The Osborne Computer



I owned one of these, picked up from the surplus department of my company for about $50.00 in around 1985. Well, mine was actually an Osborn Executive, but still. It worked. Despite the tiny little orange screen, the CP/M operating system, WordStar word processor, and a (programmable) dot-matrix printer, I was able to do a lot with it. Inventories, journals, databases, and much more. Like most of my cool retro stuff, I wish I had kept it.



The Executive may have been directly responsible for the failure of Osborne as a company. As soon as it was announced, dealers began cancelling orders for the Osborne I, which had been doing quite well. The Executive, however, was vaporware – it didn’t actually show up for a year after it’s hyped announcement, and the company ran out of cash. This phenomenon has been dubbed the Osborne Effect.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

6 responses to “The Osborne Computer

  1. We got an Osborne, too, but we got ours in 1981, as I recall, and thus for full retail price. When we brought our first child home from the hospital, we were as careful and hesitant about him as we were about that Osborne! When I think about bringing one’s first child home home from the hospital now, I think about being as careful of that baby as one is of one’s first computer—but it’s no longer at all the same thing!

    CPM made a whole lot more sense as an operating system than DOS did, as I recall, and I really thought it would win out. Shows how much I knew.

  2. btw, we still have that Osborne and some of its (actually) floppies. It’s in my little office. I always kind of hoped that nobody else would keep theirs and so ours would be worth a lot of money some day. Well, maybe . . .

  3. We had Osborne 1 machines in school while I was in 8th grade, age 14, back in 1984. Of course computers were a “special interest” course then. We quickly decided that the definition of a “portable” computer would be an Osborne 1 with an eighteen mile extension cord.

    • I worked with Dave Carlick Advertising on the ad campaign that introduced the Osborne 1. We decided that “portable” was misleading.
      It was so heavy that it needed a new category—”lug-able”.

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