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C > COMPAQ > Portable


This mini forum is intended to provide a simple means of discussion about the Compaq Portable computer. If you want to share your own experience or memories, or add relevant information about this system: post a message!

  Click Here to add a message in the forum


Saturday 19th February 2022

I believe the comment about CGA/MDA is incorrect. The portable does indeed have MDA (9x14 text mode). The difference is obvious when you are in MDA mode, there are more than 8 pixels per character. The IBM-5155 however did not have MDA mode.

Saturday 27th March 2021
Christopher (United States)

The keyboard had KeyTronic contact “foam and foil” mylar pads: Apple Lisa 1 and 2, AVL Eagle K69, Compaq Portable, Compaq Deskpro 286 AT keyboard, Compaq Enhanced Keyboard, Curvus Concept, Datapoint, DEC, Franklin Ace 1000/1100/1200, GenRad, IBM PCjr (some), Kaypro II, Key Tronic Model F clone series, Macintosh XL, Miniterm 1203, Northstar Advantage, Sirius 1, Sol-20, Sol-220, SUN Type 4, Tandberg Data TDV 2115C, Tandy TRS-80, Tektronix 4107, Unisys F420800, Victor 9000, Visual Technology 1050, and more. Also found in old BTC keyboards. People tend to either hate this style of keyboard or love them, but the foam does disintegrate. It''s not as nice and not nearly as rugged as the contemporary IBM Model M''s or F''s. "Foam and foil" both respond to light keystrokes, and give cushion and a tiny bit more travel for hard keystrokes. Which is a big part of the appeal. Sorry this is so late, John Hunter! Texelec is the only place I know with replacement pads.

Tuesday 18th September 2018
Jason (Australia)

Hi does anyone have a schematic for the compaq portable III power supply

Saturday 11th August 2018
John Hunter (Virginia, USA)

My first computer was a Compaq "luggable." What I miss most about it is the keyboard, more specifically, the nature of the stroke. It is the only keyboard on which I could type at high speed, without fatigue and with minimal stroke errors. Now that I have arthritis in my fingers, I''d like to find a modern keyboard with the same type of "feel." Can anyone suggest something? It would have to be Apple OSx compatible. Thanks.

Tuesday 7th November 2017
John Evans (United States)

Q: Does anyone have a pointer to service manuals/data for the original Compaq Portable model number 101709 ?


Friday 27th October 2017

Tuesday 15th January 2013
swarm (Czech Republic)

I liked the ability of Compaq Portable video hardware to switch in something like an MDA mode for displaying text. It was limited only to text, but the result was crisp like with MDA - same character resolution but if I remember there was no support for things like underlined characters. Anyway it was primarily a CGA card, so you couldn''t use MDA CRTs. RGB (CGA) output was disabled in this mode.

Thursday 21st June 2012
Mickie Weiss (IL, USA)

In the 90''s I worked as an editorial assistant for a writer/teacher. I hadn''t worked on a computer before, but loved Word Perfect and taught myself to build databases...
My boss got a new computer so gave me his old one. I had a problem once so called Compaq. The customer service rep kept asking me the model number on the machine. I told him that I had looked absolutely everywhere and that there was NO model number. He finally got fed up and sent me to tech support. The guy in tech support, after hearing a description, very fondly stated with an obvious smile in his voice, "Oh, you have a Luggable!"

No, not the prettiest thing, but it did get me through grad school. I would have kept using it, but I am NOT a computer ''geek" and could not get beyond some growing incompatabilities. I do still have the machine though!

Thursday 3rd November 2011
David (Georgia, USA)

I worked for the State of Georgia Department of Public Safety in the 90s and we used these to issue licenses on until 1996!
These things were tanks.

Friday 26th November 2010
Joyce Neu (United States)

I bought the Compaq "luggable" in early 1984 to write my dissertation on. Was probably among the first people at USC to submit a dissertation typed on a computer, but it was very difficult to do as there was no WYSIWYG.

Still have it and it still works, although I haven''t used it in about 20+ years and now have only Apple machines.

Monday 16th August 2010
Joe (USA)

I have a Compaq Plus (gold labels $ green screen) that is taking up space. Is there a market these machines?
Thank you.

Wednesday 19th May 2010
Mike Chambers (St. Louis, MO, USA)

Great little piece of computing history here. I have one. In fact, it''s turned on right now! The hard drive magically still works.

I installed an old NE1000 ethernet card, and am running an IRC server on it. No there weren''t any IRC server programs available for DOS. I had to write it from scratch. In QuickBASIC 7.1! Compiled to EXE of course. $-0

Sunday 23rd November 2008
Mark Powell (England)

Compaq made a ''tool'' to aid with the opening of the top cover. Basically a wedge of plastic. We found that if you lent on the Compaq logo and whacked the opposite side, the lid would spring off quite nicely.

We also suffered ''Compaq finger'' as we called it - losing all the skin across our knuckles trying to gain access to the ISA slots or motherboard. The backs of those pcb''s HURT!

Tuesday 17th June 2008
Bill S. (Florida, USA)

We had one of these actually still in use in 2000/2001 as a data scope for telecommunications! Very robust system; ours had an amber monitor, however, not a green monitor. Didn't use it myself, but I knew what it was.

Thursday 28th June 2007
Rob Pannett (Florida )

I used one of these in my first post-college job, starting in 1988. I am surprised now to learn that the machine was already several years old then! I would attach an external monitor to be able to program in color. Don't really remember having trouble with it, but my how time flies..

Monday 13rd November 2006
Dave Gibbons (USA)

I owned a Portable as my first computer. I remember paying $2,400 for it with 256MB of RAM and two floppy drives. I I installed a small hard drive in it and eventually gave it to my neice who used it through college before it died. Since then, I found a Portable 286-12MHz that I still own. The keyboad is different with a larger "Enter" key, but otherwise it looks like the original Portable. I used my original Portable for work, but now the Portable 286 is usually only fired up to show friends the first computer game I ever played, "Adventure." My Portable 286 still works fine and is a multi-purpose machine in that it also holds doors open in even the strongest wind gusts. I would welcome donating it to a museum some day.

Saturday 8th April 2006
Craig Buffington (New Jersey)

Yes, we still have ours. It does not get as much use as it once did since we bought a newer model. Mostly it just collects dust now.

Thursday 29th December 2005
D. White (MA)

Don't laugh but we still use one here. But that may not last much longer as it is starting to show signs of impending doom. It is used as a data acquisition system for pressure and velocity measurements since the mid 80's in our laboratory.

Wednesday 22nd June 2005
Dennis Littlefield (USA)

I purchased a Portable in May 1983. It had the standard basic configuration of 128k memory and 2-360k floppies, Price was $4,000. It also had an AMBER monitor, the green screen was an option. Later, it was upgraded to 640K memory with an add-in 384K multi function memory card. Much Later, a CPU emulater card was installed to speed it up to a blazing 12Mhz and I also added a massive 20meg HardCard. This system still works fine running MS-DOS 6.2. Apps still installed are FoxPro, MS-Word, MS-Excel and several antique games.

Thursday 6th November 2003
M. Ayers (North Carolina)

We have four of these beauties, use to run heart rates on them, now they are just sitting around.

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