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Compaq Prosignia 3080 / 486DX33

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First post, by OSkar000

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Some time ago I found an old Compaq on an auction and couldn't resist from buying it.

When I grew up i had som kind of hate/love relationship with Compaqs computers but now allmost 20 years later I have started to like them more and more so I have a few from this 486 up to a non working Pentium Pro.

Playing around with more or less weird computers has allways been one of my passions. Mostly it has been stuff that I have found or recieved as a gift. Maybe not the most usable things but it has been great fun to get things running or to play some old games on odd hardware. Industrial PC-cards can be quite useful when building a compact retro-gaming computer...

Now its time for me to start my first project here. It will also be posted on http://www.sweclockers.com since thats the site I have grown up on during the last 20 years.

I know way to little about this computer but it starts and seems to be in pretty good condition.

fzNstT3.jpg
q4CuMi4.jpg
Lt0jddi.jpg
Full size images:
https://imgur.com/a/B9pAjzH

CPU: Intel 486DX33
RAM: 72mb! 8mb on the motherboard and 64mb on 2x32mb 72pin simms
Cache: unknown
VGA: unknown, Western Digital?
Network: 3com 509 (will be replaced by a Compaq EISA card later)
Harddrives: Compaq 1gb SCSI, Maxtor 340mb SCSI

Currently it runs Compaq Dos 5.0 and Windows 3.1. However, I'm missing the bios software so I'm a bit limited on what I can change in the computer if it needs any settings changed in the bios.

Future plans:
Get to know the hardware better.
Find the softpacs needed to get to be able to change access the bios settings
Install a SCSI CD-rom.. not that I'm going to use it but to cover up the opening in the front since its missing all the blanking plates.
Soundcard, most likely a Soundblaster 32 AWE
A better graphics card? I suspect that its some kind of Western Digital vga-chip on the motherboard.
It seems to support Pentium OverDrive CPUs...
Install Dos 6.22 and Windows 3.11. Maybe an early version of WinNT (3.51 or 3.1)
Admire it's beaty and play some old games until I get bored and start working on another computer...

Reply 1 of 50, by Scraphoarder

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Happy to see more Compaq enthusiasts! I loathed Compaq earlier, but mostly because of their crappy home computer models, Got a new experince when i started in my current job in 1999 and got familiar with Compaqs business computers and servers. Yes the were proprietary and had their odd designs, but were stable and solid.

One of my first Compaq i got hold on was a decomissioned Prolinea 486 3080 just as you have. Upgraded i with a 486 DX4 100, 16MB ram and 4x 1GB SCSI drives running NT4 server. I got rid of that and regretted that later, but fortunatly i had saved its sister earlier and it was collecting dust at work. Kindly asked my boss if i could take it home with some other Proliants and got a go. He was very pleased to get rid of some of the "nice to have junk" i had been storing over the years 😊

Reply 3 of 50, by OSkar000

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Scraphoarder wrote:

Happy to see more Compaq enthusiasts! I loathed Compaq earlier, but mostly because of their crappy home computer models, Got a new experince when i started in my current job in 1999 and got familiar with Compaqs business computers and servers. Yes the were proprietary and had their odd designs, but were stable and solid.

One of my first Compaq i got hold on was a decomissioned Prolinea 486 3080 just as you have. Upgraded i with a 486 DX4 100, 16MB ram and 4x 1GB SCSI drives running NT4 server. I got rid of that and regretted that later, but fortunatly i had saved its sister earlier and it was collecting dust at work. Kindly asked my boss if i could take it home with some other Proliants and got a go. He was very pleased to get rid of some of the "nice to have junk" i had been storing over the years 😊

I have thrown away to much hardware that I regret now so I will be really careful with what I keep and not keep in the future. I think the worst thing I've done is throwing away over 50 IBM model M keyboards at one of my first jobs...

Your Systempro LT looks really nice 😀

I also have a Proliant 1500 and a Proliant 5000 here but they will have to wait for more time and knowledge.

Warlord wrote:

Thats a Rare Waynes World MotherBoard. Those Brown Expansion Slots are EISA. 😎 Will try to help you find the BIOS and EISA config etc will probably be hard becasue its compaq.

I managed to find the right softpacs for it. The latest version (?) of the Compaq System Configuration Utility is sp19619. It seems to be able to create a new system partition and set up EISA-cards correctly.

Yesterday I got some stuff done, I installed a SCSI-cdrom from the Proliant 5000 and it seems to be working. Haven't tried finding any drivers so far but its correctly identified by the SCSI-card.

Now I just need a SCSI cable with at least four connectors. The one I have is only for two units so I have to chose between the CD and another harddrive.

