Laptop Trivia

I’m up next for a new computer at Geek For Hire, so I’ve been thinking about all the computers I’ve had.

I remember carrying my first laptop through the Pittsburgh airport. At the time it was called a “portable computer”, and technically it was, although Chris called it a “luggable”. The computer was made by Hewlett-Packard, had a separate disk drive, a separate printer, and may or may not have had an internal battery. (We can’t remember.) It had a very small (5″?) black & white screen and ran on DOS 2.11. Of course, I needed to bring all of this with me on my business trips. All together they probably weighed 25 or 30 pounds and I would have deep indentations in my shoulders when I arrived at my destination!

The HP 110 used the MS-DOS 2.11 operating system

The HP 110 used the MS-DOS 2.11 operating system

My new laptop will weigh about three pounds and will be a gazillion times faster.

The portable computer was first imagined by Alan Kay of Xerox in 1968. He wrote a paper at that time and called it a “Dynabook”. A commercially available portable computer didn’t appear on the scene until 1975 when IBM released their SCAMP 5100. (For you acronym junkies, that’s Special Computer APL Machine Portable, and it was based on the PALM processor or Put All Logic in Microcode.)

Those first portable computers weighed around 24 pounds, had a 5″ CRT screen and a 5.25″ floppy drive for storing your data. Following Moore’s Law, laptops became faster and lighter relatively quickly.

Moore’s law: the observation that the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years.

Chris’ first portable machine was a Zeos 386, which he got when he was a consultant for Chase. It ran the DOS 5.0 operating system, had a backlit screen, and a battery that lasted for two hours! And, at only 9 pounds, it was light as a feather compared to my HP. Of course we still have it:

Zeos 386 - MS-DOS 5.0 - manufactured in 1990

Zeos 386 – MS-DOS 5.0 – manufactured in 1990

All of the Utilities for the machine were kept on the boot disk:

Zeos Boot Disk

Zeos Boot Disk

When did you get your first laptop or portable computer? Which operating system did it use? Let us know in the comments below!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fourteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more at  Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area. They can provide remote service throughout North America.

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