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The Osborne 1: 30 years old this month

We remember the first commercial portable PC

The Power of One Infographic

Unpacking the portable

Designed to fit in the space under an airline passenger seat, the Osborne 1 was built out of tough ABS plastic which held its two 5.25in floppy disk drives - each mounted above a disk storage shelf - and a 5in, 52-character by 24-line CRT display, all revealed when the lid was opened.

Osborne 1

The 69-key keyboard was built into the lid, which could be unlatched. The keyboard connected to the main unit over a curly phone cable.

Beneath the two drives and the screen were the Osborne 1's ports: an IEEE 488 parallel port and an RS-232 serial connector. Behind all this was the motherboard and integrated mains-fed power transformer.

With no battery on board, the Osborne was a computer you took to work rather than one that allowed to you work anywhere.

The Osborne 1 ran the CP/M 2.2 operating system on a 4MHz Zilog Z80 processor. It had 64KB of memory, considerably more than most home computers of the time.

Osborne 1 ad

Priced at a hefty $1795 then - the equivalent of $4349 (£2669) now, thanks to inflation - the Osborne 1 packed an impressive software bundle, including Microsoft's Basic interpreter, Ashton-Tate's dBase II database, sales ledger apps from PeachTree, Sorcim's SuperCalc spreadsheet and MicroPro's WordStar.

It wasn't just a business machine: Osborne also chucked in a copy of Colossal Cave and Infocom adventure Deadline.

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