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A History of Portable Computing

CmdrTaco posted more than 8 years ago | from the changing-definitions-of-portability dept.

Portables 281

PCM2 writes "MobilePC magazine is running an exhaustive history of portable computers, going all the way from the IBM Portable 5100 to last year's OQO. Do you remember the three-pound Epson HX-20 from 1982 that boasted a 50-hour battery life? Or that the first color portable came from Commodore? Interesting stuff." They have the compaq luggable I learned BASIC on in middle school in the 80s. 28lbs of power baby!

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281 comments

Programmable Calculators ? (5, Insightful)

karvind (833059) | more than 8 years ago | (#12024693)

I would include them as well in the list.

Re:Programmable Calculators ? (1)

chiapetofborg (726868) | more than 8 years ago | (#12024807)

Maybe, but that might also require that you include PDAs, portable music devices, handheld video game consoles... They really do mean portable computers I think. I do love my HP48g though.

HP-65: the first portable computer (1)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 8 years ago | (#12025188)

Programmable calculators, especially the gems created by HP in its calculator hey-day, do below on the list. The HP-65 [hpmuseum.org], introduced in 1974, was billed as the "smallest programmable computer ever" It had mass storage (magnetic cards), assembly language, a stack, registers, everything you need for basic computing.

Early programmable calculators were surprisingly powerful for their day and you could learn all the basics of computing from them. (Plus on ones like the HP-67 and HP-25 you could write a program that flashed "ShELL.OiL" "SELLS" "BOILED.OIL" when you held the calculator upside down)

Compaq Portable? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12024702)

What about the Compaq [oldcomputers.net] "luggable." I've got three of 'em and they all still work fine.

Re:Compaq Portable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12024818)

I guess I should RTFA, it's on page 2.

Definition of portable (5, Funny)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 8 years ago | (#12024705)

I think the military definition of portable is if two people can move it.

Re:Definition of portable (2, Interesting)

KyleJacobson (788441) | more than 8 years ago | (#12024740)

To expand on your comment... The military definition of portable is if two people can move it with vehicles, to include but not limited to a truck, crane, plane, etc..

Re:Definition of portable (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12024964)

I thought the military definition of portable was whether or not it had handles on it. If you want something heavy carried, just weld some handles on.

first fucking post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12024714)

kaka farty, let's have a peepee party

fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12024720)

fp 1101

three-pound... wow that's heavy! (5, Funny)

alexandreracine (859693) | more than 8 years ago | (#12024730)

Do you remember the three-pound Epson HX-20 from 1982 that boasted
That's why in the 80' people had more muscles! I bet that Arnold began his training with a laptop.

Portables (1)

Nevtje(hr (869571) | more than 8 years ago | (#12024735)

my dad has an old IBM portable from the early 80s somewhere... doesnt have a mouse, just the F keys. i think the screen is kinda orange as well :)

Orange?! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12024777)

That there color's called "amber", son. ;-)

Re:Orange?! (1)

Nevtje(hr (869571) | more than 8 years ago | (#12024810)

...right he very possible got it before i was born. i've had it out once, but i cant say that makes me familiar with it :) i love the size though!

Re:Orange?! (1)

justforaday (560408) | more than 8 years ago | (#12025002)

i've had it out once, but i cant say that makes me familiar with it :) i love the size though!

what exactly are you talking about here?

No TRS-80's? (5, Interesting)

glen604 (750214) | more than 8 years ago | (#12024736)

What about the Model 100/102/200? Those were some pretty good computers, and iirc sold quite well.

or at least it was my first laptop, and I have many fond memories of downloading games off of a bbs on a 300bps modem

Re:No TRS-80's? (1)

druske (550305) | more than 8 years ago | (#12025098)

From page 2 of the article:
"...The success of products like the HX-20 and the TRS-80 Model 100, which followed in 1983, was phenomenal. Epson sold a quarter million HX-20s, and the laptop moniker stuck in many circles, even after the industry had long since abandoned this limited form factor..."

