Osborne 1 “Portable” Computer Reborn with a Raspberry Pi

The Osborne 1, released in 1981, was the first commercially successful portable computer. Or so they say. Portable here is quite relative…

Jeremy S. Cook
2 years ago

The Osborne 1, released in 1981, was the first commercially successful portable computer. Or so they say. Portable here is quite relative, as the device weighs in at nearly 25 pounds and had to be plugged in at all times. In theory, however, it could be lugged to a meeting to show others what was happening on its five-inch display.

Still, the dual floppy drives seem pretty neat in an era today when floppy drives are rarely seen, and its massive bulk makes it perfect for installing your own custom hardware. Hacker “koff1979” decided to take this task on, and replaced its internals with a Raspberry Pi, along with a new five-inch display. The original keyboard was interfaced with the Raspberry Pi using an Arduino Micro, which takes these inputs from the keyboard, then feed them to the Pi as an HID.

Everything is held in place with hot glue, making a realistic-looking machine with orders of magnitude more power than the original’s 4MHz processor. In fact, the Arduino alone puts that number to shame at 16MHz, showing just how far technology has come. Be sure to check it out in the video below, showing a short clip of it booting up into an emulated CP/M operating system that originally powered these beasts!

Jeremy S. Cook
Engineer, maker of random contraptions, love learning about tech. Write for various publications, including Hackster!
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