Reply 4 of 50, by eisapc

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Congratulations, I own two of these systems myself. Along with many more Compaq servers including the 1500 and 5000. As you allready found out the box does not have any usual BIOS, instead allmost everything is configured by the ECU (EISA configuration utility). This can be started from floppy disks. On later systems I recommend using the CD-ROM version included on the SMARTSTART CDs availiable for free download on the hp site. SMARTSTART 5.50 is the last version supporting EISA systems and a Compaq branded CD-drive is required to make them boot. If I remember correct the Prosignia 3080 does not supports the CD bootable process. The SCSI drivers are the same as for the 3 connector EISA card, they were named like cpqscsi.sys and cpqcd.sys, I will have to look for the SP. I have equiped mine with the SMART-1 RAID-controller attached to 4x 2GB disks and running netware 3.2 feeding some DOS and win9x clients with disk storage. Is this a 3C509 or the EISA version 3C579 installed in your system?
eisapc

Reply 5 of 50, by OSkar000

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eisapc wrote:

Congratulations, I own two of these systems myself. Along with many more Compaq servers including the 1500 and 5000. As you allready found out the box does not have any usual BIOS, instead allmost everything is configured by the ECU (EISA configuration utility). This can be started from floppy disks. On later systems I recommend using the CD-ROM version included on the SMARTSTART CDs availiable for free download on the hp site. SMARTSTART 5.50 is the last version supporting EISA systems and a Compaq branded CD-drive is required to make them boot. If I remember correct the Prosignia 3080 does not supports the CD bootable process. The SCSI drivers are the same as for the 3 connector EISA card, they were named like cpqscsi.sys and cpqcd.sys, I will have to look for the SP. I have equiped mine with the SMART-1 RAID-controller attached to 4x 2GB disks and running netware 3.2 feeding some DOS and win9x clients with disk storage. Is this a 3C509 or the EISA version 3C579 installed in your system?
eisapc

I did some more work on it last night and got the system partition created and the ECU / "bios" installed on it. Next step now is to find my MS Dos 6.22 disk that I have somewhere...

I think I have one of those Smartstart CDs here together with some documentation covering the Proliant 1500 and/or 5000.

The network card I tried was an normal ISA 3Com 509. Will test the EISA card later, its currently installed in the Proliant 1500 but not in use there so I belive it will be more useful in the Prosignia.

During my tests in yesterday I found out that it has 256k L2 cache installed but I still don't know much about the VGA-chip other than its a WD90C11A LR. I have another EISA VGA-card from another 486 but I'm not sure if its any better. It has a similar VGA-chip from Western Digital named WD90C00 JK. It would be really nice to get a card that can handle at least 1024x768 in 256 colours or even 1600x1200 at the same color depth.

Reply 6 of 50, by chinny22

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Compaq are a special OEM in the PC history, with the reversed engineered bios, the portable and head of Gang of Nine/EISA.
But most importantly yeh they are a little weird but they are good solid machines for retro fun!

I was the opposite to Scraphoarder. I worked with the business range of Compaq's and really liked the stuff. solid, reliable, easy to work on.
Then came across a home range late P3 early P4 era machine and thought wtf is this, had to remove the CPU heatsink to install ram? this wasn't the Compaq I knew 🙁

Got a PL1600, love that server.
Proliant 1600 Barn (well shop office) Find

Reply 7 of 50, by SpectriaForce

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For other folks who are searching for a COMPAQ (EISA) setup program, here's the softpaq library: ftp://ftp.hp.com/pub/softpaq

RETROGAMEPC.COM

Reply 8 of 50, by CoffeeOne

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I did some more work on it last night and got the system partition created and the ECU / "bios" installed on it. Next step now i […]
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I did some more work on it last night and got the system partition created and the ECU / "bios" installed on it. Next step now is to find my MS Dos 6.22 disk that I have somewhere...

I think I have one of those Smartstart CDs here together with some documentation covering the Proliant 1500 and/or 5000.

The network card I tried was an normal ISA 3Com 509. Will test the EISA card later, its currently installed in the Proliant 1500 but not in use there so I belive it will be more useful in the Prosignia.

During my tests in yesterday I found out that it has 256k L2 cache installed but I still don't know much about the VGA-chip other than its a WD90C11A LR. I have another EISA VGA-card from another 486 but I'm not sure if its any better. It has a similar VGA-chip from Western Digital named WD90C00 JK. It would be really nice to get a card that can handle at least 1024x768 in 256 colours or even 1600x1200 at the same color depth.

[/quote]
Wow, a lot of people still playing with this kind of machines.
I made an account here, because I have such a machine, too.
I got it (I think) like 10 years ago.
I put some EISA cards in it:
Compaq EISA graphics card, as far as I know 1MB VRAM.
Adaptec EISA 2742 AT
3 Com EISA 3C592 Combo

There was a AMD 486DX2-66 CPU in it, I replaced it with a Pentium Overdrive 83MHz.