Re:No TRS-80's? (3, Interesting)

pilgrim23 (716938) | more than 8 years ago | (#12025130)

I STILL use my Model 100! The battery life is- "all week and no problem", it is feather weight, and the keyboard is full sized. If you are working on a book, magazine article, or other text based work and do not need the distraction of email (now THAT is a distraction!), web, or other nonsense, it is just the ticket. The serial port is slow, but works great for transfering data to a modern machine. The current "do it all in a cell phone" aproach to computing seems to have missed one area: a simple, easy to use, light, text entry tool.

Re:No TRS-80's? ^^^ MOD UP ^^^ (1)

toybuilder (161045) | more than 8 years ago | (#12025364)

Another vote for the Tandy Model-100 family. A highly functional portable computer that ran forever on batteries. My teacher had it when I was a kid in school and got to use it. The thing was perfect.

http://oldcomputers.net/trs100.html

OQO? (5, Interesting)

cvdwl (642180) | more than 8 years ago | (#12024737)

Can someone review one of these? After all the hype, they've sort-of disappeared now that they're out there. Is it world-shaking and under produced (Apple), or kludged, unreliable and annoying?

Extra points if you post from the OQO.

Re:OQO? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12025028)

Raptors are cool. But very dangerous.

Re:OQO? (1)

Abalamahalamatandra (639919) | more than 8 years ago | (#12025082)

Well, don't have an OQO, but here's a link [msn.com] to a decent review from MSNBC by Krakow.

He's a pretty cool dude, decent review.

Re:OQO? (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 8 years ago | (#12025230)

maybe the most intersting/important bit of the review..
*The company claims up to three hours of computing per charge, but if you're like me and keep WiFi turned on all the time, expect more like two hours.*

that's bad. especially for an "ultra portable". what good is power in your pocket if you need power from the socket to keep it running?

Remember? (3, Funny)

Ohreally_factor (593551) | more than 8 years ago | (#12024741)

Anyone remember the good old UNIVAC PDA?

Back then, it was considered clever to quip, "Is that a UNIVAC in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?"

Nerds? (5, Funny)

AdityaG (842691) | more than 8 years ago | (#12024743)

Pioneering nerds may not have had Starbucks tables to occupy with their PowerBooks for hours on end

Nerds? Starbucks and powerbooks don't remind me of nerds. They remind me of metrosexuals.

TMI (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12024778)

We really don't want to hear about what you envision while masturbating.

Re:Nerds? [Mod: OFFTOPIC] (1)

cvdwl (642180) | more than 8 years ago | (#12024855)

Starbucks is WAY too 1990 for the metrosexuals. It's for staff meetings, suburbanites and commuters.

Real geeks (and their laptops), metrosexuals and artists are likely to be found at the funky coffee shop with the free wireless.

Re:Overspending Nerds? (1)

WickedClean (230550) | more than 8 years ago | (#12024870)

They reminds me of nerds who spend too much money on coffee and puters. They probably got the 4x4 option on their SUV just in case they need to drive over a curb at the Office Depot parking lot.

Re:Overspending Nerds? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12024956)

They probably got the 4x4 option on their SUV just in case they need to drive over a curb at the Office Depot parking lot.
My '77 Gremlin can do that just fine thank you very much.

Re:Nerds? (1)

Broiler (804077) | more than 8 years ago | (#12025052)

Nerds? Starbucks and powerbooks don't remind me of nerds. They remind me of metrosexuals.
If only...

And as ever, Apple creates the current paradigm... (4, Interesting)

tabkey12 (851759) | more than 8 years ago | (#12024744)

Look here at the PowerBook 100 [mobilepcmag.com].

I think every laptop I have ever owned is basically a very similar variant of that simple design! Way to go Apple.

Re:And as ever, Apple creates the current paradigm (1)

un1xl0ser (575642) | more than 8 years ago | (#12024862)

When you say that simple design, you mean the Thinkpad, I hope.

The Apple design on that link is the Thinkpad with a few more curves.

Re:And as ever, Apple creates the current paradigm (2, Informative)

tabkey12 (851759) | more than 8 years ago | (#12024911)

I mean what I wrote!

