Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Monday 24/03/2003Adam Osborne is dead, alas. I mention this in the office, and the reaction "Who?

Monday 24/03/2003
Adam Osborne is dead, alas. I mention this in the office, and the reaction "Who?" is far too frequent for comfort. He was a journalist who made a small fortune writing the first wave of computer books in the late 70s, made a larger fortune selling one of the -- if not the -- first portable computer in 1981, the Osborne 1, and then lost it all due to some spectacular misjudgements and plain bad luck. When last heard from, he'd vanished to India. The Osborne 1 was one of the first computers I came into contact with, albeit at a drunken teenage party in a hotel on Dartmoor (the owners' son went to the same school as me, and while they were away he had his sixteenth birthday there). Imagine Lord Of The Flies meets Fawlty Towers and any three American college frat party movies, and you won't go far wrong. It was spectacular (although I wasn't the one who threw up from the top of the spiral staircase in the main hall). I was wandering in a pretty badly fried state in the basement of the hotel, and came across what I recognised as a computer. I turned it on, and tried to make sense of what was going on... but the characters just swam around in front of my eyes, and I had to give up. At the time, I blamed it on the drink: now I know it was the tiny 40-column screen pretending to be 80 columns by jumping around in mid sentence. Nearly put me off IT for life... but somehow I pulled through.