Retro Challenge 2018/04

[Profile pic processing via the excellent Retrospecs app]

The Retro Challenge is a one-month long excuse to do cool stuff with old computers and blog about it (vaguely wrapped up as a competition).

Last year I created the RetroMatic 2000 as my entry.

This year I have more modest aims.  I have acquired a number of additional vintage computers over the last year, and have been nursing them back into life.  The one that has eluded me so far though, is the Osborne 1.

I was always fascinated by the Osborne 1, which most people regard as the first truly portable computer.  It was priced firmly in the business marketplace though, so there was no way I could afford one as a teenager.  I have since always wanted to add one to my collection.  They are fairly rare in the UK however.

In early 2018 I found the opportunity to buy one on eBay at a price I could afford (and close enough to collect).  It had no boot disks though, so I hoped I might be able to download boot disks off the internet and get it working.

Sadly I have not yet been able to get it to boot :-(

But then another Osborne came available on eBay, this time with the boot disks.  I will be picking it up in the second week of April.

So my goals for this Retro Challenge are:

  • Refurbish the second Osborne 1 (re-cap the PSU, service the disk drives) and get it booting.
  • Try to make new boot disks for the first Osborne 1 and get it booting.  I can then hopefully pass it on to another collector.
  • Find a way to get internet-downloaded software onto the Osborne (possibly using a USB floppy drive emulator, possibly using the serial port).
  • Conclude by playing a classic CPM game on my portable computer!  Preferably Colossal Cave Adventure or The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy :-)

[Edit: here are the links to the project updates:]

NB. parts 1 to 5 describe what I did prior to the start of the Retro Challenge (but were written-up as part of the Challenge). The remainder describe work done during the dates of the Retro Challenge.

The above 18 posts are also summarised in this 36 minute video:

I’m sure there will be more posts to come as I do more with my Osborne (and try to fix the broken one) but they’ll be much more occasional from now on!