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This mini forum is intended to provide a simple means of discussion about the Zenith Data Systems  Z-171 PC computer. If you want to share your own experience or memories, or add relevant information about this system: post a message!

  Click Here to add a message in the forum


Friday 6th April 2012
777 777 (St. Joseph Michigan)

When I transferred from HeathKit to ZDS, this was the first project I worked on. Spent a lot of time getting a HDD running it it. Then they canceled the project.

Thursday 22nd September 2016
Daniel Goodland (Canada)

I''m trying to remember mine - I was pretty certain it was a Texas Instruments - and had a handle on the top. I know I was able to run WordPerfect 4.1 off the 5 1/4 on it. I could still turn it on when I left it (and my 8086) with the Oshawa computer museum long long ago...

Tuesday 1st May 2012
William Schaub (United States)

Me and my uncle got two of these at a flea market for 20$ a piece sometime in the mid 90s. I used a boot floppy with Procomm Plus to turn it into a nice portable dumb terminal. I introduced my uncle to BBSes with it. I also used it to get on the net using a dialup shell account.

I had a 386 at home running FreeBSD at the time. but when I would go visit my uncle or go other places I would use this neat little machine to chat on IRC and check email using the built in 1200BPS modem.

I may still have one of these in storage somewhere. I think the guy at the fleamarket was selling a whole pallet of them that were surplus from the IRS modernizing their systems.

Thursday 9th September 2010
Bob Cowart (USA)

This machine was also successfully sold by Quadram, of Norcross, GA. They made memory cards and video boards for PC''s as well. The Quadram Datavue 25 had a 25-line LCD and detachable IR keyboard. It was available in several different models, with backlight LCD, reflective LCD, and orange gas plasma (as I recall). There was a RAM drive option that made the reflective LCD version very fast and energy efficient. I used these units for authoring several books. Using a task-switcher program such as Software Carousel, I could run dBase III, Wordstar, Sidekick, etc., which were all loaded into the RAM drive, and switch between them with a keystroke. This was before Windows, but allowed me to work in a multi-tasking style. I''d save my writing to floppy regularly, to avoid loosing my work if the battery died or there was a lockup. All the programs I used were loaded into the RAM drive when I booted from the 5-1/4" floppy. All-all, I hold that the Datavue was superior to the Osborne or Zenith clones of this first LCD lunchbox offering by Vandem, primarily because of the RAM drive and detachable, wireless keyboard. It also ran silent. There was no fan.

Monday 24th May 2010
Thumper (Alabama, United States)
The Computer Archive

In honor of the Z-171''s older brother, the Osborne Encore receiving the Computer of the Day honor, I just scanned the literature for the Z-171 and added it to the archive at (click on the thumbnail to view a text-searchable PDF.) Enjoy!

Thursday 13rd May 2010
Paula (USA)
P and P pc

My first Desktop Computer experience was with this model. I worked for the Navy. The older men were scared of it. I had learned FORTRAN with keypunch cards and a Mainframe in college therefore I had the most computer experience in the office. So they put one on my desk, told me to figure it out and then tell everyone how to use it. I did it and haven''t stopped working on computers ever since.

Monday 3rd November 2008

i remember having to open up and resseat the memory chips on a regular basis. they were constantly working loose.

Sunday 19th August 2007
thomas (birmingham)

i just got me one at a hamfest and i don,t know what version of dos to get with it

Thursday 29th July 2004
Galgo (Jerusalem,ISRAEL)

I just took apart a working unit and used the Box frame for another project. All the "insides" are still in perfect working condition and i'm ready to donate any of the them as parts for the S&H cost only (from Jerusalem , ISRAEL).

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