Golden Oldies: Computers of Yesteryear|
By Thiravudh Khoman
Back in the 1980's, I collected all the computer brochures I could
get my hands on - for reference purposes and yes, for fun. I would
either mail away for these or pick them up by the armloads at computer
shows. It's year 2000 now and I've long since thrown the paper
originals away, but I've kept a few favourites in scanned format for
sentimental reasons. For better or worse, here they are.
How many of these do you recognize? Indeed, how many of these have
you used? And tell us the truth, which ones did you lust after back
then? My favourite was the Otrona, by the way.
If you wish to continue your walk down memory lane, there's a fair
amount of information on these and other oldies on the good old WWW. My
objective was actually spring cleaning and NOT to compete with these
Oops Department: It's very possible that I've remembered a few
things incorrectly (not a surprising condition for me these days).
Please email me (vide the contact address at the bottom of the first
page) with any corrections if you remember differently. Also, if you'd
like to post pictures of some of YOUR golden oldies for posterity's
sake, you can email me those as well if you have them lying around. A
short, write-up would also be nice.
* * * * * * * * * *
Apple II, /// and Compatibles
- Apple II+ - 17kb
Actually, this may be the Apple II rather than the II+, but close
enough. This was my first micro (as we used to call it back then), and
I equipped mine to the max with 64kb RAM, 2 140kb floppy drives, and a
300 bps modem. Wow!
- Apple /// - 11kb
- Apple /// (with ProFile hard disk) - 13kb
The Apple /// was intended as a business version of the Apple II,
which is what the hard disk was all about. It never caught on though,
and had power supply problems which all but killed it. Its higher price
tag didn't exactly help either.
- Franklin Ace 100 - 17kb
A lower cost alternative to the Apple II. Besides the Franklin,
there was also this way cool micro from Germany called the Basis 100
which ran in both Apple II and CP/M modes. I don't have a picture of
Apple Lisa and Macintosh
- Apple Lisa (original model) - 20kb
This was the original model, the one that came with the so-called
"stringy" floppy disk (hmm, or was that the DEC Pro 300?). Way too
expensive and a mite weird. The Lisa was supposedly named after Steve
Jobs' daughter or girlfriend.
- Apple Lisa (model 2/10) - 27kb
This was a later model of the Lisa, which was equipped with 3.5"
drives. It quickly became redundant once the Macintosh came out, all
attempts to position it as a high-end Mac failed.
- Apple Macintosh - 14kb
The original, closed-box model came with 128kb RAM. The follow-up
model had 512kb. Not easy to tell them apart (I believe the picture is
of the original 128kb model). I really wonder how many Mac's simple
MacPaint sold in those earliest days.
- Commodore Super-Pet - 23kb
No comments. Never saw one in person and never used one.
- Commodore Vic-20 - 15kb
- Commodore Vic-64 - 17kb
These were ultra low-end offerings and had more in common with the
Radio Shack Color Computer than they did the Pet. Mercifully, these
didn't last long. Many years later, Commodore got it right with the
CP/M-80, CP/M-86 Computers
- Epson QX-20 (with HASCI keyboard) - 17kb
Epson making computers? Don't bother. This was an ergnomically
designed computer, but it never caught on. (By the way, HASCI stands for
"Human Applications Standard Computer Interface - thanks to Chris
Rutkowski for the nudge in the old brain cells.) Jeez, buyers are hard
- Kaypro II - 24kb
For brawny CP/M users on the go. Why bother with a wimpy Osborne in
a plastic case when you can lug a metal-encased Kaypro! This was the
- Morrow MD (MD-2, MD-5, MD-11?) - 13kb
George Morrow was a key industry person back in the CP/M era. The
company bearing his name made solid, dependable computers - albeit far
from sexy ones - and died a quick death (the company, not George) once
the PC age began.
- Northstar Advantage - 16kb
No comments. (Free space for anyone wishing to put something here.)
- Osborne (model 2) - 21kb
The Osborne was the FIRST portable computer. With a form factor
that cried "sewing machine!", this, the model 2, supported a scrollable
52 column screen. An 80-column screen didn't appear until the Osborne
Executive, but by that time the game was up.
