Ernest W. Adams's memories:
My wife and I hauled our Kaypro 10 all the way to a
remote location in southern Egypt for use on an archaeological dig in
January of 1984. We think it may be the first portable computer ever used
on an archaeological site.
We ran it off a Honda gasoline generator, and it stood up to the heat and
dust like a champ. It proved to be invaluable too -- the dig generated so
much data that it really needed a database, and we were able to provide
one (dBase II) for the first time.
I've still got the machine. I haven't booted it up for years, but I don't
doubt that it still works.
This was taken in March of 1984. The ruined city
in the background is the fortress of Qasr Ibrim, in upper Egypt.
Howard Boyle's memories.
Howard was the engineering manager for a number of the Kaypro projects.
I used to work for a retailer of Kaypro
products in Virginia. The retailer was called Community Computers
and it was a very interesting place as Community Computers was
"owned" by the "Church of the Community" and was
basically a commune. While I was not part of the commune, they found
me useful enough to actually pay to fix computers, mostly Ohio Scientific
computers, and design custom hardware. In any event, they became
resellers of the Kaypro line of products and the owner, Michael Versace,
came to know David Kay who was the son of the Kaypro founder Andy
Kay. Kaypro originally
was part of Non-Linear systems which was started by Andy.
When I graduated from engineering school, Michael put in a good word for
me with David Kay and David hired me as an engineer. I had owned a
Kaypro 10 when I was in school so I knew about a quirk in the video system
that resulted in a seemingly random pixel to be lit during video
scrolling. It was not a big deal but, as an engineer, I found it
I showed up at Kaypro on my first day and my appearance was somewhat a
surprise to the head of engineering, Roland Johnson (later my
father-in-law), as David had neglected to inform him that I was
hired. I literally did not have any work assigned to do. So, I
just went over to the board repair facility and started giving them a hand
in fixing defective main boards. I figured I would find out what
problems they were having in manufacturing and then work on the
solutions. The board repair guys were not sure what to think of me
just showing up but they were happy to have the help. Anyway, I saw
quite a number of K10 main boards there and they often had video
problems. I selected about 10 of them and took them back to the
engineering area to investigate what was going on with them. I found
that there was a timing problem and, in fact, it was lucky any of the K10s
worked. We were fortunate that the ICs we were using were mostly
faster than their specifications as there was a "race condition"
that would create a number of pixel problems. Chips that just met or
were even slightly better than specification would cause the race
condition to manifest. The repair group folks were just selecting chips
from a large batch and swapping them until the problem went away.
Eventually, one would be fast enough to
solve the race problem.
The only way to fix the problem was to rev the main board. After
some discussion with Roland and his discussion with Andy, a new board
layout was done and the new fixed boards went into production.
Kaypro had to scrap about 200 - 300 of the old style boards which was a
significant cost hit. On the plus side, my redesign took out about $10.00
of parts per board so it
came out positive in the end. After this, I became an accepted
member of the Kaypro team and shortly thereafter began work on what became
We always had problems with the
Tandem hard disk drives in the K10 as they were not as robust as drives
are today. There were always a fair number of rejected drives on
racks in the hallways.
Waterproof Kaypro, by Karen
I began working on a Kaypro II in the
beginning of 1983. I was given the task of learning everything I
could about it and all of it's capabilities in two weeks (which I did, 8
hours per day for 10 days). Then I was to teach my employers what I
had learned. The teaching went well until one of my supervisors
wouldn't even get on the same side of the room as the machine...oh
One day when I came into work I found that a 4 inch diameter hot water
pipe for the steam heat in the builing had broken and there was steaming
hot water pouring straight down onto the Okidata printer and the Kaypro
with a force similar to that of a fire hose. I quickly called the
only computer repair shop in town and asked them what to do. They
said don't turn it on. Bring it straight to us. They took both
the printer and the Kaypro apart and dried them out. When I went to
pick them up, the repair shop said that the amount of gold in the
connections saved the day. The only thing that had to be replaced
was the print head and ribbon on the printer.
The portability of the Kaypro was supurb allowing me to take it home and
back to work frequently easily. Great machines!