Look at this timeline [mobilepcmag.com] and tell me who had the idea first.

Re:And as ever, Apple creates the current paradigm (2, Informative)

Ohreally_factor (593551) | more than 8 years ago | (#12025095)

Look at this timeline and tell me who had the idea first.

Uh, Sony? They designed and manufactured the 100 for Apple (to Apple's specs, of course).

Complete? (2, Informative)

chiapetofborg (726868) | more than 8 years ago | (#12024754)

They make no mention of modern laptops and their current capapbilities. They mention Mac Laptops, and jump straight into the newfangled devices that aren't laptops (a la tablet PCs...), but they make no mention of current "desktop replacements."

Re:Complete? (3, Insightful)

vasqzr (619165) | more than 8 years ago | (#12024867)

Yep, no mention of Titanium Powerbooks. Those things set the world on fire, and companies still try to imitate them with no success.

Ahhh, Compaq. (5, Interesting)

mopslik (688435) | more than 8 years ago | (#12024755)

They have the compaq luggable I learned BASIC on in middle school in the 80s.

I remember being a wee kid, and doing some simple programming on an 80s Compaq behemoth as well. I had a floppy disk (5 1/4", of course) that held roughly 20-30 games on it. Nothing like launching up Frogger and staring at the miniscule 6"x6" green-monochrome screen for hours. I'm surprised I don't wear glasses today.

Anyhow, imagine my surprise when I took a job a few years back, and noticed that we are using said Compaq as a status/communications monitor in one of our test machines.

Good times.

Shoddy reporting a.k.a get your timelines straight (5, Informative)

crumbz (41803) | more than 8 years ago | (#12024768)

And i quote from the article, "ThinkPads were red hot, but IBM was still a corporate brand for corporate users. College kids and aspiring hackers wanted portables, too: They bought the Apple PowerBook. Apple had just come off one of the worst beatings in computer history: The Newton had bombed miserably, and the 16-pound Macintosh Portable (see "The Worst Notebooks of All Time") was a laughingstock of computing."

Considering that the Newton wasn't released until 1993, it seems difficult to believe that it preceded the Powerbook 100. Mobile PC needs an editor who can fact check.

Re:Shoddy reporting a.k.a get your timelines strai (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12024828)

Every few months, another magazine which focuses on portable computing runs another "history of portable computers" story, and Slashdot links to it.

Last time I checked, this history has not changed, so why is it news that yet another publication is rattling it off?

I smell a Slashvertizement.

Re:Shoddy reporting a.k.a get your timelines strai (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12025177)

What you ascribe to greed, I ascribe to plain old laziness. If this had been a link to Roland Picky Pail, which then linked to the article, I'd me much more inclined to agree with you, although it could be argued that it wasn't pure greed but the lust that Roland inspires in Commander Taco.

Re:Shoddy reporting a.k.a get your timelines strai (2, Informative)

skroob (450575) | more than 8 years ago | (#12025234)

What's more, they also say that Apple stole the GUI and the mouse from Xerox, which is completely false. Anyone who'd done the slightest fact-checking beyond "well my buddy Bob on the interweb told me" wouldn't make mistakes like these. I also don't remember the Portable being a laughingstock. It was big and heavy, yes, but so were ALL the portable machines of that time.

This guy is their Editor-in-Chief too.

Hah! (1)

ites (600337) | more than 8 years ago | (#12024780)

I used to work on an Olivetti "portable", which was a clone of the IBM portable PC. It weighed about 15kg, and had a small yellow/black screen. The best thing about it was that closed, it was quite good as a seat.

I carried that machine home and back to work for a year or so, before I finally convinced my boss to pay for a PC for me at home.

Great times. Now I use a Sony X505, which is just about the lightest notebook every made.

Amiga 600? (1)

nickos (91443) | more than 8 years ago | (#12024783)

I remember a mate of mine used to take his Amiga 600 [emugaming.com] with him everywhere in a rucksack. Pretty cool little machine that...

