The First Laptop Computer

Osborne

Here’s another gem from the early days of computer technology.  In 1981, Adam Osborne, a British author and book publisher, introduced the “Osborne 1”: the world’s first portable computer.  As with most technologies, the idea of a portable computer wasn’t new in 1981.  Such nerdy luminaries as Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak had conceived of it years earlier.  Osborne just had the good fortune of meeting a far-sighted engineer named Lee Felsenstein at the West Coast Computer Faire in March of 1980.  Osborne knew what he wanted: an affordable computer that people could carry around with them and the software to make it function.  Felsenstein had the skills and the same ambition as Osborne to turn that vision into reality.

On April 3, 1981, the Osborne Computer Corporation released the Osborne 1 – a device that cost $1,795 and weighed just under 24 pounds (10.7 kg).  With a tiny 5-inch display screen and its dependency on floppy disks, which limited its data space, the machine was somewhat impractical for most business functions – even back then.  But, after officially hitting the market three months later, OCC sold 11,000 of them within the first eight months.  Their profits soared, as did their staff – from two (Osborne and Felsenstein) to over 3,000.  Sadly, despite earning $73 million within a year after the debut of Osborne 1, OCC declared bankruptcy on September 13, 1983.

Osborne-ad

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