“Blast from the Past”

February 16, 2010

Released in 1981 by the Osborne Computer Corporation, the Osborne 1 is considered to be the first true portable computer – it closes for protection, and has a carrying handle.  It even has an optional battery pack.  While quite revolutionary, the Osborne does have its limitations. For example, the screen is only 5″ (diagonal) in size, and can’t display more than 52 characters per line of text.  To compensate, you can actually scroll the screen display back and forth with the cursor keys to show lines of text up to 128 characters wide.


The Osborne was designed with transportation in mind – it had to be rugged and able to survive being moved about.  That is one reason that the screen is so small.  Designed as a true portable computer system – it can be considered airline carry-on luggage, and it will fit under the passenger seat of any commercial airliner.

I would love to pull out an “Osborne” on a flight, struggle with it, insert the optional battery (you know this would be quite large) and start working on my airline tray. (I wonder if the tray could even take it’s weight)?

Over-sized headphones and some “work related” head shaking, followed by some repeated insertion/ejection of an old floppy disk would complete the in-flight nonsense.  Mr Bean could have a field day with this!

Interesting how far we have come in thirty years…how less “military” we are in our mobile designs.

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