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March 24, 2003

Who built the first portable computer?

In talking with visiting potential PhD students today, I realized that none of them had a clue about the real history of computer systems. Yes they do know about Babage and Eniac, but after that they jump right into the X86 era. No PDP-11's, or VaxClusters, nothing about IBM mainframes. They know about Linux, and vaguely something about the BSD variants, but don't know that it all was done before in Multics. They actually think Linux is a modern operating system, and have no idea how advanced the concepts in the MS-Windows kernel are.

So one of my questions for them was whether they knew who made the first portable computer. Nobody knew. This is particularly sad, given that Adam Osbourne, the pioneer who built the first portable computer, died last week. The book he wrote with John Dvorak about the rise and fall of an instantly successful company, a decade before the Internet Boom generated many of them, is titled HYPERGROWTH: The Rise and Fall of Observe Computer Corporation; and is worth a read if you can find a copy somewhere. Osbourne was a true pioneer whose enthusiasm for renewing the technology resulted in the demise of his own company....

Posted by Werner Vogels at March 24, 2003 08:45 PM


In 1981 my writing partner and I were writing a book. We heard about the Osborne I and I hocked my husband's pickup truck and we bought an Ozzy I (which I still have) for $1500. We would not have gotten the book written except for the O-I. It went on to be a great success. I progressed to a Vixon (which I also still have) and currently use Windows XP, and am still writing books. Thank you Adam!

Posted by: Marilynn Doenges on September 6, 2003 06:10 PM


Posted by: katie on September 9, 2003 02:51 PM

What was the name of the first portable computer made by man

Posted by: Gabbo on November 27, 2003 07:46 PM