Kaypro's loyalty to customers was legendary. In fact, its refusal to abandon CP/M users dangerously delayed its adoption of the DOS Operating System. Nevertheless, it eventually acceded and was one of the last US manufacturer to introduce a PC compatible system simply named the Kaypro PC
It was most affordable package in the IBM-compatible world including a CAD-capable Samsung monitor and ATI video card capable of Hercules graphics, CGA color, and CGA color emulation on a monochrome monitor. The entry machine was faster than its IBM PC-XT rival. Typically, it was a rugged, dependable desktop PC that immediately out-classed IBM in additional areas by including larger and faster standard hard drives, generous free software combinations, and top-flight ring-bound user documentation.
Still in 1985 came the Kaypro 286i, the very first available PC/AT-compatible system, faster at the same clock speed than the IBM model, it was quickly revised with Intel's latest chip, the 8MHz 286, running over 30% faster than IBM's offering.
Kaypro engineered its own high quality motherboards and introduced upgradable processors in desktop PCs, mounting the computer’s microprocessor on a replaceable expansion card instead of on the expensive motherboard; thus facilitating easy, lower-cost replacement of the processor.
Kaypro pioneered advanced memory usage, managing to squeeze out an additional 128 KB in the first megabyte of standard DOS memory, thus giving users access to the full 728 KB of DOS memory instead of the 640 KB allowed on other systems. This extra memory was available as a fast virtual drive for active data files, greatly speeding computing performance.
In a time when full IBM-compatibility was more often marketing hype than hard reality, Kaypro went beyond the rest of the industry and backed its PCs with the only money-back guarantee of FULL IBM-compatibility. The PC was so good that Kaypro even guaranteed to buy a dissatisfied customer a replacement from IBM if they desired.
Spec. board is for the 286i version - Thanks to Dennis for the pictures.
Kaypro versus Leading Edge, by Tim Babcock:
I recall selling that particular model of machine as the 8086 version when I was working for Creative Computers in Seattle.
The 286 version of Kaypro came in a black polished aluminum case. Very eye catching in the store.
Two complaints I would get about the Kaypro PC was that the keyboard was mushy (amazing for a computer that was big for writers and teachers) and not having 640k of memory at the time. We ended up having to upgrade them to 640K for nothing just to compete with the Leading Edge Model D computer which was very popular at the time thanks to Consumer Reports.
We sold quite a few Kaypro computers to government accounts since they were approved for the "Buy American" program that the Regan administration started. Kaypro's were manufactured in Laguna Beach but it was rumored that most of the labor used in the assembly process came from illegal alliens comming in from Mexico.
Once the Leading Edge Model D came out we lost quite a few sales to their computer and the local dealer would beat us most of the time. Our stores would shut down by January of 1986.
Darrin Lee's memories:
I was an employee at Kaypro from 1987 until around 1990. First off, they were made in Solana Beach, not Laguna Beach.
The Kaypro PC came with a wopping 768K of RAM, which was more than the standard 640K. It had some "trick" software that would allow the extra 128K to be used as a virtual drive, a pretty cool thing at the time. We used to make 100's of them, mostly dual floppy, but some were with the very innovative 3.5" 720" drive and a 5.25" 360K floppy.
Then we would make some REAL special ones with a 30MB RLL hard drive. It was an interesting place to work, and an experience I value and still think about today.
Rui M. Dos Santos from Angola recalls:
In Angola we imported these Kaypro machines mainly the 30MB HD version. It had at the time several versions and the concept was nice BUT there were technical problems... Basically the ideia was to have a BASIC box with the Mainboard/HardDrive/FDD etc as one box and then "chase the Processor board according to the user and warranting the user upgrades as, then, the processor industry was going very fast with major diferences from processor to processor-8088/80286/80386 all with diferent clock rates etc.."
