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K > KAYPRO > PC & 286i


 

This mini forum is intended to provide a simple means of discussion about the Kaypro PC & 286i computer. If you want to share your own experience or memories, or add relevant information about this system: post a message! For other purposes like sales messages, hardware & software questions or information requests, please use our main forum.

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Monday 7th March 2016
Lee Lichtenwalner (United States)

I used to assemble, service, and sell Kaypro computers in Virginia a long, long time ago. Started with the 8088, then V20, 80286, 80386, and that "powerhouse" the 80486. I used to diagnose memory errors at the chip level$yes, one dreadful RAM chip at a time. They were profitable at one point, getting as much as $45 per system on volume. It was an incredible experience$that plus my LichtenA@arpa.net email address...LOL


Thursday 10th May 2012
Shoal Creek

My dad bought a Kaypro PC for our family for Christmas, 1986. The model we purchased had a V20 CPU that would toggle between 4.77 and 8.0 MHz. It had 768 KB of RAM (later upgraded to 2 MB with an expansion card) and a 10 MB hard drive (later upgraded to 20 MB, then 32 MB). It came with two DS/DD half-height 5 1/4" floppy drives. We also added an internal modem. It came with this ATI All-In-Wonder EGA adapter that could emulate full EGA on the green screen that came with it. I wrote my very first program on this computer using GW-BASIC.


Thursday 30th December 2010
Richard (US)

Howard: If you recall, the Kaypro 286i was not only the first IBM AT compatible computer to hit the market, it was also the first one to WORK! The IBM AT''s had problems accessing their hard drives in their early shipments. Kaypro had specified a different controller chip and avoided the problem, but still shipped the early 286i''s with dual floppy disk drives instead of hard drive versions, just in case. The Kaypro 286i was as close to a bulletproof design as was to be had in those days but the price tag was so high that most buyers opted for the IBM version. The Kaypro''s carried a 30$ margin between selling price and dealer cost, and the IBM units usually carried a 40$+ margin, so Kaypro dealers just didn''t have the room to play with price the way IBM dealers did, plus the Kaypro dealer had no choice but to pay for expensive air shipping, driving up the dealers selling expenses.


Thursday 30th December 2010
Richard (US)

The Kaypro PC was introduced with a 4.77 MHZ intel 8088 processor and a 10 MB hard drive. Later on, the system was equipped with a switchable processor card that could toggle between 4.77 mhz and 8 mhz (later 4.77/10 mhz), and hard drives were bumped up to 20 and later 30 mb capacities. The system was also available with 2 360KB floppy drives, and later on, the system was shipped sans monitor, video card, and only one floppy drive, giving dealers ultimate flexibility in how the machine was configured for the end-user.

The mainboard was a passive device, supporting the 8 bit bus that connected the processor card to the video card and the multifunction (disk controller/memory/i-o) card and empty expansion slots. Kaypro sold the Kaypro PC as a computer that was upgradeable to run Intel''s 80286 microprocessor, and briefly released an 80286 processor board for installation in the KPC. The problem was that the system was locked into an 8 bit bus, allowing the 80286 processor to have only 8 bit access to system memory, video, and the hard drive. Thus, the slow access to memory and storage held the performance back so much that the speed improvement was barely noticeable. The card sold for about $600 as I remember, and were recalled with little fanfare. The idea of an upgradeable computer was an excellent one, and had there been a way to practically accommodate the need for a 16 bit bus, would have revolutionized the market.

Kaypro was also the only company I know of that guaranteed IBM system compatibility. If you bought a Kaypro PC and it failed to run any business class software that would run on a similar IBM PC, then Kaypro would rewrite the ROM BIOS to "fix" the problem at no charge.

And for what it is worth, the "PC" in Kaypro PC stood for "Professional Computer".


Tuesday 8th June 2010
Dustin (USA)

We purchased a Kaypro PC in, I think, 1986. It had an 8086 processor that ran at 8 MHz or 4.77 MHz depending on the position of a toggle switch on the back of the system. Apparently hard disk drives weren''t standard on these models because ours only had two 360 KiB 5.25" floppy disk drives. We also had the full 640 KiB of RAM installed. I was unaware any model offered 728 KiB until reading this article.

My memory is a bit fuzzy on the specifics, but I remember it coming with MS-DOS 3.1, a version of WordStar, a primitive Windows-like TSR system, and a terminal program for use with a model (which we didn''t own).

I typed many papers on that system. I played a lot of games, too. Populous and SimCity were two of my favorites.


