Friday, August 11, 2006

Retro Computing at work!

Manufacturer: IBM
Model: PC Convertible
CPU: 80C88
RAM: 256kB
HDD: None (Two 720k Floppy)
Release Date: April 1986

Shown: Stock Photo with Parallel/Serial module attached. (I probably shouldn't take pictures of my office environment but they probably wouldn't mind)

I just started a new job a few weeks ago. One of the first things that caught my eye was an un-occupied cubicle with a few pieces of vintage, old-school hardware within. This IBM PC Convertible is easily the crown jewel of the collection. Being a retro geek, I have to write about it, even though it's not mine. I might start writing about other people's hardware anyways. This is about making good use of old hardware, not just about MY old hardware.

The PC Convertible was definitely a groundbreaking machine. Not only was it IBM's first crack at the portable market, it was one of the first portable computers that aspired to achieve desktop usability in a fashion similar to what we know as docking stations today. Instead of a docking station, however, this computer relied on snap-on modules that added traditional desktop functionality. This included a serial/parallel module, display module (for an external monitor) and a printer that could attach directly to the portable without a cable.

The PC Convertible at my office doesn't have any of the frills and the battery no longer holds a charge. The "squished" screen offers monochrome CGA resolution, not far behind the 4-color "bluescale" CGA display on my ZDS SuperSport. Surprisingly, the one we have here still works rather well. Since it's attached via serial cable, one can hop right on it and access the mainframe, which is an often-used resource here. You won't see people lining up to work on it, though.

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