Vixen (OCC-4) - 1985
By Osborne Computer Company (OCC)

Osborne Vixen
Price:US $1,298
Weight:18 pounds
CPU:Zilog Z80 @ 4.0 MHz
Display:built-in 7-inch monitor
80 x 24 amber text
Ports:parallel, serial
composite video
Storage:dual 5-1/4 inch, 400K drives
OS:CP/M 2.2

The Osborne Vixen (an ill-tempered or quarrelsome woman) was conceived as the "evolution of the revolution" - the latest and greatest of the popular Osborne portable computer systems, which first hit the market three years earlier in 1981.

Originally, the Vixen consisted of a light-weight black plastic case, with two horizontally-mounted 400K floppy drives, and a 5-inch green CRT. The keyboard is permanently attached, and folds down to act as a stand to support and raise the front of the system.

A vast improvement over the original Osborne 01, the Vixen is smaller, lighter, cheaper, and has higher-capacity floppy drives.

The small 5-inch (diagonal) CRT screen displays 24 lines of 80 characters each. Fortunately, it is very sharp and crisp, as the tiny 1mm-wide characters would be unreadable on a lesser monitor.

Unfortunately, in September of 1983, the Osborne Computer Company (OCC) ran into financial difficulties, declared bankruptcy, and the Vixen in its original incarnation was never publically released.

It's not certain how a few of these never-released Vixens escaped into the wild, but it's been reported that they were stolen by laid-off Osborne employees shortly after OCC closed the doors.

Early drawings (pdf) from April of 1983 are available at, which show the original Vixen components and configuration, with the horizontal floppy drives.

As luck would have it, the Osborne Computer Company survived bankruptcy and in 1985 returned to viability, to officially release the Vixen into the public.

From the Vixen advertisements:
"The company that introduced the first portable business computer is back.
We've learned that building a $100 million corporation in a year can have its risks.
This is the computer we were going to introduce before you-know-what happened. One year later, it's still ahead of its time."

This new, redesigned Vixen, has the drives mounted vertically to allow the use of a larger, 7-inch amber display. Other changes include an off-white case instead of black. Inside, the motherboard was redesigned to fit the new form factor.

  • $1,298 - Osborne 4 Vixen
  • $1,495 - Vixen HD-10 external hard drive
  • $2,798 - Osborne 4 Vixen with external 10MB hard drive

  • The Osborne external 10MB hard drive is a wonderful but expensive addition. It requires the installation of an SASI interface card inside the Vixen.
    SASI stands for Shugart Associates System Interface, which was later adopted by the computer industry, and officially renamed as SCSI - Small Computer System Interface - by the ANSI standardization commitee.

    Continuing the Osborne tradition of bundling commercial software with their computer systems,
    every Vixen included, at no extra charge, these software applications:
  • WordStar
  • - the world's best selling word processing package
  • MailMerge
  • - for enhanced printing capabilities
  • SuperCalc 2
  • - a powerful electronic spreadsheet
  • Osboard
  • - an electronic drawing board for business graphics
  • MBasic
  • - the popular Microsoft BASIC programming language
  • Media Master
  • - translate data files to over 200 other computers formats, including MS-DOS
  • TurnKey
  • - automatically starts programs, configures and accelerates the system
  • Desolation
  • - a horizontally-scrolling video adventure game

    Technical data:
    Floppy drive specifications: 400K, DSDD, 40 tracks, 5 sectors/track, 1024 bytes each.

    Related Links

  • McCain's Museum of Ancient Personal Computers
  • Wikipedia entry
  • Mike Loewen's Old Technology Collection

  • History of the Osborne Computer Corporation

    • 1971: In November, Intel released the 4004, the first microprocessor chip. Documentation manuals were written by Adam Osborne who later founded the Osborne Computer Company.
    • 1980: March - At the West Coast Computer Faire, Adam Osborne approaches Les Felsenstein with the idea of starting a computer company.
    • 1981: January - Osborne Computer Corporation is incorporated
    • 1981: April - Adam Osborne, of Osborne Computer Corporation, introduces the Osborne 1 Personal Business Computer at the West Coast Computer Faire
    • 1981: September - Osborne Computer Company has its first US$1 million sales month.
    • 1982: August - Microsoft releases Multiplan for the Apple II and the Osborne I.
    • 1982: In the first 8 months since its introduction, 11,000 Osborne 1 computers ship.
    • 1983: March - Osborne Computer introduces The Osborne Executive and the Executive II portable computers.
    • 1983: September - Osborne Computer Corp. files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection
      Source: Chronology of Events in the History of Microcomputers

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