Tuesday 1st June 2010
howard boyle

the K286i was my 2nd project as an engineering project manager for Kaypro. It was quite a challenge and I believe it was the first "clone" of the AT in the market. We had the chassis and chevron front made in Taiwan and the keyboards made in Hong Kong orginally. Our goal what to be plug and part compatable with the IBM AT and it was. The hardest part of the project was decoding the insides of a couple of the IBM proms but we were able to overcome that issue too. The orginal ROM was from Award Software and it was challenging as they were developing the code at the same time we were doing the hardware. I learned a lot from that project. Howad


Wednesday 28th April 2010
Bart (USA)

The Kaypro PC was my first computer. The model I had came with an NEC V20 chip for the processor. This started my computer legacy of not having an intel branded processor in any machine until someone gave me a laptop in 2005. I don''t dislike intel it just always worked out that the best deal at the time was not intel. Anyway, my kaypro came with EGA graphics with a monochrome monitor. It came with a low density 5.25 floppy and I added the low density (720 kb) 3.5 inch floppy. Later I added a 32mb seagate rll drive. Then upgraded to vga and added a math coprocessor. The original system cost about 1800.00 US. It served my well and sometimes wish I still had it to tinker with.


Wednesday 28th March 2007
Mikko Niska (Finland)

The Kaypro I still own was bought July 1987 and it has had no repairs or any maintenance ever since. The only extra part installed has been modem. My Kaypro is PC/XT and it has 30 MB hard disk, 1 floppy disk, PC-DOS 3.21, no mouse and monitor is Eizo 3030 12" monochrome and printer Epson FX-105. Recent years it has been used by children for playing PC games of late 1980´s. If needed I suppouse the serial number of Kaypro is 402581 - the only number I found from backside. It has been a good computer!


Wednesday 6th September 2006
Sevki Alemdar (Turkey)

paid nearly 2000 USD in 1987 from a KAYPRO dealer in Turkey for its 8088 PC version. He took my order and gave me his own 286i. But later on he went bankcrupt and disappeared. So I used this machine till the end of 1993. The main board was very heavy but was very powerfull computer at that time. I still have it in a box.


Wednesday 14th December 2005
Mike (Ohio)

My first IBM compatible was a Kaypro PC. I went all out and purchased the dual floppy drive machine with a color (CGA) monitor after comparing several machines. My choice was between a Tandy 1000, Epson PC and the Kaypro (which I purchased after seeing positive reviews in Creative Computer and Byte magazines) - if you don't remember those you're not an old-timer like myself. I used it for a number of years, upgrading the video to EGA and adding a 20mb harddrive (for $300!!!) until a lightning strike near my home fried the motherboard (it came in through the phone line, frying the modem and the motherboard). I never upgraded my machine to the 286 level, because both the retailer in Cincinnati and Kaypro had gone under during that time. I ended up trading up to a Gateway 2000 25mhz 386 machine.


Wednesday 3rd August 2005
Douglas (Alaska)

Our family got one of these machines in 1985. At the time, my grandpa was working for the government and that's what they were using then, so we got one cheap. We had a Intel 8086, but I think we upgraded it later. We also had a 5.25" floppy drive and a 30MB hard disk. We got the system with Windows 2.1 and then we got Windows 3.1 in 1992. We used the system until 1996, when sadly, one day it crshed completely. It wouldn't recognize a Windows disk. So we got read of it.


Wednesday 15th June 2005
Don (Hawaii)

I grew up in the area where Kaypro Computers was located. I went to Jr. High right next door to the campus in Solana Beach. Several of my friends ended up working for Kaypro in the early 80's. A good friend of mine became the head of European sales for Kaypro at a tender young age. They were great computers and definitely on the bleeding edge. Too bad Andy Kay decided to close doors but in the end he wasn't able to keep up with the dollars that IBM and others had to wage a marketing war.


Wednesday 13rd April 2005
G.I. Polak (Netherlands)

Hi,
I still own a KAYPRO PC system and wondered if the brand KAYPRO still existed. My KAYPRO PC had a 30 (!!) MB HDD, and a 5,25'' FDD and an Intel 8086 CPU. Later on I added a CD interface with an external CD player to the system. I also ran MKS toolbox on it, remotely logging on over a 2400 Baud Modem, to the company's NCR 32/800 system I worked for, being able to give remote assistance if needed. Nowadays I have my own Wifi LAN with Linux, Win2000, PDA, cell phone etc. It was great working with th KAYPRO PC experimenting with BASIC, Turbo Pascal, Turbo C, Auto Cad, and even Oracle (!!) and helped me to become a computer engineer.





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