Compaq Presario CDS 524

There’s a long history of all-in-one computers, dating back to the Apple LISA and the Macintosh in the early 80s. Here’s a 1994 version of an all-in-one PC compatible, the Compaq Presario CDS524.

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Historic Overview

It’s in now way a comparison to modern-day AIO computers with the slim designs and flat panel displays, it’s big, it’s heavy, it’s bulky.

Compaq Presario 524 CDS

Still, as the concept survives to this day, the combination of the main computing unit and the display prooves that there was and still is a demand for all-in-one computers. By integrating the base unit and the 14″ CRT into a single enclosure, the footprint and cabling mess is greatly reduced. This has a drawback however: In contrast to a standalone CRT, there is simply no way to adjust the viewing angle of the display. Also, if the CRT broke you couldn’t simply replace it like an ordinary standalone screen.

The CDS 524 was defintely targeted at space-constrained desks with multimedia-oriented consumers in mind, as it provided builtin audio, speakers, and a CD-ROM drive. There was even an optional TV tuner board available. With the included 320 MiB harddrive and the 486DX2 processor, the CDS524 was a quiet powerful mainstream computer. While it initially came with a meager 4 MiB of RAM, it can be easily upgraded to 64 MiB and was also a great companion for Windows 95.

As I mentioned, one of the drawbacks of such a highly integrated computer, it’s no easy thing to replace the CRT on failure.
Unfortunately, this is what happened to my unit. My bad luck was that I couldn’t get a replacement, or someone with expertise to fix the CRT. So after several months I eventually decided to do a blasphemic thing. I totally yanked out the CRT, and replaced it altogether with a modern TFT display.
I had to do some soldering on the inside to rewire the internal VGA lines and the power supply, also some cutting and glueing on the front bezel to account for the flat panel display.

I know, I ruined a piece of precious vintage technology in order to keep it alive …

Presario CDS524 with TFT

There’s one good thing however: By removing the old CRT I got rid of the noisy fan as well. The CDS524 now runs absolutely silent.

Specs

The PHINTAGE Collection currently holds a Compaq Presario CDS524

VendorCompaq
ModelPresario CDS 524
Released1994
Original Streetpriceintroductionary price of 1994 unknown,
2173 Deutschmark (1995)
WeightGuestimated 15 Kg
Dimensions36cm x 37cm x 46.5cm
Builtin Display14″ CRT (replaced by a 14″ TFT)
Builtin Batteryn/a
CPUIntel 486DX2 @66 MHz
RAM36 MiB (4 MiB onboard, + 2 x 16 MiB upgrade)
Storage
  • 320 MiB IDE hard drive
  • 1 GiB CF (IDE2CF adapter, card swappable on backside)
  • 3.5″ 1.44 MiB floppy drive
  • 10x IDE CD-ROM drive
Network Supportoptional, via 16bit ISA network adapter
USBn/a
Video OutputVGA
Other2 PS/2, 1 RS232, 1 Parallel Port, Audio in/out, Mic in, 1 RJ11,1 proprietary connector (presumed for the TV adapter)
Operating SystemWindows 95
Overall ConditionGood condition, some modding done to accomodate replacement TFT display
Restoration Parts needednone

Gallery

Coming soon.

Downloads

15 Comments on “Compaq Presario CDS 524

  1. Hi, I have a the same model and love the all-in-one form factor. Mine is unfortunately missing bundled software and would really like to reinstall everything to as it was when bought new.. Anyway, thanks for the great article!

    • I can only provide you the setup&diagnostics disk images as a download from this page, which is helpful to restore the service partition for BIOS access.
      Apart from this, the CDS524 was most likely coming with a factory default install of MS-DOS 5 oder 6, and Windows 3.1.

  2. Hi! I just got my second one of this kind. I lost my first one for about 15 years ago. I just wonder, is it possible to get this online with a network adapter?

    • Sure, there is plenty of ISA 16-bit 10baseT adapters on ebay. Watch out for an NE2000 compatible one, these are well supported by Windows 95. Also good choices is 3COM 3C905 based NICs, they work well on Win95.

  3. I just bought this computer. Had one for about 25 years ago. I have problem booting it because the HD with BIOS setup is changed with a other HD (larger though). Could it be that you have Compaq Diagnosis tools on a separate partitio on your HD? Or do you know where to download? Regards

    • Yes, I have it. It’s now available as a download from this page.

  4. I’m having problems dual to earlier owners hd swap. I’ve lost the hidden partition with BIOS and I’m having problems booting even if my HD at master. Any suggestions? I have booted with an early DOS and have access to hd but can’t run Windows 95 because this does ver is to old. Tried installing win95 ( hoped this could somehow fix this boot problem, but I don’t have OEM key)

    • I’ve attached the Setup & Diagnostics floppy images to this page. You can use these to restore the service partition.

  5. Hello Admin , please tell me more specs about convert the crt to lcd. I have funktional crt but screen scratches on front. I have read you have only adapted Powersupply and Vga lines? Is this only the electrical work?
    Optical Mods not Intererest only needed Elektrical. In past , 18 Years ago i have experimented with other graphic card and repinning vga pins but no luck with blue color. The 512 kb video ram is nt enough. I will take 2mb and use this wonderfull pc.

    thank you for help

    • Hello Michael,
      Well, obviously you have tried already to do some repinning, I can’t tell why it wouldn’t work with the blue signal.
      I’ve attached the wiring diagrams for downloading, that’s what I had used. If I remember correctly, the connector you’re after is the IC401 (top-left corner, page 2).
      After removing the CRT, I just wired the H-sync, V-sync, GND and RGB signals from the mainboard video cable to a VGA-cable, where I connected then the TFT to.
      You would do it just the otherway round, to connect the CRT to a VGA card instead.
      There is no big trick behind.
      Greetings,
      GP

  6. What exactly was happening with the CRT? Also, if you remember, who made the picture tube? Interesting mod. Love these all in ones.

    • Well, the CRT would only turn on after many retries, and if it eventually did, it started “pumping” on the picture, eventually going from normal brightness to total dark within a few minutes.
      The CRT was a Samsung-manufactured one (Model No “ETJ”), the same as per the technical specs.

  7. Hi! I live on Brazil, and i have a same computer, but my compaq presario 524cds, have the original software and the original parts. If you like see photos or videos, write me.

  8. Did you record any pinouts for the VGA connector on the interface board? I have the opposite problem; monitor works but computer doesn’t boot. I *think* it’s due to the 12V rail only being at 10.8V so I may have to replace some capacitors in the monitor enclosure where the power supply is.

    Prior to stopping working completely it would intermittently fail to boot or stop working after warming up for a while. The computer would fail to beep on boot but the display would still appear lit.

    Next step is to try on an AT power supply and external monitor so pinouts would speed that process up significantly.

    Thanks.

    • I’ve attached the schematics I have to this page. Maybe it helps.

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