NEC UltraLite

The NEC UltraLite was a “portable” size MS-DOS laptop. PC Magazine introduced the UltraLite on its cover in November 1988 and soon after, reporters began to refer to the A4-sized computer as a “notebook” to distinguish it from larger and heavier notebooks. the time.

The product was originally developed by a telecommunications engineering team from NEC Japan that was trying to make an inexpensive light terminal for programming PABX systems. In 1988, while NEC was trying to create products to update its best-selling MultiSpeed, NEC’s engineering team in charge of personal computer development introduced the UltraLite to a product management team from NEC Home Electronics USA. Tom Martin, the vice president in charge of the group, asked, “Can you make this MS-DOS thing work”? When an affirmative answer was received, the NEC team knew they had a successful product in their hands. The product was launched shortly before COMDEX in October 1988 at a gala in New York. He was applauded by the media, who were dying to find a small, lightweight computer platform that could be used for note-taking and article writing. Unfortunately, the advertising surrounding the UltraLite was not reflected in consumer demand. This was due to the two Achilles heels of the UltraLite … the absence of a hard drive that prevented the storage of his work (for more than a week without loading the internal RAM disk) and the use of a relatively slow 8086 processor when the market moved to class 80286. The main disadvantage of Ultralite (which weighed only 4 pounds) was its price. It sold for between $ 4 and $ 5 thousand, which was significantly higher than others, albeit heavier, less innovative, computers of the time. Given its use of the RAM drive, boot times were actually faster than class 80386 computers. So even though the UltraLite ushered in a new era in wearable computing, its original design as a terminal Telecommunication maintenance proved to be its commercial downfall. The commercial success of this product category was only achieved when Compaq launched its LTE brand nearly 12 months later.

Data storage can be performed by an optional external 720Kb (in fact, it supports the “Japanese” 1.2Mb format but does not support the more common 3.5-inch floppy drive, by the internal nonvolatile RAM drive (Silicone hard drive), or by proprietary RAM and ROM cards.The internal RAM drive is powered by an auxiliary battery inside the unit which needs to be recharged weekly in order to keep the contents of the drive RAM: The battery-sized, battery-powered RAM cards come with capacities of 256 KB or 512 KB.The two RAM cards and ROM cards use a proprietary NEC interface because this laptop is out. at a time when there were no standard portable computer interfaces.The PCMCIA standard did not exist before 1990. The RAM cards were powered by a replaceable 3 volt lithium battery and had a power switch. write protection.

The software can be purchased running from ROM cards. Examples include:

There are other models in the NEC Ultralite series – for example, the Ultralite SX / 20, released in 1991. The Ultralite SX / 20 had an 80386 processor and runs under Microsoft Windows 3.0 Others in the series include the NEC Ultralite 286F, 286V and NEC Ultralite Versa models.

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