Zenith ZFL-171-42 Portable

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The Z-171 portable personal computer is a lightweight, briefcase-sized computer designed for personal or business computing needs. It is a portable system with all of the features of a full-sized system, and it can run virtually all software from IBM's vast library.

According to the February 1986 New York Times, Zenith was successful in winning a $27 million contact to supply the IRS with around 15,000 portable Z-171 computers. Due to its early design, possibly as far back as 1983, the Z-171 is one of the few battery-powered computers which use the large 5-1/4 inch floppy drives, instead of the more recent 3-1/2 inch floppy drives. This made it much more compatible with desktop systems, as at the time, they also mostly used 5-1/4 inch floppy drives.

The Z-171 keyboard has four "icon keys", which initiate functions to make the Z-171 more than just a basic laptop computer (their words). These keys function are built-in and work without booting into MS-DOS.

  • Clock/calendar - show the "home screen" - the world map with clock and calendar.
  • Phone dialler - dial into a remote computer system using the optional internal modem, or use the Z-171 as a dumb terminal.
  • Disk access - Boots the computer from the A: floppy drive, or switches back to the current MS-DOS screen.
  • Calculator - four-function calculator pops-up in the upper corner of the screen.

Manufacturer: Zenith Data Systems
Date: May 1985

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This exhibit has a reference ID of CH37920. Please quote this reference ID in any communication with the Centre for Computing History.


Zenith ZFL-171-42 Portable

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