The 1978 Xerox Notetaker, the first computer to be used on a commercial flight @Xerox #VintageComputing #History

Xerox Notetaker from 1978

Was the first real portable computer the Tandy 100 or the Compaq Portable or IBM 5155 Portable? Not even close for those 1980s machines.

Meet the Xerox Notetaker, made in 1978. It has the distinction of being the first computer to ever be used by a passenger on a commercial flight.

And this computer was no slouch for 1978:

It had an Intel 8086 CPU at 1 MHz, 256K of RAM, a 320K floppy disk drive, a mouse, a 7″ 640×480 monochrome display, a 300 baud modem, Ethernet (!!), and an analog-to-digital converter with an 8 input multiplexer on the input, and a two channel digital-to-analog converter; and finally EiA and IEEE bus interface.

To put things in perspective, the IBM PC came out about 3 years later with an 8088 (a cut-down ’86), 16K of RAM, and no mouse or Ethernet.

It had a battery pack as outlets on planes was unheard of back then, except perhaps in the galleys.

It did have some drawbacks for all that awesome. It weighed 48 lbs (22kg).

Alas, all that technology was way too expensive – they built just 10 prototypes and production cost would have likely resulted in a $50,000 sticker price.


Thanks to Tube Time on Twitter along with this page on Notetaker history. The manual and other documentation is available here.

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1 Comment

  1. Well it was made by Xerox so it made sense it had Ethernet. Wonder how compatible it would be with today’s ethernet.

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