Ampere’s WS-1 laptop was an oddball, but a cute oddball. When closed, its clamshell design resembled the wing of an airplane. Its case was designed by Kumeo Tamura, who also designed the Datsun 280Z sportscar. The 68000 CPU and VMEbus were unusual for a laptop at the time, and the WS-1 featured an obscure multitasking operating system called BIG.DOS. Instead of bundling BASIC as the standard programming language, the WS-1 has APL.68000, a variant of APL. The machine was called the BIG.APL in early references. The system was sold in the U.S. through Work Space Computer of Torrance, Calif. Its appealing design and unusual configuration make the WS-1 an interesting collectible. It will display well, but the parts, add-ons, software, or documentation needed to keep it working will be hard to find.
Ampere WS-1 (Nov. 1985, laptop)
Original Retail Price: $1,995 to $2,995
Base Configuration: 8MHz HD68000 CPU; BIG.DOS; VMEbus slot; 64K RAM (512K max); 128K ROM; integral microcassette drive; monochrome LCD; integral keyboard; two RS-232C, parallel, and microphone/speaker ports; APL.68000; application suite, AC adapter, modem, battery pack
Video: 25-line x 80-column text, 480 x 128 graphics
Size/Weight: 13 x 11 x 3.6 inches, 9 lbs.
Important Options: external dual 3.5-inch floppy disk drives