Elegant" is the word computer insiders use to describe a particularly fine example of computer architecture or design. It has never been applied to the Osborne 1, whose less-than-sleek looks are frequently compared with the instrument panel of a DC-3. The introduction of Acam Osborne's brainchild in July 1981, however, touched off the hottest trend in business machines since the microcomputer traveled from the hobbyist's workroom to the businessperson's desk. The Osborne, its ads announced, was a "fully functional computer system in a portable package," allowing users to "go to work at the office, at home, or in the field."
In its first year, the company racked up $10 million in sales; its 1982 revenues were estimated at nearly $100 million. Although most analysts agree that the machine's low price ($1,795 including software), more than its portability, accounts for its success, peripatetic computing power is clearly an idea whose time has come.
In 1982, the industry shipped more than 115,000 units of "full-function" portables, like the Osborne, for revenues of about $285 million, according to Egil Juliussen, chairman of Future Computing, a Richardson, Tex., market research firm. Juliussen predicts that by 1987 shipments will total 1.4 million units, valued at $3.5 billion. While these machines today account for barely 5% of the entire desktop-computer market, he expects that share to jump to 20% by 1987.
At least 25 machines are currently on the market, with a new one, it seems, appearing weekly. They cost as little as $1,795 or as much as $9,000 and weigh from less than 9 pounds to as much as 36 pounds (see chart, page 50). Unlike hand-held computers, these portable machines do all that a desktop microcomputer can do, yet they pack up easily and can be carried from one location to another.
Portables, essentially desktops in a portable package, can be used for budgeting, forecasting, writing reports, creating graphs -- any task a stand-alone system can handle. But to be useful for broad business applications, most analysts agree, a unit should include a standard-size, conventional keyboard; an adequate display; a reasonable amount of internal memory and data storage; the ability to communcate over phone lines and to hook up with such peripherals as a printer; and, most important, the capacity to run good applications software.
"Portability, per se, is not enough," says Richard Dalton in Open Systems, a newsletter he edits on office technology. "There has to be enough utility to make the unit worth porting. But, you might ask, why would anyone want to cart around a computer? Some people don't. They see the portables, though, as a good way to lay their hands on a comparable machine for much less money than they would pay for a desktop. "For 1,800 bucks, you can get an awful lot of computer," says Richard Matlack, president of InfoCorp, a Cupertino, Calif., market research firm. Another lure, he adds, is that many people buying now are those "who want the latest and hottest-looking thing. There's a certain amount of status associated with it."
But once entrepreneurs get involved with using computers, says Isaacson of Future Computing, they want to take that power with them. Just doing a spreadsheet application for budgeting, she says, would justify the cost of a micro. "And half that planning is done at home. An awful lot of computers do go back and forth."
Seaforth Lyle, president of Computer Devices Inc., the Burlington, Mass., manufacturer of the DOT portable computer, predicts that businesspeople will increasingly buy portables as an inexpensive way to spread the computer wealth within an office. "The image is of people running through airports," he says. "The reality is people sharing units." He also predicts that, more and more, salespeople, accountants, insurance and real estate brokers -- anyone who wants to prepare proposals in clients' homes -- will carry computers.
Some people take the machines with them now, squeezing them, as advertised, under their airplane seats. Husband-and-wife team Juliussen and Isaacson hauled their 28-pound Compaq from their Richardson office to their room in the La Costa Hotel in San Diego. "We can run the whole business from here," says Juliussen. But, adds Isaacson, "I will tell you it is not very portable. We broke the handle, and you have to cry to get it on the airline."
It is true that, with few exceptions, the full-function portables are heavy and clumsy. "It's not like carrying your briefcase to work," says David Wilson, a staff scientist at SRI International who is preparing a buyer's guide to portable computers. "After a while I'd be afraid that one arm would get longer than the other."
And there is another problem. All but two of the current full-function portables must be near an electrical outlet. "The most romantic use of this kind of thing is on an airplane going to New York, where you can VisiCalc for five hours, or in the backseat of a car from Kennedy Airport to Manhattan, where you can rattle off a few memos to the home office," says editor Dalton, who is also president of Keep/Track Corp., a Corte Madera, Calif., consulting firm, "but that requires lots of battery power, and that's not there yet."
In short, there are trade-offs. Truly easy-to-carry units aren't likely to be that useful. And most of the machines that are full-function, says Richard Mandel, products manager for Hayward, Calif.-based Computerland Corp., "are only portable for a football player."
Another class of portables, the handhelds, weigh less than a pound and are battery-powered. But unless you are willing to learn how to program and have very specialized needs, there isn't much you can do with one right now. "Basically, what it looks like is an overgrown handheld calculator, and that's really what it is," says InfoCorp's Matlack. Even if comprehensive business software existed for the units, typing in data on a keyboard the size of a playing card with buttonlike keys is neither efficient nor convenient -- even if the user has very tiny fingers. Nor is it easy to do projections or word processing, with a one-line display. "If you're doing VisiCalc kinds of calculations, one line is a real pain in the neck," says Matlack.
