Computers in 1982

“One of the most interesting new computers, both as a piece of machinery and as a specimen of capitalism in action, is the Osborne I. Its creator is Adam Osborne, an author of computer books who decided to break the price on-computers. The Osborne I is a very strange-looking piece of equipment. When folded up, it resembles a bulky white briefcase; it is advertised as the only computer that will fit underneath an airline seat. When unfolded, it looks like an outdated military radio. It comes with a full-sized keyboard, a 64K memory, two disk drives, and software for word-processing and accounting that would cost more than $1,000 if bought separately. Osborne offers the whole package for $1,795, which makes it the best bargain on computer power in the business. The catch is that the built-in screen is about the size of a postcard, although it is much easier to read than that would suggest. For an extra $300, you can buy a normal-sized monitor and attach it to the Osborne.

In a perfect world, everyone who had a home computer would also have an Osborne to travel with. According to dealers, Osbornes are selling so fast that many people must have decided that it makes sense not just as their second computer but as their first.

The Otrona Corporation also makes a portable computer, called the Attache. It is smaller and lighter than the Osborne (less than twenty pounds, versus the Osborne’s twenty-three), it has dual-density disk drives, and its higher-resolution screen displays a full eighty-character line, instead of the Osborne’s fifty-two. Its only drawback is that, at $3,995, it costs more than twice as much as the Osborne.

One other tip on hardware: If you live in a climate less humid than Panama’s, you must invest $100 in an anti-static mat to place under your desk. If you don’t, in wintertime you’ll get shocks of static electricity when you touch your machine. There is always the possibility that this will erase what you’re working on at the time.”

From The Atlantic Monthly, 1982: Article here.

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