Re:Amiga 600? (4, Funny)

Ohreally_factor (593551) | more than 8 years ago | (#12025212)

I remember a mate of mine used to take his Amiga 600 with him everywhere in a rucksack. Pretty cool little machine that...

that what? Do we have to wait for Timothy's dupe to get this cliff hanger resolved? Stay tuned for the next exciting dupe on "As the Slash Dots"?

Re:Amiga 600? (1)

easter1916 (452058) | more than 8 years ago | (#12025296)

I guess you're joking, but he meant "Pretty cool little machine, that..." where the "that" refers to the computer. A very English turn of phrase.

Somewhat first post.... (0)

Patrick Mannion (782290) | more than 8 years ago | (#12024784)

Bleh. Wow. What a waste of webpage. I'm typing this on a laptop. ibm thinkpad I've seen laptops. My teacher at my las school had a big heavy one. Acutally, we did have a Apple IIc, which could be lugged around!

The true first portable... (1)

tquinlan (868483) | more than 8 years ago | (#12024795)

...which I still remember getting as a high school graduation present, the Atari Portfolio.

Images:
http://images.google.com/images?q=atari +portfolio& hl=en&btnG=Google+Search

Information:
http://www.atarimuseum.com/compute rs/pccomputers/p ortfolio.html
http://www.atari-portfolio.co.uk/

Re:The true first portable... (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 8 years ago | (#12025152)

I still have mine... :-) Problem is: the flat cable between the screen and the unit broke and, while it still boots up there is no way to see what it does :-( Sad, I still can't throw it away...

I consider it more to be a PDA than a portable computer though.

Learn something every day (1)

TomorrowPlusX (571956) | more than 8 years ago | (#12024826)

I *loved* IBM's butterfly keyboard. I didn't understand ( being a Mac guy, and not actually owning a computer but instead using the ones at my university ) why it quietly died.

I had thought it was ahead of its time, now I know it was an anemic machine, just with a brilliant keyboard.

What a waste.

Re:Learn something every day (2, Informative)

kaszeta (322161) | more than 8 years ago | (#12024982)

I *loved* IBM's butterfly keyboard

I hated it, since I a bunch of them in my department I was respsonsible for. Two main reasons: (1) The butterfly mechanism was somewhat fragile, and (2) any PCMCIA peripherals that stuck out from the slot (network adapaters in particular) couldn't stick up even the slightest bit from the slot, or the butterfly action and the PCMCIA device interfered.

Folding keyboards haven't died .. (1)

torpor (458) | more than 8 years ago | (#12024999)


They're now accessories, mostly for PDA's, but pretty much shortly for all kinds of things. Folding keyboards with integrated battery/power management, and your average cell-phone ..

Targus make wicked foldables for all sorts of computers .. for this very reason (small, portable, comfortable keyboard) I maintain a Zaurus sl5500, with accessories, as a truly compact and manageable 'travel computer' system for on the go..

With these two 'accessories', I've got a worthy system for work. I love the Targus foldables, I can't wait for them to get even smaller .. IBM were waaaay ahead of their time, but anyway, foldables are on the immediate horizon as an accessory cult item.

Old Home-Built Handheld (4, Interesting)

druske (550305) | more than 8 years ago | (#12024833)

Here's an 1802 based handheld computer [ringcomps.co.uk] from 25 years ago, complete with specs and schematics.

Re:Old Home-Built Handheld (1)

Sparr0 (451780) | more than 8 years ago | (#12025165)

That has to be one of the worst color schemes I have ever seen on a website. Light grey on white, not so bad. Light grey on blue, again not horrible. But alternating white and blue backgrounds as the image tiles? It physically hurt my eyes to try reading those pages.

HX20! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12024841)

The first computer I programmed on...
Thanks to a school assitant that managed to get a bunch of hx20 to teach us BASIC.
Great guy.

Battery Life :-) (2, Interesting)

Usquebaugh (230216) | more than 8 years ago | (#12024847)

Where can I buy a notebook with > 8 hr battery life?

I'd give up the CD/DVD, the color screen, the ghz proc. I'd give up most things to get a decent battery life. Now the ideal would be about 40hrs.

