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Zenith Data Systems
Z-171 PC

This innovative portable computer was one of the first to have a LCD display which was back-lighted! It also was one of the very earliest battery powered portable IBM compatible computers.

This lunchbox system was in fact made by Vadem and OEM'd by Zenith (Z170/Z171), Morrow (the Pivot), Osborne (Encore), and maybe others.

It was an excellent IBM compatible portable system, and was sold in considerable quantities to the US government and Navy.
Amazingly, this machine was Year 2000 compliant. In fact, the internal clock goes up to 2015.

Read the Osborne Encore for more info.

We need more info about this computer ! If you designed, used, or have more info about this system, please send us pictures or anything you might find useful.
Please consider donating your old computer / videogame system to or one of our partners from anywhere in the world (Europe, America, Asia, etc.).


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.

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

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...

Thursday 22nd September 2016
Daniel Goodland (Canada)

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.

Tuesday 1st May 2012
William Schaub (United States)


NAME  Z-171 PC
MANUFACTURER  Zenith Data Systems
TYPE  Portable
YEAR  1985
KEYBOARD  Full-stroke keyboard. 76 mechanical keys and 14 touch-sensitive functions keys
CPU  Intel 80C88
SPEED  4,77 MHz
RAM  256 KB (640 KB max.)
ROM  Unknown
TEXT MODES  80 x 25
GRAPHIC MODES  640 x 200 (CGA)
COLORS  back-lighted monochome blue LCD display
SOUND  Sound 80 Ohm, 2-inch built-in speaker
SIZE / WEIGHT  32,5(W) x 25,1(H) x 14,1(D) cm. Weight : 6 Kg.
I/O PORTS  Parallel connector, Serial connector, Monitor video output, RGB video output (located on the optional video board), phone (built-in modem), expansion bus
BUILT IN MEDIA  2 x 5.25'' disk-drives (360 KB each)
POWER SUPPLY  External AC adapter or battery powered
PRICE  27 500 F (France, september 1985)

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