Hewlett-Packard Co. recently introduced the compact, 26-ounce HP-75C for $995; it is far more powerful than the handhelds and can be linked to a miniature printer, graphics plotter, or cassette recorder for storing files. But, like other similar handheld products it still has buttonlike keys. "I certainly don't envision anyone is going to write a novel on it," says SRI's Wilson. And right now there is only the promise of applications software.
Three slip-in-a-briefcase, book-size machines with full-size keyboards were introduced by the end of 1982, although one, the Epson HX-20, cannot yet be considered full-function, since it lacks a full range of software. The GRiD Compass, lightweight, and with a full electroluminescent flat-screen display, is also expensive -- $9,210 with software. "It's marketed to the executive-washroom crowd," says Steve Schneiderman, editor of Portable Computer, a new magazine. And it draws too much power to run on a battery The battery-operated, eight-pound, 13-ounce Teleram 3000 is truly portable, but it has only a four-line display (as does the battery-powered Athena I, which was introduced early this year). Clearly, the perfect portable, the constant companion that can go along to any remote mountaintop hideaway, has yet to be perfected.
Most analysts, however, advise people not to wait for the dream machine. Says Wilson: "Every month someone is going to have something nicer than what was out there the last month. So if you wait for it to settle down, you never get one at all."
How do you hack your way through the hardware underbrush if you decide a full-function portable might be useful? "It always comes back to the same question," says Dalton. "What do you need it for? You have to decide which of the factors are most important to you." Adds Richard Matlack: "You're really looking at price/performance. By and large, it's just the features versus how much you want to pay."
Features on a portable, however, can vary even more widely than they do on desktops. As manufacturers try to cram all the essential elements into a more compact package, they necessarily make design compromises that can affect a machine's appeal or usefulness. Here are some factors to consider when shopping:
Weight ahd size. If you travel frequently and want to take a computer with you, these considerations loom larger than they would if you planned only to tote the machine home on weekends. And, if you intend to bring the computer on an airplane, make sure -- despite the manufacturer's claims -- that it actually will fit under an airline seat. (On any jet airplane, an underthe-seat item can measure no more than 9" X 13" X 23", according to an American Airlines spokesperson.)
Power supply. A self-contained power-supply is important if you intend to work out of doors or in any location without electricity. And power, says Matlack, is the chief challenge for portables. In the next couple of years, he predicts, low-powered chips will be increasingly available, as will potent, small batteries. Meanwhile, there are the usual trade-offs. In order to reduce the power drain, the Teleram 3000 and the Athena I, which are currently the only full-function portables that run on batteries, use a less-than-adequate, four-line liquid crystal display (LCD). Some manufacturers do offer battery packs, but, like the seven-pound, five-ounce Osborne add-on, these boost the weight substantially. You should also consider a battery's staying power. "If you're going to take five-hour, cross-country plane trips and your battery only lasts two hours, it's not going to do you much good," says Matlack.
Screen and display. Screen size and even shape differ, as manufacturers try to shrink overall dimensions. Except for the GRiD, which uses the expensive, electro-luminescent flat screen; the Teleram; and the Athena I; all the full-function portables rely on the heavy, bulky cathode ray tube (CRT). Probably the screen most conducive to eye strain is the five-inch Osborne's, clearly created for munchkins. An inadequate display can be corrected by plugging in a special monitor, which costs from $150 to $300. A so-called RF modulator -- built-in on some machines or available for about $70 in computer stores -- lets you use your television as a monitor. The TV screen, though, cannot display a full 80-character line. And either of these solutions limits portability.
Since you are going to be spending much of your time staring at the screen, you should like what you see -- which means the characters should be easy to read. Most displays feature green characters on a darker ground, but a few -- Hyperion and GRiD, for instance -- have other combinations. Some of the machines offer "bit-mapped" graphics, which produce sharper images for charts or drawings.
Keyboard. Placement of the keys is often quirky, so make sure you will be comfortable with the arrangement. Some keyboards offer "sculptured" keys like those on a typewriter; some don't. Many machines provide a number of programmable keys, allowing you to perform repetitive functions faster.
Software. "A computer is nothing more than a paperweight unless you have programs for it to run, " says Portable Computer's Schneiderman. As with desktop models, software availability is the most crucial factor to consider when buying a portable.
How much software exists for a machine depends, in part, on the operating system, which controls the running of the applications programs. A program written for one operating system won't run under another, unless the software is modified.
If a manufacturer doesn't use one of the operating systems that are becoming industry standards -- CP/M-80, CP/M-86, MS-DOS, UNIX, for instance -- it must create, or have created for it, its own software. You are then tied to that software. That is one reason, says Isaacson, that "proprietary operating systems should be dead." In the long run, she explains, software developers are going to produce more and better programs for operating systems that are used in a wide variety of machines. By far, the greatest number of off-the-shelf programs currently exist for CP/M-80, which is why most 8-bit portables use it.
