Happy Anniversary, Portable Computer

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.

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