After having produced several CP/M based computers, Kaypro released this stylish PC compatible portable. It had an innovative dark grey brushed aluminum case with beveled edges covered in ridged black rubber.
When opened, it offered a detachable keyboard, a slimline 3.5" floppy disc drive and a first generation LCD screen with no backlite and limited contrast. The floppy drive front poped up to the right of the case to let the user insert disks.
Two main options could be acquired separatly: a docking station containing two standard card expansion slots and housings for a second floppy drive and a hard disk; and a disk adapter for adding an external 5.25" or 3.5" floppy drive. This adapter also featured a Parallel port and one short card slot. There was also an external battery pack that doubled the four hour autonomy of the main battery.
Like its predecessors, the Kaypro 2000 was sold with a large bundle of software. In addition to MS-DOS operating system, there were the range of Micropro products : WordStar, Mailmerge, CalcStar, InfoStar, and StarBurst, a communications package from Mycroft Labs, and several utilities provided by Kaypro.
The Kaypro 2000 was licencied to the french company SMT which rabadged in 'Goupil Club' and sold it in France (and Europe?) with little success.
Howard Boyle was the engineering manager for a number of the Kaypro projects...
... and it was a pretty interesting job. The Kaypro 2000 was our first laptop computer. The case, LCD and pop-up disk drive were made my Citizen Watch Company in Japan. They were not cheap! The case was the biggest problem as it was made with sort of an extrusion process and then anodized. Because the finish was anodized aluminum and not painted, any flaws showed up and the part needed to be rejected.
The keyboard and later the keypad and telephone (yes telephone) that attached to the unit were made in Hong Kong. Getting the keys to "feel" right was quite a project as they are plastic and not rubber as you might guess (also the bumper that went around the computer).
On the follow on laptop project the Kaypro 2010, the case was made by a sheet metal shop in California and painted. That was a much better solution for production but the look was somewhat different. LCDs were always a problem as large (for that time) panels tended to have defective pixels so the yields were not great.
Interestingly, we used Gates "D" cell lead acid batteries for the laptops as they had the capacity we needed but charging them and keeping them from becoming too discharged was a constant engineering challenge. Then there was the backlight relay problem..
Well, it was quite an interesting time for the industry and for the company.
James Mitchell reports to us:
I've held a kaypro 2000 for a while. I think it's the prettiest looking computer I ever saw. One of the major problems the 2k faced was that it used lead-acid batteries that made the computer almost unbearably heavy, and which had a terrible propensity to wear out.
Back-lit screen, by Nicholas Howe
A back-lit screen for the Kaypro 2000 could be installed by an outfit called Axonics, that was located in Utah. I had this done to my 2000, the last entry in a Kaypro suite of the 2, the 10, and the 2000. I still have all of them, but haven't used them for many years.