If you owned a home computer in the 1990’s, chances are it was a Compaq Presario. Today, the name Compaq might incite nostalgia, but during the 1980’s and 1990’s, Compaq dominated the personal computer market.

Compaq was one of the first companies to successfully reverse engineer IBM technology and market it to the masses. The August 1993 release of the Presario family of PCs is an excellent case study.

Compaq’s Presario PC is a hit with home users

At the time, manufacturers were eyeing home users as the fastest growing segment in the industry. The Presario made PCs easy for computer novices and did so at an affordable price (approximately $1,400). The all-in-one machine featured a 14-inch monitor, an Intel 486 25-megahertz microprocessor and a 200-megabyte hard disk, and it was bundled with a variety of consumer-friendly software, including games for all ages and the ubiquitous America Online startup CD.

“It’s a dandy little machine,” wrote The Baltimore Sun. “The processor, monitor, and disk drives are in a single unit that won’t eat up much desk space, and there’s only one power cord to worry about. Plug it in and turn it on.”

Compaq was founded by a group of former Texas Instruments employees. The company was first publicly traded in 1983, the same year it shipped more than $111 million in portable PCs — surpassing any other first-year company to date. Compaq made the Fortune 500 in only four years. In 1987, it became the youngest company to achieve $1 billion in annual sales.

So, what happened to Compaq? Competitor HP acquired the company in 2002, and the brand was gradually discontinued, resulting in a 404 page when you visit Compaq.com — a bleak end to one of the industry’s former heavy hitters.

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Photo: Santi S / Shutterstock

Kate Johanns

Posted by Kate Johanns

Kate Johanns is a communications professional and freelance writer with more than 13 years of experience in publishing and marketing.

8 Comments

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