Personal Computer Oddities (by John Koziol)

I recently had a conversation with a friend and casually mentioned the IBM PC/XT-386.  He'd never heard of it. So I got to thinking...what other weird PCs had I run into over time.  Here's my list of machines I personally worked with:

IBM PC/XT-386 (late 1986) - A 16MHz 386 chip on an 8-bit XT motherboard.  Acted like a supercharged XT and had all normal RAM and AT-bus speed issues to boot.  AFAIK, only purchased by DP managers inordinately influenced by IBM on-site staff.

DEC Rainbow (1982) - A Z80 and 8086 (or 8088?) in one box.  It could run CP/M, DOS, and could also boot into some sort of dumb terminal mode. Had a PITA floppy drive, as I recall, that threw out a lot of read errors.  Popular for word-processing, though.

Apple III (1980) - Pretty high-powered 8-bit business machine for it's time but had severe reliability problems.  Used an OS called "S.O.S" which, I forget what it stands for, but we called it the "S**t on S**t" OS.  I once had a buttload of these surplused in my garage.

IBM Personal Portable Computer (1983?) - We called it the "Luggable".  The built-in screen was amber, not green, and surprising legible. Had half- or third-height floppy drives that you couldn't use to format normal floppies.  They could read and write normally, but disks formatted in the Portable were unreadable by desktop IBM PCs.  I was working on a project all summer of '84 from home with this.

AT&T PC6300 (1985) - A client of mine standardized on these machines in early '85. The HD controllers and HDs broke down constantly on these ugly things.  It was AT&T in name only; once you popped one open it was all Olivetti.

NEC MultiSpeed (1985?) - My first "laptop".  Had twin 720K 3.5" floppies and a B&W monochrome screen. 512K of RAM I think.  I'd sit by my apartment pool with a bootable disk with MFOXPLUS in one drive and my project in the other and code away....that is for about 35 minutes, when the battery failed.  I was single at the time and this was the only way I could look "cool" at the pool.

There were others who's names escape me now.  Please add to the list!

Comments (9)

  1. heh, Olivetti, i had forgotten about them <grin>:


  2. Carl says:

    Yeah, the company where I worked for so long gave me one of those AT+T 6300 PCs to do database development with dBASE III Plus. It was all very slow. I remembering running Mace defragmentation software everyday when I went to lunch in hopes I would pick up sime speed. I guess it helped a little, but…

    My Osborne 1 was just as efficient. <lol>

  3. Steven Cameron says:

    The computer I learned programming on was the TRS-80 Model I (1979?). It had 4K of RAM and saved its data on a cassette. You could use 26 different numeric variables (A-Z) and two string variables (A$ and B$). It didn’t have a fan so if the day were slightly warm and humid, it would overheat and lock up. It was fun but the basic computer definitely was the TRaSh-80.

  4. craigber says:

    How about the IBM PC Jr. and the Apple Lisa

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