After finding there is not much information about the CF-25 online, I decided to put as much information together as I could and make it available online. This page is the result of those efforts.
In 2010, I ‘adopted’ a Panasonic CF-25 ruggedized Pentium MMX laptop that my college was going to throw out. Not long after, I broke the keyboard and sought another to help fix the first. At the time, there was very little information about the CF-25 online. These laptops are old and limited, but they do have some lingering utility and hobbyist value, so someone seeking information should be able to find it. That is why, in May 2010, I created Panasonic CF-25 Information Thread on NotebookReview.com and have since continued it here on my website.
Table of Contents
- Manuals & Documentation
- Drivers, Utilities & BIOS Updates
- Original Specifications by Model Number
- Decoding a CF-25 Model Number
- Accessories & Expansion/Upgrade Options
- Clock Battery Replacement Mod/Hack
- BIOS Setup Menu and Limitations
- Clearing CF-25 BIOS Passwords
Manuals & Documentation (top)
View the Panasonic Quick Guide for the CF-25, in all its ’90s glory. This is a mini website which came on the hard drive of a new CF-25 and acted as a sort of “online user manual” to familiarize new users with the machine.
Service manuals are no longer available from Panasonic, however a user on NotebookReview was able to provide one to me:
- CF-25 Service Manual (Mark 1)
Order no. CPD9609026C0
Original filename when I found it: CF25.PDF
Operating Instructions (User Manuals)
As with drivers below, up to approximately 2021, the Panasonic website still made CF-25 user manuals available. However, in 2022, this has changed – but the direct links still work as the files are still in their original locations:
- CF25mk1.pdf – CF-25 Mark 1 Operating Instructions
- CF25mk2.pdf – CF-25 Mark 2 Operating Instructions
- CF25mk3.pdf – CF-25 Mark 3 Operating Instructions (or try this better quality copy)
- 25m3osr1.pdf – CF-VEB251 Port Replicator Operating Instructions
- CF-VCD252W CD-ROM Pack Operating Instructions
Drivers, Utilities & BIOS Updates (top)
Up to approximately 2021, it was possible to download manuals and drivers from (specifically and exclusively) the Panasonic Canada website, which was quite dated in comparison to other Panasonic regional websites. In 2022, Panasonic modernized the Canadian site, and in doing so, they made it impossible to access the drivers through a user-friendly front end page. Archive.org does not have the page in question, so I’ve removed the link as it no longer serves any value.
That being said: I have verified in 2022 that a fairly comprehensive download assortment can still be found at ftp.panasonic.com. Modern web browsers no longer allow browsing FTP directories – but you can still get there using an FTP client and anonymous login is still allowed :) Figuring out the file naming convention takes a little time but isn’t too bad.
Foreseeing that the Panasonic Canada site would probably not be a viable option forever, I did download everything for archival purposes in March of 2017. Please use the Panasonic FTP server if you can; you may, however, access my archived copies here if you wish.
The following are photos of my own CF-25LGF8EAM (Mark 3, small LCD panel):
The following are photos of my own CF-25LJF8EAM (Mark 3, large LCD panel, with antenna pass-through):
Original Specifications by Model Number (top)
Panasonic typically releases multiple versions of the same model series, called marks. There are 3 ‘marks’ of CF-25. Within each mark, there were a variety of configurations sold.
Regarding the last character of the model numbers, M = USA/Canada, E = UK, G = Germany. The machines have the same specifications except for the keyboard layout, and each included a different AC power cord for the power adapter (which itself is ‘worldwide compatible’).
Common to all:
- HDD type: 44-pin 2.5″ EIDE/ATA. Height is pretty forgiving because drive is suspended in gel.
- RAM type: One slot for 144 pin 60/70ns 3.3V EDO SODIMM. SDRAM can fit in the slot, but will not work. You must use EDO memory!
- Audio: 16 bit 44.1KHz w/mono speaker and headphone jack; for specific hardware details see each Mark.
