You won’t believe this; but The Trio (aka Me, Myself, & I) are trying to fulfill their New Year’s resolution to “clean out” the garage. (Yes, we all know that they have made that resolution for at least the past several years.) Tucked away, in the far corner, was a real computer antique – an Osborne 1 Portable Computer. It hasn’t been used in over 20 years. Also found was a User’s Reference Guide, Software Program discs, and a Quick Self-Instructional System booklet. What a package! However, we have no idea how to use it.
Younger readers may be interested to learn that the Osborne 1 was released in April, 1981, and was considered to be the first true portable computer. Although this was quite a giant step forward for the computer world, it had its limitations. The screen, for example, was only 5″ diagonally. The number of characters per line of text that could be displayed was limited to 52. Since it was designed to be portable, it was considered to be airline carry-on luggage, and it would fit under the passenger seat of any commercial airliner.
The original Osborne 1 cost $1,795. (today’s price would be $4,000.) and weighed 23.5 lbs. It came with a WordStar word processor, a SuperCalc spreadsheet, BASIC programming language, and a dBASE II database. There wasn’t any battery power. Wikipedia reports that, ” Despite its unattractive design and heavy weight – it resembled a cross between a World War II field radio and a shrunken instrument panel of a DC-3.” The company sold 11,000 units in the first eight months, and reached 10,000 units per month at its peak.
OK, so it doesn’t compare to today’s iPads; but it had its day and made computer history. For those readers interested in additional about he Osborne Portable Computer, check out … Adam Osborne, John Dvorak Hypergrowth: the rise and fall of Osborne Computer Corporation, Idthekkethan Pub. Co., 1984 ISBN 0918347009
Stay tuned for more “discoveries” as we dig around in the garage.