A Trailblazing Palmtop By Atari
By James Grahame
Write-ups for the 1989 Atari Portfolio always describe it as "about the size of a VHS tape." Not much help in our tapeless world. These days, we'd have to compare it to a stack of DVDs or a half-dozen iPhones.
The Atari Portfolio was a marvel of late 1980s miniaturization. Designed by DIP in Guildford, UK, it was more-or-less IBM-PC compatible. The biggest compatibility challenge was the monochrome 40x8 character non-backlit screen -- few programs could run acceptably with so little screen real estate, and even fewer developers produced Portfolio versions of their work. The machine featured an NEC V30 processor (Intel 8088 clone), a meager 128K RAM, and a Microsoft DOS 2.2 compatible operating system that was idiotically named "DIP-DOS." There was no room for internal floppy or hard drives so everything was stored in battery-backed memory cards. A special card reader was available to transfer information to your desktop PC.
Oddest quirk: When turned off, the screen flashed briefly every couple of minutes as the machine woke itself to check the calendar.
The Portfolio was years ahead of its time, but its non-standard design kept it from being easily adopted by the business community. It (and Atari Corporation) disappeared quietly into the mists of time in the early 1990s.
Atari Portfolio palmtop computer (The Obsolete Technology Website)