In 1981, Non-Linear Systems began designing a personal computer called KayComp, that would compete with the popular Osborne 1 transportable microcomputer. In 1982, Non-Linear Systems organized a daughter company called Kaypro and rechristened the computer with the same name.
The first product, the Kaypro II, carried the Roman-numeral designation because the most popular microcomputer at the time, other than the IBM PC, was the Apple II. The Kaypro II was designed to be portable like the Osborne. (When laptop computers became available, the larger machines came to be called transportable or luggable, rather than portable.) Set in an aluminum case, it weighs 29 pounds (13 kilograms) and was equipped with a Zilog Z80 microprocessor, 64 kilobytes of RAM, and two 5¼-inch double-density floppy-disk drives. It ran on the CP/M operating system of Digital Research, Inc.
By mid-1983, Kaypro had dropped the price to $1,595, and was selling more than 10,000 units a month—briefly making it the fifth-largest computer maker in the world. The Kaypro II's market success was due to a number of factors: it had a larger screen than the Osborne; it came bundled with third-party application software (PerfectWriter and PerfectCalc, later to be replaced by MicroPro's WordStar and CalcStar); and it was supported by a network of trained dealers. The boxy units were so popular that they spawned a network of hobbyist user groups across the United States that provided local support for Kaypro products. Kaypro's success contributed to the eventual failure of the Osborne Computer Corporation (based on information from Wikipedia).
This computer is currently interactive in the Museum.
Kendrick Walker on Saturday, December 13, 2008 I'm a fellow computer collector. I have one of these, an early model Kaypro II. I have yet to hear of anyone finding one that's broken, or doesn't work. They're very well built, and a lot of fun to use. E-mail me if you're a Collector too, I'd love to hear from you! firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Evans on Thursday, April 24, 2008 You can see a Kaypro computer in the fifth season "Magnum PI" episode, "Little Games". A diamond thief breaks into a vault by disabling alarms using a Kaypro and you can clearly see the keyboard and a brief side shot of the computer. Later, Magnum crashes Robin Master's "$100,000 computer system" - a "Dracos 3", according to Higgins - while playing a computer game. The "Dracos 3" is actually a Kaypro keyboard and a TV. Of course, the computer game and the computer's features are typical Hollywood nonsense - far beyond what a real computer could do at the time. I always wondered what that computer was and now thanks to this great site, I finally figured it out.
Norma Andreasen on Saturday, September 22, 2007 This Kaypro was my first computer in 1984 and I loved it! After learning Word Star, I was able to word process my lesson plans, handouts for class, exams, etc. Even better, I took it with me on weekends away from home and could continue working wherever I was.
In the summer of 2007, I found the machine packed away (carefully) in the attic. Hesitantly, I turned it on and it worked perfectly, even after 23 years! I just couldn't throw it out, and was happy to find the PCM in Canada as the Kaypro's new home. It was an amazing computer for its time!
Tim McMahon on Wednesday, August 15, 2007 This was my first computer and although I liked it I never really got any real work out of it. It developed a glitch of some sort and became a boat anchor. I liked it because the keyboard latched to the top so it was easily transportable like a suitcase. Sort of the earliest version of a Laptop.
Tim McMahon, editor