IT’S COMPUTER DAY AGAIN! I’m calm (a bit overdosed on coffee even). Seriously. Today’s historic gist involves one of the most successful computers ever put to market, a bad business decision and the death of one of the most celebrated tech companies at the time. Shall we?
The computer that caused the "Osborne Effect" was announced
The Executive went on to become extremely successful even with a — wait for it — $2,495 (₦762k) price tag!
1983 was a very interesting year in tech and computer history in general. It was the year Apple launched its famous Lisa computer (rumor says it was named after the daughter Steve Jobs refused to claim), the still legendary Famicom (known as “Family Com” to you Nigerians) video game was launched, the first ever version of MicrosoftWord (1.0) was launched and Apple held it’s first WWDC event ever.
In the midst of all that, a company called the Osborne Computer Corporation (OCC) launched the Osborne Executive, a portable computer that was meant to replace its Osborne 1 computer, on April 18, 1983. The Executive went on to become extremely successful even with a — wait for it — $2,495 (₦762k) price tag!
According to Wikipedia, “The Osborne Executive was useful for presentations and projects at client sites. Unlike static presentations, the portable computer could provide on-the-spot answers to numerical questions when working with consulting clients. This laid the groundwork for the kind of ‘show me the money’ ROI or TCO presentations commonplace today.”
Talk about doing it for the culture.
Unfortunately, the OCC leaked the announcement of the Executive earlier in the year which made suppliers and retailers stop orders of the Osborne 1 (which was OCC’s star product at the time) and, by consequence, hurt the company’s cash flow.
This meant the company could only make limited units of the Executive and had to shut down its planned IPO. It filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy shortly after. That disastrous move by the Osborne Computer Corporation is now known today in the business world as the “Osborne Effect.”
The interesting thing about the Osborne story — and weirdly so — is what it meant. For a company that wasn’t as big as Apple or IBM (at the time) to still go after its goal [despite a horrendous mistake] and create a product that could have changed the game [had it had a longer production life, maybe] is just amazing.
Naija (Zinox and any one else willing to do it for the culture), over to you.
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