Zenith MinisPort
Model:ZL-1 has 1 MB RAM
ZL-2 has 2 MB RAM
Introduced:July 1989
Weight:5.9 lbs / 2.7kg
Price:US $1,995 ($2,799 w/ 2MB)
CPU:Intel 80C88 @ 4.77 / 8MHz
RAM:1MB (2MB in model ZL-2)
Ports:serial, parallel, CGA, floppy
Display:80 x 25 text, backlit LCD
640 x 200 graphics
Storage:internal 2-inch floppy drive
OS:MS-DOS 3.3 Plus in ROM

The MinisPort 2-inch floppy disk on top of a
standard 3.5-inch floppy disk for size comparison.
As the only computer to ever incorporate a 2-inch floppy drive, the Zenith Data Systems (ZDS) MinisPort is also the smallest Zenith laptop ever.

The tiny 2-inch floppy disk, which stores 720K of data, was originally developed for floppy disk-based digital cameras, but it's diminutive dimensions make it the perfect choice for this portable system.

The MinisPort can boot from the floppy drive A:, internal ROM drive C: (MS-DOS 3.3), or the optional battery-backed built-in RAM disk D:. A portion of the system memory can be set-aside as the RAM disk, to retain user data or other important information.

Since the MinisPort is the only computer system to utilize a 2-inch floppy drive, this is a major hindrance to software installation and the transfer of data to other computer systems. But there is one salvation - FastLynx, permanently installed in system ROM.

FastLynx allows you to conveniently transfer files and directories from the MinisPort to another MS-DOS based system via the serial or parallel port. Magically, no other software needs to be installed on the remote system, the MS-DOS command "CTTY" is all that's required for the transfer to take place.

  • external 3.5-inch disk drive - US$299
  • internal 1200 bps modem - US$199.

  • As on all Zenith laptops, the user can break into the "machine-language monitor" by pressing <Ctrl><Alt><Insert> at any time. This allows you to trace or resume program execution, change machine settings, run diagnostic routines, or boot from a specific drive.

    In June of 1990, Zenith announced the MinisPort HD, model ZL-1-H ($2,799) or ZL-2-H, which replaced the internal 2-inch floppy drive with an internal 2.5-inch Conner CP-2024 20Meg hard drive.
    Although fast and spacious, the hard drive dramatically reduces the system operating time, as it depletes the battery rather quickly.
    The MinisPort HD also runs at 10MHz instead of 8MHz.

    "MinisPort Laptop Hacker", circa 1993-1995, by Brian Mork of http://www.increa.com/
  • mlhschem.zip - Reverse engineered power supply notes.
  • mlhack29.zip - Technical information, notes, ideas.
  • mlhremrk.zip - Article from REMark magazine.

  • Related Links

  • WikiPedia
  • DigiBarn
  • Zenith MinisPort Laptop Hacker
  • CBR review
  • Technical Reference from ZDS Parts / Computek Systems
  • NY Times
  • RetroThing.com
  • CNN.com

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