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Thread: Timeline of first IBM PC clone "luggables"

  1. #1
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    Default Timeline of first IBM PC clone "luggables"

    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...0PC%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 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.

    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.
    Last edited by Trixter; September 7th, 2017 at 05:46 PM.
    Offering a bounty for:
    - Documentation and original distribution disks for: Panasonic Sr. Partner, Corona PPC-400, Zenith Z-160 series
    - Music Construction Set, IBM Music Feature edition (has red sticker on front stating IBM Music Feature)
    - Any very old/ugly IBM joystick (such as the Franklin JS-123)

  2. #2
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    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.

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    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ScutBoy View Post
    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.

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    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/d.../Olivetti-M21/

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    Apparently they also rebadged those under the Sperry name too: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Sperry-Vinta...sAAOSw0DlZoMl5

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    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

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    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.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by SomeGuy View Post
    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.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by tipc View Post
    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.
    Offering a bounty for:
    - Documentation and original distribution disks for: Panasonic Sr. Partner, Corona PPC-400, Zenith Z-160 series
    - Music Construction Set, IBM Music Feature edition (has red sticker on front stating IBM Music Feature)
    - Any very old/ugly IBM joystick (such as the Franklin JS-123)

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