Osborne Restoration part 4: floppy emulator first tests

I have no boot disks for this Osborne 1. The plan was to connect my USB floppy drive emulator to the motherboard, and boot from that.

My floppy emulator uses the HxC firmware on Gotek hardware.

The author of the HxC firmware managed to get dedicated HxC hardware to work with an Osborne 1.

As a follow-up to that thread, another user got the HxC/Gotek combination to work with his Osborne 1 (with additional pictures here).

So I looked to be on to a winner!

If only things were that easy…

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Osborne Restoration part 2: a bit of investigative surgery

First off, I decided to have a look inside my newly acquired Osborne to see what I had in store.

The front cover comes off easily after removing the monitor brightness/contrast knobs and a few screws.

Good news: that daughter board at the back (with the grey floppy cable coming out of it) means it’s had the Double Density controller fitted:

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Osborne Restoration part 1: acquiring my first Osborne

Back in February 2018, I finally had a chance to buy an Osborne 1, the world’s first portable computer, from 1983.

I’d been after one for years, but they are quite rare in the UK, and most eBay sellers are unwilling to ship such a heavy and delicate computer.

This one was somewhere that I could pick it up while visiting relatives, and just within my budget.

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Retro Challenge 2018/04

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.

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TRS-80 Model 3 / Model 4 repairs

Back in March 2017, I bought a TRS-80 Model 3 on eBay.

When I received it, I did some cursory testing. It would boot to the BASIC ROM (by holding down the Break key as you reset it).

But it wouldn’t boot from disk, either from the supplied TRS-80 boot disks, nor my Video Genie boot disks. It wasn’t immediately clear whether the fault was in the disks or the drive.

There was also some curious information about its identity.

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