- Keyboard: sealed matrix water resistent rubber dome 87 keys (USA) or 89 keys (UK).
German keyboard information is currently unknown.
Mark 2 and Mark 3 can share keyboards, but not the keyboard/touchpad interface PCB that connects the ribbons to the motherboard; this PCB is a completely passive adapter in the Mark 2 but has additional logic on it for Mark 3. Mark 1 info unknown.
- Pointing device: SMK 401ATA resistive track pad approx 2×1.5″, recognized as a standard PS/2 mouse
- PCMCIA: 3 slots for Type I or II (bottom two are Type III aka Cardbus, bottommost is also ZV) all of which support 3.3V 400mA/5V 400mA/12V 120mA (current ratings are for all 3 slots combined)
- I/O: DE9 serial, DE15 VGA video, DB25 parallel, PS/2 mouse/keyboard (sharing one port, common splitters work), IrDA infrared
- AC Adapter: input AC 100-240V 50/60Hz, output DC 15V 2.6A
- MP bay FDD: 1.44MB DSHD/720KB DSDD (high density/low density support). Note: no model seems to have included CD-ROM as standard equipment.
- Original OS: Windows 95
- Screen type: Active Matrix TFT LCD (except one model, indicated below) with native resolution of 800×600
- Mk 1
- Common to all Mk 1 models:
- CPU Socket: the CPU is a module known as a Fujitsu MCM. There is no traditional socket. The CPU is replaceable but only with another MCM.
- Chipset: unconfirmed but probably i430MX
- RAM: 8MB, expandable to 40MB by adding 32MB
- Graphics: Chips & Technologies (model unknown) with 1MB video memory
- Audio: unknown
- Examples of documented Mk 1 models and the variable specs:
- CF-25CG82AAM: Pentium 100MHz, 10.4″, 840MB, NiMH 9.6V 3200mAh
- CF-25EGC2AAM: Pentium 133MHz, 10.4″, 1.35GB, NiMH 9.6V 3200mAh
- Common to all Mk 1 models:
- Mk 2
- Common to all Mk 2 models:
- CPU Socket: Fujitsu MCM as above
- Chipset: Intel 430MX
- RAM: 16MB, expandable to 48MB by adding 32MB. Larger SODIMMs will be ignored completely if installed.
- Graphics: Chips & Technologies T65550-ES1 with 2MB video memory
- Audio: ESS AudioDrive ES1788F
- Examples of documented Mk 2 models and the variable specs:
- CF-25DGC4DAM: Pentium 120MHz, 10.4″, 1.35GB, NiMH 9.6V 3600mAh
- CF-25EGC4DAM: Pentium 133MHz, 10.4″, 1.44GB, NiMH 9.6V 3600mAh
- CF-25FJF4DAM: Pentium 150MHz, 12.1″, 2GB, NiMH 9.6V 3600mAh
- CF-25FVF4DAM: Pentium 150MHz, 12.1″ (Active Matrix STN), 2.1GB, Li-Ion 10.8V 2300mAh
- CF-25FXF4DAM: Pentium 150MHz, 12.1″, 2.1GB, Li-Ion 10.8V 2300mAh
- Common to all Mk 2 models:
- Mk 3
- Common to all Mk 3 models:
- CPU Socket: 7
- Chipset: Intel 430TX
- Graphics: NeoMagic MagicGraph 128ZV with 1.1MB video memory
- Audio: Yamaha YMF715E-S (SoundBlaster PRO Compatible)
- Examples of documented Mk 3 models and the variable specs:
- CF-25LFC4EAM: Pentium MMX 166MHz, 10.4″, 16MB expandable to 96MB, 1.44GB, Li-Ion 10.8V 2300mAh
- CF-25LGF8EAM (CPU-Z): Pentium MMX 166MHz, 10.4″, 32MB expandable to 48MB, 2.1GB, Li-Ion 10.8V 2300mAh
- CF-25LJF8EAM: Pentium MMX 166MHz, 12.1″, 32MB expandable to 48MB, 2.1GB, Li-Ion 10.8V 2300mAh. Equipped with antenna pass-through for radio modem.
