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Osborne History

Adam Osborne was born in India and spent his late childhood in Britain, graduating with a degree in chemical engineering from Birmingham University, before moving to America. He began writing technical books in his spare time and wrote a manual for the Intel 4004, the first ever microprocessor, released in November 1971. Soon afterwards writing manuals became his full time job, and later he set up his own small publishing company.

In 1979 Osborne sold his publishing business to McGraw Hill and used the proceeds to fund development of his idea for a portable computer. In 1980 design of the electronics for Osborne's machine was begun by Les Felsenstein and in April 1981 the Osborne 1 computer was launched.

The Osborne 1 sold for $1795 but was actually good value because it was bundled with a range of business software including CP/M, Wordstar, Microsoft BASIC, and SuperCalc, a spreadsheet program. By September 1981 Osborne Computer Corporation (OCC) was selling $1 million worth of computers a month, and over 10,000 Osborne 1s had been sold by the end of the year. Sales peaked at 10,000 per month.

The Osborne 1 was clearly intended for business users and at the time was the only easily transportable serious computer. Around late 1982/early 1983 an updated version of the Osborne 1, called the Executive, was released and this also sold well for a while, though at the expense of remaining stock of the Osborne 1.

However in 1983 Osborne made the classic mistake of announcing a new and greatly improved model, which would be compatible with the IBM PC, long before it was ready. Dealers held off buying the Executive to wait for the new Osborne PC or Vixen, and OCC were left with unsold stock and reducing cashflow. In the event the Vixen never made it to market and in September 1983 Osborne Computer Corporation filed for bankruptcy.

Adam Osborne died in March 2003 at the age of 64.

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