View Full Version : Ancient portable

November 11th, 2004, 11:53 AM
Hi, all
I'm new here, and wondering if someone might be able to help me with some machines I have recently come into possession of. They are Teleram P-1800 portables, and appear to be 40 pound monsters of early 70's vintage. Pretty cool looking, but I have been unable to get one to boot up completely. The power comes on, and the CRT glows, but there is no cursor, and the computer does not respond to the keyboard. Any ideas? I've been surfing around for info on the things, but all I have been able to determine is that they were originally designed for reporters to tae out on assignments, so they could type stories and file them via the "cup" style modem (you place a telephone handset in the cradle of the modem and let er' rip.) Anyway, if anyone knows where i might be able to find more information on one of these things, or even a manual, I would be forever grateful

November 11th, 2004, 12:04 PM
Just from the description I'd say they are more likely to be terminals than full-fledged computers.

Do you have pictures, etc?

Are there any external ports?


December 8th, 2004, 12:20 PM
Hi, I agree with Kieth. They are probably c.r.t, terminals. The first ever portable terminal was the ADDS Inc. "Envoy" series, first demonstrtated in 1970 or 71. It had a full keyboard, 80 x 24 display and was housed in a case similar to the Osborne 1 computers. It also had a 300 baud RS232C ccompatable modem built in, and was supplied with the device to set the telephone hand-set in a pair of rubber cups. (This type of mocem was referred to as an "acoustic coupler, which was just about the only legal way to attach anything not made or sold by the original "Ma Bell" The onlyalternative was to lease a thing called a "Data Access Arrangement" from the phone company for an awfull priice. It was simply an isolation transformere which assured the phone company that the customer couldd not do anything to foul up the phone lines. Look inside. If they date back to 1973 or earlier you probably wont find a "CPU" chip anywhere. And memory may be MOS Shift Registers, not RAM chips. Heck, they may even be ADDS terminals, supplying an OEM with terminals to use in the purchaser's business. I would like to see some photos. GOOD LUCK, FROM RAY BORRILL

December 25th, 2004, 07:19 PM
The Teleram T1800 is a terminal. I remember reading the ads in early (circal 1980) Byte and Infoworld magazines.

Tim Wellman
January 9th, 2005, 03:35 PM
The Telerams were technically word processors with modem connections... so, for that early time period, could be called computers, not terminals (they cost around 10 thousand dollars each when new). They had RAM memory, and reporters would write their stories on them, then send it back to the office using the modem. You have the older model, a slightly newer model had a built in cassette recorder to save the ram data.

July 13th, 2007, 07:26 PM
(Note: Adding information for posterity, realizing full well this is an ancient thread about an ancient (but very rarely seen!) computer: )

I have one of the early Telerams - it's a P-1881. Here are some pictures - if you can tolerate the Snapfish junk - hopefully these links are deep enough to avoid you having to register:

I got a demo from the reporter who used to use it. Those poor people basically had to implement a protocol themselves - header, column name, start text, end text, all that. It has some word processing functions. With linear memory, you can write your story, insert/delete words, all that fancy stuff. No cut/paste, though. You even get a "MEM BUSY" light when it's busy making room for your next keystroke, pushing the rest of memory down one space.

The Teleram P-1881 has a battery in there (mine's long dead, being 28 years old today) and would probably power that CRT for a minute or two. Fun luggable.

July 13th, 2007, 08:36 PM
Umm, David, did you notice that this thread will be, oh, 3 years old in a few months?

July 14th, 2007, 09:04 AM
Yes, I found them informative as well.

The point I was trying to make here was that, since the O/P asked for assistance almost 3 years ago, chances are pretty good that he either got it or doesn't need it anymore.

Most of us, including me, have made the error of responding to years old posts, not noticing the dates in the thread, and I was just welcoming David to the club.

Hopefully, that's not a problem.

July 14th, 2007, 09:12 AM
I think it is silly to respond to a 3 year old 'Wanted' or 'For Sale' post, as those are generally time sensitive. But adding general interest pictures or information to an old thread is fine, even if the original poster is long gone. If it had been a silly post, like 'What color was your ribbon cable in the upper right corner?' then it might be worth nothing that the original post is ancient history, but I don't think this post warrants anything like that.

Terry Yager
July 14th, 2007, 09:19 AM
Sorry, my bad. Mea culpa, mea culpa.


July 14th, 2007, 12:16 PM
If it was me who came across an item asked about three years ago, I would also add a PM note so the original poster had a chance to return to the forum and read about my new discoveries.

(I still think the forum software should have a quick button next to the user name to send someone a PM)

July 14th, 2007, 02:06 PM
(I still think the forum software should have a quick button next to the user name to send someone a PM)

Clicking on the person's user name drops a menu with one of the options being to send a private message.

January 11th, 2008, 01:21 PM
If people are interested in viewing what may be the first ever portable computer or data terminal on a tv show, check out the episode of Hawaii Five O called the "Computer Killer." As an electrical engineer, I was amazed when I first saw this episode in 2004 on KDOC tv here in SoCal. Waited a while and and just ran home for a late lunch to catch it yesterday on KDOC.

I don't want to go through the premise of the show, but a "computer consultant" apparently uses what I learned is an ADDS Envoy and an early mobile car phone to gain access to various Hawaii State agencies, like the DMV. He uses the acoustic coupler with the phone and seems the data rate is slow (I assume fast in early 70's!), as you can see the info crawl across the Envoy's screen at annoyingly slow rate. I checked out this episode on IMDB, and it was shot in 1974 and aired in early '75. He also has some vintage dumb terminal in his office that he uses to hack into the mainframes of state and gov't agencies.

I was intrigued very much by this episode, as I was fourteen when the movie Wargames came out, and this predates it by almost a decade and touches on
computer hacking and privacy. Seems even the travel agency/airlines aren't secure as he apparently hacks their computers. Thematically, computers are presented in many scenes.

Can the gentlemen who was a co-founder of ADDS elaborate a bit on the ADDS Envoy and when it was released? About ADDS? Hard to find anything on the web ont his unit...

January 11th, 2008, 06:03 PM
If people are interested in viewing what may be the first ever portable computer or data terminal on a tv show, check out the episode of Hawaii Five O called the "Computer Killer." As an electrical engineer, I was amazed when I first saw this episode in 2004 on KDOC tv here in SoCal. Waited a while and and just ran home for a late lunch to catch it yesterday on KDOC.

One of the Haraii Five-O episodes is rumored to have some SAGE hardware in it. Did you see anything that looks like this?


January 15th, 2008, 04:52 PM
I don't remember this being in any Hawaii5O episodes, but recognize it from many movies from 60's-70's. Ona related computer note, I see the movie Futureworld on your site and that movie was th first to use CGI, which aparently was generated by an Evans-Sutherland computer that I believe was used for military applications, like simulations.


October 5th, 2008, 07:33 PM

This is just for historical reference now seeing as how old this thread is, but the Teleram P-1800 was a portable text editing terminal w/modem capability and data strage on a proprietary data cassette. It was made by Teleram Communications, and they even had a patent on the way the machine edited text in RAM memory. Introduced in 1975. The New Yorker did a review and description of them shortly after they were released in thier Talk of the Town. The article is not on the web, but here is an abstract of it:


We used to use them, way back when, in the news business. I just happened to stumble on this thread while browsing for info on them. I own three of them (one in pieces), and have documented them on my website (The MCC Workshop) at: http://mccworkshop.com.

The link for the Teleram article is:


Hope this helps. I have the service manual somewhere, but I am still looking for it.