With the passing of founder Andrew Kay earlier this week, I thought it only appropriate to take a look back at Kaypro’s computers. The company had a long history before producing its first computer in 1982. Launched in 1952 as Non-Linear Systems (NLS), Kay and his company made their mark selling the world’s first digital voltmeters, which the company claimed were the world’s first digital electronic products. Steve Johnson has a nice page devoted to his collection of NLS voltmeters if you want more information on them.
Below is a visual timeline of Kaypro/NLS computers.
The Kaypro II, originally called the Kaycomp II before NLS changed its name, was the company’s first computer despite the “II” designation. The company supposedly wanted people to think it was a second generation product. Rugged construction and an attractive price of $1,795 were its key selling points when introduced in June, 1982. Later that year, the company introduced the Kaypro 5, which was a Kaypro II with a 5.5MB hard drive.
The Kaypro 4, not to be confused with the Kaypro IV from 1983, was introduced in 1984. It’s main difference from the Kaypro II was a faster 4MHz Z80 CPU. In 1984, Kaypro offered dual Z80/8088 processor versions of both the Kaypro II and Kaypro 4, each with the Plus 88 designation. In case you are wondering, there was no Kaypro III or 3.
The Kaypro 2X was essentially a Kaypro II with dual floppy drives. It was introduced in the summer of 1984.
The Kaypro 10 was the hard drive version of the Kaypro II. It had a different front panel with the floppy drive mounted vertically. This system came out in 1983.
Kaypro was known for its portable systems, but it did offer one CP/M-based desktop: the Robie. Introduced in 1984, iIt was a reconfigured Kaypro 4 with an unusual design that placed the floppy drives above the monitor.
Introduced in February 1985, the Kaypro 16 was the company’s first fully PC-compatible portable. It kept the familiar styling of the older models and was priced at more than $1,000 less than comparable IBM or Compaq models. Kaypro claimed it was the “Volkswagen of PC compatibles.”
By 1985 when the Kaypro 2000 launched, luggables like the Kaypro II were going out of style. Designed by Kaypro, this laptop PC had some nice features such as an aluminum case and detachable keyboard. Unfortunately, it did not sell well.
Kaypro PC Clones
As with nearly every other computer maker in the 1980s, Kaypro was eventually forced into producing IBM PC Clones. The Kaypro 286i above was introduced in 1985, while the Kaypro PC, based on an 8088 CPU, came out in 1986. The Kaypro 386 (not shown), one of the last systems the company produced, was introduced in February 1987.