Dolch PAC TFT Screen Portable PC

Volker Dolch was an engineer who designed microprocessors. He founded an instrumentation company in the 1970s, and then Dolch Computer Systems in 1987. Given his background in digital instrumentation equipment, it’s not surprising that the portable PC systems his company produced were prized by other engineers and technical professionals.

Dolch PCs were high-performance, ruggedized systems designed for industrial settings. The company was an early adopter of new technologies, as evidenced by the Dolch PAC (Portable Add-in Computer) line’s use of the then new active-matrix thin-film transistor (TFT) LCD color display in 1990.

Dolch PAC portable PC
Source: Dolch, 1990

The quality of color displays for portables at the time was not great. The technology was still young and trade-offs for cost, power consumption, and availability meant that most portable color displays were not good enough for some applications. The TFT technology started to change that. It had a much greater pixel density than other LCD technologies, offered better performance in terms of switching pixels on or off, and was brighter.

Diagram showing how TFT displays work
Source: Dolch, 1990

TFT displays were more expensive, but the people who bought Dolch systems were willing to pay for it. The TFT option added nearly $4,000 to the price of a Dolch PAC.

Introduced: June 3, 1990
Original Retail Price: $3,995
Base Configuration: 80286, 80386SX, 80386, or 80486 CPU; 1MB or 2MB RAM (16MB max); 20MB to 200MB hard drive; 5.25-inch floppy drive; 6 or 7 expansion slots
Graphics: CGA (VGA with TFT or gas plasma display)

Published by

Michael Nadeau

I am the author of Collectible Microcomputers (Schiffer Books, 2002) and have been an editor of many technology publications including BYTE, 80 Micro, and HOT CoCo. My interest in the history of information technology is broad. I use my blogs, ClassicTech and Vintage Computer Photos, to build on the work I did for Collectible Microcomputers.

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