|The original picture I received of the computer|
|The computer as I received it - note the pieces of rubber fallen off of the keyboard cord|
- Compaq Portable III
- running MS-DOS 6.0
- 12 MHz Intel 80286 processor with 287 math coprocessor
- 640KB RAM
- 40MB Hard Drive
- monochrome gas-plasma display (orange)
- [full specs here - from setup's INSPECT utility]
here)has copied the files off of one of said setup disks into a zip file and uploaded it, so I downloaded that zip and thought I would be ready to go. Step 2, though, was to create a disk that would be read by the Compaq, since it had trouble with my 1.44MB Oregon Trail disk. I figured the only other type of disk that it would accept would be a 720K single sided one, so I looked up how to make one. Simple - put tape over the right-side hole on a 1.44MB floppy. To format this 720K disk in Windows with my USB floppy disk drive, I ran the following command under cmd: FORMAT A: /T:80 /N:9 Luckily, it worked - according to the site, it won't work with some newer USB drives since they only support 1.44MB disks. Once I had the disk formatted, I was able to copy the files from the zip file onto it in Windows just fine. Popped that disk into the Compaq, ran SETUP.EXE, and up popped the COMPAQ logo!
So Step 3 was to finally run OREGON TRAIL, and I stuck the disk in, ran OREGON.EXE, and was greeted by the familiar splash screen.
repair manual I found here all you need to do is "gently" pull on the connector. Right - I braced myself against the computer and literally YANKED, and finally it came out. Plugged in the alternate keyboard and it worked perfectly, no worrying about any sort of layout issues or incompatibility.
|The computer sitting on my computer desk, with alternate keyboard attached|
One odd thing is that since this was a PC booter game, there is really no exit. You need to reboot or (Ctrl+Alt+Del) to get back into DOS! (Booter games were so named because you popped in the disk and the computer automatically booted into the game, not into your OS. This meant that to get back to DOS, you needed to literally reboot the computer with the DOS disk in the drive.) Another thing I knew I'd want is a word-processor. I looked into WordStar 4 and MS Word 5.1, both of which are easily found online, but I checked on the hard drive and saw that WordPerfect 5.1 was already installed! Why bother with other ones if I've already got one? Sweet! Similarly, I will use Lotus 1-2-3 for all my spreadsheeting needs - I've even got a reference manual for it which I picked up from the Vintage Computer Festival Midwest 10 (link goes to my photo album). The big project last night was getting that bag cleaned up. I used leather lotion to get the thing looking nice again, and apart from accidentally turning the inside logo a bit yellow, the bag cleaned up quite nicely compared to what it was. Overall, given that the thing works fine, nothing's smoking at all, and the floppy drive works well too, I'm an EXTREMELY happy camper. This computer is so much FUN to use!! Between the so-bad-it's-good PC speaker to the behemoth hum of the startup sequence, and of course this clear and bright ORANGE screen, the Compaq Portable III is a real sight to behold. Considering it cost the equivalent of $12,000 today (2016, original price $5,799 in 1987), you certainly got what you paid for. 29 years later, the Portable III is going strong! Upcoming is a cable replacement for the keyboard; I've got a 6-ft coiled DIN extension cable in the mail. Stay tuned!