- Common to all Mk 3 models:
- Undocumented but known to exist:
- These are model numbers I have found in various places which exist but do not appear in any official documentation I could find. Specs have been decoded by “reverse-engineering” the model numbering system.
- CF-25EGC4CAM: Mark 2, Pentium 133, 10.4″, 1.35 or 1.44GB HDD, 16MB. See CPU-Z Validation here.
- CF-25FJF4CAM: Mark 2, Pentium 150, 12.1″, 2 or 2.1GB HDD, 16MB
- CF-25FXF4CAM: Mark 2, Pentium 150, 12.1″, 2 or 2.1GB HDD, 16MB
- CF-25LGM8EAM: Mark 3, Pentium MMX 166, 10.4″, unknown HDD, 32MB, Li-Ion battery (confirmed by 1 source).
- CF-25LJM8EAM: Mark 3, Pentium MMX 166, 12.1″, 4GB HDD (confirmed by 2 sources), 32MB, Li-Ion battery, equipped for radio modem antenna.
- These are model numbers I have found in various places which exist but do not appear in any official documentation I could find. Specs have been decoded by “reverse-engineering” the model numbering system.
See also Decoding a CF-25 Model Number.
The majority of this information has been compiled by working backwards from the Mk1, Mk2, and Mk3 manuals. Some information has been obtained by cross-referencing known info or units I have and information provided by other users. Long story short, nothing here should be incorrect (incomplete if anything).
It is very possible that more models exist. Contact me with the info on yours if you have an unlisted one!
Decoding a CF-25 Model Number (top)
According to the service manual for Mark 1 CF-25s (CPD9609026CO), this is what the different positions in the model number represent:
a represents equipped CPU
b represents LCD type
c represents hard drive capacity
d represents RAM capacity
e represents region
Though the service manual does not specify the mark or marks it applies to, we know it applies only to mark 1s because it only provides options for those variables that correspond to known mark 1 CF-25s.
By running the Mark 2 and Mark 3 models through this pattern we will be able to figure out what the unknown letters represent.
- C – Pentium 100MHz
- D – Pentium 120MHz
- E – Pentium 133MHz
- F – Pentium 150MHz
- L – Pentium MMX 166MHz
- G – 10.4″ TFT
- J – 12.1″ TFT
- V – 12.1″ STN
- X – 12.1″ TFT
- Multiple 12.1s might be explained by different suppliers
Hard Drive Field:
- 8 – 840MB
- C – 1.35GB, 1.44GB
- F – 2GB, 2.1GB
- M – ???
- 2 – 8MB built in
- 4 – 16MB built in
- 8 – 32MB built in
All models have some amount of RAM soldered onto the motherboard and an expansion slot. The capacity varies by mark and model.
Undocumented two-letter code:
There is no reliable information to document what this code means. However, I have observed the following pattern:
- AA – Mk 1
- CA – Mk 2
- DA – Mk 2
- EA – Mk 3
There are probably more codes; please let me know if you happen to have one.
- E – UK
- G – DE
- M – USA/CAN
If you find a model or information which conflicts with or adds to this listing, please get in touch and contribute the info so I can make this as accurate as possible. Thanks!
Accessories & Expansion/Upgrade Options (top)
The CF-25 has a variety of I/O options and a couple expansion/upgrade options.
- External Battery Charger, part number CF-VCB251. Charges batteries outside of the CF-25 computer.
- Port Replicator/Docking Station, part number CF-VEB251/CF-VEB251W. Allows easier interfacing in a ‘desktop’ environment.
