Hewlett-Packard HP 110 “The Portable” Laptop PC

The HP 110
Source: HP, 1984

Hewlett-Packard did not have broad success with portables until it introduced the HP 110 laptop. Some HP literature referred to the 110 as simply “The Portable”. It offered good performance in a small but practical package. At nine pounds, it was one of the more petite laptops of the time.

The HP 110 came with a built-in software suite including communications software
Source: HP, 1984

The HP 110 had a software suite in ROM that included a graphical user interface, word processor, and the Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet program. It also had a terminal emulation program, through which users could share files with other computers. HP claimed that this enabled “a new kind of computing in which programs and data are always present, wherever The Portable is carried.”

HP 110 owners could share files with the IBM PC
Source: HP, 1984

A portable, battery-powered Thinkjet printer and HP 9114A 3.5-inch floppy disk drive were available as options. The HP 9114A was notable as HP claimed it was the first that could read and write from both sides of the disk, effectively doubling capacity.

HP 110 Plus with Thinkjet printer and HP 9114A disk drive
Source: HP, 1986

In 1985, a Plus version of the 110 was introduced with greater RAM and ROM capacity and improved graphics resolution.

Introduced: May 1984
Original Retail Price: $2,995
Base Configuration: 5.44MHz 80C86, MS-DOS 2.01, 272K RAM, 384K ROM, monochrome LCD, integral keyboard, RS-232C and HP-IL ports, Lotus 1-2-3 and MemoMaker in ROM, carrying case, internal modem, owner’s and software manuals, AC adapter, lead-acid batteries, battery charger
Video: 16-line x 80-column text, 480 x 128 graphics
Size/Weight: 13 x 10 x 3 inches, 9 lbs.
Important Options: HP 911A 3.5-inch external floppy disk drive, HP 2225B printer, leather carrying case

Advanced Logic Research ALR 386/220 PC

ALR was a mid-tier producer of high-performance PCs. Its ALR 386/220 was an example if how it approached the business market. Based on a 20MHz 80386 CPU, the system ranked among the best performers in its class at a more affordable price. It could be configured as either a network server or a workstations for applications such as CAD or desktop publishing.

ALR 386/220
Source: Advanced Logic Research, 1987

The ALR 386/220 came in four models that primarily offered different memory and storage configurations.

About ten years after the 386/220 was introduced, ALR merged with Gateway 2000 in 1997, which made the combined company the twelfth largest PC server vendor worldwide.

Introduced: 1987
Model: ALR 386/220 Model 10
Original Retail Price: $2,495
Base Configuration: 20MHz 80386 CPU, MS-DOS, 2 8-bit ISA slots, 4 16-bit ISA slots, 2 32-bit ISA slots, 1MB RAM, 5.25-inch floppy disk drive, keyboard/keypad, serial and parallel ports, 200W power supply,  clock/calendar
Important Options: 80287 or 80387 coprocessor

Model: ALR 386/220 Model 40
Original Retail Price: $4,485
Base Configuration: 20MHz 80386 CPU, MS-DOS, 2 8-bit ISA slots, 4 16-bit ISA slots, 2 32-bit ISA slots, 2MB RAM, 5.25-inch floppy disk drive, 40MB hard disk drive, keyboard/keypad, serial and parallel ports, 200W power supply, clock/calendar, EMS and EEMS software
Important Options: 80287 or 80387 coprocessor , tower case

Model: ALR 386/220 Model 80
Original Retail Price: $5,185
Base Configuration: 20MHz 80386 CPU, MS-DOS, 2 8-bit ISA slots, 4 16-bit ISA slots, 2 32-bit ISA slots, 2MB RAM, 5.25-inch floppy disk drive, 70MB hard disk drive, keyboard/keypad, serial and parallel ports, 200W power supply, clock/calendar, EMS and EEMS software
Important Options: 80287 or 80387 coprocessor, tower case

Model: ALR 386/220 Model 130
Original Retail Price: $7,794
Base Configuration: 20MHz 80386 CPU, MS-DOS, 2 8-bit ISA slots, 4 16-bit ISA slots, 2 32-bit ISA slots, 2MB RAM, 5.25-inch floppy disk drive, 130MB hard disk drive, keyboard/keypad, serial and parallel ports, 200W power supply, clock/calendar, EMS and EEMS software
Important Options: 80287 or 80387 coprocessortower case

3R Computers Avatar TC100 Universal Terminal Converter

The 3R Avatar TC100 series was a dual-processor system used with a dumb terminal to give it full workstation capabilities–hence the reason it is called a terminal converter. It used both a Z80 and 8088-2 CPUs so it could run both CP/M and MS-DOS applications.

3R Computers Avatar TC100
Source: 3R Comptuers, 1983

The company offered an enhanced model, the Avatar TC110, which had a parallel port and 5MB hard drive. A TC 3278 modal was intended for use with only the IBM 3278 or 3178 terminals. The company is also known as RRR Computers.

Introduced: 1983
Original Retail Price: $2,195
Base Configuration: Z80A and 8088-2 CPUs, 128K RAM (256K max), 2 RS-232C ports, 5.25-inch floppy disk drive, clock/calendar, 85W power supply
Size/Weight: 7.25H x 12.25W x 12.75D inches, 20 lbs.
Important Options: parallel interface; second floppy disk drive; 5MB, 10MB, or 20MB hard disk drive

IBM Personal Computer XT

The PC XT (eXtended Technology), Model 5160, was IBM’s encore to the original PC. It used the same 4.77MHz 8088 CPU as its predecessor but offered incremental improvements such as more expansion bus slots, greater mass storage capabilities, better screen resolution, and MS-DOS 2.0.

