Remembering Wayne Green

September 20, 2013 1 comment

Wayne letterheadWayne Green, who founded or co-founded many early computer magazines including BYTE, 80 Micro, Kilobaud Microcomputing, Run, and InCider, passed away earlier this month at age 91. Wayne was a polarizing figure in the early days of the microcomputer; he had strong, often unpopular opinions and was not afraid to express them.

I saw this first hand when I started working for 80 Micro in early 1981. Being the new guy, I was given the “honor” of editing Wayne’s editorials. I worked on those first few editorials with a feeling of dread. How could I, the most junior editorial person, tell the owner of the company that our readers might find his writing offensive or, in the worst cases, libelous?

Once I gathered the courage to challenge him, Wayne proved to be quite reasonable. This was the first lesson I learned from Wayne: If you believe you’re right, don’t be afraid to speak up. It also provided my first insight into who Wayne really was. I believe Wayne knew some of the drafts he submitted were unpublishable. It was his way of testing us.

Another lesson I learned is that sometimes doing is better than thinking, even if in the end you fail. If Wayne thought a new magazine or business idea was worth trying, we launched it with little debate and no real research. Wayne failed more times than he succeeded, but I doubt he would have had all his successes if he hadn’t gone with his gut and taken a more conservative approach.

When I heard of Wayne’s death, I rummaged through my files to see what I had from my days at Wayne Green Inc. What I found was a thick folder of Wayne’s editorials, all original drafts with editing mark-ups. (In the early 80s, we still used typewriters and edited on paper. Our production staff would re-key articles into our typesetting system.)

What was most interesting about the drafts is the paper he used to type them on. Wayne was notoriously frugal, and nearly every sheet he used for his editorials was the backside of old letterhead, press releases, and promotional material. Together, they reveal some of the history of Wayne’s ventures.

For example, I had forgotten that Wayne produced a computer show, Computermania, which was held in Boston. This is ironic, since one of his editorials talks about how all computer shows are worthless. The scan below shows the list of exhibitors, including IBM, IMSAI, Wang, Northstar, and Ohio Scientific. I think this show took place in 1980.

1980- computermania exhibitors

At one time, Wayne was one of the largest sellers of microcomputer software. The page below shows just a few of the items sold through the Instant Software catalog.

1978 instant software lunar lander mortgage weight control spac

He was also a major publisher of books for hams and computerists:

1978- 73 inc how to order books form

What this all shows is that Wayne provided many channels for early microcomputer pioneers to reach customers and establish themselves. Love him or hate him, Wayne was instrumental in building the commercial ecosystem that allowed the early microcomputer industry to grow into what it is today.

Company Profile: Byturbo International Corp. (Boston, MA)

August 4, 2012 Leave a comment

Byturbo sold rebranded Hyundai PC clones. In fact, the company referred to its PC family as “Byturbo by Hyundai.”  The Byturbo came in five models, the Model I through Model V, based on configuration.

Byturbo PC by Hyundai

Byturbo PC

Byturbo PC (1986?, desktop PC)
Original Retail Price: $895
Base Configuration: 8MHz 8088-II CPU, 256K RAM (640K max), 5.25-inch floppy drive, 6 expansion slots, parallel and serial ports, 84-key PC-AT type keyboard, 135W power supply, MS-DOS 3.2, Electric Desk
Important Options: 8087 FPU, 30MB hard drive, second 5.25-inch floppy drive, 10MB tape drive, monochrome  monitor

 

Categories: Company Profile Tags: , ,

Company Profile: Burroughs Corp.

January 15, 2012 2 comments

During the mainframe era, Burroughs was one of the “seven dwarfs,” a term applied to the seven major mainframe vendors that were not IBM. Like fellow dwarfs Honeywell, Sperry/UNIVAC, and NCR, Burroughs entered the microcomputer market in the early 1980s after IBM introduced the PC. The company merged with Sperry in 1986 and became Unisys, which is still in business today.

The Burroughs microcomputer was the B20 series, introduced in 1982. It was a multi-user system that used BTOS, an operating system licensed from Convergent Technologies. Burroughs referred to it as a “distributed intelligence system.” There were two models in the B20 series: the B21 and the B22. The B21 had an unusual form factor where the monitor and CPU unit sat side-by-side on a shared base. The CPU unit was similar in shape and size to the monitor. The B22 added a tower unit that housed storage.

The B21 came in four configurations: B21-1, B21-3, B21-4, and B21-5. (I have no idea why there is no B21-2.) Only the latter two configurations could function as standalone systems; the other two served only as terminals for a multi-user setup.

