally works, beeps like crazy and only half the keys register. So I cannot seem to get to the CMOS/BIOS. I don't know if this is because I don't have a HD recognised or the keyboard acting funky.


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You set the HD CMOS from the keyboard.
1. Buy / borrow a keyboard.
2. Boot up and go into the BIOS.
3. If your BIOS has auto, try that. If not, look at your HD and get the brand and model.  Go to the website of the manufacturer, and look up the Tracks, Cylinders, and Sectors.  Then enter the HD type as User and use the info from the website to fill in the rest.
4.  Next your CD.  If it shares the same cable as the HD, go to the bios and set the Slave drive of the Primary interface to auto.  If it has it's own cable, set the primary drive of the secondary interface to auto instead.
5.  Save the bios settings, and then re-try your install.  This may be enough for WinNT.  If you have problems with NT, try Win98 (auto sets up the CD for most).  After the Win98 install, you can install Winnt over it.
  Good Luck
Have you tried another keyboard? Check, too, to make sure the keyboard is plugged in well. After that, boot off A: again and see if you can get into the Setup then. Once in setup, you can either have the BIOS auto detect the hard drive or you can put the cylinders, heads sectors and all that jazz yourself. Many times this information will be printed on the top of the hard drive.

Was this hd successfully working in this machine before?

Eric AKA NetminderCommented:
And don't forget, once you've set the cylinders/heads/tracks/sectors, to FDISK the hard drive, then format it.
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Why would chickenbone want to FDISK and format the hard disk ?
This will lose all his data of his disk, he might want to see what is there first.
Eric AKA NetminderCommented:
pwoolford. Good point -- it's too damn early in the morning here.

On the other hand, if his hard drive is configured accurately in the BIOS, and yet he's getting an "invalid drive" message, it's possible that the hard drive has been completely wiped clean. We just did that with a bunch of used computers we sold. We supplied a boot floppy so people could repartition and reformat the hard drives to their own liking, since we weren't selling them with operating systems installed.
First question that needs to be answered by chickenbone regards the original hardware setup when the computer was working. You said that there is no longer a CDROM. How was it connected? Was it a slave to the hard drive? If so, you must first change the jumpers on the hard drive to "single" or "stand-alone" before any BIOS change would make a difference.
OK There have been some good comments (Keep it up!) so let’s start at the beginning and step through this.

First of all, we are making some assumptions here based on your original question.
You have no CD-ROM drive
You may have a keyboard problem

Before we do anything we must have a working keyboard.  Make sure your computer is off.  Unplug the keyboard and do everything you can to revitalize and clean it.  If you have a can of compressed air, give it a good bit of wind under all the keys.  With it still unplugged, type on all of the keys repeatedly.  This should give them a chance to start working again.

Now plug the keyboard back into the computer, turn it on and check to see if it is working again.  The first thing to do is go into the BIOS, either by using the “DEL” key or whatever method is indicated by the boot up screen.

If you are still having problems with the keyboard, get a new one.

Now, when this is all done and you have a working keyboard enter the BIOS in the first screen (Usually) you can set each of the hard drives.  Set them all to “Auto” if you can.  If not then leave them for now.

You now need to check the internal HD setup.  Turn off and unplug your computer.  Open up the computer and make sure that your hard drive is connected to the first HD port on the motherboard and that the pins are correct.  The side of the ribbon cable that has the stripe should go to pin 1 at both ends.  Now make sure that the jumper on your hard drive is set to “master”.  If you have any doubt about this then you need to check for specific information on your drive, either in documentation you still have, or on the Internet.  Also, your drive should be connected to the last connector of the ribbon cable.

Now remember, we are assuming that this is the only device connected to the IDE controller, if there is a CD-ROM (contrary to your question) or another hard drive, then we need to know this before proceeding.

Now at this point, plug in and start the computer.  If you were able to set the hard drive BIOS settings to “auto” then when you boot the computer up, hopefully, your HD will be detected.  Sometimes it is best to set your bios to “auto” for only the devices you have.  That would be “Primary Master” as the only one set to “auto” and the other three disabled.  If you are only going to add a single CD-Rom you also might want to disable the second HD controller in the BIOS.  The drawback with both of these options is when you add more devices, you have to go into the BIOS and change them back.

If you do not have an “auto” option then see if you have a BIOS section for the “auto detection” or “setup” of “Hard Drives”.  You can use this to detect your hard drive.  It then writes the settings it finds back to the main BIOS settings.  You can then go back and view the exact settings for your HD.  You should write down the Cylinders, Sectors, and Heads on the HD itself and/or somewhere else.

If you do not have either an “auto” option or a “detect” section, then you need to get the exact settings from your HD makers web site.

Once you have them you can put these settings in your BIOS.

Hopefully at some point here your hard drive WAS detected.  Unless you have data you realy want to get at on the old drive, you should re-partition it (with fdisk, or Partition Magic) and format it.

At this point you do need a CD-ROM drive to install Win95, NT, or the OS of your choice (maby Linux!?)

Good Luck!!!!

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chickenboneAuthor Commented:

Have we met, I'm the village IDIOT!!!!!!

Thanks for the help everyone....mostly you fifer. For if not for your detailed answer, I would not have figured out the problem so fast.

Just to give you all a little closure and to point out just how much of an IDIOT I am......The whole problem was solved by checking my cables and PLUGGING THE RIBBON CABLE IN THE CORRECT WAY!!!!!!!!!! Sheesh....

I'll turn my Wanna be computer geek card in at the desk on my way out :P

Thanks again all,
Hey, it happens to all of us!  This does point out a real need for this site, some way to post or develop trouble shooting check-lists, maybe one per category, that can weed out possibilities and provide a clear indication of what information the person asking the question should provide.

Sometimes, if it was only a list of what to provide, the process of getting the information would trip up the answer.  You might have hard drive trouble similar to yours and while going through the list of what to provide, you may be asked whether the drive is set to “Master” or “Slave”.  This alone may be the answer.

Any way, glad we could be of help!  Keep coming back!!
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