Once upon a time, computers required a dedicated, air conditioned room. The first electronic computer, the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC), weighed more than 27 tons and required 1800 square feet. Its birthday: 14 February 1946.
Then in 1977, the Tandy Corporation began selling the TRS-80 through its Radio Shack stores. This desktop microcomputer was “one of the earliest mass-produced and mass-marketed home computers” (emphasis added).
And on 03 April 1981 Osborne Computer announced the “first true mass-produced portable PC” that was “famously touted as fitting under an airplane seat.”
Adam Osborne did a lot of stuff besides name a popular computer after himself. He founded the first significant company devoted to publishing books about microcomputers. He was a hugely influential tech pundit.
Lee Felsenstein designed the computer; Osborne developed it. The Osborne 1 ran on the CP/M 2.2 operating system and did not have a battery; instead, it needed to be plugged into a wall socket. It weighed about 24 pounds and cost $1,800 ($5,731.64 in 2022 dollars). The monitor? A tiny five inches.
The Osborne 1 was instead the first computer that was truly designed with portability in mind. This is evident, for example, from its all-in-one concept, the briefcase-style body, as well as from the use of ABS plastic to reduce the computer weight as much as possible and to provide some kind of shock-resistance to it (the company also tested a metal case, but found it too expensive).
Despite selling more units than forecast, Osborne declared bankruptcy in September 1983. Poor response to competition from KayPro and Apple was one contributing factor.