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Trixter
September 5th, 2017, 07:32 PM
I'm having a hard time coming up with a timeline for when the first luggable x86 PC-compatible systems were released and am looking for some help. I'm trying to determine the first announce date as well as the first ship date.

A lot of online literature claims the Compaq Portable was the first with a date of 1982, but my research shows it was only announced in 1982, and wasn't actually in consumer's hands until March 1983, which would make the Hyperion the first actual luggable IBM PC-compatible in consumer's hands. Here's what I've been able to gather:



System
Announce Date
Ship Date
Sources
Notes


Dynalogic Hyperion
June 1982
January 1983
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperion_(computer), http://oldcomputers.net/hyperion.html
"The Hyperion was shipped in January 1983 at C$4995, two months ahead of the Compaq Portable." Not 100% hardware compatible with the IBM PC.


Compaq Portable
November 1982
March 1983
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compaq#Introduction_of_Compaq_Portable
Clean-room BIOS


Columbia Data Products "Columbia VP Portable"
?
? 1983
http://www.old-computers.com/museum/computer.asp?c=889&st=2, https://archive.org/details/byte-magazine-1983-05
Clean-room BIOS. Advertisement seen May 1983.


Eagle Computer "Eagle Spirit Portable"
?
November (?) 1983
http://www.old-computers.com/museum/computer.asp?st=1&c=530
Sued by IBM for copying the IBM PC BIOS


Seequa Chameleon
Fall 1982
Q4 1983
http://www.old-computers.com/museum/computer.asp?c=107 , InfoWorld Vol 5 N. 48 page 132
Had both a Z80 and 8088, and claimed to run CP/M and DOS on said processors respectively. Was not terribly good at doing so due to compatibility problems. No expansion slots (!)


Corona Data Systems "Corona PPC-400"
?
1984?
http://www.pcmuseum.ca/details.asp?id=696&search=viewall, InfoWorld May 6, 1985 P.24
Sued by IBM for copying the IBM PC BIOS; assembly line was shut down by lawsuit until they could provide non-infringing BIOS. High resolution text using 8x16 characters; screen capable of 640x400 graphics; graphics adapter uses system RAM instead of dedicated video RAM. Was private-labeled as the Olivetti M18P and Sperry SP2.


Olivetti M18P
? 1983
1984?
http://www.vintage-computer.com/olivettim18p.shtml
Was private labeled version of the Corona PPC-400 which was the OEM.


IBM Portable Personal Computer 5155
February 29th, 1984
? 1984
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_Portable_Personal_Computer, http://www.minuszerodegrees.net/5155/doco/IBM%20Product%20Announcement%20-%20Portable%20PC%205155.txt
Has BIOS dated 1982 despite being released in 1984


Panasonic Sr. Partner
November 1983
1984?
http://www.old-computers.com/museum/computer.asp?c=498
Has embedded thermal printer


Texas Instruments Portable Professional Computer (PPC)
November 1983
1984?
http://www.old-computers.com/museum/computer.asp?c=472
Not 100% hardware compatible with the IBM PC. Could not take IBM PC expansion cards.


Zenith Z-160
March 1984
1984?
http://www.old-computers.com/museum/computer.asp?c=465, Popular Science Jun 1984 pg. 140, InfoWorld Mar 12, 1984 pg 11
Has system monitor/debugger/diagnostics in ROM



Does this seem correct to those of us who were there at the time? Is this roughly in the correct order of ship date? Can anyone help me fill in the missing dates?

(For those wondering why this, why now, it's because I'll be exhibiting different luggables at VCFMW this weekend and would like to have accurate information on-hand for the patrons.)

Update #1: I've been updating the table with information in this thread, please keep it coming. Also, PC Mag Apr 3, 1984 (https://books.google.com/books?id=e-gI2W-3JwkC&pg=PA124&dq=Seequa+Chameleon&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwit3_PJwZPWAhUL74MKHU-fDusQ6AEIPTAF#v=onepage&q=Seequa%20Chameleon&f=false) turned out to be a nice surprise, listing a lot of information already covered here. Best tidbit: "A senior officer of Compaq suggested that we put data on the hard disk in the Compaq Plus, and then drop the computer to the floor to prove that nothing would be damaged and no data would be lost. We were unable to do this because it is against our religious convictions to throw computers on the floor."

Update #2: A good compatibility chart is on Computerworld Sep 19, 1983 page 18 (https://books.google.com/books?id=pmWoDGkrQJsC&pg=PA18&dq=Seequa+Chameleon&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwit3_PJwZPWAhUL74MKHU-fDusQ6AEIRTAH#v=onepage&q=Seequa%20Chameleon&f=false).

