Apple Macintosh Plus

macplusApple released the Macintosh Plus in 1986, two years after the debut of the best selling Macintosh. Although it had the same Motorola chip as the original, it sported a lavish 1MB of memory, a huge boost over the previous 128k. It also included support for the newest 800k double sided floppy disks and was the first Mac to have a SCSI port. It’s full featured package of all in one computer, mouse, and keyboard as well as the ability to upgrade to 4MB of memory made it a hit. It sold for $2599.

PC Convertible

pc-convertibleThis was IBM’s first portable computer (shown here with printer attached). Released on April 3rd, 1986, it was also known as the IBM 5140. It featured power managment, the ability to run on batteries, and a CMOS version of the Intel 8088. It ran at a galloping 4mhz and had 256k of ram, which was expandable to 512k. With a monochrome VGA screen that ran in 640×200 at highest resolution , it cost around $2000. But like many laptops of the time, it wasn’t that “portable”, it’s total weight was around 14lbs. It also had a few expansion capabilities including using an internal modem. It didn’t have the ability to support internal hard drives though, and this along with other shortcomings doomed the machine to dismal sales. Competitors were offering faster, lighter portables for half the price.

From the original press release, 1986:

The IBM PC Convertible is a portable personal computer designed for professional applications and personal productivity. It is designed to enhance personal computing capability with two power options (battery or AC). The uniqueness of the system unit is the integration of microprocessor, LCD display, dual 3.5 Inch Diskette Drives, keyboard, memory, within a lightweight, full function system that can be carried easily. The IBM PC Convertible maintains compatibility with 5.25 inch diskette drive systems through asynchronous communications or through an IBM 4865 Personal Computer 3.5 Inch External Diskette Drive that attaches to the IBM Personal Computer, IBM Personal Computer XT, IBM Portable Personal Computer, and IBM Personal Computer AT.

Connection Machine

connectionmachineThe Connection Machine was the first commercial computer designed expressly to work on simulating intelligence and life. A massively parallel supercomputer with 65,536 processors, it was the brainchild of Danny Hillis, conceived while he was a graduate student under Marvin Minsky at the MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab. At it’s height, there were 70 installations of the Connection Machine around the world.

Departing from conventional computer architecture of the time, it was modeled on the structure of a human brain: Rather than relying on a single powerful processor to perform calculations one after another, the data was distributed over the tens of thousands of processors, all of which could perform calculations simultaneously. The structures for communication and transfer of data between processors could change as needed depending on the nature of the problem, making the mutability of the connections between processors more important than the processors themselves, hence the name “Connection Machine”.