Adam Osborne’s self-named company released the Osborne 1 on April 4, 1981, forty years ago.
The Osborne 1 was the first transportable business computer, though it certainly wasn’t portable. At 10kg, it was as heavy as a suitcase and should have had wheels built into the casing. It did not have a battery, so it could only be used in situ, with the power cord plugged in.
Having said that, the Osborne 1 was a full-fledged computer, as powerful as any desktop PC of the day. It used the CP/M operating system and could run many powerful applications of the day: CBASIC, dBase II, SuperCalc, and many others that came bundled with the machine. With a Z80 processor, 64kb of RAM (128 on the later model), two 360kb floppy drives, a 80×25 text screen, and ports for external connections, it wasn’t lacking for power.
What Osborne did lack was good management and an affordable price. US$1800 was exorbitant, even for IBM. The company overextended itself which (along with the IBM PC’s dominance of the market) led to the company’s collapse in 1984. It was a short but wild ride.
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