March 3rd, 2014 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Visual, Visual 1050, terminal, IBM PC, MS-DOS, CP/M, Kaypro II, PC clones, Z80, advertisement, Personal Computing, 1983
"The complete professional solution at an unbeatable price."
I've never owned a Visual 1050 Personal Computer System (seen here), but I have an old Visual brand terminal that uses the same (or a very similar) keyboard. That's the first thing that comes to mind when I see this, because it's a distinctively wide, flat keyboard.
The 1050 sported a Z80 CPU and ran the CP/M operating system, the grandfather of MS-DOS. Curiously, even though CP/M was a popular platform for business computers in the late 1970s and early 1980s, I only have a a handful of pure CP/M-based machines in my collection. (My favorite such machine is probably the Kaypro II.)
In regard to the chart in the advertisement above, it's interesting to note that it was pretty easy to undercut IBM, price-wise, not long after the IBM PC came out. Fast advances in IC design allowed computer makers to inexpensively cram more functions (think serial, parallel, game ports, disk controller, graphics card, etc.) directly onto motherboards instead of offloading them onto separate plug-in cards. While the 1050 was not an IBM PC clone, true PC clone makers took advantage of this effect to hollow out the inside of IBM's hold on the PC market from the bottom up.
[ From Personal Computing, November 1983, p.40-41]
Discussion Topic of the Week: Do you have a favorite machine that runs CP/M?
January 27th, 2014 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Stickybear, Weekly Reader Family Software, educational games, Apple, Apple II, Personal Computing, 1983
"Stickybear," in retrospect, is a kinda disgusting name.
[ From Personal Computing, November 1983, p.108]
Discussion Topic of the Week: What's your favorite educational video/computer game of all time?
August 26th, 2013 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Durango, Poppy, Personal Business System, Personal Computing, advertisement, 1983
Rose vs. Poppy: Which would you choose?
I'll admit that I've never encountered a Durango Poppy in person, nor do I know much about them aside from ads like this in old magazines.
So I did some digging, and I found that the Poppy model seen here was an 80186-based system that ran either MS-DOS for a single-user setup or Xenix for a multi-user configuration. It retailed for between $4,395 and $11,475 in early 1984 ($9,881 to $25,798 when adjusted for inflation), which was quite a bit of money — but actually far cheaper than IBM's comparable offerings at the time.
A March 5, 1984 issue of InfoWorld available through Google Books has a neat article that mentions the Poppy.
I didn't realize it at first, but the rose in the ad above is meant to symbolize IBM. IBM's PC ads at the time featured Charlie Chaplin's Tramp character, which always carried a rose.
[ From Personal Computing, November 1983, p.213 ]
Discussion Topic of the Week: Did you ever purposely pass up IBM hardware for a cheaper alternative? Tell us about it.
August 12th, 2013 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Osborne, Osborne 1, portable computers, Adam Osborne, advertisement, Personal Computing, 1983
Walkin' [through the pearly gates / into an alien ship] with an Osborne 1.
See also: The Osborne 1 (RSOTW, 2012)
[ From Personal Computing, January 1983 ]
Discussion Topic of the Week: If you could take any computer with you into the afterlife, which would it be?
July 1st, 2013 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Amdek, Color-I, composite video, monitor, Apple II, Commodore, VIC-20, Atari 800, Personal Computing, 1983
Tracking the shadow people on an Apple II has never been more fun.
[ From Personal Computing, November 1983, inside rear cover ]
Discussion Topic of the Week: Do you own any composite video monitors? Which model/brand is your favorite?
June 17th, 2013 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Otrona, Attache, portable computer, MS-DOS, CPM, luggable, Personal Computing, 1983
The Otrona Attaché: For people who love teeny-tiny computer screens
[ From Personal Computing, November 1983, p.110]
Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever run as fast as you can while holding a computer? If not, what's the largest object you've ever held while running full speed?
April 8th, 2013 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Apple, Apple II, Apple IIe, Apple clone, Star Micronics, Delta-10, dot matrix printer, advertisement, Personal Computing, 1983, The Print Shop, Broderbund
The Star Micronics Delta-10 Dot Matrix Printer: Mouse with Machine Gun
My family owned this exact printer. In fact, I think it's still sitting in my parents' attic as we speak. If I'm not mistaken, we used it with our Apple IIe system — the one my dad built from a bare circuit board and a set of cloned ROM chips (much like the one in this 2006 VC&G post).
It's probably the first printer I ever saw in action, likely before I could even walk. I can recall crawling under our computer desk (the printer was on the floor beneath it for some reason) and watching it print out whimsical banners and calendars from a program like Broderbund's The Print Shop.
But what I remember most about it, of course, was the sound it made: like a screeching robot mouse spraying lead into tractor feed paper with a tiny machine gun. Like any dot matrix printer, once you hear one in action, the sound will never leave you.
Those were the days.
Of course, I was still using a dot matrix printer until the early 1990s, so I am pretty much scarred for life. Mice everywhere.
[ From Personal Computing, November 1983, p.28 ]
Discussion Topic of the Week: What was the first printer you ever owned?
October 8th, 2012 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Sanyo, MBC-1100, EHD 511, 8-bit computers, Z80, CP/M, Japanese computers, Personal Computing, 1983
"My whole torso is numb, and it feels great!"
The Sanyo MBC-1100 (1982) was a Z80-A-based business machine that ran CP/M as its operating system. It was one of many, many Z80 business machines from that era designed to run CP/M.
Japanese computer manufacturers were just breaking into the U.S. computer market at the time, so the Sanyo MBC-1100 would have likely been a curiosity in an American office setting.
[ From Personal Computing, November 1983, p.213 ]
Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever used a Japanese-designed vintage computer? Tell us about it.
September 10th, 2012 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Atari 8-bit, Atari 800, Atari 400, Atari, AtariWriter, word processors, Personal Computing, 1983
"You won't find a bluer word processor package anywhere…"
[ From Personal Computing, November 1983, p.43 ]
Discussion Topic of the Week: What was the first word processor software you ever used?
July 9th, 2012 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, IBM, IBM PC, Synergetix, Apple, iPad, Smart Cover, furniture, Personal Computing, 1983
The IBM PC Workstation: Almost as small as a refrigerator.
Once upon a time, IBM made furniture.
Specifically, they created a custom folding desk for its IBM Personal Computer called the "IBM Synergetix PC Work Station," which we see in the 1983 ad above.
IBM registered the trademark "Synergetix" in 1981 to cover its line of IBM PC-related furniture, which even included an official IBM PC Table and IBM PC chair. Big Blue let the trademark expire in 1989, which shows you how successful that idea was.
I've been trying to think of modern analogies to the IBM PC Work Station, and the closest I can come up with is Apple making a special cover for its iPad — although Apple's Smart Cover has been popular and well-received. The Smart Cover also doesn't cost $850 like the IBM PC Work Station did (that's about $1,961 today).
[ From Personal Computing, November 1983, p.249 ]
Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever used a desk specifically designed for use with a computer?