View Full Version : Vintage Compaq Portable 8088

June 6th, 2004, 07:35 AM
I have recently inherited a Compaq Portable (as seen on this website: http://www.vintage-computer.com/compaq_portable.shtml) from my father (he didn't die, just gave it to me.) I have some questions regarding it.

First off, how can I tell what kind of shape it is in? It powers on and gets to a screen stating "checking parity" or something like that...but just stays there. I know it used to work, I used to play with it years ago. I just don't remember how to use it. I'm a victim of windows I guess. I'm not sure if I'm supposed to have a disk in or what. If you could tell me how to check to see if it works that would be great. The only 5" floppy I have is my favorate PC Collectable, a copy of the original "Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" game, and I don't want to destroy it just to test the system.

Secondly, how much would this fetch at auction, such as ebay? I would love to keep it, but I move so often and for being a "Portable" it sure gets in the way sometimes.

Finally, do you know where I can get a copy of the manual (electronic version would be fine).

Thanks for any information you can offer,

June 6th, 2004, 08:07 AM
Hello Bill,

I'm not aware of an electronic version of the manual, but the good news is that the Compaq is pretty much a 100% IBM compatible.

The issue you're seeing isn't good news, though. I'd guess that you do, in fact, have a memory issue that's preventing the RAM test from running right.

Is there any other info being displayed? Usually the machine counts down the RAM that it's checking so you can determine which bank(s) might be bad.

I believe that the machine took standard 4164 RAMs, though, so even a swapping troubleshoot (pull and replace one bank at a time) would work.

You can boot any version of MS DOS or any software designed for a PC. PC DOS should boot, but BASIC won't run.

Best of luck!


June 6th, 2004, 08:21 AM
Ha! I was just comming here to post a secondary question and you already answered it for me. I was going to ask what version of DOS would run on it.

Thanks for the information and the quick response.


Terry Yager
June 6th, 2004, 09:13 AM
The ol' original mobo used 64K DRAMs, and later models used 256K chips. The bad news is that bank 0 is soldered-in to the mainboard and not very easily replacable. The second bank should be socketed tho.
If ya ask me real nice, I might be persuaded to create images of my Compaq MSDOS (ver 3.10) & User Programs disks and make them available. IIRC, the User Programs disk contains diagnostic (system confidence) programs for the Compaq.
As far as auctions go, eBay might not be the best venue for selling it. They go there for $1.00 - around 50.00, with many going for just a dollar, and many more dying without a bid. (It's the shipping that kills the deal, mostly).


Terry Yager
June 6th, 2004, 11:14 AM

Ok, try this link:


CAUTION: May contain errors. (I got a couple read errors when creating the disk-images, but it seemed to recover gracefully). The zipfile also contains a copy of TeleDisk, for re-creating the disks. NOTE: You'll need an actual 360K floppy drive. High-Density 5.25" drives don't work worth a damn for writing 360K disks.