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Summary:

Anyone who has read my published stuff for any length of time at all knows I am extremely passionate about mobile technology.  I have been trying, using and lugging mobile devices around for more time than I care to admit.  It is this obsession with mobile […]

Columbia_vp_system_1Anyone who has read my published stuff for any length of time at all knows I am extremely passionate about mobile technology.  I have been trying, using and lugging mobile devices around for more time than I care to admit.  It is this obsession with mobile tech that led me to come up with my tag line that you see in the banner on this web site (and my signature on many discussion forums)- "..using mobile devices since they weighed 30 lbs".  I get a lot of responses from people who think that line is funny but let me tell you it’s the truth.  A brief email exchange today with Bill O’Brien of aliceandbill.com (he’s the one who is not Alice) got me thinking about it so I felt it time to ‘fess up about the tag line.

That tag line refers to my very first laptop computer- the Columbia Data Products VP.  This beauty was 30 pounds of pure steel and silicon and the first luggable computer that was an IBM PC clone.  It is rumored that Columbia got flack from IBM for cloning their PC and it was this trouble that caused the upstart Compaq to make sure they had a complete "clean room" reverse engineering of the IBM so their ROM would stand up in a legal fight.  The Columbia is long gone- I don’t even remember what happened to it but for two years I carried that beast back and forth once a month between Caracas, Venezuela (where I was working at the time) and Houston, Texas in the US.  This behemoth was huge and since it was too fragile to be checked as luggage it had to go into the overhead compartment on each flight.  Had we ever had the overhead door open during a flight I guarantee you someone would have been killed when the VP came flying out!

The VP had a 5" green CRT screen that was text only, of course.  And not one, but TWO floppy drives for storage.  And the storage area above the floppy drives was a benefit few other computers of that era offered.  All in all the VP worked flawlessly as an IBM clone and I never had a lick of trouble with it.  It was a real workhorse and despite the sad specs I got a lot of work out of that puppy.  It is also the most likely reason for my eventually having two back surgeries later in life.  But it was mobile, and it was a computer, and it worked.  I remember the fun trying to run Ashton Tate’s Framework on the VP.  Framework was the s/w that integrated office apps (word processor, spreadsheet, etc.) into a windowing GUI-like environment under DOS.  Wow, those were true pioneer days.

So, as you can see, I have really have been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 lbs.

  1. “The one who’s not Alice….?”
    Cheeze whiz again.

    BTW: Visicalc preceded the VP by about 4 years. Sold a bushel of Apples thanks to it -and Space Invaders. And let’s not forget that the Mac was insinuated to be portable as well. I think it may have weighed just a little less than my Osborne 1, even with Apple’s backpack. ;-)

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  2. “The one who’s not Alice….?”
    Cheeze whiz again.

    BTW: Visicalc preceded the VP by about 4 years. Sold a bushel of Apples thanks to it -and Space Invaders. And let’s not forget that the Mac was insinuated to be portable as well. I think it may have weighed just a little less than my Osborne 1, even with Apple’s backpack. ;-)

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  3. Wow…back when VisiCalc and Excel weren’t even born yet. Better yet, that’s when floppy drives really WERE floppy! I remember taking 5 1/4 disks and using a hole punch to make my disks “double sided”! Great nostalgia….thanks!

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  4. “The one who’s not Alice….?”
    Cheeze whiz again.

    BTW: Visicalc preceded the VP by about 4 years. Sold a bushel of Apples thanks to it -and Space Invaders. And let’s not forget that the Mac was insinuated to be portable as well. I think it may have weighed just a little less than my Osborne 1, even with Apple’s backpack. ;-)

    Share
  5. “The one who’s not Alice….?”
    Cheeze whiz again.

    BTW: Visicalc preceded the VP by about 4 years. Sold a bushel of Apples thanks to it -and Space Invaders. And let’s not forget that the Mac was insinuated to be portable as well. I think it may have weighed just a little less than my Osborne 1, even with Apple’s backpack. ;-)

    Share
  6. “The one who’s not Alice….?”
    Cheeze whiz again.

    BTW: Visicalc preceded the VP by about 4 years. Sold a bushel of Apples thanks to it -and Space Invaders. And let’s not forget that the Mac was insinuated to be portable as well. I think it may have weighed just a little less than my Osborne 1, even with Apple’s backpack. ;-)

    Share
  7. Oh yeah, the Apple Backpack! I had forgotten about that. I did actually use a third party snap-on LCD screen with an Apple IIe but the screen was so bad I ditched it, that’s why I don’t count it.

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  8. My neighbor had this luggable computer.

    My parent’s were forward thinking back in 1980…

    In elementary school, they bought me a Franklin ACE 1200 (Apple IIe clone) and it started be down this path (unknowningly).

    They still have it at there house. :)

    Thanks for the memory!

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  9. I had wondered what the 30lb beast was. Thought it had to be an Osborne or KayPro. But wasn’t sure of their weight. Ho! Framework! Ah, those were the days. Jack Tramiel at Commdodore, conquering the world with the VIC-20 and Commodore-64 (this latter for all of us — like, me! — who couldn’t afford a y Apple!)! Atari morphing into home computers.

    Thanks for making me feel ancient… especially with the year coming to an end! Hah!

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