Announced:June 1991
Available:August 1991
CPU:Intel 80386SL @ 20MHz
Price:$4,765 w/ 2MB & 2MB flash
$5,965 w/ 8MB & 20MB HD
Weight:3.3 lbs w/ battery and HD
Memory:2MB to 4MB internal RAM
Storage:20MB HD, or 2MB or 8MB flash disk
Input:Wacom stylus, optional keyboard
Display:10-inch VGA 640x480 LCD
OS:Pen-based operating system

Announced just prior to the 1991 PC Expo in New York City, the NCR System 3125 is an early, very expensive, pen-based portable computer system, which could run multiple different operating systems, including Microsoft MS-DOS 5.0 (with NCR PenOS), Windows for Pen Computing, GO PenPoint operating system, and GRiD PenRight.

Pen-based computers were "the next big thing" of the late 80s and early 90s, with many companies jumping on the bandwagon, including Linus, GRiD, NCR, IBM, EO, Amstrad, Dauphin, and Apple, just to name a few. None of these computers system lasted more than a few years at most - the hardware and software just wasn't good enough to make it an enjoyable experience.

NCR designed the System 3125, but in September 1991, desiring a greater foothold in the computer business, AT&T buys NCR Corp. for $7.4 Billion. It was a disastrous relationship - exactly four years later, in September 1995, AT&T spun off the company, which had been name AT&T Global Information Solutions, back into NCR.

As a side note, in July 1991, AT&T invested heavily in GO Corp, who made the EO-440 pen-based Personal Communicator. In July of 1994, after eventually aquiring *all* of GO Corp, AT&T abruptly shuts it down as well.

The NCR-3125 has an excellent cordless "Wacom" stylus for user input, but it has a low-contrast non-backlit LCD display which is difficult to read in poor lighting conditions. The stylus allows the user to draw directly on the screen, while the "electronic ink" produces an image of what you are writing or drawing. Handwriting recognition software comes installed on the system, so you can just write-out text and the system will recognize and act upon it, but an on-screen keyboard allows typing words and text for quicker and more accurate entry.

"Permanant" data storage is via internal 20MB hard drive, or an internal non-volatile solid-state 2MB or 8MB "flash disk" with a removable 2MB or 4MB PCMCIA flash memory card. A removable expansion module adds a serial port, parallel port, VGA video port, and PS/2 keyboard connector.

The 3125 has no built-in floppy drive, but there's room to install an optional FAX/data modem ($575) or floppy drive controller ($350). If need be, you can transfer data to and from another computer system via the serial port and the included software program "LapLink". There's a special slot to install an additional 4MB RAM memory card to bring the RAM memory to 8MB maximum.

The 8MB NCR-3125 was originally priced at $5,965, but on November 1992 NCR dropped price by $2,000, and introduced a newer model, the NCR-3130.

Related Links

  • OS News
  • Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences
  • NY Times - June 24, 1991
  • NY Times - June 30, 1991
  • Info World - July 1, 1991
  • Info World - April 27, 1992
  • PC Magazine - June 30, 1992
  • NCR 3125 User Manual from

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