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International Quartz Laptop (IQL): any info, and a screen question

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    International Quartz Laptop (IQL): any info, and a screen question

    So, I've had this MS-DOS laptop for the past 25 years. I got it as settlement for back pay from a VAR I worked for in the early '90, so I don't know much about its origins, other than it was called an "IQL." It was only recently I noticed on the label on the bottom of the unit (pic enclosed) mentions an "International Quartz Limited" which turns out to be a company in Hong Kong. Google doesn't turn up anything of use on this beast. Anyone have a history of this thing? Are there other examples of it out there?

    Brief specs are: 10Mhz 81086, 640K, CGA Graphics, Blue/black monochrome backlit (although very dimly now) display. 720K and 360K floppies. It also has an RTC, but the battery is long since dead and I haven't opened it up to see what replacing it would entail.

    It has an external 12v adapter (that has an annoyingly loud fan in it). It use to also have a separate lead-acid battery (a motorcycle battery I think) in an enclosure. You'd daisy chain the adapter to the battery, and the battery to the laptop. The battery was recycled ages ago... I may still have the enclosure hiding some place.

    The machine works pretty well... I just brought it out of storage to read some data off of some 360K disks, since that's the only functioning IBM 5-1/4 I have at the moment. The real issue is the screen. It seems to have some sort of bleaching around the edges, which has been going on now for years. It makes that already hard to read display pretty much unusable. Fortunately, there's a composite and RGB out, so I can still fire it up and use it with an external monitor. Obviously that's a bit clunky.

    I had the idea to try to find a modern LCD panel that could replace the screen. I haven't found anything exactly that size, but things that could probably be hacked into the case. Given that I haven't done this sort of thing before, I'd likely end up butchering the thing. If this laptop is rather rare, I'd hate to do that.

    As an alternative, is anyone familiar with the issue I'm seeing in the screen? I basically assumed the thing is just dying of old age, but maybe there's a fix?


    Man, that thing is a beast! Bet it's an arm stretcher to carry.

    Replacing the screen is going to be dicey, at best. You'll probably have to find an exact match and given the fact the brand is basically a "beige box" clone, you'll be very lucky to find a match.

    From the looks of it, the front facia should come off by removing 4 screws. From there it's a matter of getting the model number off the LCD panel. I'm betting it's all pretty much just plug ins as far as uninstalling and reinstalling.

    Good luck!

    Outside a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside a dog it's too dark to read! Groucho Marx

    Curtis McCain


      Hard to tell without taking it apart. Might be just some kinda condensation/dirt behind the polarizing filter. I'd take it apart and clean the display and filters and see what that does. Did you play a bit with the contrast control? At least from the pics it does not look like the sides are "dead", they are just hard to read.


        Originally posted by curtis View Post
        Man, that thing is a beast! Bet it's an arm stretcher to carry.
        It's not that bad... but then again, my definition of a heavy portable is the Osborne Executive my dad had back in the day...

        It's probably a just a few pounds heavier than the 17" workstation laptop they gave me at work.

        Originally posted by curtis View Post
        Replacing the screen is going to be dicey, at best. You'll probably have to find an exact match and given the fact the brand is basically a "beige box" clone, you'll be very lucky to find a match.
        I'm wondering if it's the same screen as the Toshibas of the same period (like the T1200). Not that it helps... I can't imagine spares are easy to find for those either.


          Originally posted by kyodai View Post
          Hard to tell without taking it apart. Might be just some kinda condensation/dirt behind the polarizing filter. I'd take it apart and clean the display and filters and see what that does. Did you play a bit with the contrast control? At least from the pics it does not look like the sides are "dead", they are just hard to read.
          I did play with the contrast a bit. It seems to affect just the center of the screen, not the edges.

          Looks like I'll take a screwdriver to it this weekend. Hopefully you're right and it's just some crud that's creeped in, or something else that has affected the structure. I wonder if the filter has warped a bit away from the screen around the edges.

          Otherwise, I'm thinking I won't do anything destructive to it.


            OK, I had some free time last night so I went ahead and opened up the screen. It did come off very easily... four screws and the entire front bezel comes off. Sweet! Pulling off the bezel also removes the clear screen cover (not sure if that is the polariser or not). Underneath, the bleaching was still evident around the edges of the screen. I went ahead and detached the screen itself. Attempting to clean the screen surface had no effect. The issue isn't crud built up on the surface.

            After poking at it, I figured I had little to lose if I went ahead and opened the unit up. It has a metal frame around it that was secured to the circuit board with a series of bent tabs. Unbending them let the LCD itself come free, revealing (I guess?) the electro-luminescent backing. Looking into the LCD itself, I could clearly see the bleaching was within the front and back of the panel. Attempting to compress the front and back didn't have an effect. Also, there was no cleaning I could do that would affect the fading at the edges of the screen.

            So, that seems to be it for the LCD. I reassembled it, but it seems more messed up that before (now large areas are streaky). I was basically prepared for that when I opened up the panel itself.

            I didn't see any obvious model number on the panel. There were a few price-sticker like things, one of which looked like a lot number. The chips on the back are all marked OKI. The video, power, and the LED's for the floppies all come up through one of the hinges in a single ribbon cable. The inside of the screen area is pretty spacious. I may try to find a modern LCD with a controller board that accepts a composite signal, and add that in. Not sure I have the electronics know-how to determine the what the signal is being sent up through the ribbon cable.

            IMG_20150812_214830.jpg IMG_20150812_214915.jpg IMG_20150813_165837.jpg


              The front of the panel should be a polarizing filter. On Picture 3 you are holding it. Looks like that one is "bleached" or whatever you call that effect. You can turn on the machine with the filter removed and should not be able to see anything (The screen is "invisible" without the filter). The good thing about a polarizing filter is that it is "generic" and an optical not an electronic part, so if you have another donor LCD you can just remove the filter and even "cut it" to fit your Quartz laptop screen. Before you cut around I'd hold the donor in front of the quartz laptop screen to see if it works properly, there were vertical and horizontal filters and as you might guess - mixing these up would just result in a completely black or "invisible" screen.

              In a nutshell - try to see if the polarizing filter is the problem (looks like it though). Replacing the filter is extremely easy and you can "cut" another filter to your needs. Any "donor" screen or laptop that is the same or larger size would do. Finding a compatible LCD screen is somewhere between hard and impossible. Finding a donor is easy and cheap. Can buy any old LCD based laptop or screen, even if broken beyond repair, since the filter is hardly ever damaged. Something like this might do:


              Last edited by kyodai; August 14, 2015, 04:45 AM.