MP, or ‘multimedia pocket’, is Panasonic’s name for the removable drive bay. Available devices include:
- Floppy disk drive, part number CF-VFD251 (not marked with any type of identifying label)
- CD-ROM drive, part number CF-VCD252
- RIM radio modem, part number CF-VEW251-AD. Allows for mobile network access. For use in models with antenna pass-through. Probably not usable anymore due to being rather obsolete.
- Secondary battery, part number CF-VZS252. Output: 9.6V 4.2Ah.
- Superdisk (LS-120 Floptical) drive pack, part number CF-VFS251W. Might not be supported by CF-25****A**, CF-25****C**, CF-25****D** models (source: eBay listing selling the drive).
- External floppy drive cable, part number CF-VCF351. Cable to connect MP bay floppy drives to the parallel port so you can use a CD-ROM drive and floppy drive at the same time.
The above photos have been sourced from numerous listings selling these items; I do not actually have them.
External Floppy Drive Cable Additional Details
I am fairly confident this cable is actually for the CF-35 notebook, not the CF-25. The pattern of Panasonic part numbers tends to suggest this, as well, the connector is keyed so it can connect to the CF-35 drive correctly. If you try to connect it to a CF-25 drive, the key forces you to connect the cable upside down. From my testing, I found that connecting the cable that way did not damage anything (no guarantees…), but the drive did not work. If the key is defeated, the cable does work with the CF-25 drives and CF-25 computer. The cable should be used with the label that says CF-VCF351 facing to the top (metal) side of the drive pack.
I have also tested the CF-VCF351 cable with the floppy drive from a CF-72 notebook, connected to the CF-25. The CF-25 can successfully use the CF-72 floppy drive with this cable. The CF-72 itself can’t use the cable, though.
Floppy Drive Additional Details
I have encountered two different versions of the CF-25 floppy drive. Neither one is marked with a part number or any other identification on the outside of the case.
One: Black drive door. Black eject button on top right of disk slot. Green seek indicator on lower left of disk slot. The drive inside is a Teac FD-05HG. Drive connects with a ribbon cable DFUP0935ZA to the adapter board that plugs into the inside of the laptop, DFUP0847YBI(c) Ver.1.0 marked “FDD”.
The other: translucent black drive door. Translucent black eject button on top right side of disk slot. No seek indicator at all. The drive inside is a Matsushita (Panasonic) EME279MG. Drive connects with a ribbon cable E41447-M (no Panasonic part number present), to the same adapter board used with the Teac drive above.
I have two of each drive. Only the Teac drives work; the two Panasonic drives seem to have an issue with the belt slipping as the drive tries to seek but the belt (or pulley) slips on the motor. I would like to try to fix these but it hasn’t been a priority, and I haven’t investigated how to source floppy drive belts. If you’ve done this repair, please feel free to drop a comment about it.
CD-ROM Drive Additional Details
As mentioned above, there is a CD-ROM drive, CF-VCD252, available for the CF-25. I bought one of these drives new-in-box. It is a purpose-made drive (not an off-the-shelf example mounted in a Panasonic-compatible housing). The read speed is 10x and it will read burned CD-Rs.
Note: the instruction manual that comes with the CD-ROM drive says it includes a caddy. However, the drive I purchased is a normal tray-load drive. This might indicate that some earlier versions of the drive are caddy-load, not tray-load. Watch out for this if you are trying to buy one of these drives used.
The CF-25 (all models) accepts one module of 3.3V EDO memory in a 144-pin SODIMM package. All units have some permanently installed (soldered to motherboard) RAM and thus do not require a removable module to be installed in order to operate. Removable memory modules are added to the existing memory amount rather than disabling it (ex. if your model has 32MB built in and you install a 64MB module, you will have 96MB of RAM). The computers, depending on model, have varying maximum memory limitations (refer to original specifications post to determine what it is for your model).
The maximum RAM capacity stated for Mk1 and Mk2 units is ‘firm’; the computer will completely ignore an installed module that is larger than the specs allow.
The maximum RAM capacity for a Mk3 is higher than stated in the specs officially. A 128MB EDO module can be added for up to 160MB total depending on how much permanently installed RAM your model has.
