Adam Osborne, Computing Pioneer, Dies At 64

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Tech old timers will likely remember the Osborne, the first commercial portable computer. Adam Osborne, the creator of the 23 pound Osborne-1, dies yesterday. According to a Reuters report, Mr. Osborne died in his sleep after fighting a brain disorder for years. Adam Osborne was 64. From the Reutersi report:

Seeing an opportunity to challenge Apple Computer after its initial success in 1977, Osborne turned to developing the first commercially viable portable computer. He received backing from renowned Silicon Valley venture capitalist Jack Melchor.

In 1981, the companyis first year, Osborne sold $5.8 million worth of the Osborne-1 computer. By the end of 1982, he had sold $68.8 million, or as many as 10,000 units a month.

Then his classic business misstep occurred. Osborne boasted in early 1983 of an improved second generation of his product -- months before it was ready to ship. Sales of older models of his portable sewing-machine-sized computers plummeted.

The inventory build-up that resulted led Osborne Computer to collapse in September 1983.

"His enthusiasm for the next big thing meant Adam couldnit keep a secret," recalled Felsenstein, who lives in Palo Alto, California, where he continues to work as a computer hardware designer and also working on a low-cost wireless computer system for villagers in Laos.

The full Reuters report has a lot more biographical information on Adam Osborne, and we recommend it as a good read.

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