IBM PC XT
Source: IBM, 1983

IBM also offered new options for the PC, including an expansion unit that housed additional storage in a matching cabinet to the computer.

IBM PC XT with Model 002 Expansion Unit
Source: IBM, 1983

IBM later offered a version of the PC XT that would run its mainframe applications. The Personal Computer XT/370 used the Virtual Machine/Personal Computer (VM/PC) control program that provided compatibility with the Virtual Machine/Conversational Monitor System (VM/CMS) mainframe program.

IBM PC XT/370
Source: IBM, 1983

Introduced: March 8, 1983
Original Retail Price: $4,995
Base Configuration: 4.77MHz 8088 CPU, PC-DOS 2.0, eight ISA slots, 128K RAM (640K max), 40K ROM, 5.25-inch floppy disk drive, keyboard/keypad, RS-232C port, BASIC, operations manual
Video: 25-line x 80-column text, 640 x 200 graphics
Size/Weight: 20 x 16 x 6 inches, 32 lbs.
Important Options: Model 002 Expansion Unit; second 5.25-inch floppy disk drive; 10MB hard disk drive; Color Display, Enhanced Color Display, or Monochrome Display monitor; EGA or CGA card; game port; PC Color, PC Compact, or Graphics Printer; technical reference; hardware maintenance and service manual

Computer Transceiver Systems Execuport XL

The Execuport was a hybrid CP/M, MS-DOS system. You could start with the base Z80 model running CP/M and later upgrade to an 8086 or 80186 processor for MS-DOS compatibility. Many if not most of the CP/M system manufacturers took a similar approach at the time as a hedge against the growing dominance of MS-DOS.

Execuport XL
Source: Computer Transceiver Systems, 1983

The base Z80 model was called the Execuport XL, and the 8086/80186 model was the Execuport XL+. The XL+ could also run CP/M as well as several multi-user operating systems. Both models shared the same physical configuration with a built-in monitor in a reddish brown case. One unusual feature was the 132-character-wide screen. Most systems of the era offered 80-column screens.

Computer Transceiver Systems had earlier produced Execuport-branded portable terminals. The company launched in the late 1960s as a manufacturer of computer peripherals.

Introduced: 1983
Original Retail Price: $2,495 to $3,195
Base Configuration: 4MHz Z80A CPU, CP/M 2.2, 80K RAM (512K max), two 5.25-inch floppy disk drives, monitor port, integral monochrome CRT, keyboard/keypad, two RS-232 and one parallel port
Video: 25-line x 132-column text, 960 x 288 graphics
Size/Weight: 18.12 x 15.62 x 6.5 inches, 28 lbs.
Important Options: 8MHz 8086 or 6MHz 80186 coprocessor, MS-DOS 2.11, 10MB hard disk drive, modem, portable printer

Compaq Deskpro

The Compaq Portable in 1982 marked the company’s entry into the PC market. The system targeted a niche ignored by IBM: portable PCs. Compaq quickly established itself the leader in that category.

With the Deskpro desktop PC a little less than two years later, Compaq took on IBM right in its own wheelhouse. The Deskpro line was an immediate success and became a top alternative to PC in the business market. Compaq sold the Deskpro line until 2001, making it one of the longest-running computer models ever.

Source: Compaq, 1984

While some manufacturers of PC compatibles competed with IBM mainly on price, Compaq positioned the Deskpro as a premium brand and sold it on its reliability and range of options. The Deskpro initially was available in four models (Model 1 through Model 4, as shown in the photo above) with variations on monitor size, storage capacity, and memory.

Introduced: June 1984
Original Retail Price: $2,495 to $7,195
Base Configuration: 7.14MHz 8086 CPU, MS-DOS 2.11, six ISA slots, 128K RAM (640K max), 5.25-inch floppy disk drive, 12-inch monochrome Dual Mode Monitor, RF modulator, composite and RGB video ports, keyboard/keypad, parallel and serial ports
Video: 25-line x 80-column text, 720 x 350 graphics
Size/Weight: 5 x 19 x 16 inches, 40 lbs.
Important Options: Unix, 10- or 30MB hard disk drive, tape backup drive

Vector Graphic Vector 4 Dual-Processor System

Within a year or two of the IBM PC’s introduction, the handwriting was on the wall for the once-dominant manufacturers of S-100 bus, CP/M microcomputers. The PC was becoming the new small-system standard. Some vendors hedged their bets by introducing new dual-processor models that could run both CP/M and MS-DOS software, but not offer hardware compatibility with the PC.

Source: Vector Graphic, 1982

Vector Graphic’s Vector 4 was one of the first such dual-processor systems, introduced in 1982. It kept the S-100 bus but added an 8088 CPU. CP/M was still the standard operating system with MS-DOS available as an option. In 1984, the Vector 4-S appeared, which could read PC-format floppy disks.

Introduced: 1982 (Vector 4), 1984 (Vector 4-S)
Original Retail Price: $3,295 to $9,995 (4-S)
Base Configuration: Z-80 and 8088 CPUs, CP/M (4)/CP/M-86 with GSX-86 (4-S); two S-100 slots (4-S); 128K RAM (256K max); floppy disk drive, integral monochrome CRT; keyboard; RS-232C, serial, and two parallel ports
Important Options: MS-DOS or Oasis, second floppy disk drive, 5MB to 36MB hard disk drive, color monitor, communications card