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Documenting obscure 90s laptop brands - CTX EzBook

3lectr1c

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Did the same thing for WinBook a while back, now I've got a new target.

One of my sub-hobbies from within the hobby that is vintage technology has become an effort to preserve information online about obscure and forgotten-about laptop manufacturers from the 1990s. This all began when I bought some laptops made by WinBook, and then began researching the company. I was able to find the info I wanted, but it was pretty hard to do so. At the time, I already had a website with capacitor reference and other info on vintage apple stuff, so I figured this was the perfect time to expand into something new and preserve info online about WinBook laptops, and hopefully other obscure brands afterwards. Fast forward several months, and I've documented many WinBook models on my site, though I'm not yet done. You can see what I have here: https://www.macdat.net/pc/winbook_home.html

My latest preservation project has been on CTX International's laptops. Similarly to WinBook, this was kickstarted after I got one of their laptops myself, an EzBook 800 that's unfortunately been nuked by a VARTA battery. While CTX made way, way fewer laptops than WinBook did, each CTX laptop probably took twice as long to document as a WinBook model did, mainly because CTX was needlessly obtuse when it came to their naming schemes, they had 3 different websites, and also failed to document their earliest models at all. I've pieced together what I can, but if you look at the results, you'll see that a good bit of information is still missing.

So, here's the call to action: If you've got any CTX laptops, or know anything about them, I'd like any info you've got! Faults you've run into getting them to work, images of them that I can use, or specifications on the really early models.

Pages are live here: https://www.macdat.net/pc/ctx_home.html
 
I think I've got a couple of CTX parts machine hidden away in my cave. I also have some ARM Computers (not to be confused with the modern ARM CPU's) which IIRC were early Samsung Pentium laptops.

Since you are interested in finding details on some hard to find manufacturers of these laptops here a hint for research. I used to buy or trade parts with the service manager of Brick Computers which was an OEM for many Taiwanese ODM's back in the '90's and 2000's. The Wayback Machine archive has some of their websites stored and they often have the ODM's model along with their own names for what they sold. Search for: http://brickcomputers.com/ on the archive.

They had a great ftp site with drivers and other files, that hasn't been saved.
 
If you have any EzBook 800s hiding away let me know!

I believe CTX actually made their laptops all in-house, through their (I believe) subsidiary Veridata, which is rather unique for one of these smaller brands.

The great loss of FTP servers is a real darn shame. CTX also had all their drivers on one, so those are gone.

By some miracle, Jetta’s FTP was dumped and archived in 2015, about a year before they shut down. Those drivers are safe as a result.

Brick/Ergo is on the list of brands I’ve gotta look though. Maybe I’ll get to them after I’m done with Nan Tan’s hardware. There’s a lot to go through though… been on a research binge trying to figure out what’s up with the Hyperdata laptops. The one 486 with a number pad in the palmrest looks so similar to the Jetta E1 but I’m starting to think that Jetta wasn’t the ODM for it based off all info I’ve found… hard to tell.
Edit: If the old fringeweb page is to be believed, HyperData/Sunrex made their own laptops. Guess I got tricked by how darn similar the one looks to the early Jetta laptops...
Fringeweb isn't fully reliable when it comes to this info (saying that Quanta made the WinBook XP, that Chicony and Clevo were related companies, and getting confused about what the heck was up with NanTan/Clevo/Kapok, although I don't blame them), but there is still some great info there.
 
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Jetta before the name change was Jetbook. They OEM'ed many Taiwanese ODM laptops. I had a reseller license with Jetbook for a short time, but then they changed the pay out to next to nothing. Several other ODM's that I never got all the facts figured out were Chicony and Clevo. I was told that they were sister companies, but don't for a fact. I do know Chicony made some nice laptops that ended with the MP989 (in the USA) and the MP999 (sold in Europe) and switched to just making keyboards. Modified MP989 was sold as the Micron NX. IIRC, the Clevo service center supported Kapok machines and I think they either merged or were just a name change????? I have a bunch of Kapok PII/PIII laptops - all large beasts. Clevo continued with the large high power beast concept plus others more like the Chicony bread and butter products. Clevo is still around selling to Prostar, Sager and Alienware (old ones and new, I think??) plus Eurocom brands. (and others?)
 
As far as I can tell, Clevo and Kapok were both marketing names used during the 1990s by Nan Tan Computer, and then in 1997, Nan Tan rebranded entirely to Clevo and still make laptops today.
I believe the info on Chicony and Clevo being related is incorrect. I haven’t been able to find any relation between the two.

