The Gavilan, along with its optional thermal transfer printer that clipped onto the back, fitted in a standard-size attaché case. It was a true 16-bit laptop computer conceived by John Zepecki, Gaviland's director of hardware engineering. It featured a 8-line LCD screen and was powered by either an AC adaptor or 10 half-D rechargeable batteries with 8 hours autonomy.
The 48 KB ROM held the Gavilan GOS (Graphic Operating System) kernel, a FORTH-like interpreter and a desktop manager software with graphic windows, drawers, folders and documents hierarchy.
The Operating System itself was written in Forth and supervised by John Banning, chief of the Gaviland's software development team. Most of the graphical environment was managed through an innovative touch panel located above the keyboard and intended to compete with first mouse driven systems. By moving his fingertip across this panel, the user moved a pointer and could invoke various actions by tapping one of the eight button areas.
Gavilan developed several software that took advantage of the GOS interface, a word processor, a spreadsheet, communication and mail utilities. The system could run MS-DOS OS as well.
Despite numerous innovations, the Gavilan always suffered from hardware and software problems. Furthermore, it was not fully PC-compatible. Many changes have been made to the initial machine and first sales only started in June of 1984, one year after the machine was first announced. A 16-line display version was also produced. At this time, competiton became harder and the Gavilan couldn't compete with new Japanese portable generation (i.e. the Sharp PC-5000). The Gavilan production thus stopped definitively in 1985 and the company failed.
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