The CF-25 has three PCMCIA slots. All three slots support Type I or II cards. The bottom two slots claim to also support Type III/Cardbus cards. The bottom-most slot also supports ZV cards.
I have previously stated on this page that 32-bit card support does not function. I have since become aware this is not correct. I have found that installing Win95 OSR2.5 and then using the PCMCIA drivers from “CF25mk3w95imageupdate.exe” from Panasonic will result in properly working 32 bit Cardbus cards. Unfortunately, 98SE doesn’t behave the same using the 95 driver. I’m working on this to figure out a solution. WinFLP would be a better target, but on the surface, it looks to be even less viable. It may be that a “real mode” OS can be used to set certain BIOS values with DIAG25 (found within the First Aid diskette) to set up 32 bit card support, and a protected mode OS can then benefit from this change – I haven’t tested enough to verify yet (Feb 2018).
You may find some discussion regarding the 16/32 bit issues here.
Specifically, you may find this link mildly enlightening: in Japanese on Panasonic.co.jp or the same in English via Google Translate.
3.3, 5, and 12V cards are supported. The cumulative max current consumption among all 3 slots cannot exceed 400mA for 3.3 or 5V, or 120mA for 12V.
I have found through experience that the following cards work in the CF-25:
- 3Com Megahertz 10Mbps LAN PC Card 3CCE589ET
- Linksys Combo PCMCIA EthernetCard EC2T
- Xircom CreditCard Ethernet+Modem 33.6 CEM33
- Xircom RealPort Ethernet 10/100 RE-100
- Netgear 802.11b Wireless PC Card MA401
- Linksys Instant Wireless Network PC Card WPC11
- Avaya/Lucent World Card 11 Mb/s Silver PC24E-H-FC
- A pair of generic Intersil Prism Wireless-B cards I bought on eBay from China several years back, which arrived with no identifying labels other than the MAC addresses and are impossible to source drivers for online but did include CDs thankfully. One is identified as “IPone Airgate2200EXT” and the other is identified as “INTERSIL HFA384x/IEEE”.
The (mark 3) system’s chipset appears to include a USB controller, as installed OS will detect that one exists. However, the system itself does not have USB ports, and the system does not assign resources to this built in controller.
USB Cardbus cards will not work with a fresh-off-the-disc Windows install, for reasons identified above in the PCMCIA section.
CF-25 computers accept standard 2.5″ laptop hard drives (IDE/ATA). The height of the drive is not as important as it is in other laptops because the drive mounts inside a soft gel-like lining.
There is a well-documented drive size limitation of PCs made prior to around the late 90s, and this size limit is 8.4GB. CF-25s of different Marks and different BIOS versions interact with this limit in varying ways:
With a Mark 3 (tested with BIOS 1.00-L15; not the latest one) you can use larger hard drives, such as 12GB and 30GB drives like I use. However, FDISK running on the CF-25 will only see the drive as 8GB. I’m not sure if this is a BIOS or FDISK defect. I get around this by having a smaller first partition, partitioned in a different computer, and everything seems to be fine once that’s the case.
My personal experience has been that a CF-25 Mark 2 with BIOS 1.00-L18 is unable to boot (at all, even from a floppy) if a hard drive greater than 8.4GB is attached. I updated that same Mark 2 to 1.40-L03 and it began functioning the same as a Mark 3 regarding larger capacity HDDs.
The BIOS setup menu of the CF-25 does not offer any information or configuration for IDE devices. It auto detects at POST and does not tell you what it finds. If the auto detection fails, there are no settings to tinker with to try to correct the situation.
The serial, parallel and infrared ports are standards compliant. They should not require any special tweaking to operate with any peripherals intended for those connection methods.
The single PS/2 port is the typical sort found on a laptop of this age. The use of a simple passive splitter (can be found on eBay for a few dollars shipped) enables the use of both an external PS/2 keyboard and mouse on this port. It is also possible to connect a keyboard or mouse directly to the port without a splitter but only one device can be used this way.