8 bits or 16 bits? The portable computers' microprocessors are built around either 8-bit or 16-bit chips. So-called second-generation machines, such as the IBM Personal Computer, use the 16-bit chip, giving them more internal memory and greater speed. With more memory, they can run new integrated software programs, such as 1-2-3 (see Using Technology, page 124), which combine text, graphics, and spreadsheet in one package. The 16-bit computers also allow programmers to create "friendlier" software.
Says Rod Canion, president of Compaq Computer Corp., which makes an IBM PC look-alike: "Eight-bit computers are now obsolete for business and professional use." Many less-biased observers, however, disagree.
"There's so much capacity in a typical 8-bit computer that a small business can't utilize that I just giggle when I hear how everyone needs a 16-bit computer now," adds Dalton. "It will make VisiCalc run 40% faster. That means your global update takes 12 seconds instead of 15. Most of us aren't that pressed for time." Besides, he points out, "8-bit computers are becoming a commodity item. You can get one fully equipped for less than $2,000."
If, however, you are buying a portable as a long-term investment or are convinced you need greater computing power, you should look at the 16-bit machines. There is another reason for considering 16-bit portables: IBM PC compatibility.
Compatibility. If the portable is your second machine, says Isaacson, it is a good idea to buy one -- whether it is 8-bit or 16-bit -- that will be compatible with the one you already own. But compatibility "means many things on many levels," she says. Generally speaking, an 8-bit portable with a CP/M operating system will be able to use software that runs on CP/M. If, however, you want to swap files from your 8-bit CP/M portable to your CP/M desktop, you can't simply take a disk out of one machine and insert it into the other. Because there is no floppy disk standard for these machines, you must transfer files by plugging the two computers together through their RS-232C communication ports, which come with most micros.
If your desktop is an Apple II, still the most popular 8-bit machine, you will have difficulty finding a portable that allows you to use your Apple software or to swap files. Manufacturers aren't rushing to make Apple-compatible portables, says Isaacson, chiefly because Apple uses its own microprocessor and operating system, so you are "guaranteed to be in court with Apple" if you try to reproduce it.
Instead, many manufacturers are building machines they claim are compatible with the IBM PC, currently moving at a 20,000-a-month clip. The IBM PC, these manufacturers argue, is the desktop of the future. And because the PC does have a standard 5 1/4" disk, you can, with many of the compatible portables, exchange files directly with an IBM desktop you might already own. Besides, say the clone makers, our portables also make available to you the large and growing pool of hardware and software developed for the IBM. That software, they add, is the most sophisticated available.
These claims aren't too far off the mark although, says Dalton, "there isn't anything screamingly important that has come out for the IBM PC, with the possible exception of the integrated packages." But that situation will turn around in about 4 to 10 months, he predicts.
And there isn't any question that software developers are now writing their new programs for the IBM PC. Buying one of the IBM PC compatibles, says Isaacson, gives people a "security blanket, because they know the software support they need is either there or rapidly coming." Even if you don't own an IBM PC, you might want to buy a look-alike anyway: It can give you the same capacity as the original for a lot less money.
Isaacson warns, however, that manufacturers "can't be totally compatible, unless they violate IBM's copyright." What most companies try to do is ensure that their portable will run the most popular software for IBM right out of the box. If it does that, she says, "as far as I'm concerned it's compatible."
You should also check carefully how a company defines IBM PC "compatibility." Some that include the phrase in their advertising use the same operating system as the PC but have differences in design that require modified software.
To make sure a machine will run the software its manufacturer claims it does, try it out. "Don't buy it unless you have the software operating and demonstrated in front of you," warns author Wilson. And, if you plan to transfer files, advises Isaacson, "describe in detail what you want to do, and ask."
If you want to make compatibility certain, you can think about turning your desktop into a portable. For $899, Palo Alto, Calif. -- based Colby Computer will sell you a system that converts the IBM PC into a 26-pound portable. And, in May, Percom Data Co., in Dallas, expects to ship a $495 unit that does the same thing for the Apple II.
Memorry. The computer's internal random access memory (RAM) is used for running programs. The more RAM you have, the more complicated programs you can run, and the more working space you will have before needing to store data on a disk. All the full-function machines have at least 32K bytes RAM. Some are expandable up to 704K bytes, with the addition of another circuit board.
"You want as much memory as you can get your hands on," says InfoCorp's Matlack. "Once you get into the computer and start using it, the first thing you discover is you're running out of memory. If everything else were equal, I'd always lean toward the machine that had more main memory expandability and certainly more disk or floppy expandability. You never program smaller applications, you always program bigger and bigger applications."
Storage. Most portables come with one or two disk drives. The type of disk for which the drive is designed -- for example single-sided, single-density versus double-sided, double-density -- determines how much you can store on the floppy. A few other portables offer hard disks, which have much more capacity than the floppies. Some observers question, however, how much knocking around the fragile hard disks can absorb.
