Feeds

The Osborne 1: 30 years old this month

We remember the first commercial portable PC

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Foxed by Vixen

Games and applications helped, but it was its portability that sold the Osborne 1. The machine had racked up sales of 11,000 units by the end of 1981.

Osborne Vixen ad

If Osborne was the first company to develop a portable computer, it was also the first technology business - the first to lend its name to the phenomenon, at least - to accidentally commit suicide by announcing new products too soon.

Tell punters there's something much better just around the corner and they'll stop buying the current model, killing your company - a situation now called the Osborne Effect.

Or so the folklore goes. Osborne announced the follow-up to the Osborne 1, the Osborne Executive, in late 1982, but it didn't ship until May 1983. It had a bigger, 7in screen than its predecessor, but also an even bigger price: $2495. It was too much - the Executive did not sell well.

That didn't matter too much because the Osborne 1 was still selling well. Until Osborne announced the Vixen - aka the Osborne 4 - which steered potential buyers away from the Osborne. Demand plunged and even massive price cuts - the machine was pitched at just $999 in August 1983 - couldn't revive it.

Osborne Computer Company was declared bankrupt in September 1983. Osborne himself was ousted, but the firm lived protected from creditors by a court order. It finally showed off the Vixen in October 1984. It went on sale the following year, but by then World+Dog wanted IBM PC compatibles, and the Vixen wasn't. OCC closed down later that year. Osborne himself died in 2003. ®

Thanks to the many Osborne 1 and vintage computing fans who provided the ad scans.

New hybrid storage solutions

More from The Register

next story
Apple iPhone 6: Missing sapphire glass screen FAIL explained
They just cannae do it in time, says analyst
Half a BILLION in the making: Bungie's Destiny reviewed
It feels very familiar - but it's still good
Oh noes, fanbois! iPhone 6 Plus shipments 'DELAYED' in the UK
Is EMBIGGENED Apple mobile REALLY that popular?
Apple's big bang: iPhone 6, ANOTHER iPhone 6 Plus and WATCH OUT
Let's >sigh< see what Cupertino has been up to for the past year
Huawei ditches new Windows Phone mobe plans, blames poor sales
Giganto mobe firm slams door shut on Microsoft. OH DEAR
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Apple's SNEAKY plan: COPY ANDROID. Hello iPhone 6, Watch
Sizes, prices and all – but not for the wrist-o-puter
Get your Indian Landfill Android One handsets - they're only SIXTY QUID
Cheap and deafening mobes for the subcontinental masses
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.