Update #3: Corrected the wrong info about the M18p and the Corona system -- the Corona is the original, the Sperry and Olivetti are the private labels.

krebizfan
September 5th, 2017, 09:19 PM
Even back when the systems were new, it was a challenge to figure out what a small vendor was shipping. The Seequa Chameleon was announced in Fall 1982; was not yet shipping according the InfoWorld review in November 1983 while a dealer wrote in a letter claiming have been selling them for 8 months which would indicate actual release about March or April 1983.

Hyperion may not count as a PC compatible though. There was an announcement in June 1983 that Lotus would start customizing a version of 123 for it. Compaq had at least 3 months of being the only portable that could run Lotus.

ScutBoy
September 6th, 2017, 05:12 AM
Columbia Data Products "Columbia VP Portable" - I just got one of these as a freebie. I'll check and see if there are any dates on the case or boards inside.

SomeGuy
September 6th, 2017, 05:59 AM
Columbia Data Products "Columbia VP Portable" - I just got one of these as a freebie. I'll check and see if there are any dates on the case or boards inside.
Please dump the BIOS! I suspect it uses the same BIOS as the desktop 1600, and have been looking for both later and earlier versions. Even if it is specific to the VP, it would be good to add to Modem7's web site.

Trixter, if you have a Hyperion, I would love to hear detailed tests about its compatiblity or lack there of. Magazine reviews were always very vauge.

1ST1
September 6th, 2017, 07:24 AM
You are missing Olivetti M21, the portable version of M24, and Olivetti M18 P1/P2 (relabled Corona portable PC).
M18: http://www.vintage-computer.com/olivettim18p.shtml
M21: http://www.computinghistory.org.uk/det/43175/Olivetti-M21/

SomeGuy
September 6th, 2017, 08:42 AM
Apparently they also rebadged those under the Sperry name too: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Sperry-Vintage-Computer-Sp2-t3097-01-For-Part-Or-Repair-Rare-/253115498343?hash=item3aeedbff67:g:t6sAAOSw0DlZoMl 5

flashedbios2012
September 6th, 2017, 09:21 AM
What luggable did they use in HCF for the Giant? I find it hard to believe they manufactured a whole prop like that for a TV show

tipc
September 6th, 2017, 09:28 AM
The one glaring omission is the Texas Instruments Portable Profeasional Computer. I'll dispense with proclamations of what it was the first of. An argument will ensue and only knotted panties will be the end result.

The Hyperion wasn't the same type of luggable as the othets. No one simply picked up a hyperion and lugged it from office to cafe to all gay swing club. It had to go in a bag like a Macintosh. The true luggables could be picked up as is as long as the keyboard was clipped on. And they mostly had compartments for needed cables. Tje Hyperion was more of a transportable. Man get it strait.

ScutBoy
September 6th, 2017, 10:50 AM
Please dump the BIOS! I suspect it uses the same BIOS as the desktop 1600, and have been looking for both later and earlier versions.

Tell me what I need to do so, and I'll give it a shot, assuming the machine comes up - I haven't had a chance to play with it yet.

Trixter
September 6th, 2017, 01:36 PM
The one glaring omission is the Texas Instruments Portable Professional Computer. I'll dispense with proclamations of what it was the first of.

I added it to the chart, but it wasn't the first x86 IBM PC luggable based on the dates, so what specifically were you referring to? What was it the "first" of?


The Hyperion wasn't the same type of luggable as the othets. No one simply picked up a hyperion and lugged it from office to cafe to all gay swing club. It had to go in a bag like a Macintosh.

Interesting; you're right, it doesn't have a handle, per se. Still, since the entire point of it was to be transported, I'll "allow" it.

Trixter
September 6th, 2017, 10:07 PM
Tell me what I need to do so, and I'll give it a shot, assuming the machine comes up - I haven't had a chance to play with it yet.

I've written a ROM dumping program you can run from diskette that will dump the full 64K at the end of the memory space to files, then scan the system for any additional ROM signatures and then dumps those too. You can pick it up from here: ftp://ftp.oldskool.org/pub/misc/Software/Utils/ROM_Dumper/

Trixter
September 6th, 2017, 10:25 PM
You are missing Olivetti M21, the portable version of M24, and Olivetti M18 P1/P2 (relabled Corona portable PC).
M18: http://www.vintage-computer.com/olivettim18p.shtml
M21: http://www.computinghistory.org.uk/det/43175/Olivetti-M21/

I had no idea these existed, thanks! I added M18 info to the table, but I can't find much info on the M21 so I left it out -- if you can help with dates, let me know.

krebizfan
September 6th, 2017, 10:48 PM
Give a nod to the Seequa. http://www.old-computers.com/museum/computer.asp?c=107

Same time frame, good DOS support.