The GRiD and Teleram machines both use "bubble" memory for storage, eliminating the need for disks and disk drives. Bubble memory, like RAM, is located inside the machine. However, unlike RAM, it is nonvolatile -- that is, the data that is stored in it doesn't disappear when the power is turned off. There are disadvantages to bubble memory, though. Programs need to be loaded into the machine from an outside source. And, because the number of characters the memory can accommodate is limited, information must eventually be dumped into some form of outside storage. Practically, this means you can do only so much work before needing to link up with some other device.
Ports. The machine should have at least two I/O (input/output) ports -- one for a printer and one for a modem. Even with the right connection, though, plugging in a printer can be tricky. Says Wilson: "If you're going to use it with a printer, you ought to see it work with that printer. Don't take anything for granted."
Other factors to consider are documentation (if you can't understand the manual, you should think twice about buying the machine), service, and price. Since Osborne introduced the concept, many companies have "bundled" software with their machine. The freebie can save a bundle -- more than $1,000 in some cases.
"In the next five years or so, there will be a raft of things that will be truly portable, not just a personal desktop unit in a case," says Dalton. But even now, he argues, a portable machine is a good bet. Since a computer of any kind is a major investment to small businesspeople, he says, "they should definitely throw portability into their considerations. If they can find a system that offers everything a comparable desktop would, and can find even a meager initial justification for portability, they will find as they use it that they're much better off with the portable."
Note: This table may be divided, and additional information on a particular entry may appear on more than one screen.
FULL-FUNCTION PORTABLE COMPUTERS
Manufacturer/location Micro- Oper.
Model processor n2 syst.(s) n3
Athena Computer San Juan Capistrano, CA 2 NSC 800 na CP/M-2.2
Athena I (8-bit)
Compaq Houston 8088 (16-bit) Compaq-DOS
Compaq Portable Computer (same as MS-DOS)
Computer Devices Burlington, MA 8088 (16-bit) MS-DOS
Computer Systems St. Clair Shores, MI 8088 (16-bit) MS-DOS
PC/8088 CP/M-86 (opt.)
Computershop Cambridge, MA Z80A (8-bit) CP/M-2.2
Corona Data Westlake Village, CA 8088 (16-bit) MS-DOS
Corona Portable PC CP/M-86 (opt.)
Digital Microsyst. Oakland, CA Z80A (8-bit) CP/M-2.2
DMS-15 same same
Dynalogic Info-Tech Ottawa, Ontario 8088 (16bit) MS-DOS
Hyperion Plus same same
Epson America Torrance, CA Dual 6301 (8 Built-in Microsoft
Epson HX-20 bit) (proprietary) Basic
GRiD Systems Mountain View, CA 8086 (16-bit) CCOS (proprietary)
Compass 8087 (80-bit) nf
Jonos Anaheim, CA Z80A (8bit) CP/M-2.2
Escort C2500 Z80B (8-bit) CP/M3.0
Micro Source New Lebanon, OH Z80A (8-bit) CP/M-2.2
Non-Linear Syst. Solana Beach, CA Z80 (8-bit) CP/M-2.2
Kaypro 10 Z80A (8-bit) same
Osborne Hayward, CA Z80A (8bit) CP/M-80
Otrona Boulder, CO Z80A (8-bit) CP/M2.2.3
Peripheral Syst. Marlton, NJ Z80A (8-bit) CP/M80
Seequa Computer Annapolis, MD 8088 (16-bit) MSDOS
Chameleon CP/M-86 (opt.)
SORD Computer Tokyo Z80A (8-bit) CP/M3.0
STM Electron. Menlo Park, CA Z80A (8-bit) CP/M2.2
Pied Piper I
Telcon Fort Lauderdale, FL Z80A (8-bit) CP/M2.2
Nomis same same
Teleram Comm. White Plains, NY Z80 L (8-bit) CP/M-80
Model Stand. Max.
Athena Computer San Juan Capistrano, CA 64K 64K
Compaq Houston 128K 512K
Compaq Portable Computer
Computer Devices Burlington, MA 32K 704K
Computer Systems St. Clair Shores, MI 64K 512K
Computershop Cambridge, MA 64K 1 MB
Corona Data Westlake Village, CA 128K 512K
Corona Portable PC
Digital Microsyst. Oakland, CA 64K 64K
DMS15 same same
Dynalogic Info-Tech Ottawa, Ontario 256K 256K
Hyperion Plus same same
Epson America Torrance, CA 16K 32K
GRiD Systems Mountain View, CA 256K 256K
Jonos Anaheim, CA 64K 128K
Escort C2500 128K same
Micro Source New Lebanon, OH 64K 512K
Non-Linear Syst. Solana Beach, CA 64K 64K
Kaypro 10 same same
Osborne Hayward, CA 64K 64K
Otrona Boulder, CO 64K 64K
Peripheral Syst. Marlton, NJ 64K 156K
Seequa Computer Annapolis, MD 128K 700K
SORD Computer Tokyo 128K 128K
STM Electron. Menlo Park, CA 64K 128K
Pied Piper I
Telcon Fort Lauderdale, FL 64K 64K
Nomis same same
Teleram Comm. White Plains, NY 64K 64K
Model Storage type/capac. n5
Athena Computer San Juan Capistrano, CA Internal solid-state drive/
Athena I 512K, expandable to 1 MB
Compaq Houston (1) 5 1/4" disk drive/320K
Compaq Portable Computer
Computer Devices Burlington, MA (1) 3 1/2" disk drive/287K
Computer Systems St. Clair Shores, MI (1) 5 1/4" disk drive/360K
Computershop Cambridge, MA (2) 5 1/4" disk drives/183K ea.