Burroughs B21

Burroughs B21

Burroughs B21 (1982, multi-user system)
Base Configuration: 5MHz 8086 CPU, 256K RAM (512K max), 5MB hard drive, 5.25-inch floppy drive, parallel and 3 serial  ports, monochrome monitor, BTOS
Video: 80 characters x 28 lines
Users Supported: up to 16
Size and Weight: 13.75h x 30w x 12d inches
Important Options: 8.4MB hard drive

Burroughs B22

Burroughs B22

Burroughs B22 (1982, multi-user system)
Base Configuration: 5MHz 8086 CPU, 256K RAM (640K max), 10MB hard drive, 5.25-inch floppy drive, parallel and 3 serial  ports, 2 Multibus slots, 15-inch monochrome monitor, BTOS
Video: 80 characters x 28 lines
Users Supported: up to 16
Size and Weight: 13.75h x 30w x 12d inches (base workstation), 50 lbs.; 26h x 8.46w x 20.87d inches, 85 lbs.
Important Options: 20MB hard drive

Categories: Company Profile Tags:

Company Profile: Blue Chip Electronics (Chandler, Ariz.)

January 8, 2012 Leave a comment

Founded in 1982 by Commodore’s former European sales manager John Rossi, Blue Chip started as an export manufacturer of peripherals, mainly for Commodore systems. The company entered the PC market in 1986 with the Blue Chip Personal Computer, which was made by Hyundai.

In 1987, the company began selling the PC Popular, a relabeled Hyundai PC XT clone sold as the Super-16 under the Hyundai brand. The PC Popular was a low-cost system that came bundled with software designed “to allow the new PC owner to be instantly productive.”

Blue Chip Electronics Personal Computer

Blue Chip Electronics Personal Computer

Blue Chip Personal Computer (1986, desktop PC)
Original Retail Price: $699
Base Configuration: 4.77MHz 8088 CPU, 512K RAM (640K max), 5.25-inch floppy drive, 6 expansion slots, serial and parallel ports, keyboard, MS-DOS 2.1
Video: 720 x 350 pixels
Important Options: 8087 FPU, monochrome or color monitor

 

 

 

Blue Chip Electronics PC Popular

Blue Chip Electronics PC Popular

Blue Chip Electronics PC Popular (1987, desktop PC)
Original Retail Price: $549
Base Configuration: 4.88/8MHz 8088-2 CPU, 512K RAM (640K max), 5.25-inch floppy drive, parallel and serial ports, 2 expansion slots, AT-style keyboard, mouse, MS-DOS 3.2
Video: CGA, Hercules
Important Options: second floppy drive, monochrome or color monitor, modem, multifunction card

Company Profile: Billings Computer Corp. (Independence, Missouri)

January 8, 2012 3 comments

Billings made high-end microcomputers for business based on the Z80 processor. There were three main series: the BC-12FD at the low end, the System 500 at the mid-range, and the 6000 Series at the high end. The company saw some success abroad, claiming it made one of every four computers sold in Norway for 1981.

The company also sold a suite of business applications and a line of peripherals under its own brand. For the 6000 series, the optional tape drive, floppy drives, hard drive, and modem came in cases similar to the one that housed the CPU. They were meant to be stacked, so a fully optioned system would be about 4 feet high.

Billings BC-12FD

Billings BC-12FD

Billings BC-12FD (microcomputer)
Base Configuration: Z80 CPU, 64K RAM, 2 5.25-inch floppy disk drives, built in monochrome monitor, integrated 94-key keyboard
Video: 80 characters x 24 lines
Important Options: P-110, P-510, and P-710 printers

Billings System 500 CPU (microcomputer)
Base Configuration: Z80 CPU, 64K RAM, keyboard, monochrome monitor
Video: 80 characters x 24 lines
Important Options: P-110, P-510, and P-710 printers

Billings System 500 CPU-I (microcomputer)
Base Configuration: Z80 CPU, 64K RAM, 5.25-inch floppy drive, keyboard, monochrome monitor
Video: 80 characters x 24 lines
Important Options: P-110, P-510, and P-710 printers

Billings System 500 CPU-II (microcomputer)
Base Configuration: Z80 CPU, 64K RAM, 2 5.25-inch floppy drives, keyboard, monochrome monitor
Video: 80 characters x 24 lines
Important Options: P-110, P-510, and P-710 printers

