In February 2012, I didn't own a single ThinkPad (nowadays I own three, of which one is my main laptop that I use daily). I had heard many good things about ThinkPads and truly, the fact that they're "the only laptop[s] certified for use on the International Space Station" (according to the Wikipedia ThinkPad article) certainly is something. I managed to grab a used IBM ThinkPad T23 for less than 30€ (postal fees included) from a local auction site back in late February 2012. It was relatively fancy, especially given the low price and all; even the battery seemed to work for longer than 5 minutes! The only drawback was the presence of the dreaded supervisor password (SVP).
If you search around the Internet with your favorite search engine for instructions on how to remove the supervisor password on an IBM ThinkPad laptop, you'll most likely encounter one of these three things:
- Hypocrites accusing you of being a thief and telling that asking for BIOS password removal instructions is illegal/against the site's rules/both
- Idiots telling you that it's not possible
- SoDoItYourself.com's overly complicated instructions involving soldering and other scary things
#1 and #2 are obviously bullshit and #3 is pretty complicated and risky if you're not an electrical engineer by training.
Thankfully, there is a simple way to remove the SVP of older ThinkPads. This method has been described by Le Chameau (which, by the way, is French for "the camel") on the comment section of that SoDoItYourself.com article. Likewise, there is an entire Blogspot blog dedicated to the same method. This method involves no soldering and the risk of bricking your ThinkPad is considerably smaller; the best part is that you don't need to buy anything!
Let's get started, shall we?
Step #1: Remove the battery and make sure that the AC adapter is not connected.
Step #2: Locate the ATMEL chip; on the ThinkPad T23, you'll need to remove the RAM cover and one RAM module to access that tiny (0,5mm x 0,3mm) chip.
Step #3: Short the two pins on the ATMEL chip, depending on your ThinkPad model, with a metal object (I used the "dull" end of a very small needle).
For the T23, you'll need to short pins 5 and 6, but for some other models using the smaller (the 8-legged) version, the pins you'll want to short out are pins 3 and 4! This is what got me; I desperately tried to short pins 3 and 4 on my T23, and that naturally did nothing. Take a look at this schematic for reference.
Also make sure that you're able to safely remove whatever metal object you're using to short out the two pins, as you'll need to do that with the laptop being powered on.
Step #4: Power on the laptop.
Step #5: Press whatever button you need to press to access BIOS; on T23, the correct button is the F1. There is usually a message like "Press <whatever key> to access Setup" on the IBM logo screen.
Step #6: You'll notice that loading the BIOS takes longer than usually; this is because you're shorting out the two pins. On the T23, an error message ("ERROR 0187: EAIA data access error") is displayed and after that, you need to press F1 once again to access BIOS for real.
Step #7: Now you're on BIOS, still shorting out the two pins. Go to the "Password" section and you'll notice that the supervisor password is [Disabled]. Don't be fooled! To get rid of the supervisor password that you don't know, you'll need to set a new one! Crazy but true.
Use the arrow keys to select the Supervisor Password, then press Enter. Now you're being prompted for a new supervisor password. Give it a password — I used "1" — and then press enter to select the "Re-enter password" field. Re-enter the new supervisor password and before pressing enter to actually save the new supervisor password, remove the metal object that is shorting the two pins on the ATMEL chip!
After you've done that, press Enter and the new supervisor password — the one that you now know — is saved. Then press F10 to save changes and reboot.
Step #8: Now you're done! If you're like me and you want to get rid of the supervisor password for good, boot up the laptop once again (normally, no need to short out anything anymore), press whatever key you need to (F1 on the T23) to enter BIOS, give it the supervisor password that you just set a moment ago, select the "Password" menu and set Supervisor Password to [Disabled] and press Enter. Voilà!
Did this method work out for you? Did it not? Do you have questions or thoughts regarding this particular ThinkPad model, Lenovo-era ThinkPads or another laptop model by another manufacturer? Check out what the Laptops Wiki knows and share your best BIOS password removal tips and tricks with the community, as well as your laptop knowledge! :-)
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