Corona Data Westlake Village, CA (1) 5 1/4" disk drive/320K
Corona Portable PC
Digital Microsyst. Oakland, CA (2) 5 1/4" disk drives/
DMS-3/F Fox 614.4K ea.
DMS-15 (1) 5 1/4" disk drive/614.4K
(1) hard-disk drive/15 MB
Dynalogic Info-Tech Ottawa, Ontario (1) 5 1/4" disk drive/320K
Hyperion Plus (2) 5 1/4" disk drives/320K ea.
Epson America Torrance, CA Microcassettes, 35K/side
GRiD Systems Mountain View, CA Nonvolatile bubble/384K
Jonos Anaheim, CA (2) 3 1/2" disk drives/322K ea.
Escort C2500 (2) 3 9/10" removable hard
cartridge disk drives/5 MB ea.
Micro Source New Lebanon, OH (2) 5 1/4" disk drives/376K ea.
Non-Linear Syst. Solana Beach, CA (2) 5 1/4" disk drives/195K ea.
Kaypro 10 (1) 5 1/4" disk drive/191K
(1) hard disk/10 MB
Osborne Hayward, CA (2) 5 1/4" disk drives/92K ea.
Otrona Boulder, CO (2) 5 1/4" disk drives/360K ea.
Peripheral Syst. Marlton, NJ (2) 3 1/2" disk drives/437.5K
Eagle ea. (unformatted)
Seequa Computer Annapolis, MD (2) 5 1/4" disk drives/160K ea.
SORD Computer Tokyo (2) 3 1/2" disk drives/280K ea.
STM Electron. Menlo Park, CA (1) 5 1/4" disk drive/800K
Pied Piper I
Telcon Fort Lauderdale, FL (2) 5 1/4" disk drives/388K ea.
Nomis (2) 5 1/4" disk drives/786K ea.
Teleram Comm. White Plains, NY nonvolatile bubble/256K
Model Screen Graphics Char. n6
Athena Computer San Juan Capistrano, CA 4-line no 4x80
Athena I LCD
Compaq Houston 9" yes nc 25x80
Compaq Portable Computer CRT
Computer Devices Burlington, MA 5"x9" yes nc 16 or 25x40,
DOT CRT 80, or 132 ne
Computer Systems St. Clair Shores, MI 7" yes nc 25x80
Computershop Cambridge, MA 9" yes 24x80
Corona Data Westlake Village, CA 9" yes nc 25x80
Corona Portable PC CRT
Digital Microsyst. Oakland, CA 9" no 25x80
DMS-3/F Fox CRT
DMS15 same same same
Dynalogic Info-Tech Ottawa, Ontario 7" yes nc 25x80
Hyperion Plus same same same
Epson America Torrance, CA 4-line yes nc 4x20
Epson HX-20 LCD
GRiD Systems Mountain View, CA 5 3/4" yes nc 24x53
Jonos Anaheim, CA 9" no 25x80
Escort C2100 CRT
Escort C2500 same same same
Micro Source New Lebanon, OH 9" no 24x80
Non-Linear Syst. Solana Beach, CA 9" no 24x80
Kaypro II CRT
Kaypro 10 same yes same
Osborne Hayward, CA 5" no 24x52
Osborne 1 CRT
Otrona Boulder, CO 5 1/2" yes nc 24x80
Peripheral Syst. Marlton, NJ 7" yes 24x80
Seequa Computer Annapolis, MD 9" yes nc 25x80
SORD Computer Tokyo 12" yes 25x80
Socius M23P CRT
STM Electron. Menlo Park, CA none yes NA
Pied Piper I
Telcon Fort Lauderdale, FL 7" yes 25x80
Nomis 9" same same
Teleram Comm. White Plains, NY 4-line yes 4x80
Teleram 3000 LCD
Manufacturer/location Total Progr. Num. Input/
Model keys keys keypad Output ports n7
Athena Computer San Juan Capistrano, CA 60 60 no 2 RS-232C
Athena I 1 printer
Compaq Houston 83 10 yes 1 RS-232C
Compaq Portable Computer 1 parallel
Computer Devices Burlington, MA 90 10 yes 2 RS232C
Computer Systems St. Clair Shores, MI 83 10 yes 1 RS232C
Computershop Cambridge, MA 95 26 yes 1 RS-232C
STARLite 1 parallel
Corona Data Westlake Village, CA 83 10 yes 1 RS232C
Corona Portable PC 1 parallel
Digital Microsyst. Oakland, CA 32 32 yes 4 RS-232C