Any ideas?

There are notebooks with 8 hr battery life (1)

patrickoehlinger (445411) | more than 8 years ago | (#12025213)

I'm currently selling [search.ebay.de] those great and very mobile Psion notebook PDA kind a things. You can write emails or work on your spread sheats for months, with 2 simple AA batteries!
Yes, I'm shipping to the US.

Bollocks on the IBM 5100 (4, Insightful)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 8 years ago | (#12024864)

Sticklers agree: The 5100 represents the first production portable computer. So does the Smithsonian, where a prototype now resides.
Sticklers do not agree. For some weird and stupid reason probably related to marketing, the HP9830 [decodesystems.com] (1974) was classified as a "programable calculator". Balls. It was a 16 bit computer and had BASIC. (There was a thermal printer that attached to the top.) Guts and stuff [classiccmp.org]

I really hate stories (1)

Monkelectric (546685) | more than 8 years ago | (#12024883)

where they claim someone is a visionary for "dreaming up" something completely obvious. *I* want a portable nuclear generator for my house. Im a visionary!

In 1968, Xerox PARC's Alan Kay came up with a bold idea: Saw those legs off the table and shrink the computer down to more manageable chunks that could be stitched together and tucked under your arm. His Dynabook was originally envisioned as a computer for children. Inspired by the design of a regular hardback book, the Dynabook featured a flat-panel display, wireless connectivity, and the full capabilities of a modern computer. Oh, and it weighed 2 pounds. The only catch was that the Dynabook didn't exist. The technology it required simply hadn't been invented yet. At the time, only primitive LCD and plasma displays were being tinkered with, and the technology for one wireless modem took up half of an Econoline van.

I really hate posts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12025155)

where the body of the post continues the subject line

Re:I really hate stories (1)

Ohreally_factor (593551) | more than 8 years ago | (#12025254)

What is obvious today wasn't obvious in 1968, when there weren't even desktop computers. The computer was the entire desk.

However, it's good to see that you have evolved so much beyond the humans of 1968 that you're much smarter than they were, so that such ideas are obvious to you.

Ouch.. (1)

Jaime2 (824950) | more than 8 years ago | (#12024885)

My old 1986 IBM PC Convertible was listed as one of the worst laptops of all time. I guess they were right though. But I liked the commercials with Charlie Chaplin (OK, so those were bad too).

Batteries Anyone? (2, Interesting)

RagingChipmunk (646664) | more than 8 years ago | (#12024887)

Somewhat off topic, but, a neat side bar to the story would be "how long can you compute with out being plugged in".

Seems that batteries havnt really improved much in the last 20 yrs. The only thing that seems to have greatly improved is power-consumption with better, low power chip designs.

I wonder how long an old Apple ][e could run if it was re-designed with low power components? (not that I'd want to actually use it!) Could I run it for a couple days on flash-light batteries?

Anyone have any info on how many amps the old "Lugable" PCs would draw?

Re:Batteries Anyone? (1)

CdBee (742846) | more than 8 years ago | (#12025075)

I'd imagine a modern PDA gives a good analogy for what you want to try - low-speed, low-power processor, limited RAM, limited screen but long battery life.

Oh man, Osborne CP/M .. (5, Funny)

torpor (458) | more than 8 years ago | (#12024888)

.. I remember those hot, sweaty days, at the back of the typing class, me and the fold-up newly-donated Osborne sitting together, watching the sweaty backs of all the schoolgirls in class adjusting their bra-straps .. hooh boy .. I was 15, the only guy in the class of 30, and I selected the class because of the Osbourne straight up, without even thinking, ignoring the other 'none of my friends are gonna take it' factor completely, honest. My first day of class, when I realized it was just me and pretty much every hot chick in my year, *plus* the Osbourne sitting there for me to hack on, every afternoon ..