Jetta is confusing because they both made their own ODM laptops and sold other peoples. I do think that their time as an ODM didn’t last very long though, they seemingly quit that part of their business in the late 90s, as far as I can tell. I think they were always called Jetta though, with Jetbook being the name of their laptop lineup. I know they sold AlphaTop stuff, there’s one of their later laptops on eBay that Compal apparently made, but they also made their own stuff earlier on. Examples of such being the original WinBooks, the E1 series, and some others. You can check their FCC listings under Jetta Computers Co Ltd to see which ones they actually made, although i only have info on a few of the models listed there.
 
New site update: 12/09/2023

This update includes an addition of a page on the CTX EzNote M303/M304.

With this page, MacDat now has at least some documentation up for each known model of CTX laptop. However, info on the early pre-700 series models is still lacking, as I cannot find good info on those.
In the near future, you can expect some print ads to be added to the 700 series pages, and maybe a couple images to the 800 series pages. Beyond that, this section of the site will receive updates whenever I receive new info.
 
New site update: 12/24/2023

I reformatted the CTX laptop page with an improved table format, which includes new and improved images of many of their laptops. Future updates will add additional info and print ads that I found.
 
I discovered a CTX EzBook 700 in my room of 'Hmm, where did I get this?' objects. I don't find a power supply for it. Still looking through my power supplies for one that will power.
It is all zipped into a carry case with some books and cords. It has a PCMCIA ethernet card and some other cords.
I really don't know where this came from. I would like to try to get it it boot up just to maybe take some memories jogging. I can't see myself ever USING it.
 

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Ah nice :)
And welcome to the VCF forums!

Be very ginger with the hinges - the way they’re mounted to the bottom case is extremely weak. I wouldn’t be surprised if the mounts break within 5 actuations without them being reinforced.
 
Ah nice :)
And welcome to the VCF forums!

Be very ginger with the hinges - the way they’re mounted to the bottom case is extremely weak. I wouldn’t be surprised if the mounts break within 5 actuations without them being reinforced.
Oh, yeah. Already broke.
 
No surprises there… they’re pretty poorly designed in that area.
 
Site update out today adds a lot of new stuff to the CTX section. Additional specification info, new print ads and images, but most exciting of all - drivers!
I really thought they were gone forever, and that I'd never end up finding them, but after searching through several different old CTX websites (they had SO MANY), and running into unarchived link after unarchived link, I finally found one that worked. Specifically, ctxintl.com circa 2003 actually had the files themselves saved by the wayback machine.
CTX drivers for all of their laptops except for the EzNote 486DX/33 are now up. That one laptop has practically no surviving info, even CTX didn't acknowledge that it existed. Just a couple old reviews in magazines tell me it did.
 
I think this one laptop I have is from CTX EzBook 700 series, there is a sticker by now defunct company and maybe under it would be or would have been CTX sticker.
This laptop has Pentium MMX 200MHz CPU inside but it has been downclocked to 166MHz, I haven't tried changing settings even though there is a jumper table sticker.

If this is CTX laptop I can confirm that the hinge mounts indeed break, we fixed this together with my friend several years ago and today it broke again. There bits rattling inside computer now 😡

Otherwise everything works except for a strange issue with screen color flickering, screen light / image does not go off but there are flickering lines where colors are bit distorted.
It seems to occur when the computer has been unused for a very long period. If not used for a long time it will eventually forget BIOS settings but after that first use after long time it can be left unplugged and it will remember settings at least for some time so I guess BIOS battery is not totally dead or something.
 

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Yep that’s an EzBook 700M from the looks. The reason it doesn’t have CTX anywhere on it is because that one came direct from Veridata who made all of CTX’s laptops. CTX bought Veridata in 1994. Prior to that, Veridata sold their laptops to a variety of companies who would brand and sell them. They stopped doing that after the CTX buyout, except for the 700 where they sold a few generic ones it seems under the “Cybernote” branding. I’ve seen references to them online before but never any photos - do you mind if I use the images you provided on my website?

Even if the CMOS battery works, I’d highly recommend checking to make sure it’s not some VARTA battery like the EzBook 800s have. Said battery wrecked the motherboard on mine.
 
I'll try to disassemble this again some day when I have energy and see if I can come up with a fix for that hinge again. I don't remember checking CMOS battery at all the last time even though I should, I was just focused on the hinges.

You can use those pictures.
 
The CTX EzBook 700 Driver CD-ROM has now been archived. Thanks to DeltaDon for sending the disc in! While we already had EzBook 700 drivers, there is more on this disc then there was on the CTX website way back when.
 
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