30 years ago this week the first ever laptop computer was released to market. It was the Osborne 1, a computer that included a 4.0MHz CPU and a whopping 64 Kb of on board memory, packed into a machine that had a five-inch display and weighed a feather-light 23lbs*.
Cut ahead 30 years to the iPad 2, a device that has a 1GHz dual-core CPU, 512MB of on board memory, a storage capacity of up to 64GB and a 9.7-inch display all packaged into a machine that weighs less than two pounds. The iPad 2 far outperforms the Osborne 1 in every measurable sense.
So naturally somebody ran some comparison tests.
Screen? Five inches of monochrome real estate, 52 characters in 24 lines (yes, back then resolution meant basically a number of letters that can fit on the monitor). Ipad is only four times larger with its 9.7 inch touchscreen, but a 24bit color allows it to display exactly 16,777,216 colors – instead of two that Osborne is capable of.
Jokes aside, the write-up on the Osborne 1 over at Storm Driver is well worth your time and serves as an interesting retrospective of both the Osborne 1 “mobile” PC and the phenomenon known as the “Osborne Effect.” If you don’t know what that is, I suggest that you read up on it.
* “Feather-light” if you’re The Hulk