Trixter
September 6th, 2017, 11:27 PM
Good catch! I added it to the chart, still looking for the announce and release dates.

We've got one in this neck of the woods, and I'd be exhibiting it at VCFMW (http://www.vcfmw.org) if it was in working order. It worked when we first got it but then developed video issues; hopefully a quick fix, but not in time for the show.

SomeGuy
September 7th, 2017, 06:46 AM
Tell me what I need to do so, and I'll give it a shot, assuming the machine comes up - I haven't had a chance to play with it yet.
If you can get it to run, you can dump the BIOS with debug as described here: https://www.mess.org/dumping/dump_bios_using_debug

If it is like the CDP 1600, I would expect it to have 12K of ROM located at FD00-FFFF.

Trixter
September 7th, 2017, 09:01 AM
If you can get it to run, you can dump the BIOS with debug as described here: https://www.mess.org/dumping/dump_bios_using_debug

Not to toot my own horn too loudly, but using ftp://ftp.oldskool.org/pub/misc/Software/Utils/ROM_Dumper/ is way easier for the novice and produces superior results. Source included if you disagree :-)

1ST1
September 7th, 2017, 11:21 AM
Hi, why Olivetti M21 has not been added to the list? IMHO this is the most beautiful XT portable clone.

But maybe you need also to add the M22, design from 1984, maybe the first using LCD, VERY rare model...
https://www.1000bit.it/scheda.asp?id=2136
http://vintage-laptops.com/?page_id=1208&lang=ru

krebizfan
September 7th, 2017, 11:52 AM
Olivetti M22 was a nice clamshell design but it did not ship until 1987. There is an InfoWorld article dated July 21, 1986 indicating that the M22 needed a complete redesign. Though really the design should be credited to Gavilan whose assets wound up with Chisolm which got the contract from Olivetti.

M21 was also fairly late to market (mid-1984 if my sources are correct). Olivetti always had a long lead time between announcing and shipping.

Casey
September 7th, 2017, 12:32 PM
Timeline looks about right. Didn't know there was a gap between the announcement of the Compaq Portable and its release.

The story about deliberately dropping a Portable Plus rings a bell, and back then I would have serious religious objections as well!

Trixter
September 7th, 2017, 01:12 PM
Hi, why Olivetti M21 has not been added to the list? IMHO this is the most beautiful XT portable clone.

I'm having a difficult time coming up with the announce date, ship date, and cost. If you can find that information, I will gladly add it to the list. So far all I've seen are references to magazine articles.


But maybe you need also to add the M22, design from 1984, maybe the first using LCD, VERY rare model...

This post is specifically for catalogging IBM PC and PC-compatible luggable systems (ie. heavy systems using a glass CRT), not laptops.

On a side note, I'm surprised evank hasn't dropped in to comment, as he wrote a book that overlapped this subject.

vwestlife
September 7th, 2017, 02:46 PM
There's also the Zenith Z-138. The brochure for it has a copyright date of 1985:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/253109919566

Trixter
September 11th, 2017, 06:43 PM
So, VCFMW was this past weekend, and this discussion helped me greatly with my exhibit. I appreciate everyone contributing information, and now we also have a fairly correct timeline of which systems were shipped to consumers in chronological order.

Some pictures:

40692406934069440695406964069740698

EvanK
September 11th, 2017, 07:08 PM
On a side note, I'm surprised evank hasn't dropped in to comment, as he wrote a book that overlapped this subject.

Just found the thread. Started reading it 10 minutes ago and wondered if my name might appear. :)

In the book, and when discussing computer history in general, I avoid the "F" word as much as possible. I feel strongly that it's important to emphasize generations and evolutions, not "firsts". As many people in this thread noted: first WHAT, exactly? First to dream it, sketch it, design it, announce it, patent it, sell it, ship it once, ship it in quantity? Each definition could be a different product. First is a subject and largely irrelevant word.

Trixter
September 11th, 2017, 07:29 PM
first WHAT, exactly? First to dream it, sketch it, design it, announce it, patent it, sell it, ship it once, ship it in quantity? Each definition could be a different product. First is a subject and largely irrelevant word.

In the context of this thread, it was defined explicitly what was first to ship to consumers. For example, both the Hyperion and the Compaq Portable were announced at the same show, but the Hyperion shipped to customers 2 months before Compaq did.

