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 worked for Bell $ Howell Co. in the 80''s and we were the national service provider for Columbia Data Products. I was based in Minneapolis and Control Data had hundreds of the 1600 series. They were great IBM clones. Eagle was also a brand we serviced and while they were good computers they weren''t as good of a clone as CDP. One of the things that killed CDP was that their production was pushed so hard, because of their popularity, that their out of box failure rate went up to about 25$. I know because Control Data would get pallets of them in and hot stage each unit before sending it to their end user and would call us with stacks of them to fix.
Wednesday 14th January 2015
Jodean Schoenberger (Minnesota USA)
My first computer job was at Columbia. I did BIOS testing and in those days that meant Lotus 123, Wordstar, and games like Decathlon, etc... It was lots of fun watching them grow. It was a damn shame their Accounting and business side could ship a heck of a lot of these units on credit but never get paid. If not for bad business practices, they would have gone the route of Compaq. Too bad for all those dedicated workers...
Wednesday 8th October 2014
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)
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