Compaq Portable II First Impressions


Today, I bought a 1986 Compaq Portable II computer. It originally cost $3,500, but I paid a mere $45.

The specs of the Compaq Portable II are (according to Wikipedia)

Operating system: MS-DOS 3.1

CPU: Intel 80286 @ 6 or 8MHz (dual-speed)

Memory : 256kB-640kB

Storage: 360kB 5.25″ floppy drive, optional 10MB hard drive

Display: 9″ Monochrome monitor

Graphics:  720×350 (text mode), 640×200 (graphics mode)

Sound : PC speaker


During the late 1980s, portable computers were evolving into more laptop forms. The IBM Convertible PC was a good example of it. The Compaq Portable II is very well designed, for a portable PC. It features a fold out keyboard with a recessed cord. It has a power cord compartment which doubles as a stand in the back. There are two doors on the side that slide open, one for the power supply and the other for IO ports. There is a nice faux leather handle, to carry the computer around. The Compaq Portable II is not too heavy, but weighs more than my desktop.

Photo of the Compaq Portable II open.

Picture of it closed. You can see the compartment in the middle that holds the power cord and doubles as stand.


There are several IO ports featured on the right side of the computer, for plugging in peripherals like printers. There are two 5.25″ floppy drives in the front.


The keyboard on the Compaq Portable II is nearly full scale, and nice to type on.


The Compaq Portable II has a 9″ green monochrome display. It is very nice and vibrant. It has 720×350 resolution for text mode, and 640×200 for graphics mode.

Operating System

The Compaq Portable II comes with MSDOS 3.1 and can run a wide range of programs.


The Compaq Portable II boots up fairly quickly. I have not tested any program yet, as I don’t possess any or 5.25″ floppy discs.


The Compaq Portable II is a pretty good portable computer for the time. It features many improvements over the original Compaq Portable, especially in size and weight.

Comments (10)

10 responses to “Compaq Portable II First Impressions”

  1. evox81

    Assuming it uses fairly standard connectors, you might look at something like this:

    It emulates a floppy drive from a USB flash drive. You load images of floppy discs on a USB drive, you use the buttons to select which one to access at a time.

  2. SteveSnow1

    But, how many tubes does it have in it (not counting the CRT)? Must be a load of them.

    Around that time I was fixing Columbia PC's (or was supposed to be).

  3. Paul Thurrott

    This is amazing.

  4. jimchamplin

    Freakin' sweet!

    You can run Windows 3.1 in Standard Mode on this thing if you use the CGA graphics driver from Windows 3.0.

  5. wunderbar

    OH wow this is cool.

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    OMG! this is antique.

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  7. SimJeff

    I used one of those for maintaining automation equipment for a plant (sadly for a few years past its prime).    Truly a luggable....