Compaq Portable

The Compaq Portable was the first product in the Compaq portable series to be commercially available under the Compaq Computer Corporation brand . It was the first IBM PC compatible portable computer. Compaq derived their company name from the phrase "Compatibility and Quality". Announced in November 1982 and first shipped in January 1983 at a price of US$3,590, this "luggable" suitcase-sized computer was an early all-in-one computers, becoming available two years after the CP/M-based Osborne 1 and Kaypro II, in the same year as the MS-DOS-based (but not entirely IBM PC compatible) Dynalogic Hyperion and a year before the Commodore SX-64. Its design was influenced by that of the Xerox NoteTaker, a prototype computer developed at Xerox PARC in 1976.

The 28 lb (12.5 kg) of computer that made up the Compaq Portable folded up into a luggable case the size of a portable sewing machine. Compaq sold 53,000 units in the first year and set revenue records for American businesses in its first three years of operation.

The Compaq Portable had basically the same hardware as an IBM PC, transplanted into a luggable case, with Compaq's custom BIOS instead of IBM's. Compaq did not offer cassette-only models, 64k or less of memory, or single-sided floppy drives as IBM did on the PC. All Portables had 128k and one or two double-sided floppies. The machine used a unique hybrid of the IBM MDA and CGA which supported the latter's graphics modes, but contained both cards' text fonts in ROM. When using the internal monochrome monitor, the 9x14 font was used and the 8x8 one when an external monitor was used (the user switched between internal and external monitors by pressing Ctrl+Alt->). With a larger external monitor, this graphics hardware was also used in the original Compaq Deskpro desktop computer. Thus the user got the advantages of both IBM video standards (graphics capabilities plus high-resolution text.

Compaq's efforts were possible because IBM had used mostly off-the-shelf parts for their PC, and because Microsoft had kept the right to license MS-DOS to other computer manufacturers. The only part which had to be copied was the BIOS, which Compaq did legally by reverse engineering through clean room design at a cost of $1 million. Although numerous other companies soon followed its lead into the market for PC compatibles, few matched Compaq's remarkable achievement of essentially-complete software compatibility with the IBM PC (typically reaching "95% compatibility" at best) until Phoenix Technologies and others began selling similarly reverse-engineered BIOSs on the open market.IBM initially attempted to sue Compaq for copyright infringement, but the upstart company was prepared for this and the lawsuit was soon dismissed. Thus, the way was paved for any company to produce its own PC clone.

The first Portables used Compaq DOS 1.13, essentially identical to PC DOS 1.10 except for having a standalone BASIC that did not require the IBM PC's ROM Cassette BASIC, but this was superseded in a few months by DOS 2.00 which added hard disk support and other advanced features.

Aside from using DOS 1.x, the early Portables were similar to the 16k-64k models of the IBM PC in that the BIOS was limited to 576k of RAM and did not support expansion ROMs, thus making them unable to use EGA/VGA cards, hard disks, or similar hardware. Later Portables added support for these features as IBM did. Compaq did not officially offer the Portable with a hard disk, however many users installed them in their machines.

This machine was the first of a series of Compaq Portable machines including the Portable Plus, Portable 286, Portable II, Portable III, Portable 386, Portable 486 and Portable 486c.

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... In November 1982 Compaq announced their first product, the Compaq Portable, a portable IBM PC compatible personal computer ... The Compaq Portable was one of the progenitors of today's laptop some called it a "suitcase computer" for its size and the look of its case ... The Compaq Portable was the first in the range of the Compaq Portable series ...
History Of Laptops - Compaq Portable
... A more enduring success was the Compaq Portable, the first product from Compaq, introduced in 1983, by which time the IBM Personal Computer had become the standard platform ... Although scarcely more portable than the Osborne machines, and also requiring AC power to run, it ran MS-DOS and was the first true legal IBM clone (IBM's own later Portable Computer, which arrived ...

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