Gavilan SC


Gavilan SC

The Gavilan SC was an early laptop computer, and was the first ever to be marketed as a "laptop".

The brainchild of Gavilan Computer Corp. founder Manuel (Manny) Fernandez, the Gavilan was introduced in May, 1983, at approximately the same time as the similar Sharp PC-5000. It came to market a year after the GRiD Compass, with which it shared several pioneering details, notably a clamshell design, in which the screen folds shut over the keyboard.

The Gavilan, however, was more affordable than the GRiD, at a list price of around US$ 4000. Unlike the GRiD, it was equipped with a floppy disk drive and used the MS-DOS operating system, although it was only partially IBM PC-compatible. Powered by a 5-MHz Intel 8088 processor, it was equipped with a basic graphical user interface, stored in its 48 kb of ROM. An internal 300-baud modem was standard. A compact printer that attached to the rear of the machine was an option.

The machine's included software was a terminal program, MS-DOS, and MBasic (a version of the BASIC programming language). An Office Pack of four applications — Sorcim SuperCalc and SuperWriter, and PFS File and Report — was optional.

It was far smaller than competing IBM compatible portables, such as the Compaq Portable, which were the size of a portable sewing machine and weighed more than twice the Gavilan's 4 kg (9 lb), and unlike the Gavilan they could not run off batteries. Gavilan claimed the SC could run up to nine hours on its built-in nickel-cadmium batteries.

The Gavilan sported an LCD display with an unusual resolution of 400x64 pixels. It included a pioneering touchpad-like pointing device, installed on a panel above the keyboard. It used static CMOS memory, and came with 64 kilobytes standard. Memory was expandable through plug-in modules, for which there were four slots available (each 32 kb module cost $350 and included a backup battery); these could also be used for software ROM cartridges.

The Gavilan was announced with a 3.0-inch 320K microfloppy drive, although supply problems from Hitachi led to its replacement with a 3.5-inch floppy drive; the redesign cost the Gavilan company months of delays. During this time, Gavilan Computer Corp. was forced to declare Chapter 11 bankruptcy, owing to cash flow problems and the difficulties of delivering the SC in large quantities. The company ceased operations in 1985, just as its technical problems had been overcome.

External links

* [http://oldcomputers.net/gavilan.html Oldcomputers.net:Gavilan SC]
* [http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/bllaptop.htm History of Laptops]
* [http://www.inc.com/articles/1998/12/21711.html Inc. magazine article about Gavilan by company founder Manuel (Manny) Fernandez]
* [http://www.atarimagazines.com/creative/v10n1/38_14_notebook_computers_in_.php 1984 article reviewing various pocket and portable computers, including the Gavilan]


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