The Compaq LTE286 laptop has to be one of my favourite retro laptops that I own, and it might be due to the fact that it was my very first laptop that I had.
As a kid, I wanted a laptop so bad, but most 486 and Pentium 1 laptops were hundreds of dollars second-hand, well out of reach for a 10-year-old coming from a working-class family.
This LTE/286 was given to me by a school friends dad who found it in a skip at work. All it had installed was MS-DOS 3.31. Since then I have upgraded it to MS-DOS 6.0 and Windows 2.0 as well as a few CGA dos games.
The Compaq LTE 286, were among the first computers to be close to the size of a paper notebook, spurring the use of the term “notebook”. Many groups I have read throughout the web consider the LTE/286 to be one of the first small, portable notebook computers with a battery ever created.
The laptop is mint condition, the plasma display is bright as it was 10 years ago and amazingly the battery still holds 2 hours of charge. The only two items I have replaced on this laptop was the Conner Type 53 40MB hard drive which were prone to failure and also CMOS battery which requires the bottom casing to be removed and it’s a bit of a challenge to do as the plastic is quite brittle, I found that pushing sides in then lifting the casing off was the best technique.
The LTE was introduced in 1989 and was one of the first models to be the size of a notebook, thus the term “notebook computer”, the LTE model name was considered to mean “Lite” as a reference to the LTE’s small size and weight of only 3.0kg.
The specifications of the LTE/286 was very impressive at its time of release, which proved it to be more successful that it’s competitors, one of those features being a built in 40MB hard drive and 1.44MB floppy.
The competing laptops from NEC and Toshiba only had 720KB Floppies and no internal hard drive, the one downside was that it used a blue backlit plasma CGA (Colour Graphics Adapter) display with a resolution on 640 x 200 or (80 x 25 lines) compared to 640 x 480 grayscale LCD but seriously, come on the back light on these were blue, Four shades of grey? I don’t think so, these little baby’s pumped out 4 shades of blue!
|12 MHz Intel 80C286
|Conner Type 53 40MB 23ms seek time
|Backlit grayscale CGA 640 x 200 display (80/40 x 25 lines, 4 shades of gray)
|640 kB RAM, additional 1-4 MB using memory expansion cards
|1.44MB Floppy (720k compatible)
|Optional 2400 bit/s Hayes
• The bios on the LTE can only be accessed using the Compaq Diagnostic boot disk.
• The battery pack can be rebuilt using C size rechargeable battery’s.
• The Conner CP4041 Hard drive is prone to failure, so it’s a good idea to preform quick formats instead of a full format so there is less stress on the disc’s platter.
• The hard drives IDE connector is smaller than a regular desktop and laptop connector, I am yet to have seen this connector on another laptop before.