My So-Called Laptop

Engagdet today has a post called “My So-Called Laptop” in which their writers talk about their very first laptops. This made me think two things: 1. Most of their writers are very young, using Pentium class or higher bought within the last 10 years, and 2. I loved my first so-called laptop.

I truly say “so-called” because it was definitely not a laptop. It needed a nice, stable platform to rest on because it was Heavy. They were technically dubbed “portables” but everyone called them a “luggable.” They also did not run on batteries, as no battery made at the time could have powered that thing for more than a few minutes.

The one I had was a knockoff (a locally assembled version made by EDP Computers in Eau Claire, WI) of a Compaq Portable III. A system similar to mine It had a bright red gas plasma screen and detachable keyboard and always drew raves. The 20MB hard drive was SWEET, though it made a ton of noise. I used to love watching that green light that let me know it was doing its thing.

This thing ran DOS 2.0, not Windows. It was a 286 with 640K Ram. The adventurous among us may have installed a bit more RAM and then tried to load QEMM in order to get …what was the name of that multi-taking software? Ah yes, DesqView. I never saw the point of running more than one app at a time.

I got a *ton* of work done on that baby, as I’d lug it from client to client and sit there on-site to make the changes rather than take a 5 1/4″ diskette with me back and forth (we didn’t use modems much back in 1988 as it was rarely worth the effort to get the 9600 connection going).

One day the gas plasma screen died, and the repair was going to be more that $1,000. Rather than repair it, I sprung for one of those newfangled 386/33 machines that had just come out. It was a desktop, so I lost my portability, but man did that thing scream. I probably shouldn’t have gotten the 386SX, but that’s another story…







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