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Anyone Want A 22-Pound Portable Computer?

by Sean P. Aune | June 12, 2010June 12, 2010 2:56 am PDT

You have to love computer commercials from the 1980’s.  They are already amusing when you hear the technical specifications, or they talk about them in such reverence that you can almost envision people acting like the Neanderthals in 2001: A Space Odyssey when they see the Monolith.  “What is this magical box?  What does it do?!?”

Apparently during the 1980’s Compaq decided to have some fun with the whole concept of people not understanding computers, and they hired John Cleese of Monty Python fame to make them feel a bit more accessible to your average person.  There were several commercials in the series, and not all of them focused on the same product, but comparing a portable computer to a dead fish that happened to weigh the same amount seemed the most like an old Python sketch.

compaq portable iiThe Compaq Portable II weighed in at 22 lbs, and seeing as in 1975 an IBM 5100 “portable” weighed 50 lbs, I guess this really was an advancement in mobile computing!  The Portable II was actually the third model in the Portable series, and it ran at a blazing 8 MHz with a price tag of only $3199, unless you wanted a hard drive, and then it was $4799.  What a bargain!

I am sure as time goes on we will look back at computer commercials and technical specifications of today and laugh, but it is fun to look and see how far we have come in 24 years.  The phone in your pocket right now is more powerful than this thing, and to someone who has been around computers as long as I have, that still amazes me a bit.  My first Microsoft-based desktop ran at 12 MHz, think about that next time your 1 GHz phone seems a bit “sluggish” while doing something.


Sean P. Aune

Sean P. Aune has been a professional technology blogger since July 2007, but his love of tech dates back to at least 1976 when his parents bought...

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