Data General One - DG1
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Data General's introduction of the Data General-One in 1984 is one of the few cases of a minicomputer company introducing a truly breakthrough PC product. The DG One was a nine-pound battery-powered MS-DOS machine equipped with dual 3½" diskettes, a 79-key full-stroke keyboard, 128K to 512K of RAM, and a monochrome LCD screen capable of either the standard 80×25 characters or full CGA graphics (640×200). The Data General One was considered a modest advance over similar Osborne-Kaypro systems.
Despite the memorable advertisements ("The first computer able to fit inside the IBM PC"), the DG-1 was, however, only a modest success. One problem was the use of 3½" diskettes, which were slightly ahead of their time; popular software titles were not available in 3½" format and this was a serious issue because then-common diskette copy-protection schemes made it difficult for users to copy the software into that format. Additionally, the diskettes used a proprietary formatting scheme not compatible with products from other companies. Although Creative Computing termed the price of US$2895 "competitive", it was a very expensive system and optional additions, such as expanded RAM and an external 5¼" floppy drive, drove the price considerably higher. The Achilles heel, however, was the liquid-crystal display itself, which was not backlit, had poor contrast, and was frequently accused of serving better as a mirror than as a screen. Usable outdoors or in bright offices only, a flashlight, it was joked, was often necessary to see the contents of the screen.
Another product killer was the incompatible serial port chip, an Intel 82C51 which was used to conserve power, instead of the 8250 used in the IBM PC. For a portable system, this was a critical flaw — PC programs that used the serial port wouldn't run on the DG-1 due of the non-standard register arrangement within the 82C51.
An updated version of the DG-1 appeared later with a much improved electroluminescent screen. However, the light-producing display could be washed out by bright sunlight. Additionally, the new screen was power hungry and consumed so much power that the battery option was removed, thereby causing the DG-1 to lose its status as a true portable.
"Starring The Computer" provides the information that in the film The Equalizer - Season 1, Episode 5 "Lady Cop" (1985) - McCall gets one of his ex-colleagues to investigate a crooked cop's phone records using a DG One.
Our machine is model No. 2213 B with a serial number of Q0013881, The Expansion Chassis is model number 2234 and a serial number of D0213499, the Battery Charger is model no. 10113 and serial no. 502000753 and the AC adapter has a model number of 10114 and a serial number of 412000100.
Our system together with the manual was very kindly donated by Basil Bloom.
Manufacturer: Data General
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This exhibit has a reference ID of CH20993. Please quote this reference ID in any communication with the Centre for Computing History.