[ Retro Scan of the Week ] The Poppy Computer

August 26th, 2013 by Benj Edwards

Durango Poppy Personal Business System computer advertisement - 1983Rose 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.

5 Responses to “[ Retro Scan of the Week ] The Poppy Computer”

  1. Jeff Stimson Says:

    Back in the day, I managed to convince the company I was working for to buy a Commodore PC-40 versus the IBM version. Saved a whole lot of money and got a better machine at the same time.

  2. Stan Says:

    I saw plenty of PC clones among my friends in the 80s. There were a couple of Tandy 1000s, a Commodore PC (with monochrome Hercules graphics), a Laser XT clone with a hard drive that needed to be manually parked before you could power down the machine. Our first PC was a no-name beige box 386.

    The closest I came to a genuine IBM was the room full of PS/2s at the high school, which were great for no other reason than their Model M keyboards.

    I never saw an IBM in a home setting until the Aptiva in 1994.

  3. Moondog Says:

    I remember the old adage, “nobody ever got fired for buying IBM equipment.” Just think of the IT shops that couldn’t purchase a possibly better product because upper management was sold on the IBM brand.

  4. mousey Says:

    At college here in the uk in the mid 80`s, we had quite a few Sanyo pc clones, they were not 100% compatable with ibm software (probably due to the weird hardware) and had a lot worse performance than the genuine ibm ones. They did look kinda cool though, quite slim and silver coloured.
    Generally, pc`s were too expensive and graphically/sonically poor for home use and even the college didnt have many.
    First one I saw in someones home that wasnt for business use was around the time Doom came out (1994?).
    I also remember someone having a pc in an Amiga 500 style case around the same time, i think it was made by Amstrad or Sinclair Research. It really wasnt very good compared to, well anything else available at the time tbh.

  5. Chuck Says:

    The Poppy II included a socket for a then-very-new 80286 CPU. The Xenix system used this to run, with the 80186 providing the I/O. MS-DOS, of course, used only the 80186.

    I was part of the development team on this system. Personally, I argued for the Motorola 68K as being more up to the task, but the Durango BOD had an Intel VP on it who stated unequivocally that it would be a cold day in hell before a Durango system would use a Motorola CPU.

    I remember the many bugs in pre-release steppings of both the 186 and 286. Cost us a lot of time. Intel was tasked with getting the Xenix kernel running on the 286 and that wasn’t very timely either.

    The terminal is a Beehive unit–a modified VT220 clone, IIRC.

    I’d still like to get my hands on one of these, just for old times’ sake.

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