Thorn EMI Liberator

c6fcf7c869428cc478bd4e24cd345e56The Thorn EMI Liberator was developed in the UK in the 1980s for use by the British Civil Service. The idea was to give the civil servants a portable text processor that they could carry around with them for taking notes. It’s an unsung machine and has dropped off the radar for many. In fact it never made it onto the radar for most of us.

The Register have done a series of well written and researched articles that you can read here, here and here and so I won’t go over the old ground. I couldn’t hope to do as nice a job as Tony Smith.

My Liberator looks a little weary. It has no badges, the handle/stand is missing and the battery pack was decidedly fluffy. However it’s nearly thirty years old an I forgive it.

It’s an interesting little machine. About the size of an A4 piece of paper and around an inch thick it’s slightly bigger than a Sinclair Z88 or an Amstrad NC100.

I read that it runs CP/M-80 though I think the text editor is all encompassing and so you can’t see the OS. I say “I think” because mine just beeps but there is no screen output. The keyboard has a nice feel and the keys are a good size. This should make typing easy. Time will tell.

One thing worth noting is that instead of the standard RS-232 ports common at that time, the Liberator comes with a pair of S5/8 ports. These were intended to be a simpler version of RS-232 but they didn’t catch on. Nice try though.

6fd0a457b2a93975c2b956869ecab35bCuriously my machine came with an Epson PF-10 serial floppy disk drive. There is a Dymo label on the back of the Liberator identifying which port to connect it to and a cable to convert from the large S5/8 port to the smaller socket on the back of the PF-10.