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Columbia Data Products

The Columbia VP was a Compaq Portable like IBM PC compatible. Besides, it was said that Compaq designed the electronic part of the VP.
It was the last computer made by Columbia, the company which made the MPC, first true copy of the IBM-PC.

Columbia built a very rugged but heavy case which supported a 9" monochrome monitor, larger than the Compaq. All other features were the same as the Compaq.

When the system was launched, the main argument of Columbia was the large number of software bundled with it. Among them: MS-DOS, CP/M-86, Perfect series (Writer, Filer, Speller, Calc), MS-BASIC, Macro assembler, Home accountant and Space Commander game.

It seems that several versions of the VP were built: 1600/1, 1600/4, 2110, 2220, VP-Plus, but we have no information about them.


Stephen Somerville's memories:
I was the senior operations manager at Columbia Data Products from 1982 to 1984. My production team built and shipped about 2,000 VP's a month during that time.
I still have one buried in my closet. Wish I could find the "perfect" bundled software that came with it. I'd pay big to find that software somewhere on the net.
Anyway, those days were indeed heady times. BIG BONUSES, all expense trips for the senior staff in Vegas, and bahamas, the champange flowed like water. We were making money hand over fist, then one day, all of the sudden, I was told to layoff 400 production line workers. I ONE DAY! I quit 2 weeks later and never looked back.
But I'll never forget those times. We took Kaypros apart, as well as commodores, compaqs, and anybody elses where we could see a better idea, cheaper method, any item to drive a higher margin. I remember sitting at a conference room table with the guts of all our competitors machines hanging out, and saying to the rest of the senior staff, "guys, there is no more profit in this box, we've trimmed everything we can".
I remember the press coming to the company. An expedition team was taking one of our VP's to the top of mount everest to plot wind, conditions, etc. and the entire company was wearing tee shirts that read "Columbia Data Products, computers that can climb mountains".
Geeez, those were heady times, we had the world by the balls. Steve

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Before the Columbia I played mostly with Vaxes but when the luggables came along I bought a Columbia VP-1600-1 hotrodded with 256k of memory to which I added a multipurpose expansion card with 384k of memory to reach the 640k limit imposed by 1-2-3. Selected the Columbia for the amber screen (was sick of green phosphor). Was very fortuitous since the Columbia also had a BIOS debugger. Was TDY to the FAA in DC when they were hit by the BRAIN. Took it apart, wrote a thruway to fix it and another I found (both stored the original boot sector elsewhere) and went back to my real job. Later used the debugger to repair many boot sector viruses. Still have the original dual floppy, and a second purchased later with a 20MB HDD. Think both wound up with 10Base-T LAN cards.

Saturday 26th June 2021
Padgett (USA)

This was my first pc compatible. I remember upgrading from dos 1 to dos 2. I liked the perfect software series and was very annoyed when perfect 2 series removed keyboard compatibility with emacs.
I got the carrying case and sometimes brought it into work. I borrowed as 1200 baud modem so I could dial into work. I usually stayed in emacs. 1200 baud was fast enough.
I added an 8087 and a card with a 10mb hard drive (really helped) and 64kb (I think) of ram.
I still have it in storage and haven''t used it for at least 30 years. Don''t know if it works.
I may have the original 5-1/4" floppies.

Wednesday 12th August 2020
Martin Cohen (United States)

I used Perfect Calc software in the late 1980s and still have a few dozen spreadsheets that I would like to convert to a more recent spreadsheet format. I have the software but missing pc.swp. If anyone has that file and willing to share, I would greatly appreciate it.

Sunday 2nd February 2020
Go (Michigan, USA)


MANUFACTURER  Columbia Data Products
TYPE  Portable
YEAR  1983
KEYBOARD  Standard PC 82-key with function keys and numeric keypad
CPU  Intel 8088
SPEED  4.77 MHz
CO-PROCESSOR  Socket for 8087 math coprocessor
RAM  128 KB up to 256 KB on board
ROM  12 KB
TEXT MODES  40 or 80 characters x 25 lines
GRAPHIC MODES  320 or 640 x 200 pixels (CGA mode)
COLORS  16 maximum
SOUND  Tone generator
SIZE / WEIGHT  Unknown
I/O PORTS  Serial and Parallel ports
BUILT IN MEDIA  2 x 360 KB 5.25'' floppy disc drives
POWER SUPPLY  Built-in power supply unit
PERIPHERALS  1 internal expansion slot
PRICE  $2,995

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