Thirty years ago today, on April 3, 1981, the first production portable computer, the Osborne 1, was introduced in San Francisco. The “GadgetLab” blog at Wired has a short retrospective and photo gallery of early portable machines. The Osborne machine achieved some short-term popularity, but was not a long-term success; the Osborne Computer Company went bankrupt in September 1983, partly owing to their unfortunate habit of announcing more desirable new products well before they could be delivered.
The original Osborne 1 had a five-inch CRT display, used single-sided 5.25 inch floppy disks, and ran the CP/M operating system on its Zilog Z-80 processor, at a blazing 4 MHz. It cost $ 1,795, had 64 KB of memory, and weighed 10.7 kg (about 24 pounds). It was portable, after a fashion, but if you had to lug an Osborne 1 around all day (particularly if you also were carrying an early Motorola cell phone, about the size and weight of a paving stone), you really didn’t need a gym membership.