Compaq Contura Aero 4/33C

Thirteen years before the worls saw the first Netbook, Compaq hit the market with Contura Aero, one of the earliest Subnotebook computers.

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Historic Overview

With components becoming smaller to produce, the demand for more portable devices began to rise. The early Nineties saw the arrival of many portable computers being smaller in size than the typival notebook computer of the time, one of them being the Contura Aero series.

Compaq Aero 433C

While it was set to compete with other products like the HP Omnibook, released just the year before, the Contura Aero seems to have failed to get traction, staying on the market for only about one year. One reason might be, that despite it’s tiny size and ultra-portability, it didn’t gain enough popularity due to its price.

The Aero sports a somewhat light and playful design, using slim lines and soft edges, as opposed to the typical rectangular shape of the time. A built-in trackball is located into the lower-right part of the handrest. And although they completely spared out the floppy drive, putting it into an external package, lifting up the Aero doesn’t make it feal like “air”. Yes, it’s small, it looks nice, but it’s also brutally heavy for a package of this size!

While Intels 80486SX CPU dates back to 1991, CPU, an enhanced low-power version of the 486SX, released in 1992, then updated in 1993, was built into the Aero. Although the Pentium was on the rise, and the average desktop of the time was equipped with DX2 and DX4 class CPUs, putting such a low-end CPU into the Aero was the only way to build a low-power consumption device.

The Aero came in two versions, a cheaper B/W display version with a 25 MHz CPU, and a color display version, using the 33 MHz CPU. Equipped with 4 MiB of RAM, it made a good fit for MS-DOS and Windows on the road. Although the RAM was upgradable to 20 MiB, the machine was probaly not the best fit when Windows 95 arrive the year after, propably also leading to its early demise.


The PHINTAGE Collection currently holds a Compaq Contura Aero 4/33C.

ModelContura Aero 4/33C
Original StreetpriceTBD
Weight4.5 KG
Dimensions26 cm x 19 cm x 4.3 cm
Builtin DisplayYes, 7.7″ Passive Matrix Color Display
Builtin BatteryYes, 2.4 Ah
CPUIntel 80486SX-S @ 33 MHz
  • 240 MiB 2.5″ PATA HDD
  • 3.5″ 1.44 MiB floppy drive
Network Supportoptional (via PCMCIA adapter)
Video Outputno
Other1 RS232, 1 Parallel Port, 1 proprietary dock connector, built-in trackball
Operating SystemCompaq MS-DOS 5, Windows 3.11
Overall Condition
  • Like new, fully working
  • Battery worn down
Restoration Parts needed
  • Replacement battery


Coming soon.


There is currently now downloads available.

2 Comments on “Compaq Contura Aero 4/33C

  1. A power adapter if it meets the reqirements of the original, can then replace it. There are 4 requirements : a) the voltage must at least be very close, basically with a difference of 1/10, then it would be OK. Of course, if it is exactly the same, this is the best. If it has a difference higher than 1/10 it will cause damage (and the higher the difference, the more danger of damage); but if it has a lower difference of 1/10, it will yield weakness of function of the thing powered by it (the lower the difference, the weaker the function). b) The amperage (i.e. the “A” number) – this number cannot be lower, as this will cause, in most of cases, considerable heat to the electric cord (causing smoke burning and possibly danger of fire in certain cases). It must be either the same or higher – (the higher the better as this will cause the electric cord to be cooler, i.e. the thing powered by it, cooler) c) the sign + and -; one of the 2 is shown either outside or inside the other – this requirement of the original power adapter must also be met. d) the diameter of the plug end must have the same dimesion. Old stuff most of the time come without their power adapters. So, for this specific hard-to-find laptop, the data of its power adapter should be posted like other data as well.

    • Good catch. Will update the collection data accordingly to provide the extra information on the Power Supplies.

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