I respectfully disagree that "first" is an irrelevant word. Whoever was first to market can be extremely interesting historically -- some firsts defined entire companies and markets, while other firsts were forgotten as their achievement was aped by companies with bigger marketing departments and less legal encumbrances.

MrArgent
September 11th, 2017, 10:24 PM
I saw the display in person - it was pretty darn impressive! I've always had a soft spot for luggables - shame the Seequa Chameleon my neighbor gave me eight years ago vanished a ways back. I figure it might've been of help.

If you need any specimens for later luggables, hit me up - I've got a Sharp PC 7000 with the expansion base and a Amstrad PPC640 that might be of interest!

1ST1
September 13th, 2017, 12:20 AM
Here (http://www.davidleonard.london/tag/olivetti/) someone tells, that his M21 costed arround 2000 british Pound in 1983/84 when he bought it, that is about 5300 Pound by today. Here (https://www.1000bit.it/scheda.asp?id=257) is it's original price in italian Lira.

Trixter
September 13th, 2017, 08:54 AM
If anyone finds any years on the M21 (I keep seeing "1984 or 1985"), I'd be appreciative.

I can no longer edit the original post, so all corrections will have to be in the comments.

Scali
September 13th, 2017, 09:24 AM
One thing I'm curious about:
The IBM 5155... BIOS date of 1982 would imply that it was the first PC portable in development.
Unless of course they just grabbed a BIOS revision of the 5150 (perhaps changed the machine type byte, but not the copyright date?).
It actually arrived way later on the market than many clones.
So I wonder... was it IBM that was cloning the other manufacturers here?

It's also interesting that these are some of the first PC clones ever. So it seems like the first wave of PC clones were more oriented to portability/luggability than to desktop systems.

I suppose in any case, the Osborne 1 was probably the inspiration for a luggable PC compatible, regardless of who actually thought of it first, or got it on the market first (which in turn may have been inspired by the IBM 5100 design).

Trixter
September 13th, 2017, 09:48 AM
It's also interesting that these are some of the first PC clones ever. So it seems like the first wave of PC clones were more oriented to portability/luggability than to desktop systems.


No, this is misleading because this thread only covers luggables. The very first clones were desktops. In fact, most of these luggables were luggable versions of an already cloned desktop (ie. the Z160 was the portable version of the Z-150; the Corona PPC-400 was the portable version of the PC-400; etc.). The notable exception is the Compaq, which didn't come out with a desktop version until after the Compaq Portable.


I suppose in any case, the Osborne 1 was probably the inspiration for a luggable PC compatible, regardless of who actually thought of it first, or got it on the market first (which in turn may have been inspired by the IBM 5100 design).

That's about right. There were portable terminals before PCs too.

vwestlife
September 13th, 2017, 12:41 PM
One thing I'm curious about:
The IBM 5155... BIOS date of 1982 would imply that it was the first PC portable in development.
Unless of course they just grabbed a BIOS revision of the 5150 (perhaps changed the machine type byte, but not the copyright date?).
The 5155 Portable PC uses the same BIOS as the IBM XT, because it's literally just an XT motherboard in a luggable case. IBM didn't even bother to update the BIOS.

Scali
September 13th, 2017, 01:24 PM
The 5155 Portable PC uses the same BIOS as the IBM XT, because it's literally just an XT in a luggable case. IBM didn't even bother to update the BIOS.

Yes, I just checked... The 5155 doesn't even have its own machine type byte. It uses FEh, just as the XT does (5150 being FFh).

resman
September 13th, 2017, 01:58 PM
Yes, I just checked... The 5155 doesn't even have its own machine type byte. It uses FEh, just as the XT does (5150 being FFh).

Now that's just plain lazy! I've heard that there were some incompatibilities between the Portable and the XT but I can't imagine what they'd be if it was just a repackaged XT. Or perhaps that was a little guerrilla marketing from Compaq ;-)

vwestlife
September 13th, 2017, 02:38 PM
Yes, I just checked... The 5155 doesn't even have its own machine type byte. It uses FEh, just as the XT does (5150 being FFh).

The IBM engineers probably said "Make a new machine type for the 5155? Feh! Who cares!?" :p

vwestlife
September 13th, 2017, 02:41 PM
Now that's just plain lazy! I've heard that there were some incompatibilities between the Portable and the XT but I can't imagine what they'd be if it was just a repackaged XT. Or perhaps that was a little guerrilla marketing from Compaq ;-)

Physical incompatibilities. Most of the expansion slots are behind the drives and thus longer cards won't fit into them.