I used to love the adverts in Byte and PCW for the Osborne 1. The fact that they released it on April 1st, 1981 makes me like the company. 5″ CRT display and CPM, combined with single sided floppy drives meant portability had its price. Still – at one time, Osborne was shipping 10,000 of these a month!
Although 24 pounds sounds like a hefty size for a ‘laptop’, Osborne 1 was meant to be portable. It had a rugged plastic case that folded up, complete with a handle, and a battery pack. Adverts of the day said it was ‘roughly the same size as a sewing machine’, and that ‘the Osborne 1 could fit underneath the seat of a commercial airliner.’
“The Osborne Effect”
Launched for $1,795 including $1,500 worth of software, the Osborne 1 was undoubtedly a great success. Buoyed by this success, Osborne developed better models, but made the catastrophic error of releasing information about them before they were ready. Customers decided to wait… And in the end Osborne went under. This became known as the “Osborne Effect”
The other issue that killed Osborne as a company was the rise of the IBM PC and their clones. In the end, buying a CPM based portable made no sense. Osborne computer filed for bankruptcy on September 13th, 1983.
And a wonderful cover of The Portable Companion – the revolutionary Osborne 1