DMS-3/F Fox 1 parallel
DMS15 same same same same
Dynalogic Info-Tech Ottawa, Ontario 84 10 yes 1 RS-232C
Hyperion 1 RS-4324
Hyperion Plus same same same same
Epson America Torrance, CA 68 10 yes 2 RS232C
GRID Systems Mountain View, CA 57 20 yes 1 RS232C
Compass 1 parallel
1 IEEE 488
Jonos Anaheim, CA 92 10 yes 2 RS-232C
Escort C2500 same same same 2 RS-232C
Micro Source New Lebanon, OH 83 8 yes 2 RS232C
Non-Linear Syst. Solana Beach, CA 72 20 yes 1 RS232C
Kaypro II 1 parallel
Kaypro 10 same same same same
Osborne Hayward, CA 56 10 yes 1 RS-232C
Osborne 1 1 IEEE 488
Otrona Boulder, CO 62 none yes 1 RS-232C
Attache 1 RS-422
Peripheral Syst. Marlton, NJ 85 10 yes 2 RS-232C
Eagle 1 parallel
Seequa Computer Annapolis, MD 83 10 yes 1 RS232C
Chameleon 1 parallel
SORD Computer Tokyo 92 14 yes 2 RS232C
Socius M23P 1 parallel
STM Electron, Menio Park, CA 61 34 opt. 1 RS-232C
Piep Piper I 1 parallel
Telcon Fort Lauderdale, FL 95 19 yes 1 RS-232C
Zorba 1 parallel
Nomis same same same same
Telegram Comm. White Plains, NY 83 51 yes 1 RS-232C
Model Power supply
Athena Computer San Juan Capistrano, CA AC or DC recharge
Athena I internal 6 hr 6V batt.
Compaq Houston 120V AC
Compaq Portable Computer
Computer Devices Burlington, MA 110 or 220V AC
DOT opt. batt. pack
Computer Systems St. Clair Shores, MI 115 or 230V AC
PC/8088 plugs into 12DC batt.
Computershop Cambridge, MA 110V AC plugs
STAR-Lite into batt.
Corona Data Westlake Village, CA 110 or 120V AC
Corona Portable PC
Digital Microsyst. Oakland, CA 110 or 220V AC
Dynalogic Info-Tech Ottawa, Ontario 120 or 240V AC
Hyperion Plus same
Epson America Torrance, CA 115V AC adaptor
Epson HX-20 4 built-in batts.
GRiD Systems Mountain View, CA 110 or 220V AC
Jonos Anaheim, CA 110 or 220V AC
Escort C2500 same
Micro Source New Lebanon, OH 120/220V AC, opt
M600P-Voyager batt back-up w/
120V AC & carbatt.
Non-linear Syst. Solana Beach, CA 110 or 220V AC
Kaypro 10 same
Osborne Hayward, CA 120V AC, opt. 7 lb.
Osborne 1 5 oz batt. pack
Otrona Boulder, CO 95/135V AC or
Attache 190/270V Ac, opt
Peripheral Syst. Marlton, NJ 110/220V AC opt.
Eagle 18 lb batt. pack
Seequa Computer Annapolis, MD 110/220V AC, 5 hr.
Chameleon batt pack
SORD Computer Tokyo 110/230V AC, opt.
Socius M23P 2 lb, 3 oz batt pack
STM Electron Menlo Park, CA 115/230V AC
Pied Piper I
Telcon Fort Lauderdale, FL 115/220V re
Zorba chargeable 8 lb. batt
Teleram Comm. White Plains, NY Built-in rechargeable
Teleram 3000 12V batt. (3-10 hrs.)
Model Software incl. n8 Weight
Athena Computer San Juan Capistrano, CA JRT Pascal, Vedit, 15 lbs.
Athena I Profitplan
Compaq Houston Basic (adv.) 28 lbs.
Compaq Protable Computer
Computer Devices Burlington, MA none 27 lbs
Computer Systems St. Clair Shores, MI Basic 25 lbs
Computershop Cambridge, MA PerfectWriter, 30 lbs.
Corona Data Westlake Village, CA GSX graphics 30 lbs
Corona Portable PC MultiPlan
Digital Microsyst. Oakland, CA none 30 lbs
DMS-15 same 36 lbs
Dynalogic Info-Tech Ottawa, Ontario Basic (adv.) 18 lbs
Hyperion Plus Basic (adv.) Multi 21 lbs.
Epson America Torrance, CA none 3 lbbs.