I was only allowed to touch 'the wordprocessor' because I'd already mastered the drills and homekeys of every other typewriter in the class (Typing A, Senior High School) .. highest accuracy, highest rate, document writing, etc. The Osbourne was 'special', because it wasn't really typewriter-standard keys, or so the teacher said, bless her .. but it wasn't long until it was just me n' Wordstar, totally horny for each other, watching sweet teenage girls of my year doing their typing drills on crappy old hard-core typewriters, in the desert sun, paper, ink and sweat. In uniform.

Good times, good times ...

I'd love to have an Osborne around, but alas the oldest computer I ever owned that I still have is a lowly Oric-1, whose treasured spot in a box in the attic at home is right next to the "Local Boy Wins in State Typing Championship" newspaper article, cheesy photo and all ..

Re:Oh man, Osborne CP/M .. (1)

Captain Fallout (704318) | more than 8 years ago | (#12025281)

Funny enough, my boss and I were talking about our first home computers less than two hours ago. I had the kickass Atari 800 and he had an Osbourne-1 which he still has in his attic and is going to bring in next week.

Commodore SX-64 (3, Interesting)

doppleganger871 (303020) | more than 8 years ago | (#12024908)

Yep, I have two of these, actually. One I just purchased. They both are in 100% working order, though the first one has a home-made wood and aluminum handle on it, and I'm still looking for another keyboard cable. They both have JiffyDOS, and system reset buttons (to accompany the serial reset buttons). Great little machines. Was thinking about converting one to an internal LCD if I can do it without making any permanent mods to the inside of it.

They forgot the best feature... Re:Commodore SX-64 (2, Funny)

WarPresident (754535) | more than 8 years ago | (#12025146)

The "degaussing slot." Located above the built-in floppy drive (or was it below?), this space provides an inviting location to store your floppies when you're on the move. What they didn't tell you is that any floppy left in that space when the unit gets turned on has a better than average probability of being wiped by the degaussing circuit of the monitor.

HP-110 (1)

NerdHead (35767) | more than 8 years ago | (#12024984)

I still own a Hewlett-Packard HP-110. I used one back in the late eighties to perform calculations for phase-matching cables based on electrical length. The built in Lotus 1-2-3 and a lead-acid battery were plusses at the time (I still like a lead-acid battery over the junk they make batteries out of now.)

Here's [oldcomputers.net] a brief description.

They missed alot.. (1)

telemonster (605238) | more than 8 years ago | (#12025072)

They missed so much. TRS-80 model 100, the handhelds like the MS-DOS HP-95LX, and the quasi MS-DOS Atari Portfolio, the first laptop with a color display (NOT A THINKPAD). Libretto! Atari STacy!

No Mention of the Kaypro (1)

rrhal (88665) | more than 8 years ago | (#12025086)

The Kaypro was a direct competitor to the osborne. And there was a Kaypro II (?) that ran DOS. The thing I remember about Kaypros is that they had a bigger screen that the osborne.

I have at least one HX-20 still around. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12025092)

I still have at least one working good quality HX-20 around somewhere, in its rugged plastic carry case, with power adapter, etc. It's in pretty good condition as well, includes a Text-To-Speech module and a mini-thermal paper module. I think I'll take it out of storage soon and take it to a coffee house and see how long it takes for someone to ask what OS it runs, or if it has wireless...

-Cavorite-

portable tty? (1)

dazza101 (828114) | more than 8 years ago | (#12025107)

Okay, I remember lugging a tty terminal home over the weekends to play zork back in 1979. Not an ideal arrangement, a significant waste of paper, but it did make it easier to generate a map of the game! Oh, and the telephone kept popping out of the acoustic coupled modem (running at 2400 baud) all the time... Portable?

What school did YOU attend? (1)

MudButt (853616) | more than 8 years ago | (#12025113)

They have the compaq luggable I learned BASIC on in middle school in the 80s.

We were learning how to glue paper and write in complete sentances in middle school. Mmmm... Glue...

THe Univac portable (1)

kff322 (752112) | more than 8 years ago | (#12025143)

I remember back in the day when I carried My UNIVAC portable computer! It was sooo unreliable, i constantly had to replace those hot microtubes and the battery was only 200Kw/hr. It got way to hot, when ever I wanted to add a number, I need to get a laptop cool pad :(

Some things missing from the article (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12025158)

The Radio Shack Pocket Computer, which had a miniature keyboard, a one-line display, and all of 1k of memory. It was about $200 and released in 1981.

