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Kaypro
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Kaypro

Kaypro was a manufacturer of CP/M compatible, portable¹ microcomputers. Their first model was launched in 1982, and was built around the Zilog Z80 microprocessor.

The Kaypro 2 had 64 KB of RAM, and dual, single-sided, 180K 5¼" floppy disk drives. The screen was an 80 column green monochrome 9" CRT. CP/M was the standard operating system of the day, and the Kaypro 2 also came with applications such as the WordStar word processor (incl MailMerge, for personalised mass mailings), the SuperCalc spreadsheet, two versions of the Microsoft BASIC interpreter, Kaypro's own compiled S-BASIC (which produced executable .com files), a bytecode compiled BASIC called C-BASIC, and the dBaseII relational database system.

Using the comma separated file format (CSV) you could move data between these programs quite easily, which multiplied the utility of the package. The manuals assumed no computer background, the programs were straightforward to use, and thus it was usual to find the CEO of a small company or somebody else developing the applications needed in-house.

All this software when bought separately would cost more than the whole package including the Kaypro 2, which was a very usable and (at the time) powerful computer for the office and the laboratory. This made the Kaypro very popular, both at work and with well educated professionals also at home – even though the metal casing made it look more of a laboratory instrument than a home/office appliance.

The case was constructed of aluminum. The keyboard covered the screen and disk drives, when clipped on. There was no battery, the computer ran off regular AC mains power. There was a legal dispute with regards to the Kaypro 2 main circuit board being an unlicensed copy or clone of the Bigboard design.

The Kaypro 10 followed the Kaypro 2, and featured a 10 megabyte hard drive and a single 5¼" floppy drive. After years of growth with CP/M based computers, Kaypro never quite found a comparable position in the IBM PC / MS-DOS arena. At this time a new company, Compaq, started selling an MS-DOS compatible portable computer, which essentially was what Kaypro should have made.

See also: Osborne 1

Notes

  1. Weighing in at about 20 lb (10 kg), "luggable" might be a better word, compared to more recent truly portable computers.

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