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Compaq Portable

This Compaq was "rescued" from a Salvation Army store. It was kind of dirty and had a few small parts rattling around inside. But it was working! Later on it became the first computer that I ever installed a hard drive in. The computer originally had two full height 5.25" 360K drives. I put in a 20 megabyte Seagate drive. The Computer also has 640K of RAM. The minimum configuration for these machines was 128K RAM and only one floppy drive. Compaq introduced an enhanced version of this machine, the Compaq Plus. The Plus was that it had an internal 10 Megabyte hard disk. I do have a Plus also, but it needs some repair.


Sliding Access door for I/O ports and expansion slots.

The early Compaqs were important because they were probably the earliest legal IBM compatible MS-DOS computers. The Compaq had a compatible BIOS chip set that did not violate IBM patents. Now you had a quality alternative to IBM, and the thing was portable too. The machine resembles a portable sewing machine case when it is packed up and ready to travel. Many other brands were only partly compatible. Some were only compatible insofar as they could read and write IBM format floppy discs. As good as some of the other non compatible MS-DOS computers were, why was it so important to be IBM compatible? People who might not have known anything else about computers were familiar with the IBM name and reputation as a leader. As a matter of fact, I believe IBM's' entry into the personal computer market may have helped "legitimize" the concept of smaller single user computers, as opposed to the notion of having everyone do all their computer work tied to a million dollar mainframe with hundreds of users. That brand name recognition made the IBM PC immensely popular. That popularity encouraged the development of many programs for the IBM like Lotus 1-2-3, Harvard Graphics, and others. Having a compatible computer gave you a wide choice of programs of all types.


Sliding access door for power switch, fan, a/c. socket, and cord storage.

One exceptional feature of the Compaq was the built-in 9 in. Dual Mode monitor. It had a monochrome mode which gave you extremely sharp text, and CGA compatible color mode which showed colors as shades of green. The computer also has an RGB connector which gives you the option of using a CGA color monitor.

Compaq built their company on the success of this design. I used this computer as one of my main machines for a time. I consider this to be one of my favorite DOS collectibles.

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