Osborne 1 - long promised review

    Hello. Back in April, he promised to review this wonderful computer, but something constantly interfered.

    The article is a continuation and addition"Happy Birthday Laptop! 35 years to the first commercially successful laptop. "

    The first version of Osborne 1 was released in April 1981 and it looked like this:


    Later, an updated version of Osborne 1a came out with a slightly redesigned, but almost the same stuffing, I just have this version.

    The computer was running the popular at that time operating system CP / M v.2.2 , under which many programs have already been written. Osborneā€™s commercial success was great, the computer was selling well for $ 1,795, with a good software package included. In view of inflation, now it is $ 4,765 . Osborne Executive was

    already planned for the release - an improved and updated version with the 6-megahertz Z80B:

    But, unfortunately, in 1983, Osborne Effect happened, which buried the company in just a few months.

    After this event, there was another attempt to release Osborne 4 Vixen , but it also did not bring the desired effect.


    My Osborne was bought on ebay. I was lucky with the external condition and configuration, firstly, a modem was installed, secondly an expansion board that allowed disk drives to work with double-density floppy disks, which increased the space on the floppy disk from 92 to 182 KB.

    The device was turned on, but I did not have a boot floppy, so it was problematic to check. Later, I turned up a package of documentation and floppy disks, at that time I did not know that Osborne 2 was called Osborne Executive. In general, from boot floppy from my descendant, my device refused to boot.


    The search began for an online image of a bootable floppy disk, a separate quest was to write this very floppy disk. Programs that adequately work with floppy images are launched only under clean DOS. I quickly assembled the box on the Celeron 333 and sticking an IDE-> CF adapter into it instead of the hard drive, I managed to burn the image. The ImageDisk utility helped .

    When Osborne did boot up, there was no limit to joy:

    But I also wanted to play something else. Unfortunately, Osborne does not have a graphic mode and a wired character generator, so the games were either text-based or pseudographic (the minimum set of characters is still there).

    therefore, most of the available games are text adventures, and Space Invaders looks like a separate masterpiece :

    I recorded a floppy disk with games, but she did not want to be read in the second disk drive, like the boot floppy itself. Therefore, we had to pull out the system floppy disk and put a floppy disk with games. The first drive also worked quite unstable.

    This situation strained me a bit and I decided to take a desperate step - to disassemble the computer and do a disk drive prevention. Then a series of photos of the computer innards:

    Computer with removed cover, the background is visible LATR, unit needs to 120V


    Here is visible year development motherboard

    ROM BIOS and CPU NEC D780c

    expansion board, which adds support for double-density floppy

    disk drive

    Rear view, Siemens

    The modem is inserted into a special pocket on the front panel (it is also used to store floppy disks), and connects with a cable to a computer.

    Reaching the drives, I rushed to look for alcohol in the workshop, but did not remember where it was last time. Gin came to the rescue from the bottle. Bombay had a miraculous effect on the heads of the disk drives and both drives read the floppy disks perfectly, but before that there was a panic. When you turn on the device whistle BP and no reaction further. It turned out that I shifted the power connector on the motherboard to a row; it is rather inconvenient there. The error could be fatal, but fortunately everything was ok.

    The computer also produced a RAM-Disk, which was called Drive C , connected in the same slot as the modem.

    You could still connect an external monitor.

    For those who want to try this amazing device in their work, a small instruction on how to launch Osborne under the MAME emulator.

    To run, you need a BIOS image that you need to put in the Roms folder, as well as floppy disk images .

    The first disk contains a system diskette, the second is a program diskette.

    For myself, I set up running in window mode with a fixed resolution:

    The result is not much worse than the original:

    In the future I want to get some more Osborne Executive, and if I'm lucky, Osborne Vixen is very rare .

    Thank you for your attention, many more interesting pieces of iron in my instagram and on facebook .

    PS About the effect of Osborne, too, there is an article, but for some reason it does not appear as a link, in general, if anyone is interested, here: geektimes.ru/post/148178

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