Compaq Portable

The Compaq Portable is a laptop that was one of the first 100% compatible IBM systems. It was the first product of Compaq Computer Corporation, followed by others in the Compaq portable series and later in the Compaq Deskpro series.

The Compaq Portable was announced in November 1982 and first marketed in March 1983 for US $ 2,995 with a 5ΒΌ “360 kbyte disk drive at mid-height or $ 3,590 for dual-disk drives. computer was a first all-in-one, becoming available two years after Osborne 1 and Kaypro II based on CP / M, the same year as the MS-DOS (but not fully IBM PC compatible) Dynalogic Hyperion, and a year before the Commodore SX-64 Its design was influenced by that of the Xerox NoteTaker, a computer prototype developed by Xerox PARC in 1976. IBM responded to the Compaq Portable with the IBM Portable, developed because its sales force needed a comparable computer to sell against Compaq.

Compaq sold 53,000 units in the first year, for a total of $ 111 million in sales, a record for US companies. In the second year, revenues reached $ 329 million, setting a record for the industry. Revenue in the third year was $ 503.9 million, another US business record.

The Compaq Portable has essentially the same hardware as an IBM PC, transplanted into a transportable case (specially designed to be carried as carry-on in an aircraft), with the Compaq BIOS instead of IBM. All notebooks come with 128k RAM and 1-2 double-sided 320k double-sided disk drives. The machine uses a unique hybrid of IBM MDA and CGA that supports the graphics modes of the latter, but contains the text fonts of the two ROM cards. When using the internal monochrome monitor, the 9×14 font is used and the 8×8 font is used when an external monitor is used (the user switches between the internal and external monitors by pressing). The user can use both IBM video standards, for graphics capabilities and high-resolution text. With a larger external monitor, the graphics hardware is also used in the original Compaq Deskpro desktop.

Compaq’s efforts were made possible because IBM had primarily used commercially available components for the PC and published complete technical documentation on this subject, and because Microsoft had retained the right to terminate MS-DOS to others. computer manufacturers. The only difficulty was the BIOS because it contained the code protected by IBM. Compaq solved this problem by producing a cleanroom workspace that fulfilled all the documented functions of the IBM PC BIOS, but was completely written from scratch. Although many other companies soon began selling compatible PCs, few matched Compaq’s remarkable compatibility with an IBM PC (typically reaching a “95 percent compatibility”) until Phoenix Technologies and others began to sell inverted BIOS. the open market. The first Laptops used Compaq DOS 1.13, essentially identical to PC DOS 1.10 except for having a standalone BASIC that did not need the ROM Cassette BASIC from IBM PC, but this was replaced in a few months by DOS 2.00 which added hard drive support and other advanced features. Aside from the use of DOS 1.x, the initial Portables are similar to the 16k-64k models of the IBM PC in that the BIOS was limited to 544k RAM and did not support expansion ROMs, thus rendering them incapable of use EGA / VGA cards, hard drives or similar equipment. After the release of DOS 2.x and IBM XT, Compaq has updated the BIOS. Although the laptop is not offered with a factory hard drive, users usually install them.

BYTE wrote, after testing a prototype, that the Compaq Portable “looks like a safe winner” because of its portability, cost, and high compatibility with the IBM PC. His reviewer tested IBM PC DOS, CP / M-86, WordStar, Supercalc and several other software packages, and found that all were working except for one game. PC Magazine also rated the Compaq Portable very strongly for compatibility , reporting that all tested applications have worked. He praised the “robust” hardware design and sharp display, and concluded that it was “certainly worth considering by anyone looking to run IBM PC software without an IBM PC.”

This machine was the first in a series of Compaq Portable machines.

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