back to article Liberator: the untold story of the first British laptop part 2

It is 1984 and Bernard Terry, a civil servant, has devised a 'portable text processor' to make his fellow civil servants more productive in the office and out. Electronics giant Thorn EMI has agreed to manufacturer the machine, which will eventually be called the Liberator and become Britain's first laptop computer. Thorn has …

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Boffin

A great story about a long-forgotten computer, but...

...somehow I doubt they managed to get 40 lines of text on a 128-pixel-high screen!

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: A great story about a long-forgotten computer, but...

Well spotted. It's 16 lines, of course.

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I've been following...

...developments in computing since I got a ZX81 in, er, 1981, and I've never heard of the Liberator before. Smashing stuff.

And I say this as someone with both an Epson PX-8 (the HX-20s younger sibling) and an Atari Portfolio (also British)...

Perhaps you can follow this up with a story on Cambridge Computers Z88, another favourite 80s portable.

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Thumb Up

I had one for a few weeks...

I think we had two in the department, never realised at the time that it would become a historical thing!

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Silver badge

I love the rulers along the screen. I wish my phone had them, seeing as it has square aluminium sides it would make a handy 100mm / 4" ruler.

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Gold badge
Boffin

12 hour battery life

Hard to believe these days.

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FAIL

Work + Civil servant HAHAHAHAAA

fellow civil servants more productive in the office and out. Electronics giant Thorn EMI has agreed to manufacturer the machine, which will eventually be called the Liberator and become Britain's first laptop computer. Thorn has

You must be kidding work and civil servant do not go in the same sentence unless used in the negative sense!

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Anonymous Coward

When I joined the civil service in 1991 I can remember going into a basement IT storeroom where we had about 50 Liberators piled up for disposal along with loads of old Apricot 286 PCs, it was like aladdin's cave in there.

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Gold badge
Happy

Kneetop

What a shame about the demise of the word 'kneetop'. It sounds so much nicer than laptop. But as one of the model numbers was LPTP101, I guess kneetop was a Civil Service thing, rather than coming from Thorn EMI.

Well I say it sounds nicer. I'm not sure if "for my stag night I'm going to a knee-dancing club" quite works...

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Bronze badge

Depends

<Henry Crun>Stop that naughty knee-dancing, Minnie</Henry Crun>

Works for me.

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Battery discharge characteristics

"Using rechargeables created all sorts of design problems," says Wojna, "because of the very wide variation in output voltage that you'd get from a batter pack when it was fully charged and the curve that you got as it discharged,"...

Has this lost something in the editing? NiCds have a nice flat discharge characteristic. Alkaline cells tend to be exponential. I've lost my own original research (circa 1984) on the subject but this will do to illustrate:

http://www.treasurenet.com/forums/attachments/tech-talk/366156d1332413659-tejon-rechargeables-batteries.gif

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Go

Even by today's standards...

...it actually looks pretty nice. The keyboard, in particular, looks excellent. Those calculator-style LCD screens with the big square pixels are very old-fashioned but I've always found them very easy to read and easy on the eyes; I'm particularly fond of my NC200's silver-on-dark-blue screen.

Of course, the actual computer inside can be outperformed by a 50p PIC, but that's not the point.

And the battery life was excellent; I own a super-lightweight ARM notebook, and like it a lot, but even that only gets six to seven hours!

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