Clock Battery Replacement Mod/Hack (top)
This is only recommended for people who are skilled with soldering and the safe use of the involved tools. You should understand that I’m simply telling you how I modified my own CF-25s, and these instructions carry no guarantee of success for you.
The CF-25 (all marks) has a 3V coin-cell clock battery buried deep within the computer attached directly to the motherboard.
With this battery being dead, the CF-25 will be unable to keep the date/time and will prompt you about configuration changes at each power-on. The configuration does not appear to be stored in nonvolatile memory, however, the Mk3 seems to have a default password that becomes set when the battery dies, so removing the battery has the opposite effect of clearing the password.
My suggested solution is to remove the original battery and add in a battery holder in an accessible location so the battery can be replaced or removed as needed. Note that the spacing between the solder points is not wide enough to directly attach the battery holder to the board, so you must either get creative or put the battery holder on a wire extension like I have. The wire extension allows you to place the battery holder in a more convenient spot like the hard drive bay, as there is just enough room between the drive and palmrest for it to go there.
- What you need:
- Tools and skills for soldering and desoldering.
- Button cell battery holder (can be bought in bulk on eBay for rather cheap prices, or harvested from dead desktop motherboards)
- If you are relocating the battery as I do: About 5-6″ of thin, flexible wire (two conductors). A good source for this is old computer case LEDs, system speakers, etc.
- Open computer, remove motherboard from case
- Locate clock battery (unknown for Mk1, top of motherboard for Mk2, bottom for Mk3)
- Desolder the prongs from the motherboard.
- Solder sufficient length wires to the solder points, keeping track of polarity. I suggest attaching to the top of the motherboard (opposite side from CPU) because it helps with wire routing.
- Route wires over to hard drive bay, where the battery holder will eventually reside between the hard drive and the palm rest (unless you are not using the normal battery bay, in which case that is a better option).
- Attach the wires (being mindful of polarity) to a button cell battery holder. You should bend the pins sideways to reduce the height of the battery holder, and put hot glue over the soldered joints to prevent shorting on metal surfaces.
- Piece computer back together being mindful of pinches for the wires. You may choose to hack out a small chunk of the metal casing somewhere to provide an easy route for the wires. This isn’t necessarily required depending on how you route the wires, so study how it fits together before deciding.
- Install common CR2032 battery, fire up machine, default the CMOS settings, ensure all passwords reflect being cleared, save settings.
- Reboot, set settings as you want them and save again.
- Boot OS of choice, set date and time.
- Power off machine, remove main battery if you have one, disconnect AC adapter. Let it sit for a few minutes. Power up the machine and verify that the clock is still accurate.
- If it is, you’re good to go!
BIOS Setup Menu and Limitations (top)
CF-25s have a BIOS setup menu accessed by pressing F1 during POST. It is extremely limited in the configuration options it provides. It isn’t visibly branded (e.g. Award, AMI, etc.) though it’s visually similar to a setup menu used in certain IBM desktop PCs and the BIOS copyright says IBM.
The BIOS on Mk2 and Mk3 is capable of booting from CD-ROM. I am not sure if Mk1 can or not.
Boot device: on a Mark 2, you are only able to specify one single boot device (floppy, CD, or hard drive). The computer will not attempt to boot any other devices besides the one you specify. On a Mark 3, you are able to specify the sequence in which to try the different boot devices (like most computers).
CF-25 Mark 2 video BIOS, POST, and setup utility screen images:
CF-25 Mark 3 video BIOS, POST, and setup utility screen images:
There is a Windows utility called WSET25.EXE packaged on Tools Disk 2 for the Mark 1. This utility supposedly allows modifying setup menu options (and maybe more?) from within Windows. No equivalent utility exists for Mark 2 or 3 that I can find, and the utility does not function on a Mark 2 or 3 from my testing. Since I do not have any Mark 1s, I cannot verify what options that utility provides.
