Kaypro Corp. (Formerly Non-Linear Systems) (Solana Beach, Calif.)

People who bought Kaypro luggables often used them for a long time. They were well-built with steel enclosures, which gave an impression of ruggedness. Kaypro owners got a lot for their money, too, with standard storage and software features that most of its competitors provided only as options. Perhaps this is why you hear a lot of people say that their first computer was a Kaypro. It’s no wonder that Kaypro owners were such a loyal bunch, and the company’s CP/M systems are sought-after collectibles today.

Despite the desireability of Kaypro luggables, prices are still reasonable because Kaypro produced so many. Through 1983, Kaypro sold about 160,000 systems total. In 1984, Kaypro was the fourth largest manufacturer of personal business computers in the U.S., behind IBM, Apple, and Tandy/Radio Shack. Most of those systems were CP/M-based, as this was about the time the company (belatedly) made a shift to PC-compatible portables and desktop computers.

Although Kaypros are relatively common, finding one in pristine condition is tough. These systems were often well-used, and the paint on the cases was easily scuffed and scratched. As with all luggables, broken latches are common.

Despite the II designation, the Kaycomp II was the first portable produced by what was then Non-Linear Systems. The company quickly renamed the system the Kaypro II, upgrading the floppy drives from single- to double-density at the same time. A Kaypro 5 was introduced in late 1982, and it was a Kaypro II with a 5.5MB hard drive. The company sold 14,000 Kaypro IIs in 1982 and 42,000 in its first full year of production.

In late 1983, Kaypro offered dual-processor models of both the Kaypro II and Kaypro 4. Dubbed the Kaypro II Plus 88 and the Kaypro 4 Plus 88, the new models featured a 16-bit Intel 8088 CPU in addition to the standard 8-bit Z80. This gave users the option of running MS-DOS as well as CP/M software.

A portable system with a hard drive for under $3,000 was nearly unheard of in 1983, and that price allowed the Kaypro 10 to compete with more powerful PC-based portables.

The Kaypro 16 was the company’s first (and only) PC-compatible transportable. It had the same solid construction as its CP/M-based kin, but at its heart was a fairly typical IBM-based architecture.

Kaypro originally planned to outsource production of the 2000 laptop to Mitsui in Japan, but in the end developed and built the system at its own U.S. facilities. It had several noteworthy features, including a detachable keyboard, a brushed aluminum case, and a floppy storage area under the keyboard. An enhanced Kaypro 2000+ model was offered later.

The strangely configured Robie was Kaypro’s first desktop computer and only CP/M-based desktop. Like the portable line, the Robie had an all-steel case housing a small CRT display. In fact, it was a reconfigured Kaypro 4. The Robie’s small form factor consumed only a square foot of desk space, and the unusual dual 2.6MB floppy disk drives (mounted atop the display) provided a lot of removeable storage for the day. Produced by Drivetec, the high-capacity floppy drives were never popular. Few Robies sold and they are quite scarce today, and media for the Drivetec drives will be even harder to find.

Kaypro claimed that the 286i was the first AT-compatible system to market. The company later upgraded the CPU to an 8MHz version. Kaypro followed the 286i shortly with the Kaypro PC, a generic-looking IBM PC-compatible system. Although well built, the Kaypro PC compatibles were never among the top sellers. It stuck with the slower version of the 8088 CPU long after its rivals switched to the 8088-2 processor.

Kaycomp II/Kaypro II (June 1982, transportable)
Original Retail Price: $1,795
Base Configuration: 2.5MHz Z80, CP/M 2.2, 64K RAM, 2K ROM, two 5.25-inch floppy disk drives, integral 9-inch monochrome CRT, keyboard/keypad, RS-232C and parallel ports, S-BASIC, Perfect Software application suite
Video: 24-line x 80-column text
Size/Weight: 18 x 8 x 15.5 inches, 26 lbs.
Important Options: 12-inch monochrome monitor, carrying case, battery pack and charger

Kaypro 4 (June 1983, transportable)
Original Retail Price: $1,995
Base Configuration: 2.5MHz Z80, CP/M 2.2, two 5.25-inch floppy disk drives, integral 9-inch monochrome CRT, keyboard/keypad, RS-232C and parallel ports, application suite, owner’s manuals and training guides
Video: 24-line x 80-column text
Size/Weight: 18 x 8 x 15.5 inches, 26 lbs.
Important Options: vinyl or nylon carrying case

Kaypro 2X (transportable)
Base Configuration: CP/M, 64K RAM, integral 9-inch monochrome CRT, keyboard/keypad, two RS-232C and one parallel port, application suite
Video: 25-line x 80-column text

Kaypro 10 (1983, transportable)
Original Retail Price: $2,795
Base Configuration: 4MHz Z80A CPU; CP/M 2.2; 64K RAM, 2K ROM; 5.25-inch floppy disk drive; 10MB hard disk drive; integral 9-inch monochrome CRT; keyboard/keypad; two RS-232C, parallel, and light-pen ports; S-BASIC; application suite; internal modem
Video: 25-line x 80-column text, 160 x 100 graphics
Size/Weight: 18 x 8 x 15.5 inches, 31 lbs.
Important Options: vinyl or nylon carrying case

Kaypro 16 (Feb. 1985, transportable PC)
Original Retail Price: $3,295
Base Configuration: MS-DOS, 256K RAM (768K max), 5.25-inch floppy disk drive, 10MB hard disk drive, integral 9-inch monochrome CRT, RGB and composite video ports, keyboard/keypad, application suite, 13-volume manual set
Video: 25-line x 80-column text, 640 x 200 graphics
Size/Weight: 18 x 8 x 15 inches, 33.5 lbs.
Important Options: second 5.25-inch floppy disk drive

Kaypro Robie (Feb. 1984, desktop)
Original Retail Price: $2,295
Base Configuration: Z80 CPU, CP/M 2.2, 64K RAM, two 5.25-inch floppy disk drives, integral 9-inch monochrome CRT, keyboard/keypad, application suite, internal modem
Video: 24-line x 80-column text

Kaypro 286i (Feb. 1985, desktop PC)
Original Retail Price: $4,550
Base Configuration: 6MHz 80286 CPU, eight ISA slots (five open),  512K RAM (640K max), two 5.25-inch floppy disk drives, RGB and composite video ports, keyboard/keypad, serial and two parallel ports, application suite, GW-BASIC
Video: CGA

Kaypro PC (Nov. 1985, desktop PC)
Original Retail Price: $1,595
Base Configuration: 4.77MHz 8088 CPU; MS-DOS 2.11; 256K RAM (640K max); six ISA slots; two 5.25-inch floppy disk drives; 12-inch monochrome monitor; monochrome, RGB, and composite video ports; keyboard/keypad; RS-232C and parallel ports; GW-BASIC; application suite
Video: CGA
Size/Weight: 19.5 x 16 x 6 inches, 30 lbs.
Important Options: 80286 upgrade, 10- or 20MB hard disk drive

Kaypro 2000 (March 1985, laptop PC)
Original Retail Price: $1,995
Base Configuration: 4.77MHz 8088 CPU, MS-DOS, 256K RAM (768K max), 3.5-inch floppy disk drive, monochrome LCD, keyboard, RS-232C port, application suite, carrying case, tutorial software, AC adapter, battery pack
Video: 25-line x 80-column text, 640 x 200 graphics
Size/Weight: 11.5 x 13.1 x 2.6 inches, 11.5 lbs.
Important Options: Base Unit, external 3.5- or 5.25-inch floppy disk drive

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