Vintage Computers and Hardware

Vintage Computers 1970 – 2000


PowerBook (1991) – Apple Computer, Inc.

PowerBook 150 (1991) - Apple Computers, Inc. - Photograph by Dana Sibera (Danamania)

PowerBook 150 – Photograph by Dana Sibera (Danamania)

In October 1991 Apple released the first three PowerBooks: the low-end PowerBook 100, the more powerful PowerBook 140, and the high end PowerBook 170, the only one with an active matrix display. These machines caused a stir in the industry with their compact dark grey cases, built-in trackball, and the innovative positioning of the keyboard which left room for palmrests on either side of the pointing device. Portable PC computers at the time were still oriented toward DOS, and tended to have the keyboard forward towards the user, with empty space behind it that was often used forfunction key reference cards. In the early days of Microsoft Windows, many notebooks came with a clip on trackball that fit on the edge of the keyboard molding. As usage of DOS gave way to the graphical user interface, the PowerBook’s arrangement became the standard layout all future notebook computers would follow.

The PowerBook 140 and 170 were the original PowerBook designs, while the PowerBook 100 was the result of Apple having sent the schematics of the Mac Portable to Sony, who miniaturized the components. Hence the PowerBook 100’s design does not match those of the rest of the series, as it was actually designed after the 140 & 170 and further benefited from improvements learned during their development. The PowerBook 100, however, did not sell well until Apple dropped the price substantially.

 

Amiga 600 (1992) – Commodore International

Amiga 600 Computer (1992) - Commodore International - Photograph by Alexander Jones (AlexJ)

Amiga 600 Computer – Photograph by Alexander Jones (AlexJ)

The Amiga 600, also known as the A600 (codenamed “June Bug” after a B-52s song), is a home computer that was introduced at the CeBITshow in March 1992. The A600 was Commodore International’s final model based on the Motorola 68000 CPU and the ECS chipset. It is essentially a redesign of the Amiga 500 Plus, with the option of an internal hard disk drive. A notable aspect of the A600 is its small size. Lacking a numeric keypad, the A600 is only slightly larger than a standard PC keyboard (14″ long by 9.5″ deep by 3″ high and weighing approximately 6 pounds). It shipped with AmigaOS 2.0, which was generally considered more user-friendly than earlier versions of the operating system.

Like the A500 before it, the A600 was aimed at the lower “consumer” end of the market, with the higher end being dominated by the Amiga 3000. It was intended by manufacturer, Commodore, to revitalize sales of the A500 line before the introduction of the 32-bit Amiga 1200. According to Dave Haynie, the A600 “was supposed to be 50 – 60 US$ cheaper than the A500, but it came in at about that much more expensive than the A500.” This is supported by the fact that the A600 was originally to have been numbered the A300, positioning it as a budget version of the A500+. In the event, the cost led the machine to be marketed as a replacement for the A500+, requiring a change of number. Early models feature motherboards and power supplies with the A300 designation.

 

Zeos Pocket PC (1992) – ZEOS International, Ltd.

Zeos Pocket PC Computer (1992) - ZEOS International, Ltd. - Attribution DeeperThought

Zeos Pocket PC Computer – Attribution: DeeperThought

Manufactured around 1991–92 and selling for $595, this palmtop ran MS-DOS 5.0 and was bundled with Microsoft Works and RacePen. Small and lightweight for its time, its dimensions were 4.5″ × 9.7″ × 1.0″ and it weighed approximately 1.3 lb (0.59 kg). The 640×200 monochrome LCD screen was about 2.75″ × 7″ and was not backlit. The keyboard was 9″ wide (compared to 11″ for a standard keyboard), making typing slightly tedious for many people. The unit featured two PCMCIA card slots, as well as a serial and a parallel port located on the rear which used proprietary mini-connectors and custom cables, which were included with the unit. The unit powered on instantly using two standard AA batteries and one lithium backup battery. It was manufactured inTaiwan and sold by mail-order.

 

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