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Naked at 30: Osborne 1 stripped to its chips

He ain't heavy. He's my TV typewriter

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Tiny CRT, enormous floppies

Before we crack the case, let's instead lift the latched door on the back of the Osborne 1 and see what it conceals:

Osborne 1, second version - fuses and on-off switch

Behind the Osborne 1's hinged back door lurks the AC plug, fuses, and on/off switch (click to enlarge)

The answer: not much. There is, however, a tiny bit of nostalgia: an on/off switch that actually says "On" and "Off" in addition to the now-familiar one and zero icons.

Five Phillips screws – two recessed deeply enough to require a six-inch screwdriver – hold the case together. Once I found the right screwdriver and removed them, and unscrewed the panel that held the on/off swith et al., the case came apart easily.

Osborne 1, second version - inside, front

Those full-height floppy drives dwarf the five-inch CRT (click to enlarge)

The cage in which all of the second-generation Osborne 1's electronic goodness resides is an open-frame design. The original Osborne 1 had a cage with closed sides.

You'll notice that once I removed the cage from inside the Osborne 1's plastic case, it sags in the middle – that CRT may be small, but it, its power supply, and its associated electronics are heavy enough to cause the cage to sag.

Osborne 1, second version - inside, back

The floppy drives' ribbon cable dominates the rear view of the component cage (click to enlarge)

In the front view of the cage, you'll notice heavy shielding foil covering the top of the CRT module. In the rear view, I've peeled that foil to one side so that you can catch a glimpse of the CRT assembly – you'll see more photos of that area on a following page.

Osborne 1, second version - full-travel keys

Full-travel keys have long disappeared from portables – and from most keyboards, for that matter (click to enlarge)

The keyboard case comes apart with the removal of four screws, and freeing the keyboard itself involves four more. The 69-key keyboard was manufactured by Oak Switch Systems (part number 5-64951-022), and the full-travel membrane keys themselves are a blessed throwback to the days when computer keyboards felt more like electric-typewriter keyboards than do the Chiclet-like nubbins on, say, my MacBook Air.

In the image above, notice the little white square on the keyboard base, just right of center. Here's a close-up:

Osborne 1, second version - keyboard calendar

But what month are we talking about? (click to enlarge)

Another square (not shown) gives the year of manufacture. This one apparently has something to do with the day of the month of manufacture. If any Reg reader can offer more info on this detail, I'd love to hear it.

Osborne 1, second version - keyboard cable

There's plenty of room inside the keyboard's case – and inside the Osborne 1 in general (click to enlarge)

The enormous amount of free space inside the keyboard case allowed for the ribbon cables that carried keystroke info to the black keyboard cable (it starts coiling off-camera) to arc gracefully with no crimping to worry about.

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Next page: Port authorities

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