This Day in Tech History

On This Day . . .

The Osborne Effect

osbornesplash2April 18, 1983:

Osborne Executive and the Osborne Effect

The Osborne Computer Corporation officially announced the Osborne Executive portable computer, the follow-up to its extremely successful Osborne 1. This is the computer that according to lore, took down the company.

Known as the Osborne Effect, the legend is that by leaking the announcement of this computer earlier in the year, dealers cancelled all orders for the Osborne 1, effectively destroying the company’s cashflow and hindering operations going forward. This resulted in the cancellation of the company’s IPO and eventually to bankruptcy.

The Osborne effect is often the case when a product is announced too long before its actual availability. This has the immediate effect of customers canceling or deferring orders for the current product, knowing that it will soon be obsolete, and any unexpected delays often means the new product comes to be perceived as vaporware, damaging the company’s credibility and profitability.

osborne

The reality may not be so simple, but research shows that the Osborne Effect may have been a contributing cause to the company’s demise, along with the rise of competitors, the introduction of the IBM PC, and mismanagement by the company’s president, brought in by investors to provide “adult supervision”.

The Osborne Executive was the planned successor of the already commercially successful Osborne 1 portable computer by Osborne Computer Corporation. The Executive was a collection of the good features from the Osborne 1 and fixed some of its predecessor’s flaws.

osborne-executive

The Osborne Executive, like the Osborne 1, came with application software. The WordStar word processor, SuperCalc spreadsheet, and the CBASIC and MBASIC programming languages—all software packages that were the leading applications in their respective niches at the time—had a retail value of more than $2495.

The disk drives and built-in 7 inch amber CRT were covered by the keyboard when snapped on to the main case for transportation. Like the Osborne 1, the Executive could be supported by the keyboard at a convenient viewing angle. The Executive included a cooling fan, unlike the Osborne 1.

The Osbourne Executive weighed in at 28 & 3/4 pounds of lap crushing power. Compare the size of the executive with the iPhone sitting next to it. The iPhone has hundreds (thousands?) of times the computing power and weighs 4.8 ounces.

The Osbourne Executive weighed in at 28 & 3/4 pounds of lap crushing power. Compare the size of the executive with the iPhone sitting next to it. The iPhone has hundreds (thousands?) of times the computing power and weighs 4.8 ounces.

Osborne Executive Demo:

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