Clearing CF-25 BIOS Passwords (top)
I have observed with Mark 3 units that if the CMOS battery dies, a Supervisor Password will become “set” and I have so far been unable to figure out what it is (it isn’t blank, either). The Supervisor Password locks you out of some more advanced options such as the boot sequence. This same issue does not seem to happen to Mark 2s.
I have found KillCMOS to be completely effective in clearing CF-25 BIOS passwords (it wipes out the entire stored config). You can obtain it from MajorGeeks. Note that your antivirus and potentially also your web browser will go crazy about this file and warn you that it’s malicious – it’s totally benign unless you run it. Don’t run it anywhere except on the target computer. There is no warning prompt when you run it, it immediately acts and reboots the computer. My preferred method is to build a MS-DOS boot floppy and put KillCMOS on the floppy. I boot from the floppy, run KillCMOS, and the laptop immediately reboots with the config and any passwords wiped.
You’ve got a very nice site here. So far, yours is the only one that mentions the Mk 3 antenna, that’s the model I have. I’d investigated it years ago then lost interest. Thanks for posting the links to all the manuals, etc. Mine still boots but I have to configure things a bit. Comes up with ‘1962’ error.
Believe it or not I came across reference to a CF-47
Apparently the Panasonic Canada site for drivers is still working
For most older toughbook’s
Do you know is there any modified bios that allows big HDDs, my 4GB inside is dead and i got 60GB and 80GB that laptop doesn’t recognize that i know that are 100% working ?
Do you have drivers for Windows 95 for CF-25 ? . The Canada site use to have drivers for any toughbook model and
And Windows versions but now there site has change.
Hi John. I suppose this was inevitable – they kept the outdated site for a while, but they’ve modernized it and dropped the legacy content. I’ve updated the drivers section above (http://kishy.ca/?p=115#software) and encourage you to try using an FTP client to connect to ftp://ftp.panasonic.com/pub/panasonic/drivers/notebooks/CF25/
If you are unable to use an FTP client to do this for whatever reason, I have provided a link to my own archive copy of all the drivers in the drivers section above.
Hello CF-25 fans. I am helping a guy resurrect 2 (!) CF-25s for a friend. First, I may have a “mystery” CF-25; the serial number did not match anything on the Panasonic Canada website, but Kishy’s photos seem to show it as maybe a Mark I, with the wide screen frame bordering said screen.
Second, if someone gets their hands on a floppy drive cable (sorry, I can’t sell you this one) and is using it for a CF-25, you must remove the “keying bar” on the drive-end connector like Kishy did (mine was sort of rubber-cemented on, and still tacky enough it took light persuasion to work it free), but DO NOT invert the drive connector to plug it into the drive and power up the machine! Why? Floppy drives for the CF-25 (and anything else) need Pin 1 on the device to match to Pin 1 on the cable, or all hell might break loose, including shorting out the drive, port, or entire machine. I just removed the bar, plugged it into the drive with the “Panasonic” label facing upward, and was able to boot from a bootable floppy with zero drama. I have the instruction sheet from Panasonic Japan saying “Panasonic label up”, so if you inverted to plug it in, you’re gonna have a bad time. :)
Also, the cable came with thumbscrews, but there is no where to screw them into a CF-25 compatible drive (those are the ones with 160 pin/contact connectors). Strange how Panasonic did that; suspect Kishy is right about the cable being for a later CF-series item and they forget there’s no clearance for the keying bar on the CF-25 compatible drives, and no place to screw the thumbscrews into. My friend had another floppy drive with thumbscrew nuts and a smaller connector that isn’t for the CF-25; a different Panasonic cable is only 100 pin also. I don’t have the part numbers for the cables in front of me, but maybe I can post another message with them later.
I close by giving Kishy a Laurel, and Hardy handshake for posting his information.
