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Old 03-21-2016, 11:00 PM   #6
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Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Iceland*
Default Re: 1980s American Cars, Guns, Gadgets and Consumer Goods [Atmosphere, look, minutiae

Originally Posted by Anaraxes View Post
At my first job, we had a product that ran on computers from a company called GRiD Systems. The Compass was an IBM PC (4.77 MHz 8086, 640KB memory) true laptop form factor, with a flip-up monochrome LCD display over a keyboard, 3.5" floppy, and a modem. 5 kg. (The back half wasn't hinged; it was a bit narrower but deeper than the modern laptop shape.)

It was also mil-spec, so ridiculously ruggedized, operates under three feet of water, titanium case under the plastic, etc. And as you might expect, really expensive. (Though I'll have to take Wikipedia's word on the price; we didn't buy them for our own use, using regular '286 desktops instead.) But much more portable than the "luggables" like the Osborne or Compaq Portable. Plus they were tacticool enough to be used in "Aliens".
Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
Yup, the GRiD looked very cool. It inspired a spec a group of students I was in made up for a really survivable portable computer, which would survive anything that the person holding it would, except being struck by lightning while open. We didn't try to build one: it was obviously too expensive.
That sounds awesome.

Uh, now I sound like an idiot, but what is it good for? I basically have no idea what computers did, beyond word processing, before they had Internet. For programmers, scientists or database administrators, I can make a fair guess, but what can more active, adventuring-type people, like FBI agents, use theirs for?

What could an FBI agent use one of those for while on assignment?

Also, what game stats are we looking at here?

Originally Posted by Anaraxes View Post
Toshiba also had something like a modern laptop before 1988 (the T1000 and T1100 models). There was an IBM PC Convertible as well.
Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
Those were really quite useful. The boss in a job I had 1987-88 had one, without a hard disk. He worked off the MS-DOS in ROM, plus a structured word processor called PC-Outline which was ridiculously fast and would fit the program plus a decent quantity of documents on a 720KB floppy.
If price (assuming that it's below GURPS $50,000) is really not a factor, which one of these would a recent graduate of Computer Science from Stanford rather own in 1988, the GRiD, an IBM PC Convertible or a Toshiba T1100?

She worked summers as an intern with the FBI, working on something computery, and did her thesis on the use of computers in law enforcement. She's supposed to have a good grasp of whatever the FBI are using computers for in the 80s, about which, I admit, I have no idea.

What can you use computers for in law enforcement in 1988? What was the FBI doing with them?
Za uspiekh nashevo beznadiozhnovo diela!

Last edited by Icelander; 03-21-2016 at 11:31 PM.
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