Osborne Executive

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Executive
Evolution (34 365).jpg
DeveloperAdam Osborne
ManufacturerOsborne Computer Corporation
TypePortable computer
Release date1982; 37 years ago (1982)
Introductory priceUS$2,495 (equivalent to $6,276 in 2018)
Discontinued1983 (1983) (bankruptcy)
Units sold10,000+
Operating systemCPM, CPM +
CPUZilog Z80A @ 4.0 MHz
Memory124 KB RAM
DisplayMonochrome built-in Monitor
SoundBuilt-in Beeper
PowerPSU built-in, 110 / 220 v
Dimensions52 cm x 33 cm x 23 cm
Mass13 kg
PredecessorOsborne 1
SuccessorVixen

The Osborne Executive was the planned successor of the already commercially successful Osborne 1 portable computer by Osborne Computer Corporation. The Executive was a collection of the good features from the Osborne 1 and fixed some of its predecessor's flaws.[1]

The Osborne Executive, like the Osborne 1, came with application software. The WordStar word processor, SuperCalc spreadsheet, and the CBASIC and MBASIC programming languages—all software packages that were the leading applications in their respective niches at the time—had a retail value of more than US$2,495.

The disk drives and built-in 7 inch amber CRT were covered by the keyboard when snapped on to the main case for transportation. Like the Osborne 1, the Executive could be supported by the keyboard at a convenient viewing angle. The Executive included a cooling fan, unlike the Osborne 1, and a tiny air filter for it.

Software[edit]

The operating system was CP/M version 3.0. A complete listing of the ROM BIOS was available in the Osborne technical manual. Unlike version 2.2, this edition of CP/M supported bank switching memory; this allowed compatible programs to use more RAM. An alternative OS, the UCSD P-system was also included.

Application and utility bundled software
Program Name Version Published by Program Type Date Part Number Number
of
Disks
Picture
Desolation B.C Software
Barry Campbell
Game 1984 1
Wordstar 3.3 Application
Supercalc 1.12 Application
Personal Pearl Application/Database

Compatibility[edit]

The CP/M BIOS of the Executive could automatically detect and use single-sided disks formatted in the following systems:

Many CP/M systems of the time could not read diskettes formatted for any other brand (sometimes, for other models of the same brand) without using third-party special purpose interchange software. This built-in feature provided a useful amount of flexibility in exchanging data with other systems.

The Executive could also emulate certain models of computer terminal (which was useful for dial-up access to remote systems):

Use[edit]

The Osborne Executive was useful for presentations and projects at client sites. Unlike static presentations, the portable computer could provide on-the-spot answers to numerical questions when working with consulting clients. This laid the groundwork for the kind of 'show me the money' ROI or TCO presentations commonplace today.

A number of Executives had custom ROM's which were personalized when booted, name plates were also etched onto the casing.[2]

The Executive was only produced in limited numbers compared to the predecessor Osborne 1, before the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The financial problems of the Osborne company were aggravated by early announcement of the Executive, which cut into sales of the Osborne 1.[3] This so-called Osborne effect has become proverbial as a mistake that can be made by companies trading in high-technology products.[4]

The company had announced yet another successor product, the Osborne Vixen, but went out of business before the Vixen could be established. An Osborne Executive II, using an 8088 processor, and providing MS-DOS and IBM PC compatibility, was announced but never produced.

Hardware[edit]

Features[edit]

The Osborne Executive was powered by a wall plug, and had no internal battery, although an aftermarket battery pack offering 1-hour run time was available.

Size[edit]

  • Width: 20.5 inches (52 cm)
  • Height: 9 inches (23 cm)
  • Depth: 13 inches (33 cm)
  • Weight 28 pounds (13 kg) [5]

Upgrades and Enhancements[edit]

Despite having single-sided drives the Executive motherboard is wired to support double-sided drives, providing the SIDE signal from the disk controller socket to the drive connector but is unused by the shipped single-sided Western Digital FD1793 floppy-disk controller.[6]

An upgrade kit to 360K double sided, double density drives was briefly available from Future Systems, consisting of two new DSDD drives, a drop-in replacement FD1797 disk controller , ROM (1.3) upgrade and an upgraded CP/M BIOS (1.4) and utilities which provided backward compatibility for SSSD/SSDD disks as well as the newer format used by the Osborne Vixen.[7]

A 11 megabyte Hard disk drive option was available from Gard Micro Systems, installation required the removal of one floppy drive to accommodate the new drive, a new logic board and fitting a more powerful mains voltage fan.[8]

The motherboard also provides a pin header (P12) giving connections to the CPU, RAM and video memory and direct memory access for possible future internal expansion via a daughterboard.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "OLD-COMPUTERS.COM : The Museum". www.old-computers.com. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  2. ^ Vintage Computing Website
  3. ^ "Osborne Executive". www.vintage-computer.com.
  4. ^ "Osborne Executive Introduced - This Day in Tech History". This Day in Tech History. 18 April 2016. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  5. ^ Roy A. Allan. A history of the personal computer: the people and the technology. Allan Publishing, 2001. ISBN 0-9689108-0-7. page 11-7.
  6. ^ a b "Osborne Field Service Manuel" (PDF).
  7. ^ "First Osborne Group, FOG Disk 191".
  8. ^ "EXEC-T Hard Disk" (PDF).

External links[edit]