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This computer was the first Kaypro model to use an Intel 8088 CPU and run the MS-DOS operating system, which was up to version 2.11 at that time. The 8088 CPU clocked out at 4.77MHz and the system came with 512K of memory. (Previous Kaypro models used the Zilog Z80 CPU and ran the CP/M operating system.)
While I was studying in the computer science program at Montana State University and tiring of waiting in line to use the computer terminals in the labs, I saw the Kaypro 16/2 advertised at the bookstore along with a student discount. Soon after, I arranged a loan and purchased this particular system. (The package included the MicroPro application suite and an OEM, Kaypro branded daisy wheel printer, which I no longer have.)
When the Kaypro 16/2 hit the street, it carried a price tag of $2295.
While the official name for the Kaypro’s form factor was “transportable,” (an early incarnation of the term “portable”) this computer and its transportable brethren affectionately became known as “luggables” due to their girth and weight. The Kaypro 16/2 measures 18-inches wide, 15-inches deep and 8-inches high and it weighs in at around 35 pounds.
The sturdy self-contained case is constructed of aluminum and includes a detachable keyboard, which forms the base of the unit and covers the screen and floppy disk drives. A flip down stand elevates the computer’s screen for viewing and also increases airflow.
In this photo you can see the AT keyboard port on the back of the keyboard at the base.
In addition to the sturdy carrying handle, the back panel of the unit includes posts for winding up the power and keyboard cords.
The lower right post on this computer broke off several years ago.
On the right end of the back panel is the 5-pin AT keyboard port and the brightness control for the internal green monochrome monitor.
On the left end of the back panel is the power switch, fuse access point, and the power cord connector. While the Kaypro 16/2 is transportable, it only runs off of AC power and is not equipped with a battery.
I remember having to change the fuse once back in the early ’80s, but can’t really remember the circumstances that caused the fuse to burn out.
On the side of the unit you can see the slot access panel. The Kaypro 16/2’s, motherboard has four slots, three of which contain system cards, thus leaving one open expansion slot.
You can also see one of the sturdy plastic hasps that secure the keyboard to the case.
The first card that you can see in the slot access panel is the processor card. It also contains the keyboard interface, the clock, the timer, the bus controller, the DMA, the programmable peripheral interface, and the programmable interrupt controller. You can see the red momentary contact reset button.
The second card is the floppy-RAM-I/O card and it contains a DB-25 parallel port connector and a DB-9 serial port connector. The third card is a color graphics card with a DB-9 connector for an RGB monitor and an RCA connector for a monochrome monitor.
In 1986, I connected a Hayes SmartModem 1200 to the DB-9 serial port in order to be able to dial into the campus mainframe. When this modem hit the street, it carried a retail price of $699.
Hayes Microcomputer Products called this product a “SmartModem” because it is equipped with Z8 (not Z80) microprocessor and a 4K ROM controller program, which allowed the modem to dial the telephone by itself via what Hayes called the AT command set.
Most modems of this era relied on manual dialing procedure in which a person would dial the number on an attached telephone, listen for the remote modem answer carrier, and then press a button on the modem and hang-up the telephone so that the two modems could establish a connection.
Back in those days, a 1200 baud modem was a real speed demon when compared to the 300 baud modems that were more common at that time. However, to ensure compatibility, the SmartModem 1200 could drop back to 300 baud if necessary.
In 1987, I connected a 14-inch Sysdyne! CGA monitor to the DB-9 connector on the color graphics card in order to actually see my programs and games in color.
The really cool thing about this particular monitor was that it featured touch sensitive buttons for power, brightness up/down, and color mode.
Not only did this monitor provide quite vibrant RGB (color), but it also provided Green, and Amber modes. If you look at the mode button at the top you’ll notice three lights that indicated the currently select color mode.
The Kaypro’s color graphics card pumped up the display from a 25 x 80 green display of the internal monochrome monitor to 320 x 200 16 color display on the CGA monitor.
I later added a 20 MB Hardcard from Plus Development Corporation to the open expansion slot and vastly increased my storage space. Having a hard disk also greatly simplfied the process of booting the system and eliminated the task of manually swapping out multiple floppy disks when running programs.
The Plus Hardcard was a revolutionary device at that time as it packed a small Winchester hard disk and a controller on a full sized expansion card. This made the process of upgrading the computers of that era a rather simple operation.
When the 20 MB Plus hardcard hit the street, it carried a price tag of $895.
(In the late 1980’s, Plus Development Corporation, was a division of Quantum Corporation. In 2000, Quantum sold its hard disk division to Maxtor, which was then bought out by Seagate in 2005.)
Since the Plus Hardcard was an internal device, the package included a set of stickers that you were encouraged to affix to the exterior of your computer.
Another way of making the presence of the internal device more prominent, the Plus Hardcard displayed a flashing plus sign in the upper right corner of the screen to indicate disk access.
After extending the flip-down stand and laying the system down, all you need to do is release the hasps on either side of the base to undock the keyboard.
With the keyboard undocked, you can see the 9-inch screen and the two 5 1/4-inch 360K floppy disk drives. Surprisingly, the way that the Kaypro 16/2 was laid out when it was set up, provided a fairly ergonomic workstation.
The keyboard sported an 83-key IBM AT compatible layout with function keys and numeric keypad. The white and grey keys gave the keyboard a sporty look that seemed to play off the racing stripe styled Kaypro logos on the case.
The only problem with the 83-key IBM AT layout was that the [Shift], [Enter], and [Backspace] keys were a bit small, making speedy typing tricky at times. Fortunately, I found an advertisement in the back of a computer magazine from a company whose name escapes me, that sold these keycaps that simply fit over top of the smaller keys and attached with a clay-like adhesive compound.
As you can see, once these keycaps were in place, the [Shift], [Enter], and [Backspace] keys became larger targets that were much easier to accurately press when typing.
The 9-inch monochrome green monitor features a 25 x 80 display and was considered quite large at the time the Kaypro 16/2 was released. The monitor is as bright and crisp today as it was back in 1985.
After removing the cover, you can see that the internal design of the Kaypro uses the available space very efficiently. The most prominent component in this picture is the Cathode-Ray-Tube (CRT) monitor.
Looking at the top of the unit you can see that the motherboard is positioned upside down and above the CRT.
From this angle, you can see the motherboard and see how the cards are connected to the ISA slots.
In this close-up, you can see the rows of chips in the memory banks.
In this close-up, you can see cards in the slots. The Plus Hardcard is at the top.