The concept was nice BUT there were hardware /firmware problems with the "Processor boards"... We in Angola ended up "changing and re-doing all PC´s" replacing the all board by "conventional clone boards"
We need more info about this computer ! If you designed, used, or have more info about this system,
please send us pictures or anything you might find useful.
My dad bought a Kaypro PC for our family for Christmas, 1986. The model we purchased had a V20 CPU that would toggle between 4.77 and 8.0 MHz. It had 768 KB of RAM (later upgraded to 2 MB with an expansion card) and a 10 MB hard drive (later upgraded to 20 MB, then 32 MB). It came with two DS/DD half-height 5 1/4" floppy drives. We also added an internal modem. It came with this ATI All-In-Wonder EGA adapter that could emulate full EGA on the green screen that came with it. I wrote my very first program on this computer using GW-BASIC.
Thursday 10th May 2012
Howard: If you recall, the Kaypro 286i was not only the first IBM AT compatible computer to hit the market, it was also the first one to WORK! The IBM AT''s had problems accessing their hard drives in their early shipments. Kaypro had specified a different controller chip and avoided the problem, but still shipped the early 286i''s with dual floppy disk drives instead of hard drive versions, just in case. The Kaypro 286i was as close to a bulletproof design as was to be had in those days but the price tag was so high that most buyers opted for the IBM version. The Kaypro''s carried a 30$ margin between selling price and dealer cost, and the IBM units usually carried a 40$+ margin, so Kaypro dealers just didn''t have the room to play with price the way IBM dealers did, plus the Kaypro dealer had no choice but to pay for expensive air shipping, driving up the dealers selling expenses.
Thursday 30th December 2010
The Kaypro PC was introduced with a 4.77 MHZ intel 8088 processor and a 10 MB hard drive. Later on, the system was equipped with a switchable processor card that could toggle between 4.77 mhz and 8 mhz (later 4.77/10 mhz), and hard drives were bumped up to 20 and later 30 mb capacities. The system was also available with 2 360KB floppy drives, and later on, the system was shipped sans monitor, video card, and only one floppy drive, giving dealers ultimate flexibility in how the machine was configured for the end-user.
The mainboard was a passive device, supporting the 8 bit bus that connected the processor card to the video card and the multifunction (disk controller/memory/i-o) card and empty expansion slots. Kaypro sold the Kaypro PC as a computer that was upgradeable to run Intel''s 80286 microprocessor, and briefly released an 80286 processor board for installation in the KPC. The problem was that the system was locked into an 8 bit bus, allowing the 80286 processor to have only 8 bit access to system memory, video, and the hard drive. Thus, the slow access to memory and storage held the performance back so much that the speed improvement was barely noticeable. The card sold for about $600 as I remember, and were recalled with little fanfare. The idea of an upgradeable computer was an excellent one, and had there been a way to practically accommodate the need for a 16 bit bus, would have revolutionized the market.
Kaypro was also the only company I know of that guaranteed IBM system compatibility. If you bought a Kaypro PC and it failed to run any business class software that would run on a similar IBM PC, then Kaypro would rewrite the ROM BIOS to "fix" the problem at no charge.
And for what it is worth, the "PC" in Kaypro PC stood for "Professional Computer".
Thursday 30th December 2010
PC & 286i
BUILT IN LANGUAGE
Standard PC-XT - 84 key
Intel 80286 (8086 in the Kaypro PC)
6 then 8 then 12 MHz (1987)
Socket for a 80287 math coprocessor
512 KB up to 768 KB
40 or 80 columns x 25 lines
Hercules graphics (720 x 348) or CGA (640 x 200)
16 then 256
Built-in one channel speaker
SIZE / WEIGHT
52 (W) x 39 (D) x 16 (H) cm (main unit)
1 X Parallel, 2 x Serial, Composite video
BUILT IN MEDIA
2 x 1.2 MB 5.25'' FDD, optional 20 then 40 MB HDD (2 x 360 KB 5.25'' FDD in the Kaypro PC)