My first Laptop

My first PCYou’ve probably met some wise computer veterans who constantly tell you that they started computing decades ago. And usually they talk about their first Atari or Commmodore 64, and how they wrote cool Assembler code to get it to do what they wanted it to do. I can’t impress anyone with my first 80286 desktop PC, but take a look at my first Laptop…

Back in 1989, I got a NEC PC-8401BD, previously owned by a vet who had used it to manage her client database and invoicing. I had worked with “fast” IBM 8086 computers at college, so when I saw her typing on this slow machine, I decided to make her life easier and wrote DATAVET, a dBase III program to store and print invoices. The NEC 8401BD has a PCM operating system, so I had to write a little TurboBasic program to read existing customer records from its RS-232 port. I converted them into a comma delimited format, and transferred the data to the vet’s new IBM machine. DATAVET saved her a lot of time, which is why she gave that Laptop to me. Note the huge external floppy drive!


I played with this machine but never used it for any productive work. Why not? Take a look at its technical specs. 64K memory managed by a CPM OS was pretty useless, even back in 1989.

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