Fully optioned Billings 6000 Series

Fully optioned Billings 6000 Series

Billings 6000 CPU (1983, microcomputer)
Base Configuration: 4MHz Z80A CPU, 64K RAM, 8 expansion slots, keyboard
Video: 80 characters x 24 lines
Important Options: monochrome or color monitor; 6000 Flexible Disk expansion unit; 6000 Tape expansion unit; 30MB or 61MB 6000 Winchester expansion unit; 6000 Modem expansion unit; P-110, P-510, and P-710; printers
 

Billings 6000 CPU-I (1983, microcomputer)
Base Configuration: 4MHz Z80A CPU, 64K RAM, 5.25-inch floppy drive, 8 expansion slots, keyboard
Video: 80 characters x 24 lines
Important Options: monochrome or color monitor; 6000 Flexible Disk expansion unit; 6000 Tape expansion unit; 30MB or 61MB 6000 Winchester expansion unit; 6000 Modem expansion unit; P-110, P-510, and P-710; printers

Billings 6000 CPU-II (1983, microcomputer)
Base Configuration: 4MHz Z80A CPU, 64K RAM, 2 5.25-inch floppy drives, 8 expansion slots, keyboard
Video: 80 characters x 24 lines
Important Options: monochrome or color monitor; 6000 Flexible Disk expansion unit; 6000 Tape expansion unit; 30MB or 61MB 6000 Winchester expansion unit; 6000 Modem expansion unit; P-110, P-510, and P-710; printers

 

Company Profile: Beltron Computer (Los Angeles, Calif.)

January 7, 2012 Leave a comment

Beltron sold assembled, low-cost PC-compatible desktop and portable starting in 1983. It operated its own chain of retail outlets and distribution centers, and for awhile was reasonably successful.

Beltron LCD-88 (portable PC)
Base Configuration: 4.77MHz 8088 or 8088-2 CPU, 256K RAM (640K max), 2 5.25-inch floppy drives, backlit LCD, 6 expansion slots, detachable 86-key keyboard, 150W power supply
Video: 640 x 200 pixels, 80 characters x 25 lines
Size and Weight: 15.75w x 9.45h x 8.15d inches, 22 lbs.
Important Options: hard disk drive

Beltron LCD-286

Beltron LCD-286

Beltron LCD-286 (portable PC)
Base Configuration: 6/8MHz 80286 CPU, 2 5.25-inch floppy drives, backlit LCD, 6 expansion slots, detachable 86-key keyboard, 150W power supply
Video: 640 x 200 pixels, 80 characters x 25 lines
Size and Weight: 15.75w x 9.45h x 8.15d inches, 22 lbs.
Important Options: hard disk drive

Beltron LCD-386 (portable PC)
Base Configuration: 10/12MHz 80386 CPU, 2 5.25-inch floppy drives, backlit LCD, 6 expansion slots, detachable 86-key keyboard, 150W power supply
Video: 640 x 200 pixels, 80 characters x 25 lines
Size and Weight: 15.75w x 9.45h x 8.15d inches, 22 lbs.
Important Options: hard disk drive

Beltron Professional 8088 (July 1987, portable PC)
Original Retail Price: $1,525
Base Configuration: 4.77/8MHz 8088 CPU, 2 5.25-inch floppy drives, supertwist backlit LCD, 5 expansion slots
Size and Weight: 17 lbs.
Important Options: 40MB hard drive

Beltron Professional 80286 (July 1987, portable PC)
Original Retail Price: $2,150
Base Configuration: 80286 CPU, 2 5.25-inch floppy drives, supertwist backlit LCD, 5 expansion slots
Size and Weight: 17 lbs.
Important Options: 40MB hard drive

Beltron Professional 80386 (July 1987, portable PC)
Base Configuration: 80386 CPU, 2 5.25-inch floppy drives, supertwist backlit LCD, 5 expansion slots
Size and Weight: 17 lbs.
Important Options: 40MB hard drive

Categories: Company Profile Tags: ,

Company Profile: Barrington International Corp. (Ann Arbor, Mich.)

January 1, 2012 Leave a comment

The Barrington E’Lite was one of many CP/M systems aimed at small business in the early 1980s. Originally launched as a single-user system, the E’Lite was upgraded to a multi-user system a few months later.

Barrington E'Lite

Barrington E'Lite

Barrington E’Lite (1982, desktop microcomputer)
Original Retail Price: $7,999
Base Configuration: 6MHz Z80B CPU, 64K RAM, 10MB hard drive, internal 10MB tape drive, CP/M, Condor database

Categories: Company Profile Tags:
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 509 other followers