Home Miscellaneous Bill’s Butterfly 701C collection

Bill’s Butterfly 701C collection

by hwattys

Introduction to the IBM Thinkpad 701C

The 701C “Butterfly” has always held a special place of distinction in the hearts and minds of Thinkpad fans. Never before or since has any manufacturer taken such a bold gamble with laptop design. If you have never seen one of these there is a video on Youtube showing the “butterfly” keyboard action:

MOMA butterfly

This video also shows that the Butterfly is on permanent display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City as a testament to its unique industrial design.

I got my first 701C in 1998 or 1999 and used it as my primary laptop for a couple years. Finally, the 486/75 processor just could not keep up with advancing technology. I loved the thing so much I have been buying them up over the years, refurbishing them and selling on eBay or keeping them for my personal collection.

As originally sold by IBM in 1994-1995, the Butterfly was fitted with either an Intel DX2 50 mhz CPU or a DX4 75 mhz version and a 640 x 480 10.4 inch screen in DSTN (256 color) for the 701Cs or TFT  (16 bit color)in the 701C.

Hard drive options ranged from 360 megs to 720 megs and memory was 4 megs onboard on the 50 mhz version and 8 megs on the 75 mhz. It has one expansion slot for a 72 pin EDO module up to 32 megs so maxxes at 36 or 40 megs. Uses an external floppy and originally shipped with a printer cable and a port replicator which allows connection of a printer, mouse external keyboard and monitor. Originally offered with Windows 3.1 and IBM’s OS2 operating system in dual boot, they run Windows 95 very well but struggle a bit with Windows 98.

A 14.4 mbps onboard hardware modem is included, and there are 2 PCMCIA slots, and infrared. Batteries were NiCad or NiMh.

Metamorphosis-the Butterfly Emerges

Bill Morrow has also gathered a large assembly of Butterfly units and parts. About a month ago, he sent me a couple boxes of  units and components and my first order of business was to assemble a working 701C using an aftermarket AMD 586 (Pentium Class) 133 Mhz motherboard Bill had in his collection. He also sent me a very rare 64 meg memory modules. These motherboards and memory modules were available on the market in the early 2000s, but you never see them now.


Getting Ready to Assemble


Motherboards installed


Above you see the components laid out for assembly. The Butterfly uses an upper and lower planar motherboard arrangement with the upper board stacking on top of the lower to minimize the footprint.


The modified BIOS shows the processor as an AMD-X5.

The unit, fully assembled, with a 540 meg hard drive and Windows 95 loaded. 40 megs RAM and an “AuthenticAMD” processor. The 64 meg memory chip had extensive errors and, when installed, would prevent Windows from loading with kernel panics. I had a 32 meg chip which seems to work fine. The POST routine still displays some 201 memory errors but you can tap “esc” and get past them to boot into Windows 95. I installed a PCMCIA NIC and was able to update the software, add an Office Suite from the mid-90s and a DOS shooter game (Kilo Blaster). The sound card registers as fully Soundblaster compatible and it plays the DOS game great.

All in all, a great and unique piece. The chassis parts have some scratches, and there is just a touch of tackiness (stickiness) which unfortunately is common in 701s that have been stored. The keyboard is NOS and as you can see in the picture, is perfect.


Bill and I have not decided what to do with this one. I have some larger hard drives and he sent me an .iso of the original factory load which I am still trying to figure out how to get installed. I have also assembled another more common 486/75 unit from Bill’s and mine and am working to put together a couple more. Hoping this post will generate some online discussion and don’t hesitate to PM me in the Forum.


-Steve (“hwattys”)


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Hal Frigaard July 1, 2017 - 2:00 am

Have you ever considered gutting one and putting a raspberry pi or like device inside it? You’d probably need controllers for the screen, keyboard but it would be cool.

Steve July 1, 2017 - 6:42 am

Interesting. I have a pi. Welcome ideas for adapting the video, keyboard and pointer to the pi.

Paul July 23, 2017 - 2:59 am

I hate to burst your bubble, but these machines, to my recollection, didn’t use EDO memory. That came later, on the 560 series. I also had one of those 64MB chips. Lucky you got it to boot; IIRC, I couldn’t even get to POST. Also, small typo – the modem is 14.4Kbps (you put Mbps, which I wouldn’t hold against you, given data connection speeds nowadays).

I’m glad the ISO I helped upload is getting passed around, so everyone will have a copy. I’d love to see a preload ISO for the 755 series machines.

Sadly, my 701s aren’t very usable nowadays. It’s been a while since I’ve powered them on, although the 701CS I still have, I bought brand new in 1996 for about $1899 from a PC catalog store.

Steve July 23, 2017 - 7:48 am

The memory is 72 pin EDO SO-DIMM 3.3 volt. Not the same as later 144 pin EDO. Yes you are right the modem is 14.4 kbps.

The .iso Bill gave me is only for the 755CE/755CD but I found the corresponding files for the 701C on the OS2 museum site and combined the two to make a working 701 preload restore disk. I have an .iso if anyone PMs me on the Forum and wants it.

