NEC ProSpeed 386

Chris Hanson cmhanson at
Sun May 29 12:23:06 CDT 2016

I just acquired an NEC ProSpeed 386 portable from WeirdStuff. <>

The system boots fine off floppy, and after running the setup program—that can still be downloaded from NEC America’s FTP site!—I was able to boot DOS and Windows 3.11 from the internal HD that WeirdStuff didn’t think it had. The machine is actually quite zippy once booted too, it’s obviously a desktop replacement, it even has a goddamn mechanical keyboard!

Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be all that much useful information about this system online. Does anyone have any pointers?

What I’d like to do most is get into it and down to the motherboard, since the CMOS battery obviously needs replacing, and I could see whether there’s any damage that needs to be cleaned up. I tried to disassemble it this morning but unfortunately I couldn’t find any release latches and the plastic is old enough to be a little brittle so I didn’t want to work it too hard.

As for what else I’ll do with it, I might consider replacing the drive with a larger one (or a larger CF card via an IDE/CF adaptor), adding the 8MB memory upgrade if I could ever find it, and adding an 80387 if I could ever find one and if there’s actually a socket for it. And if there’s any sort of network card for its weird-ass expansion slots of course I’d be all over that.

I also expect the battery is quite sketchy at this point, being a discharged-for-decades NiCd. The system won’t boot without the battery pack attached though, so I’ll have to figure out how to bypass that. (I expect I can just install some sort of jumper at the battery port, or wire in a bypass.) And the system ports are obscured by the battery pack too.

Nonetheless, not bad for well under the $60 sticker price when you consider that they also threw in the Griffin iMate I was also getting for that price!

  -- Chris

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