Maker Don Kosak has shared a cyberdeck build powered by a Raspberry Pi 4 Model B 2GB and inspired by a classic cautionary tale of the 1980s: the Osborne 1 portable microcomputer.
Released in April 1981, the Osborne 1 luggable is generally recognised as being the first commercially successful portable microcomputer – despite a back-breaking 24.5lb weight and lack of internal battery meaning it can’t actually be used if you’re away from a power socket. Its early success, though, didn’t last: The launch of the IBM PC in August 1981 and the Compaq Portable in 1983 — and sales took a hit when company founder Adam Osborne announced but failed to launch a higher-end successor, the Osborne Executive, leaving many customers saving their money for the next device instead.
The reborn Osborne 1 includes software captured from original disks saved since the 1980s. (📷: Don Kosak)
Its ill fate in the industry doesn’t mean the Osborne 1 isn’t without its fans — and Kosak liked the machine enough to have built a modernised emulated version, considerably lighter and powered by a Raspberry Pi single-board computer.
“I know it’s not exactly a classic ‘Cyber Deck,'” Kosak writes of his project, “but I thought I’d share my retro 1980’s Osborne 1 remake project. It’s a faithful software replica of the Osborne 1 luggable CP/M machine. I used a Raspberry Pi microcontroller with a stripped down version of MAME [formerly the Multiple Arcade machine Emulator] to do the heavy lifting of emulating the classic Z-80 beast.”
The entire unit is housed in a Pelican 1170 case, including the removable keyboard. (📷: Don Kosak)
The build uses a Pelican case which houses a wireless keyboard, a 7in touch-screen display, and a Raspberry Pi 4 Model B 2GB — “overkill,” Kosak admits, “but it’s what I had on hand.” Software, meanwhile, is provided from disk images captured from floppies Kosak had during his ownership of a real Osborn 1 machine.
“I tried to match the aesthetics of the original with the tan case and textured ABS plastic. I used 1/16th inch ABS sheets to build up the interior and mount the display, USB port and switch. I had some 1/8th inch sheets but the 1/16th was pretty rigid and was much easier to work with.”
More details on the build can be found on Kosak’s Reddit thread.