10 Facts About Compaq Portable


Compaq Portable was an early portable computer which was one of the first IBM PC compatible systems.

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Only Compaq Portable was able to fully capitalize on this, by aiming for complete IBM PC and PC DOS software compatibility, while reverse-engineering the BIOS to head off copyright legal claims.

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Compaq Portable sold 53, 000 units in the first year with a total of in revenue, an American Business record.

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Compaq Portable has basically the same hardware as an IBM PC, transplanted into a luggable case, with Compaq's BIOS instead of IBM's.

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Compaq Portable used a "foam and foil" keyboard from Keytronics, with contact mylar pads that were featured in the Tandy TRS-80, Apple Lisa 1 and 2, Compaq Portable Deskpro 286 AT, some mainframe terminals, SUN Type 4, and some Wang keyboards.

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Compaq Portable's efforts were possible because IBM had used mostly off-the-shelf parts for the PC and published full technical documentation for it, and because Microsoft had kept the right to license MS-DOS to other computer manufacturers.

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Compaq Portable solved this problem by producing a clean room workalike that performed all documented functions of the IBM PC BIOS, but was completely written from scratch.

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In 1985, Compaq introduced the Portable 286, but it was replaced by the more compact Portable II in a redesigned case within a few months.

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The Compaq Portable 286 featured a full height hard disk, and the options of one half-height floppy drive, two half-height floppy drives, or a half-height floppy drive and a tape backup drive.

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BYTE wrote, after testing a prototype, that the Compaq Portable "looks like a sure winner" because of its portability, cost, and high degree of compatibility with the IBM PC.

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