Osborne 1

Osborne 1 was the first commercially successful portable microcomputer launched on April 3, 1981 by Osborne Computer Corporation. It weighed 10.7 kg (24.5 lb), cost US $ 1,795 and used the CP / M 2.2 operating system. Powered directly from a power outlet because it did not have an on-board battery, it was still considered a portable device because it could be carried by hand when it was packed. The computer came with a lot of software almost equivalent to the value of the machine itself, a practice adopted by other CP / M PC vendors at the time. Competitors such as the Kaypro II that used double-sided readers and larger 9-inch screens that can hold a full screen of 80 × 25 appeared quickly.

The Osborne 1 was developed by Adam Osborne and designed by Lee Felsenstein. It was announced in early 1981. Osborne, an author of computer books, decided he wanted to break the price of computers. The design of the Osborne was largely based on the Xerox NoteTaker, a prototype developed by Xerox PARC in 1976 by Alan Kay. The computer was designed to be portable, with a sturdy ABS plastic case that closed, and a handle. The Osborne 1 was about the size and weight of a sewing machine and was advertised as the only computer that could fit under an airplane seat. It is now classified as a “luggable” computer as compared to later laptop models, like the Epson HX-20. Despite its unattractive design and heavy weight, the Osborne 1 looked like “a cross between a World War II field radio and a narrowed dashboard of a DC-3,” and Felstenstein said he carried two units four blocks away “I almost pulled my arms out of their sockets” – the computer astonished observers. BYTE wrote, “(1) it will cost $ 1795, and (2) it’s portable!” ($ 1795 is the equivalent of $ today.) The word processor, spreadsheet and other bundled software alone were worth $ 1,500; As InfoWorld stated in an article on the front page of April 1981 on the new computer after listing the included software, “In case you think that the price printed above was a mistake, we will repeat it: $ 1795 . ” Osborne claimed that the new computer had a “significant price / performance advantage” but pointed to the price, stating that its performance was “just adequate”: “It’s not the fastest microcomputer it has.” There is not much disk space and it is not especially expandable. “Beyond the price, the ads focused on the portability of the computer and bundled software.In the first eight months after April 1981, when the Osborne 1 was announced, the company sold 11,000 sales peaked at 10,000 units per month, with its main weaknesses being a tiny display screen and the use of single-sided and single-sided floppy disk drives that could not contain enough data for Convenient business applications and considerable unit weight Adam Osborne decided to use single-sided disc drives due to problems with double-sided discs that suffer head damage due to rough handling. density was used to reduce costs, so the Osborne diskettes contained only 90k, and later Osborne models Dual density controllers and an upgrade were offered to the owners of the original Osborne model. In September 1981, Osborne Computer Company made its first month of sales worth $ 1 million. Osborne 1 sales were penalized by the company’s premature announcement of superior replacement machines such as the Osborne Executive, a phenomenon later termed the Osborne effect. From 1982 to 1985, the company published The Portable Companion, a magazine for Osborne users.

The computer has been largely imitated as several other computer companies have started offering cheap laptops with bundled software. The popularity of the Osborne was surpassed by the similar Kaypro II which had a much more convenient CRT that could display the 80 standard characters on 24 lines as well as dual density floppies that could store twice as much data. Osborne Computer Corporation was unable to effectively respond to the Kaypro challenge before closing the market window and the end of the day of the 8-bit CP / M computer. In 1981, IBM released the IBM 16 PC bits that was significantly more powerful and extensible than the 8-bit computers of the day. After the release of the IBM-compatible Compaq Portable in 1983, the CP / M market quickly collapsed and Osborne was unable to compete.

The Osborne Computer Company announced a successor to the Osborne 1 in 1982, the OCC-2 executive model and in early 1983, the company announced the most advanced Osborne Vixen. It was a smaller machine with the keyboard permanently attached and serving as a support. However, unable to beat its competition in the market, Osborne Computer Corporation declared bankruptcy in September 1983. It published the Osborne-4 (Vixen) in 1985, but it did not sell in large numbers.

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