Osborne 1 computer potentially up for grabs

We’re trying to clear out the house for our escape to the Florida Free State. One item that must go is an Osborne 1, a portable computer from 1981. I wish that I could say that it had been mine ($1,795 in 1981, about $5,606 in today’s Bidie Bucks), but in fact I was not prescient enough to put all of my time and effort into PCs. I always wanted to use the computers with the best (most efficient) programming tools and at least a medium amount of computing power. That meant, in 1981, a refrigerator-sized Lisp Machine. I did not deny that the tiny PC acorn could one day become a mighty oak, but did not want to work directly with acorns.

I’ve got this on eBay right now. But if there are no bids I will send it, free of charge, to any reader who wants it. I will even pay for packing and shipping, as long as you aren’t an Act 20 tax refugee in Puerto Rico or similarly expensive to reach by UPS.

I can get it to say “put in a floppy disk” but not to boot once the floppy is inserted.

How did I get it if I wasn’t smart enough to realize the promise of the PC back when PCs were feeble? A much smarter friend was clearing out his unnecessarily big house and gave it to me.

Speaking of PCs, my latest purchase is a Seagate 16 TB Exos disk drive. What kind of a loser buys a mechanical hard drive in our Brave New World of SSD? A loser who wants every possible version of every file backed up for decades to come via Windows File History. (What if the drive fails? See What’s a good online backup service? (Crashplan can do only 10 GB per day)) Since we’ve been looking at exponential growth recently in the context of taxes (see Effect on children’s wealth when parents move to Florida), let’s consider the growth from the Osborne 1 to 16 TB. Each floppy disk held 90 KB of data. Today’s hard drive holds 180 million times more than the floppy drive of 40 years ago. That’s roughly 60 percent annual growth over 40 years to go from pathetic/feeble to awesome.

What’s more shocking? It was the same engineer responsible for the floppy inside the Osborne 1 and the Seagate 16 TB drive: Alana Shugart (a feminine pioneer in magnetic storage and a relentless smasher of gender barriers).

8 thoughts on “Osborne 1 computer potentially up for grabs

    • Hmmm… sadly, only 4.75 stars on Uber. Maybe it is all of the Joe Biden campaign gear that I wore throughout 2020?

  1. A lot of gootubers would be happy to restore that & store it in their paytreon funded megamansions. The floppy drive probably just needs a head cleaning & lubrication. If only lions had the $5 million for a room big enough to store vintage confusers.

  2. > What kind of a loser buys a mechanical hard drive in our Brave New World of SSD? A loser who wants every possible version of every file backed up for decades to come

    Lol. I’ve had 3 SSDs from 3 different manufacturers fail in the last 2 years. Only having triple redundant backups saved my bacon (one backup HDD also failed). When it comes to backups: one is none, and two is one. If you don’t have at least 3 backups on media from different manufacturers / manufacturing lots + at least one offsite … then eventually you are going to lose data.

  3. > What kind of a loser buys a mechanical hard drive in our Brave New World of SSD? A loser who wants every possible version of every file backed up for decades to come

    SSDs are fast, but still not reliable. If we superimpose their fast vs reliable chart onto the crazy vs hot women chart, SSDs are somewhere between redheads and hairdressers.

  4. You should talk with one of my family members some time about his adventures with IBM 360/75s.

    The J75 iteration had an enormous 1MB of four-way interleaved core memory. But “Even with only two-way interleaving, “an effective sequential access rate of 400 nanoseconds per double word (eight bytes) is possible.”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_System/360_Model_75

    https://www.ibm.com/ibm/history/exhibits/mainframe/mainframe_PP2075.html

    “Manufactured at IBM’s plant in Kingston, N.Y., the Model 75 had a monthly rental range of $50,000 to $80,000, and a purchase price range of $2.2 million to $3.5 million. Deliveries began during the fourth quarter of 1965.” $3.5M in ’65 is $29,237,544.83 today.

    Assembly Language Fo’ Evah!

  5. I would love to have it, should it not sell… I have a friend with a full electronics bench and restoration experience with older machines who would help me get it back to working condition.

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