Osborne 1

89aab638ca04b67e9f6e3ba51b25e337The Osborne 1 is reportedly the first commercially successful portable computer.

Portable is a relative term. Today it seems enormous, it weighs 23.5 lb and despite it having a carrying handle it would be an ambitious person who walked more than a few tens of meters with it but in 1981, when it was released, computers were either three box affairs such as the IBM PC 5150 or large all-in-ones such as the Superbrain. So this was quite an improvement.

If has the popular Z80 processor, the mainstay of the non Apple business computers of the day, a pair of full-height 5.25″ single sided, single density floppy disk drives and a built in 5″ screen.

I got this example in 2008. It is one of the earlier models as you can see it has a the flat ribbon from the keyboard to the main unit and the clips that hold the keyboard in place when travelling are on the side of this unit rather than on the top and bottom as on the later 1A model.

When I first got it there was a sticky return key a sticky floppy drive and a couple of burnt out capacitors, one on the main board and another in the power supply but they were quickly dealt with and now it’s working quite happily.

It’s a nice machine and very capable for the period. The only real drawback in my mind is the disk capacity, at around 80kb it’s really not enough. There is a lot of information on the web about this machine and it’s very easy to get to know.