The Toshiba T3100, with its gas plasma display, had a clamshell design three years before the NEC ultralight (it also weighed 15 pounds instead of the NEC's 4.5 pounds).

early laptop battery life (1)

satsuke (263225) | more than 8 years ago | (#12025178)

I remember by first two laptops battery life.

First one was a TRS80 model 100 'laptop'. Had a 12 line / 40 column LCD display and .. with no backlight or moving parts, a battery life of weeks .. I think I remember it running on D cell batteries.

My next laptop (of this story) I got in 1991. It was a Toshiba T1100+.
7.16mhz 8086 processor
640K of memory
two 3 1/2 inch floppies
80/24 CGA (mono) LCD screen.

At the time I got my boot profile so heavily optimized that I could load a DOS 3.3, a minimal word processor and a couple of utilities onto about 200k of ramdrive, thus obliviating the need for using the battery hogging floppy drives.

I used this thing for college, I charged it once a week and never did completely drain them down.

Ah those days, thing weighed a good 9 lbs and had the distintion of having a screen that folded over the keyboard, which in and of itself is not noteable. What was notable was the fact that it felt and sounded like a old car door closing.

Only drawback to this tank was weight and the fact that the battery was internal .. so when it finally did succumb to ni-cad memory .. I had to take it completely apart to replace it. Incidentally, the battery was physically larger than the one in my baby UPS that is hooked up to the router and cable modem at home.

All of this was replaced with the exact opposite laptop .. a Compaq Contura Aero .. one of those no-floppy, no cdrom, no color screen 486sx boxes that only weighed 3lbs in 95.

What, no Zaurus? (1)

wiredog (43288) | more than 8 years ago | (#12025197)

SL-C3000 has a 400 MHz processor, 64 mB RAM, 4 GB HD. It's probably more powerful than Slashdot's first server was.

No Apricot Portable? Come on people! (1)

mfender9 (725994) | more than 8 years ago | (#12025235)

The Apricot Portable [old-computers.com] was significantly drool-worthy back in my day, though I guess it was only in Europe. Speech recognition, wireless keyboard and mouse (via infrared), and folded up into a small suitcase that fit into even the most modest of family saloons. 'Twas a thing of beauty.

The 5100 was a neat machine (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 8 years ago | (#12025250)

It had an undocumented feature that allowed programmers to easily port programs from the old mainframe standard to the more modern UNIX.

as to who was first... (1)

mah! (121197) | more than 8 years ago | (#12025252)

...it is always a controversial issue. But the 2nd paragraph in the article starts with:
Who invented the telephone? Was it Alexander Graham Bell or Elisha Gray?
In fact, the US Congress acknowledged that it was Antonio Meucci [wikipedia.org], despite the fact that he was not able to obtain a patent for it, unlike Bell about five years later [stanford.edu].

Patents... a topic which I guess slashdotters feel strongly about.

No mention of the Sinclair Z88! (1)

alyosha1 (581809) | more than 8 years ago | (#12025268)

Editor, spreadsheet, BBC Micro compatibility, about 10 lines of screen space IIRC, what more could one want? I still have fond memories of my first laptop.

The article has factual errors (1)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 8 years ago | (#12025345)

Example: the Hyperion pre-dated the woefully under-powered Compaq portable by almost a year. Invented in Canada by Murray Bell's organization, it was a far better machine.

There's no mention of the KayPro family of machines, either.

And the ultimate portable, the Timex/Sinclair gets no treatment, either.

Such are the problems with historians. Limited core.

Ahh the memories! (1)

bblazer (757395) | more than 8 years ago | (#12025349)

I had one of those Osborne 1's. CP/M, now that is an OS! I even wrote a rudimentiary Hold'em game for it in pascal - text based, but it worked. I thought I was really cool lugging that thing around airports with me.
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