Ram was a single 32MB stick, so it had 40MB in total. I added 3 more 8MB sticks, so it's now 64MB.
There was no harddisk in it, I added a 4GB SCSI, can't remember exactly
Please don't laugh, but I installed Windows 98 second edition on the machine.
I put the Adaptec controller in it, because the onboard controller was not detected by Windows.

I will remove the dust, and start playing with it in the next days 😁

So the machine is pretty much on top what is possible, only thing I could upgrade is the RAM, I will try to get 2 more 32MB FPM with parity sticks, to get 8+8+32+32+32=112MB.

Reply 9 of 50, by CoffeeOne

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The computer still works like a charm 😀, but honestly spoken I never did something with it, I only installed Windows 98 SE back in time. 😁
Some Photos:

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So there is an IBM harddisk inside, Toshiba CD ROM and a SoundBlaster 16 card.

Now I have to search for my ECU Floppy Disk, I hope I still have it.

What kind of RAM for the 32MB sticks do I need. As far as I know it should be Fast Page Mode (no EDO) with parity, double sided with 9 chips on both sides. 70ns is sufficient.
Is it correct?

Reply 10 of 50, by jaZz_KCS

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I do not think you are limited to only the 9-chip variant here, as a quick google-ing resulted in some offered sticks of different combinations (like 6 that claim to be compatible with the ProSignia 3080.)

Example: (8MB - Compaq part number 128877-001)
8mb-compaq-72pin-parity-simm-p-n-128877-001-15.gif

Seems to be only limited to 72-pin SIMM / FPM with parity.
Fo the 32MB variety, 9-chip density could be a limit, though.

Reply 11 of 50, by CoffeeOne

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Googling was actually a great idea 😁

"
32MB Compaq ProLinea/ProSignia/Presario Parity SIMM

149147-001, 190748-001, KTC32K/PS
"
That seems to be the right memory, not so easy to get as it seems.
I need a seller inside the european union

Reply 13 of 50, by CoffeeOne

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jaZz_KCS wrote:

Wouldn't throw in that towel just yet, could very well be that generic PS/2 class 72-pin FPM parity SIMMS could be utilized here, instead of having to hunt down the exact parts.

That's true:

I opened the case, to check what 32MB module is inside:
It's a Kingston KTC32K/PS
It has 14 chips on the front, 10 memory chips on the backside, so 24 memory chips in total.

Reply 15 of 50, by CoffeeOne

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OSkar000 wrote:
I did some more work on it last night and got the system partition created and the ECU / "bios" installed on it. Next step now i […]
Show full quote
eisapc wrote:

Congratulations, I own two of these systems myself. Along with many more Compaq servers including the 1500 and 5000. As you allready found out the box does not have any usual BIOS, instead allmost everything is configured by the ECU (EISA configuration utility). This can be started from floppy disks. On later systems I recommend using the CD-ROM version included on the SMARTSTART CDs availiable for free download on the hp site. SMARTSTART 5.50 is the last version supporting EISA systems and a Compaq branded CD-drive is required to make them boot. If I remember correct the Prosignia 3080 does not supports the CD bootable process. The SCSI drivers are the same as for the 3 connector EISA card, they were named like cpqscsi.sys and cpqcd.sys, I will have to look for the SP. I have equiped mine with the SMART-1 RAID-controller attached to 4x 2GB disks and running netware 3.2 feeding some DOS and win9x clients with disk storage. Is this a 3C509 or the EISA version 3C579 installed in your system?
eisapc

I did some more work on it last night and got the system partition created and the ECU / "bios" installed on it. Next step now is to find my MS Dos 6.22 disk that I have somewhere...

I think I have one of those Smartstart CDs here together with some documentation covering the Proliant 1500 and/or 5000.

The network card I tried was an normal ISA 3Com 509. Will test the EISA card later, its currently installed in the Proliant 1500 but not in use there so I belive it will be more useful in the Prosignia.

During my tests in yesterday I found out that it has 256k L2 cache installed but I still don't know much about the VGA-chip other than its a WD90C11A LR. I have another EISA VGA-card from another 486 but I'm not sure if its any better. It has a similar VGA-chip from Western Digital named WD90C00 JK. It would be really nice to get a card that can handle at least 1024x768 in 256 colours or even 1600x1200 at the same color depth.