Thanks for your researches and putting it all together in this article. I have cf25mk2 with very old bios, and I want to upgrade it. Unfortunately I was faced with two problems. FTP Panasonic Canada is no more available and I’m not able to find 1.40-L03 version, and also flash252.exe requires for battery attached (which I don’t have). You mentioned in the article that you can share bios, I was wondering if you can send it to me. Also do xou know is there a workaround how can I flash without battery?
I have emailed you directly with a download link. I will work on making these more publicly accessible as Panasonic is unlikely to be helpful for a machine this old now.
I do not recall how/if it is possible to skip the battery check, but will try to figure out if I have done so in the past…I own many computers and know for sure I have bypassed battery checks on a couple, but don’t recall if the Toughbooks ever had that done on them. I am pretty sure I have a working battery for these but it’s been a long time since I’ve touched them.
If you search ebay now (in the UK at least) someone is selling NOS CF-25 lithium batteries. They’re probably dead but might enable the machine to get past the battery check on a BIOS upgrade…
Thanks for the well written and researched page. I am running some old software that needs a s l o w computer to run. I am also a Toughbook fan, typing this on a CF-31. I need a PC that runs no faster than 100 MHz. I have found a Mk2, at 150 MHz. The question is there a jumper to tell the CPU to underclock to 100 MHz, or must I swap out the Fujitsu MCM Pentium Module? Will that even get me 100 MHz? Thanks!!
Unfortunately, my knowledge is a little lacking on the earlier models of CF-25 which use the Fujitsu modules. I have owned one for a while, but don’t anymore.
I do not believe there were any DIP switches or jumpers to set the CPU speed, but there may have been unpopulated solder pads that you could break/join to have the same effect. I seem to recall some discussion about doing something along those lines with the Mark 3 units to change the multiplier or clock speed to enable using faster CPUs.
I’m sorry I can’t be more help. If you do tear into this project and make any discoveries the rest of the world might want to know, I’d gladly add them to this page.
I got a CF-25 Mark 2 the other day and I’ve been using this page as a resource for troubleshooting issues because of a dead hard drive from 22 years ago. I got it with a CD ROM drive and no floppy drive, but it’s on BIOS version 1.00-L20. There is no option to boot off a CD drive, and with a blank hard drive and no floppy drive, I don’t know how to get this thing started without shelling out the extra money and getting a floppy drive.
My suggestion would be to pull the hard drive and set up the software on it in a different computer. Make the drive bootable with MS-DOS, and put the BIOS flash utility on the drive. Put the drive back in the CF-25, boot it up to the HDD, flash the BIOS, and that should get you the ability to boot from CD.
I haven’t touched these in a little while now, so maybe I’ve overlooked something, but I think this should get you where you need to be. What I’m unsure of is what you’ll need to do to the BIOS utility to use it from a HDD, but I think it should be straightforward to figure out.
I just ran that KILLCMOS (from https://www.majorgeeks.com/files/details/killcmos.html) on my CF-25 mk3 (P166 96MB ram).
Worked perfectly first time. Like you I put it on a DOS 6.22 disk, rebooted, then ran the program – the laptop rebooted itself and I then had to reconfigure the BIOS, but crucially, no more bl***y supervisor password!!! I’ve had this laptop for years and had all but given up trying to budge this password, thinking actually that KILLCMOS didn’t work as I’d already tried it where it was included on another ‘all in one’ boot disk.
Turns out that you need to run the version from the above link, which definitely works.
I have a CF-25LJM8EAM, and can confirm the specs you listed above.
I do currently have an issue with the machine. When I try to install Windows 95 (from dos, with the files already on the 2gb partition), will go through the entire install, then go into a boot loop when trying to discover plug and play devices. Any fix that you have? I want to get this machine up and running ASAP.
I got my hands on an LJM8EAE from a scrap bin. The main issue with it is that the backlight of the display is dead aside from the expected dead CMOS battery.
Right now it’s in pieces so I can replace the CMOS battery.