Epson HX-20 13 oz
GRiD Systems Mountain View, CA GRiD-PLAN 10 lbs
Jonos Anaheim, CA Basic-80, Multi 25 lbs.
Escort C2100 Plan, Spellbinder,
Escort C2500 same same
Micro Source New Lebanon, OH Basic Z, WordStar, 32 lbs
M6000P-Voyager CalcStar, Mail-
Non-Linear Syst. Solana Beach, CA SBasic, Profitplan, 26 lbs.
Kaypro II Perfect-Writer
Kaypro 10 same 27 lbs.
Osborne Hayward, CA CBasic MBasic, 23 lbs.
Osborne WordStar, Mail- 8 oz
Otrona Boulder, CO Basic-80, Word- 18 lbs
Attache Star Plus, Charton
Peripheral Syst. Marlton, NJ spreadsheet, 18 lbs
Eagle speller wordpro-
Seequa Computer Annapolis, MD MBasic, Perfect 28 lbs.
SORD Computer Tokyo SORD Basic, 16 lbs.
Socius M23P PIPS 8 oz
STM Electron, Menlo Park, CA Perfect-Writer 11 lbs
Pied Piper I Speller-Calc
Telcon Fort Lauderdale, FL CBasic, WordStar, 22 lbs,
Zorba CalcStar, Mail
Nomis same 23 lbs.
Teleram Comm. White Plains, NY TeleTalk 8 lbs,
Teleram 3000 13 oz
Manufacturer/location WxDxH Sales
Model (in inches) channels Service
Athena Computer San Juan Capistrano, CA 11 7/8 x retail dealer
Athena I 14 1/2 x 3 3/8 direct
Compaq Houston 20 x 16 x 18 1/2 retail dealer
Compaq Portable Computer
Computer Devices Burlington, MA 18 x 15 x 8 1/2 direct 800 #
Computer Systems St. Clair Shores, MI 19 x 16 x 7 1/2 direct direct
Computershop Cambridge, MA 16 x 16 1/4 x 7 direct dealer
Corona Data Westlake Village, CA 20 x 20 x 8 retail dealer
Corona Portable PC
Digital Microsyst. Oakland, CA 17 1/2 x 14 7/10 x retail direct
DMS3/F Fox 7 6/10 3rd p'ty
DMS-15 same same same
Dynalogic Info-Tech Ottawa, Ontario 18 3/10 x 11 3/10 x retail dealer
Hyperion 8 8/104L Hyperion same same
Epson America Torrance, CA 11 3/10 x 8 1/2 x 1 retail 800 #
GRiD Systems Mountain View, CA 11 1/2 x 15 x 2 direct direct
Jonos Anaheim, CA 17 1/4 x 13 1/4 x 7 retail direct
Escort C2100 direct 3rd p'ty
Escort C2500 same same same
Micro Source New Lebanon, OH 17 x 20 x 7 retail, direct,
M6000P-Voyager direct 3rd p'ty
Non-Linear Syst. Solana Beach, CA 19 x 16 x 8 retail dealer
Kaypro 10 same same same
Osborne Hayward, CA 20 1/2 x 14 1/2 x 8 retail dealer
Otrona Boulder, CO 12 x 13 1/2 x 5 3/4 retail dealer
Peripheral Syst. Marlton, NJ 18 x 17 1/4 x 8 direct direct
Seequa Computer Annapolis, MD 18 x 15 1/2 x 8 retail dealer
Chameleon 800 #
SORD Computer Tokyo 17 1/4 x 15 7/16X distr. 3rd p'ty
Socius M23P 5 3/16
STM Electron, Menlo Park, CA 20 1/5 x 10 4/5 x 4 retail 3rd p'ty
Pied Piper I
Telcon Fort Lauderdale, FL 17 1/2 x 15 1/2 x 9 retail dealer
Nomis same same same
Teleram Comm. White Plains, NY 13 x 9 3/4 x 3 1/2 retail dealer
Athena Computer San Juan Capistrano, CA No moving parts, mass storage is 3 to
10x faster than
Athena I disk drive nb
Compaq Houston IBM PC compat nd Add-on communication
cards let it link
Compaq Portable Computer w/host computer
Computer Devices Burlington, MA IBM PC compat. (same oper. syst)
opt. built-in modem
DOT printer and 1 hr
week see service with CompuServe.
Computer Sytems St. Clair Shores, MI IBM PC compat. opt color CRT opt. hard
PC/8088 March '83).
Computershop Cambridge, MA 4 expan, slots for peripherals. Plans to
offer own hard-disk
Corona Data Westlake Village, CA IBM PC compat. Compat, w/Corona
desktops 4 expan. slots
Corona Portable PC opt 10 MB hard-disk (avail April '83).
Digital Microsyst. Oakland, CA Can link w/HiNet local-area network
HiNet electronic mail.
Dynalogic Info-Tech Ottawa, Ontario IBM PC compat. Can be upgraded to
Hyperion Plus level.
