Gavilan Computer Corp. (Campbell, Calif.)

The Gavilan was one of the first true laptop computers. It offered PC compatibility, expansion capabilities, and a full keyboard and keypad in an under-10-pound package. It might have been the first computer to use a docking station that locked onto the back of the unit holding a printer and/or another floppy disk drive. A touchpad–Gavilan called it a solid-state mouse–above the keyboard served as a pointing device. The first Gavilan had an eight-line screen, but the company soon upgraded it to a 16-line LCD and introduced a second, less expensive Gavilan SC model, which used an eight-line display and came with no software.

Company founder Manny Fernandez had been the CEO of semiconductor manufacturer Zilog. Interestingly, he chose to use the Intel 8088 CPU instead of Zilog’s Z80, probably to ensure the ability to run MS-DOS. Gavilans are rare today, and as milestone systems command higher prices than most other portables.

Gavilan/Gavilan SC (1983 [Gavilan]/March 1984 [Gavilan SC], laptop)
Original Retail Price: $3,995 (Gavilan)/$2,995 (Gavilan SC)
Base Configuration: 8088 CPU, MS-DOS, 64K RAM (288K max), 8K ROM, 3-inch floppy disk drive, monochrome LCD, monitor port, integral keyboard/keypad and touchpad, RS-232C port, MS-BASIC (Gavilan), application suite (Gavilan), internal modem, battery pack, AC adapter
Video: 8-line x 80-column text
Size/Weight: 2.75 x 11.4 x 11.4 inches, 9.8 lbs. (9.6 lbs. for the Gavilan SC)
Important Options: docking module, external 3- or 5.25-inch floppy disk drive, MS-BASIC (Gavilan SC), printer

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