Paul July 23, 2017 - 3:01 am

Oh, I should also add, the funniest thing I did on a 701 was load Windows 2000. PAINFULLY SLOW, but yes, it did boot. If I attempted that again, it would be with an SSD (assuming I could find one large enough that’s still compatible with the 701).

John July 29, 2017 - 12:28 pm

I copied the contents of my factory HDD back in the 90’s and still have the folder.
2,550 Files, 163 Folders 196MB

Joscelyn August 10, 2017 - 9:50 am

The type of memory used on the 701Cis FPM (Fast Page mode), a predecessor to EDO.

Steve August 10, 2017 - 11:45 am

A lot of loose specs on this and many sellers refer to it as EDO:


I have several modules that work in the 701 and are labeled EDO, but may be FPS.

Valkerie Silk October 6, 2017 - 5:28 pm

I seem to recall EDO (Extended Data Output) memory being used in place of level 2 cache on the cpu. The Toshiba 400 CDT was configured in this manner as was the Powerbook 5300 (referred to as a crippled laptop). Apparently the EDO didn’t compensate for the lack of L2 cache very well.

Orlando November 8, 2017 - 9:46 pm

I’m having difficulty finding a IBM OEM external floppy drive for the 701 series. Can anyone provide a Part Number as it’s hard to identify the connector, much thanks

Steve November 10, 2017 - 7:16 am

23 Diskette Drive 10H4056
24 Diskette Drive Cable 04H6916

Tomas Gutierrez November 21, 2017 - 2:45 pm

I have a 701cs ThinkPad which I think needs only a new CMOS battery. But my interest is to reuse the butterfly keyboard with a modern laptop, can this be accomplished?

Steve November 22, 2017 - 9:27 am

Not unless you want to build something from scratch. You are not the first and will not be the last to have this dream. We have had people suggest putting a modern netbook motherboard in it, or a raspberry pi but trying to hook the keyboard and mouse to a modern keyboard is not going to be easy, not to mention the screen.

Steve November 22, 2017 - 9:28 am

Correction hook keyboard and mouse to a modern motherboard..I am sure somebody could figure a way to port the connectors but I have never seen it.

Angelo December 21, 2017 - 4:53 am

I have a 701C in my thinkpad collection. The rear LCD cover is broken close to the right hinge. I was not been able to find neither theFRU part number to replace nor a distributor could sell me. Can you help me??? I llive in Italy. Thanks

Steve December 21, 2017 - 3:23 pm

You mean the whole screen housing? I do have a few of those parts but they are in fairly rough shape or sticky to the touch. Maybe a picture would help.

Angelo December 28, 2017 - 9:18 am

Steve, how can i send you the pictures?? is not possible to attach on this message. (MTM is 2630/UT2)

Steve December 28, 2017 - 11:58 am

Post on google images or smugmug or similar photo hosting service and copy and paste URL like here.

Arthur February 26, 2018 - 9:21 am

I have some drivers for Thinkpad T701CS and installation files for windows 311 and OS2v3 I believe. They were on the laptop hard drive. I cannot open them though as they are in some ancient dsk format. Also some DOS pcmcia drivers i don’t mind to share them with anyone (if you know what to do with them). Please email me. Thank you!

Alexis March 25, 2018 - 7:39 pm

looking for restore disk for 701c with PCDOS + W311 and PCDOS+OS2/Warp, if someone have or know where to download please share info. Thx

Freddy August 14, 2018 - 12:15 pm

Somebody gave me a working 701C (and a 760 DT), with Window 3.1 installed on it. One Speaker does not work and the CMOS battery is no more good.
Is it simple to change ?
I replaced the HDD with a Compact Flash / DOS 6.22, it works great, except I have to change BIOS Settings each time I boot

Steve August 14, 2018 - 1:56 pm

The CMOS is not very easy to replace as it is soldered to the motherboard. There is only one speaker which sits under the motherboard at the bottom of the casing and is easy to replace if you get the motherboards out of it. The speaker is the round thing you see in the first picture above.

Badabumm January 20, 2019 - 5:45 am

For replacing the CMOS-battery you need some skills on solderung and a suitable tool (max. 15Watt)! – Be careful about the heat on the old board. Too much (or too long time) will make the solderpads come off the board itself.
Only FPM-Ram will work in the 701´s. 486-chipset for EDO-RAM exists, but was not install into the “Butterfly” (Opti 465MVB would do on the board – never found a chip on the market).

Janet Whelpley September 30, 2019 - 11:33 am

I have an old 701 think pad I acquired with items when I ran a non profir computer lab It doesnt work was always intrigued with the keyboard and set was always hoping to get it going. Unfortunately my 20, 000 dollars of equipment was out right stolen from my cororation , still trying to recover. Before I send this for scrap could you use it for parts? Email me.

Steve Huffer September 30, 2019 - 2:50 pm

Of course I can use it for parts if not get it running. Not sure how to contact you

Lol November 29, 2019 - 9:22 am


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