- Seattle Gazelle - 12kb
The FIRST 8088 computer. Seattle Computer wrote an operating system
for it called Seattle DOS which "borrowed" liberally from CP/M-86
(including some "bait" text strings). Microsoft eventually purchased
Seattle DOS and tweaked it into Microsoft DOS 1.0 for the IBM PC. Now
- Superbrain II - 15kb
No comments. (Free space for anyone wishing to put something here.)
- Xerox 820 - 19kb
Folks, this is NOT the Xerox Star, the machine that wow'ed Steve
Jobs into creating the Lisa/Mac. Another futile attempt by Xerox to
sell business computers.
- IBM PC (8088) - 20kb
Did you know that the original IBM PC came with 16kb RAM and a tape
cassette for mass storage? (Hey, if the Apple II could use a tape
cassette, so could we!) What a joke. The first decent IBM PC (the
"PC2" I think it was called) was equipped with 64kb RAM and one floppy.
- IBM PC-XT (8088) - 18kb
The IBM PC gets a 10mb hard disk and DOS 2.0, which borrowed a lot
of Unix features. Although the hard disk offered vastly improved
storage, its quasi-8/16 bit processing and paltry 4.77Mhz processor
hardly distinguished it from 4 and 6Mhz CP/M machines. Over-clocking
may have gotten its start here (and continued with the AT).
- IBM PC-AT (80286) - 16kb
The IBM PC/AT was truly a milestone computer. Much faster
processor; much, much faster hard disk; greater memory address space.
But lest we forget, the AT was infamous for a hard disk that died left
and right, a failure that IBM has always steadfastly denied.
- IBM PCjr (8088) - 11kb
Derided for its wireless "chiclet" keyboard, the PCjr proved an
incredible embarassment to IBM. Oh well, when you're big, you can blow
it big as well.
- IBM PC Portable - 25kb
Sorry attempt by IBM to build a "luggable" computer. IBM finally
redeemed itself with its ThinkPad series of notebook computers, almost 2
- Compaq Portable - 27kb
Compaq proves that good PC's weren't only made by IBM. And you can
take it with you (strong forearm required)!
- Compaq Deskpro - 21kb
So not all Compaqs are compact. The very first in Compaq's long
running Deskpro series. Of course, it ran a bit faster than the stock
- Gavilan SC - 11kb
I forget now if this was the FIRST laptop computer or the Data
General DG/One was the first. But in any case, this was ONE of the
EARLIEST laptops. Ignore the narrow screen, it came with a built-in
- Hyperion - 16kb
A really neat little portable from a Canadian company. But it
hardly made a ripple. My #2 favourite, but I was never serious with it
and we never went "all the way".
- Otrona Attache - 27kb
This was the love of my life. Unfortunately, I married someone
else. The Otrona ran both CP/M and IBM software. Neat trick.
- Radio Shack Color Computer - 32kb
Toy computer for tiny tots. A way to play Space Invaders without
buying an Atari.
- Radio Shack TRS-80 - 20kb
- Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 16 - 24kb
These were popularly known as "Trash-80", although I understand the
Model 16 was actually a pretty good business computer. Otherwise, I
have little experience with these.
- DEC VT102 - 17kb
If you've ever dealt with terminal-based software, you've probably
come across the so-called "VT100" standard. Well, this is what the
VT102 looked like.
- Televideo 802 - 11kb
- Televideo 910 - 11kb
Two offerings from Televideo, one of the major dumb terminal
manufacturers way back when. With the terminal market drying out,
Televideo tried to make full-fledged computers modeled after their
terminals, but "tanked".
- Fortune 32:16 - 16kb
I believe this was the first 32-bit computer, but it ran Unix
instead of DOS.
- IBM Series-1 - 12kb
I don't know a lot about this one, but I understand that it is used
often as a "front-end" as opposed to a standalone processor.
- IBM System/38 - 26kb
Back in the old days, there were two RPG-based IBM mini's to choose
from: the System/34 and the System/38. The System/38 looks more
impressive (read: needs a larger "office"). What I found particularly
intriguing was the backup system: a cartridge plugged full of 8"
- IBM System/36 - 29kb
The System/36 actually came out AFTER the System/38, the numbering
notwithstanding. And before the System/38 there was the System/34.
Somebody has a strange way of counting at IBM. Of course, after these
Systems/3x's came the AS/400. Go figure.