When Compaq launched its Portable III, the lauch was timed to occurs simultaneously in twelve countries around the world, in keeping with Compaq's showmanship style.
The Portable III previously rumoured to be the smallest, lightest and fastest 386 machine but Compaq only had a 286-12 mainboard ready to be mass produced. The 386 version would follow about one year later.
Compaq actually released a 286 version to restore its Number One spot in the portable market, under the pressure from Toshiba with its T-1100 and T-3100 and Zenith with its Z-181.
The design of the Portable II had been deeply improved over the earlier Compaq portable machines. It was half the size and its footprint occupied half the space of the first Compaq Portable. The most remarquable feature was its neat gas plasma display wich lifted up and swiveled so that it could be placed in a good position for reading.
The machine shipped with either a 20 MB or 40 MB hard-disk. Two internal cards could be added, a RAM card (up to 2 MB) and a 1200-baud modem card. An external expansion box allowed to add two standard IBM-AT cards and carry them along with the computer.
Ryan Schweitzer adds:
It also has a proprietary graphics mode that allows it to run at true 640 x 400 mode. I ran both a copy of Windows/286 2.11 (yes, 2.11 :) ) that had a Compaq Portable display driver for 640 x 400 (if I recall correctly), and also had an installation of GeoWorks Ensemble 2.0 on it, that could make the display run perfectly at 640 x 400 if the display drivers for the AT&T 6300 (also 640x400) were used!!!
I think ensemble's AT&T driver might of used the same calls/registers/interrupts/whatnot to the Portable's graphics chipset, or maybe even possibly the Portable used the same graphics chipset as the AT&T 6300.
Nancy Hackett's bad experience:
Oh, did this machine have problems! I went through four of those nifty plasma monitors, several hard drives, two factory rebuilds, and an uncounted number of motherboards trying to track down internal error codes that Compaq said didn't exist!
It came (not so) lovingly to be known as "The Compaq from Hell" with the motherboard rumored to be numbered "666". Both the maintenance manager's and the Compaq regional rep's hands would sweat every time I lugged it in. The spectacular finale was when the power supply blew, shooting blue flames 18" out the side! LOL! That was an experience!