The Columbia MPC (for Multi Personal Computer) was the first exact copy of the young IBM PC. This desktop clone version will be followed few months later by a portable version designed by the new Compaq company.
Technically, there is nothing to say about this computer which hardware features are exactly the same as those of the IBM 5150. However, for about $1500 less, the MPC offered standard features that were optional on the IBM: 128 KB of RAM, two Serial one parallel ports and 8 ISA slots (versus the IBM-PC's five). The MPC's disk controller was integrated into the motherboard.
As IBM didn't well protect the PC hardware and BIOS software copyrights, this first clone will be followed by many others, desktops and portables version, manufactured in numerous countries by hundreds of independant companies, all over the world.
The Columbia company was sold in 1986 to a company based in Florida which kept the name and still exists.
I have the original version of the Columbia MPC. Unfortunatly it does not have a newly developed chip that solved a problem on this version MPC. Does anyone know if this chip is available?
Saturday 25th August 2012
Bill Dempsey (USA)
I worked as Board Test Technician in Gurabo, Puerto Rico for Columbia Data Products. If you want to know where was manufactured, check in the Mother board the serial number label with the prefix PR.
Tuesday 26th October 2010
Edgardo Marrero (Puerto Rico)
The colombia MPC was not my first computer, the ZX81 was. But this was the first computer I could do real programming for college. I was a computer science student in systems software and the programming was getting complex. I was using my atari and a 300 buad modem as a terminal into the main frame. But with this computer whcih I bought in 1985 for $700, I had 256k ram, and a floppy drive to store my programs on. I also loaded my programs from floppy. I had no hard drive. I had no printer. I had no color monitor. I had a composite green screen and a hericlies card. That card meent I could do graphics and play games and such but everything was shades of green. But I could run turbo pascal 3.0. Which was abut the hotest thing since sliced bread at the time. You had 64k max program size, but you could edit, compile and run in one program. And compiling was super fast which was the attraction. It was much faster than the mainframe. I also got into playing with video memory on the machine, and assembly language and dos calls. I eventually went CGA color, then two floppies, then a 20 gig hard drive. The original floppies where 360k in size. The article ehre indicates 320k which is wrong. I originally had full height floppy drives and then went half height so I could fit the hard drive intot he machine. it was great to plug all that into the machine and have everything work. A friend of mine had a AT&T 6300 and he could not get much of anything to work with the computer. He went with a 20 gig hard card. That was a hard drive controller and drive on one card. I put sound on mine, and added a printer. A brother 9 pin dot matrix printer. The printer worked great. I ultimately tossed it because I got tired of slow noisely low quality print outs. But it was great for printing program listings for classes. It was funny I got this for $700 in 1985 buying it out of someones living room who was selling them on the side. I didn't get much of the bundled software. I got perfect file, and that was about it. I never used that. This purchase of a computer started a 10 year friendship that went through many computers. The guy who sold me this computer ultimately got out of it because the area of going to the bay area and buying computers cheap and taking them up into northern california swap meets and making 10k in a weekend was over. Things where a changing. Dell was coming onto the seen. That saw margins drop to almost nothing where they have stayed. But I did learn how to build this computers and overhaul them myself from my new long term buddy. It was great. Too bad columbia didn't do much with the computers they built. The built a few like this one and the portable listed here and then disappeared instead of prospering. It is strange which companies make it and why. I mean...no mystery now why Sinclair didn't make it...he was using scrap electronic parts. But columbia was using first run electronics, and was extremely compatiable with the IBM product.
Sunday 30th December 2007
David (Dallas, TX)
Columbia Data Products
BUILT IN LANGUAGE
Full-stroke 86 keys with function keys & numeric keypad
128 KB up to 1 MB
40 or 80 columns x 24 lines (MDA or CGA modes)
320 or 640 x 200 dots (CGA mode)
2 x Serial RS-232, 1 x Parallel Centronics, 8 x ISA slots
BUILT IN MEDIA
Dual 320 KB 5'' floppy disc drives
MS-DOS, CP/M-86, MP/M-86, OASIS, XENIX
Built-in power supply unit
all 8-bit PC expansion boards
$3400 - 128k memory, 2 floppies and color CGA card 5 MB hard drive : $1700