Hyperion Plus Same. Built-in modern w/automatic
Epson America Torrance, CA Built-in 24 col dot-matrix printer
Epson HX-20 unavailable at press time.
GRiD Systems Mountain View, CA Built-in modern. Software update and
more file storage in
Compass GRiD Central
Jonos Anaheim, CA Opt. dot-matrix printer attaches to
back to computer. (avail.
Escort C2100 July '83.
Escort C2500 Video output, clock and 5-year calendar.
Micro Source New Lebanon, OH 6 expan. slots. Can add 8086 chip for
IBM PC compat.
M6000P-Voyager Also can add 68000 chip.
Non-Linear Syst. Solana Beach, CA
Kaypro 10 Light pen input/output (available
Osborne Hayward, CA Opt. modern opt. double-density disk
Otrona Boulder, CO Modular construction allows
Peripheral Syst. Marlton, NJ Opt. built-in modern, opt. hard disk
(avail. March '83).
Seequa Computer Annapolis, MD IBM PC compat Opt. bisynchronous
SORD Computer Tokyo Opt. port for bit-mapped graphics w/
color or monochrome
Socius M23P monitor
STM Electron. Menlo Park, CA Runs on any monitor, opt 2 x 80 LCD and
4 x 40 column
Pied Piper I printer, built-in modem.
Telcon Fort Lauderdale, FL Reads IBM, Xerox, Kaypro &
Nomis Built-in modem (available April
'83).Telegram Comm. White Plains, NY
Opt. portable disk drive can read
Apple, Osborne, IBM
Teleram 3000 formats. Opt. office stn. with CRT, dist
drive 8 ports.
Model list price
Athena Computer San Juan Capistrano, CA $3,950
Compaq Houston 2,995
Compaq Portable Computer
Computer Devices Burlington, MA 2,995
Computer Systems St. Clair Shores, MI 3,388
Computershop Cambridge, MA 2,695
Corona Data Westlake Village, CA 2,395
Corona Protable PC
Digital Microsyst. Oakland, CA 3,995
Dynalogic Info-Tech Ottawa, Ontario 3,395
Hyperion Plus 4,995
Epson America Torrance, CA 795
GRiD System Mountain View, CA 9,210
Jonos Anaheim, CA 3,995
Escort C2500 5,995
Micro Source New Lebanon, OH 3,900
Non-Linear Syst. Solana Beach, CA 1,795
Kaypro 10 2,795
Osborne Hayward, CA 1,795
Otrona Boulder, CO 3,995
Peripheral Syst. Marlton, NJ 3,495
Seequa Computer Annapolis, MD 1,995
SORD Computer Tokyo 2,595
STM Electron, Menlo Park, CA 1,299
Pied Piper I
Telcon Fort Lauderdale, FL 1,995
Teleram Comm. White Plains, NY 2,995
n1 Unless otherwise noted, these machines have: standard-size, conventional keyboard; adequate display, internal memory, and data storage; ability to run good business software, communicate over phone lines, and link up with printers.
n2 The microprocessor or central processing unit (CPU) in these machines consists of an 8-or 16-bit chip. (Some have both.) Most use chips from either Zilog Inc. (Z80, Z80A, Z80B, Z80L) or Intel Corp. (8086, 8087, 8088).
n3 The operating system tells the computer how to manage the applications programs and takes care of the general operation of the machine. Digital Research makes CP/M-80 and CP/M-86. (CP/M-2.2, 2.2.3, and 3.0 are variations of CP/M-80.) Microsoft makes MS-DOS.
n4 Internal Random Access Memory runs programs and temporarily stores data.
n5 Unless otherwise noted, capacity refers to the amounts of usable (formatted) storage.
n6 The number of lines times the number of characters in each that the screen displays at one time.
n7 I/O ports are where peripherals, such as printers and modems, arr plugged in. An RS-232C is a standard serial port.
n8 The software listed is "bundled" or included in the suggested list price.
na National Semiconductor Corp. makes chip. Compatible with Z-80.
nb Comes with 5 1/4" disk drive to allow loading of programs into internal drive.
nc High resolution (bit-mapped) graphics.
nd Main story and Using Technology (page 124) discuss IBM PC compatibility. In most cases, compatibility means that the manufacturer claims its machine can use any software for the IBM PC as well as IBM PC hardware. With some units, users can also swap files from the portable to the PC.
ne Screen can be configured in any of these combinations, depending on character size desired.
nf High-speed co-processor that makes doing precise mathematics easier.
ng Valet lets you set an alarm that reminds you of appointsments while work is in progress or automatically activates such commands as transmitting data at a pre-specified time. Lets you change system parameters, such as screen brightness, and print out material on the screen without interrupting rest of work.
nh Distributed through Business Computing Int'l NYC.
All information was supplied by manufacturers.
CORRECTION-DATE: May, 1983
In "Pint-size Computers" (March) Portia Isaacson should have been identified as the president of Future Computing.