International Business Machines
Portable Personal Computer

[JPEG image of Portable PC]

    In February of 1984, IBM introduced this optimistically- named Portable Personal Computer. I say "optimistically- named" since it's about the size and form- factor of a small sewing- machine when in its travelling configuration, and has a weight to match. It's a classic case of a good idea being brought to market a wee bit too soon.

    Unlike "modern" portables, this machine is utterly incapable of operating independently of mains power. This isn't necessarily a disadvantage; given the size, and weight, of the device, it's impractical to even think about using it in a "portable" sense the way we do now. However, this device has certain immutable charms - like a wonderful keyboard.

    The system itself is little more than a fairly "plain- vanilla" PC-XT placed into a housing with a carrying handle and a built- in CRT monitor. The keyboard is attached via an American- style telephone connector and a coiled cord and is detachable from the carrying- case. There's about 6 feet of wire for it. Memory is a bit spare for a PC at a non- expanded capacity of 256 kb; the example here sports 512 kb of mainstore, the second 256 kb (comprised of 4164 DRAM chips) residing on a board on the ISA bus. Evidence of the XT origins is easily discernible by looking at the back of the system where the keyboard would customarily plug in - there's a cable with an XT- style keyboard plug with a cable that passes forward to the modular connector on the front panel.

    This system possesses a very nice little 5" (or so) amber CRT monitor that's capable of several levels of grey- scale, explaining the use of a CGA (Colour Graphics Adaptor) board rather than a mono board, which is what one would expect. The CGA controller has a connector on the back to which a colour monitor may be attached.

    Amongst other things this machine has installed, other than the standard dual floppy (320 kb capacity each), is a 10 Mb "hard card" which consists of a lengthened ISA board with a thin Winchester drive attached to it. These devices were quite popular in the early- to mid- eighties before large IDE drives became available.

    The example here runs DOS at version 3.30 and is ultimately going to be used as an interface device to other members in my collection.

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