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Portable computers were first conceptualised in the 1970s and 80s when companies sought to build small computers that could run as efficiently as the desktop computer. This led to the making of the first laptop computer- The Osborne 1. The computer was made by Osborne Computer Corp, in 1981. It was a portable computer that weighed close to 11kg and was about the size of a portable sewing machine.

The Osborne 1 had a 5-inch CRT screen, with a modem port, two 5 1/4 floppy drives, some bundled software applications, and an external battery pack. Osborne 1 featured a five-inch CRT monitor. It ran the CP/M operating system which stands for Control Program for Microcomputers. The laptop had just 64 kilobytes of main memory and was powered by a 4 MHz Z80 CPU. It had a detachable keyboard which also acts as the lid of the case. Its software bundle comprised of programs like MBASIC from Microsoft, WordStar word processor, Nominal, Sales and purchase ledgers, spreadsheet software, etc. Its twin in-built floppy drives could hold 91K of data each.

Priced at $1795, The Osborne 1 was regarded as the first laptop because of its ‘portability’ and the mobility it offered users. Although the parent company ended up not being very successful, their creation had a notable impact on business and computing, as most professionals were now able to take their computer and data with them for the first time.

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This article was first published on 24th January 2019


Tobenna is a writer, programmer and musician who is passionate about God, tech, and music. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook by clicking the icons below.

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