An EISA graphics card that can do 1600x1200 will be hard to find. I am not even sure, if such a card exists.
I have the compaq 1024/E card inside (1MB VRAM as far as I know), it can do 1024x768 256 colours with 60Hz.
In my second 486er EISA machine, I have a ATI Graphics Ultra Pro 2MB VRAM, it can do 1280x1024 256 colours 60Hz. These cards are rare, I was lucky to get one 😀

Reply 16 of 50, by CoffeeOne

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A small update from my side:
Unfortunately I could not find the ECU disks for the ProSignia ... Also I did not install the system partition back in time.
Well with the hints in the previous postings, I found in reasonable time the "Compaq System Configuration Utility VERSION: 2.58 Rev A" and "Compaq Server Diagnostics
VERSION: S10.38 B". But then I really struggled to find a possible BIOS upgrade for this machine 🙁
The official name of the machine is "Compaq ProSignia Server", but it's not used consistently. I finally found it then via Google search, searching for "ProSignia 386E5", so the 3 needed files were:
sp14126.exe
sp19619.exe
sp19686.exe
Maybe that's useful to somebody else, too.
Since I had no useful data on this machine, I cleared the harddisk, and installed the system partition.
Now the good news: I found a 3Com 3C597 card, now the machine has 100MBit ethernet, too, only 2 EISA slots left now.
Also today the ordered RAM arrived, so the machine has 112MB now, counting up nicely to 114688K.
It's my first 486 computer, that has more than 64MB RAM, yay.
I already re-installed Windows 98SE, but need to install some tools, like a web browser that supports https or a FTP client (directly transferring file from Windows 10 to Windows 98SE did not work for me anymore, worked back in time with Windows 7). Will do it in the next days.

If I am able find an EISA wide SCSI controller with Windows 98 drivers, I will again change the hardware, because I have 5 spare harddisks, all 9GB with 68 pin connector, but for now the 4GB 50pin harddisk is fine.

There are some weirds things, but not too worrying: Whenever I add the configuration utility (no changes made the hardware), it tells me it has to update the internal SCSI controller. The internally SCSI controller is in fact disabled, because there is nothing connected to it, so I don't understand this behaviour.

Reply 17 of 50, by OSkar000

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Not much happening here since I got another project that needs some more attention than this one. More on that later 😀

I got image files for Dos 6.22 and I found the orignal windows 3.11 installation disks in a box here. Also with Dos 5 and Windows 3.0 and some other programs from that time. Hopefully the disks are still ok.

SP19619 was the one I installed earlier. Found it looking thru the content file on HP/Compaqs FTP to find out what the Softpacs contain. It took a while but it gave me some hints and tips.
ftp://ftp.hp.com/pub/softpaq/allfiles.txt

Search for Prosignia and you will find some information that points you in the right direction. If the Softpac isn't available on the FTP there are some chanses to find them just by googling the sp-number. I found several on an old mirror of the Compaq FTP.

Reply 18 of 50, by CoffeeOne

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eisapc wrote on 2019-12-16, 12:49:

Congratulations, I own two of these systems myself. Along with many more Compaq servers including the 1500 and 5000. As you allready found out the box does not have any usual BIOS, instead allmost everything is configured by the ECU (EISA configuration utility). This can be started from floppy disks. On later systems I recommend using the CD-ROM version included on the SMARTSTART CDs availiable for free download on the hp site. SMARTSTART 5.50 is the last version supporting EISA systems and a Compaq branded CD-drive is required to make them boot. If I remember correct the Prosignia 3080 does not supports the CD bootable process. The SCSI drivers are the same as for the 3 connector EISA card, they were named like cpqscsi.sys and cpqcd.sys, I will have to look for the SP. I have equiped mine with the SMART-1 RAID-controller attached to 4x 2GB disks and running netware 3.2 feeding some DOS and win9x clients with disk storage. Is this a 3C509 or the EISA version 3C579 installed in your system?
eisapc

I use in my Compaq Prosignia Server an Adaptec 2742, because I did not like the onboard SCSI NCR controller.
I would like to switch to wide SCSI disks, what would be a good SCSI controller for this machine?
Is there a Compaq Wide raid controller for this machine available? Or should I try to get another Adaptec 2742W?
A Compaq 199634-001 seems to be available via Ebay, any other recommendations?

Remark: I am quoting you, because you wrote you have 2 of those ... Which SCSI controllers do you use?

Reply 19 of 50, by eisapc

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Wide SCSI controllers for EISA are hard to find. Best fit would be the Compaq SMART 2/E RAID Controller, while the Adaptec 2740W might be the easiest to find.
There is a wide SCSI EISA availiable from Compaq as well (PN 199633-001) based on the NCR 825 (which is more common than the onboard NCR 710).
https://651c328d1de292af2c4b-28651361a0deac96 … /199633-001.jpg
Other manufacturers I had good experience with are DPT and ICP Vortex, both manufacturers of RAID and caching SCSI controllers were bought by Adaptec meanwhile.
http://download.adaptec.com/pdfs/smartraid4.pdf (Raid and Cache are optional with the DPT controllers)
Wide SCSI controllers for EISA are rare due to the fact it was new when EISA was common and most EISA systems stuck on fast SCSI at this time.
eisapc