Terry Stewart's (Tezza's) Classic Computer Collection

Kaypro II

The Kaypro II.  Ain't she beautiful!(Note: Click on the image for a larger view. I also describe this machine in a YouTube video)

A good idea is seldom lonely, so when Osborne Computer Corp. introduced its highly innovative Osborne 1 "luggable", others grabbed the concept and improved on it. The first of these was Non-Linear Systems with their Kaypro series.

The Kaypro II, offered serious competition to the Osborne when it was released in 1982. A business workhorse in a rugged aluminum case, the computer had the standard CP/M configuration i.e. a Z-80 processor, 64k of RAM, serial and parallel ports and two floppy disk drives. Like the Osborne, the Kaypro II came bundled with all the software (database, spreadsheet, word processor) the business person on the go would need. However, UNLIKE the Osborne 1, the Kaypro II had a much larger screen which made for a more comfortable session at the keyboard. The days of squinting at a 5-inch screen was over.

I've always wanted one of these computers.

The unit pictured was donated (thanks Charles!) for the price of getting it to me from another part of the country. Cosmetically it's in perfect condition without a scratch. The screen is steady and stable and all keys work. When it first arrive there was an issue. Only one of the disk drives could read disks. Diagnosis and repair took a while but with a little help from my friends, that was fixed. Well mostly fixed. It still takes longer than it should to read and write files, something I'll investigate at some stage. Later, another problem developed with the keyboard. That was also dealt with. Finally a faulty socket issue was found and fixed. Although this machine is not yet in perfect health, it's getting there.

It seems this is a very early model Kaypro II. Most Kaypro IIs have the drives set in a horizontal configuration. Apparently the vertical design was changed soon after production started as it was found there was a potential for data corruption from the high voltages found in the video, when the disks were in that orientation. Laying them horizontal helped with this problem.

My impressions of the computer now I have played with it? I like it! The screen seems huge after the Osborne and the green letters are clear and easy to read. The keyboard has a positive feel and is easy to type on. It's not light and it's not pretty when closed up. The handle is at the back and if you didn't know it was a computer, you might think it was some military-surplus piece of electronic test equipment! However, this adds to the charm (-:

I was pointed to a set of Kaypro II disk images on the Internet from which I made a CP/M system disk and other disks with programs that were typical for the day. I've now got copies of the "Perfect Suite" which originally came with the machine plus most of the manuals.

A tasty morsel of microcomputing history!

Update: The Kaypro II has gone to another collector. I'm sure it will be well-looked after.

Want to know more about this micro? Google is your friend.

This page last edited 14th August, 2021

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