Kaypro Computer History

From: Phil Clayton <philclayton_at_mindspring.com>
Date: Tue Sep 28 22:06:43 1999

Since everyone is on the subject of Kaypro here is some information that
I have compiled from articles I have read.. Kaypro BTW is my favorite
computer I have at least one of every model in my collection, excluding
a Kaypro Robie.. ALso have a Model 16 .. Perhaps someone could update
this list and ad to it.. The more information the better.. Hope this is
of some interest to everyone..

Kaypro Computer and Non-Linear Systems

After Adam Osborne came out with the O-1, it was immediately set up as a
target. Every company started shooting at the magic price of $1800.
Among the people to set their sights at this figure was Alan Kay. Alan
had originally started a company which sold oscilloscopes called
Non-Linear Systems. He decided Osborne had the right idea, but needed a
little tweaking on the case. He envisioned a computer which would not
only be rugged enough to be carried around, but would be tough enough to
be carried out in the field by engineers. With this idea in mind, he
designed the Kaypro Computer.

The case was made of aluminum which allowed it to be extremely rugged,
but still save a little weight. These are sometimes nicknamed "Darth
Vader's lunch box." Needless to say, this case passed the test for
ruggedness. Except for the Robie and later DOS machines, all Kaypros
had the same case and varying shades of gray paint.

All the computers came bundled with software, originally the Perfect
Series, but later WordStar and

Kay originally sold his computers under the company name of Kaypro, but
it turned out this name had already been taken. He then sold the
computers under the Non-Linear name, but was able to keep the Kaypro
name on the computers. Somewhere along the way, he did manage to acquire
the rights to Kaypro Company, but it was late in the company's life.

The Kaypro II is the oldest computer Kaypro made. It has SSDD disks and
the screen is green and it has the standard 64 K of RAM.

After Kaypro left Chapter 11, they came out with several DOS
compatibles, but were no longer considered a force in the industry.
There were several unique units that came out including some extremely
compact units that were designed to be desktop computers but were light
enough to be carried from place to place.

Kaypro II
In the beginning there was the Kaypro II (aka II'83 later). It came
with 2 SS/DD full-height floppies, a 2.5 MHz Z-80, one serial port, and
bundled software from Perfect Software. Introduced late 82.

Kaypro 10
Next was the original Kaypro 10. It came with 1 DS/DD floppy drive, a 10
meg HD, a 4.0 MHz Z-80A, two serial ports, light pen port, rudimentary
graphics, a real time clock, and software from Perfect
Software and dBase II. Introduced mid-83.

Kaypro IV
Then there was a Kaypro IV (aka IV'83 later). It was a II, but with
DS/DD full-height floppy drives. Wordstar started being included in
addition to the Perfect Software suite. Introduced in mid-83. (Same goes
for the II'83, late versions included Wordstar also.)

1984 rolls around, and some changes made.

Kaypro 4
The 4 (aka 4'84) is introduced. It now has two DS/DD half-height floppy
drives, a Z-80A at 4.0 MHz, 2 serial ports, internal 300 baud modem, a
real-time clock, rudimentary graphics. Software is from Micropro
(Wordstar, Calcstar, etc.) Early 1984.

Kaypro 2
The 2 (aka 2'83) is introduced. It has two SS/DD half-height floppy
drives, a Z-80A at 4.0 MHz, 2 serial ports, rudimentary graphics.
Software is from Micropro. Slightly later in 84.

Kaypro 2X
The 2X is introduced. This is closer to an old IV, or a 2 with DS/DD
half-height drives. Again a Z-80A running at 4.0 MHz, 2 serial ports,
rudimentary graphics, software from Micropro.

Kaypro Robbie
Early 84. The Kaypro Robie is introduced. This is the first non-portable
machine, a black desktop. This has 2 2.6 Megabyte (not a typo) floppy
drives. Motherboard is basically the same as a 4, with the 300 baud
modem, rough graphics, etc. (late 84?)

1985 arrives. Kaypro upgrades most of the machines to the "Universal
ROM", so a boot disk for one can be used in another.

The 4'84 is renamed the 2X (sometimes known as 2X MTC). Old 2X, 2'84,
4'84 are all dropped.

Kaypro New 2
The "New 2" is introduced. This is basically an old 2X motherboard, but
with just one DS/DD floppy drive. It comes with just CP/M and Wordstar
for software. (early 85?)
Kaypro starts producing the II'83 again, with Perfect software as
opposed to Micropro software. (early 85).

Kaypro 4X
The Kaypro 4X is announced. It's a Robie but in the standard portable
case. I also have seen reference to the 12X, which was going to be a
Kaypro 10 but with a Robie floppy drive. (I've never actually
seen a 4X or a 12X. The store where I worked might have sold only one or
two Robies, so it wasn't a big seller.)

1986 or so arrives.

Kaypro 1
The Kaypro 1 (yes one) is introduced. It's equivalent to the old 2X,
with 2 DS/DD floppies, 4.0 MHz Z-80A, 2 serial ports, etc. The floppies
are vertical as opposed to horizontal. It comes with
CP/M and Perfect Writer for software.

At this point, Kaypro is producing just the 1, 2X MTC, 10 and Robie
basically. This continued until they got out of the CP/M machines.

There were also a few variations on some of these machines, such as the
4+88, which had a SWP (?) co-processor board with an 8088, 256K of
memory (which could be a ramdisk under CP/M), and could run some MS/Dos
Received on Tue Sep 28 1999 - 22:06:43 BST

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