Vintage computer Osborne-1 (1981)

Osborne- 1 Computer
The Osborne- 1 is regarded as the first completely self-contained portable or luggable’ computer.

IN 1981 the Osborne-1 was introduced at the West Coast Computer Faire and by September the company achieved US$1 million sales a month. By the end of 1982, an average of 10,000 units were being sold every

month. In 1972 Adam Osborne founded
Osborne and Associates to create a series

of easy-to-read computing manuals. By 1977, Osborne Books, as the company had become, had published over 40
computing titles. In 1979, Osborne sold the lot to McGraw-Hill in order to pursue a gap in the computing market, namely
a machine that users could operate on the move. Backed by Silicon Valley VC Jack Melchior, and with the help of ex Intel engineer Lee Felsenstein, Osborne
Computer came into existence. At a cost of $ 1 795 it was a lot cheaper than comparable models of the time, especially when you consider the bundled software that came with it: Microsoft’s CBASIC (compiled version of
Basic), Mbasic, Supercalc spreadsheet,
Wordstar word processor and Mailmerge.


This software, costing over $2000, was actually worth more money than the computer and this was also the first instance where application software was bundled with a microcomputer. dBASE II was included with later systems. The Osborne ran the CP/M 2.2 operating system that was loaded from a floppy disk. A printer and a modem and other scientific equipment could be attached via a built-in IEEE-488 interface. The keyboard acted as a lid to the cany case. Despite the decent 64K RAM and 4K ROM, the general specifications were not suitable to run large application software packages.

The built-in 5.25” disk drives were only single sided, single density disks. This, and the fact the screen was only a tiny 5 inch monochrome screen with 52 lines of 80 chararters that scrolled with each character 2 mm in height. The Osborne was powered by a wall plug, and had no internal battery, although an aftermarket battery pack offering 1 hour run-time was available.
Other peripherals included an external monochrome display, 300 baud modem, double density disk drives, external hard 80 column video upgrades were also available.
It was originally designed to ht under an aeroplane seat, but at 23lbs it  was to be described more as a ‘luggable’ than a ‘portable’ computer.
In 1983, the Osborne- 1 was followed by the ‘Executive’, and then the ‘Vixen’. The Vixen was a smaller machine with the keyboard permanently fixed which acted as a stand, and didn’t sell in great numbers.

The Executive was an evolution of the 1 with built-in hard drive storage.
Osborne- 1 Computer The Osborne- 1 is regarded as the first completely
self-contained portable or luggable’ computer. larger 80-column display and double density floppy drives.

The Osborne effea is a term used today and referred to how the Osborne company announced future products that weren’t ready. This hurt sales and is evidenced when the Executive was announced prematurely. The announcement of the Vixen also hampered sales of the Osborne- 1.

The company was declared bankrupt on 13 September 1983, less than three years after its formation but this didn’t stop other companies from imitating the Osborne computer in offering portable
computers with bundled software.
Compaq delivered a portable computer (the Compaq Portable) with a 9 inch CRT, that was software compatible with the IBM PC, making it the first PC clone.

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