The Evolution of Portability

Tandy1400fd-icon LAPTOP PC’S

Early Intel and Zilog CPU

based portable personal


Tandy 1400LT

Tandy 1400FD

Tandy 1100FD

Tandy 1110HD

tandy102a NOTEBOOK PC’S

Early ultra-light personal

computers based on Intel

and Zilog CPU’s.  These

units are all unique in

their class.

TRS-80 Model 100

Tandy Model 102

Tandy Model 200

Citizen CBM-10WP

Tandy WP2/3


Brother PN-4400/8500


NEC 8300

Amstrad NC-100/200

nec8401 RARE LAPTOP PC’s

Early Laptop computers

that were to little to late

for their marketplace. 

These units missed the

mark when the Intel 8808

CPU and MS-DOS was

being favored by


NEC 8401

Tandy 600

trs-mod4p The Luggable


Early portable computers

characterized by weight

and size.  Marketed as the

companion to the busy

professional.  These units

were being sold side by

side with the earliest


TRS-80 Model 4p

Osborne I

Kaypro II

Olivetti Portable Page

The Evolution of Portability

Today the notebook computer is an everyday sight in coffee shops, libraries, colleges and

the teenage bedroom.  For the most part, these computers out-power their office

counterparts.  The standard laptop computer of today is complete with USB ports, DVD

burners, video interface, floppy and hard drives, and full multi-media applications.  But

the computers were for the most part tethered to their desks.  That was until engineers

began to see the importance of taking their work with them. 

It must be remembered that early personal computers had little in the way of application

software.   For the most part, the portability revolution began with the programming

community.  Computer manufacturers just satisfying their in-house needs.  But the first

computers were characterized as boxes with CRT display built-ion along with large 8″ or

5.25″ floppy drives.  The easy solution was to add a handle on the top of existing units. 

This was very evident in the advent of the TRS-80 Model 4p.  Basically a Model 4

squeezed into a sewing machine case.  The Kaypro, Olivetti’s and Osborn computers did

the same and the outcome was a 20 to 35 pound behemoth.  But they were great

computers in their own right.

Tandy, Olivetti and NEC countered with what many today see as the best computers ever

built.  These are the NEC-8300, TRS-80 Model 100, and Olivetti M10.  Computers that

had programming power, and application software complete with connectivity.  These

units worked 4 AA batteries, and were under 3 pounds.  Amstrad added to the mix with an

absolute fabulous unit known as the NC-100.

Just before Intel began to penetrate the market with their 8808 CPU which launched the

industry in their current path for the notebook, Tandy Corporation produced the Model

600.  An extremely cool computer, that for a small footprint weighted heavy on the thighs. 

This unit had a3.5″ floppy drive and Microsoft Works built-in.  A basic ROM was also

available but not shipped and very few of these chips exist today.  The computer was

released only a few months before the first 8088 laptops appeared by companies like

Epson, NEC and Toshiba to name a few.  As a result the Model 600 was a flop, and now is

only treasured by collectors.  NEC also pulled the same stunt with the Model 8401, and

CPM based computer with similar flare as the Model 600.  It was also a failure for the

same reason.  Tandy countered with the release of their Model 1400’s, heavy 8088

laptops that were replaced 18 months later by their Tandy 1100FD and 1110HD models.

Take some time and read the pages in these sections for reviews of these great collector