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Zenith Data Systems
Z-171 PC

Untitled Document

Art Borg said in the newsgroups in 1997 :

The lunch box was designed by Vadem. I did not get a full explanation from Morrow but I think that both Osborne and Morrow backed Vadem to design this machine. The earliest Morrow Pivot machines had a display of only 12 lines. I don't know if they built any 25 line models before they went under. Their manuals were written with the expectation that 25 lines would be there almost instantly. Zenith bought some additional rights from Morrow to build that machine. My boss at that time wanted to build that product in 'his' factory in Taiwan. It was built in the Heath factory in Benton Harbor.

After Morrow ended, Zenith hired the fellow who had been president of Morrow to be the head of ZDS. Under his reign, He had Vadem design the computer part of the EZ-PC which was the little XT all in one that Zenith made. That computer was probably the first IBM-PC clone that did not use an Intel microprocessor. It had a NEC V-20. George Morrow wrote a column in some magazine at the time telling how clever Vadem was to get the V-20 to emulate the 8088. I still have one of these and from time to time, it will come up with a message "Illegal V-20 instruction trapped". This design caused some internal hostility.

A follow on computer was designed using an 8088 and a more conventional design. That computer never was developed to production. I always felt that the EZ-PC was handicapped by the MS-DOS software that came with the machine. This was a thing called MS-DOS Manager. It was an attempt to do some of the things that Windows does but in a non graphic environment. The instruction manual was so bad that no one that I met could ever figure out how to use this program. Even Jerry Pournelle of Byte magazine was turned off by it.

Ron Edelstein reports to us:
The Zenith version was the first portable computer adopted by the Internal Revenue Service for tax auditors and revenue agents. Seemed rather modern at the time...except it was bundled with PEARL software, a predecessor to the OFFICE concept, and took 13 diskettes to run, which required contant swapping of diskettes as different parts of the program were accessed.



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