Naked at 30: Osborne 1 stripped to its chips

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

Port authorities

If 30-year-old computer ports are of little interest to you, you might want to jump to the next page, where I'll show you the Osborne 1's logic board.

If, however, you feel a wee frisson when someone says "GPIB", here's a waltz down memory lane.

Osborne 1, second version - keyboard port

One of the second-generation Osborne 1's improvements was the coil-cord keyboard hookup (click to enlarge)

Osborne 1, second version - IEEE 488 port

When is a port not a port? When it's a IEEE 488 GPIB edge-card connector (click to enlarge)

Osborne 1, second version - battery port

An optional battery pack could be plugged into the front of the Osborne 1 (click to enlarge)

A year after the original Osborne 1 was announced at San Francisco Computer Faire, Adam Osborne used the same venue to introduce two upgrade options to his eponymous luggable. One was a double-density floppy upgrade – more on that in a minute – and the second was an external battery pack.

Called Portable Power, the battery weighed 4.6 pounds, retailed for $390, provided up to an hour of power, and was intended mostly as a backup power source in case of power failures, according to Osborne – the man, that is.

Osborne 1, second version - modem port

Despite what the raised lettering says, this isn't what your normally think of as a modem port (click to enlarge)

Another optional accessory for the Osborne 1 was a 300 baud (remember that term?) modem. The modem unit slipped into the bay beneath the left-hand floppy drive – usually used to house extra floppies – and plugged into the modem port. You plugged your phone line into a phone jack on the modem itself, and controlled the modem with bundled COMM-PAC software.

Osborne 1, second version - RS-232 port

The Osborne 1's Serial RS-232 port included helpful pin-number engravings (click to enlarge)

Osborne 1, second version - video port and reset button

The external video port could mirror the CRT on a non-composite TTL video monitor (click to enlarge)

Although the Osborne 1 could drive an external video monitor, I have never seen one hooked up. And as I discovered when performing an autopsy on this one – which I'll explain in a bit – I couldn't test this option, in any case.

That hefty Reset button, however, would have been a frequently used tool in the early days of software development.

Sponsored: 10 ways wire data helps conquer IT complexity