Jurassic Tech: Todd O’s Sharp PC 1500 Circa 1982: A Pocket PC

In today’s Jurassic Tech, Todd Ogasawara shows off his 1982 era Sharp PC 1500 — perhaps the first true pocket-sized PC.

The Sharp PC-1500 was the first ultra-mobile computer I saw and owned. It was released 30 years ago in 1982 and was also available from Radio Shack as the TRS-80 PC2. It had an 8-bit processor and, if I recall correctly, 2KB of memory. It even had a BASIC interpreter built-in to let you write your own software. The photo above shows the PC-1500 plugged into its optional expansion port which provided a cassette tape interface (for data) and a four-color pen plotter! A tube containing a spare set of pens is seen at the bottom of the photo.

Ultra-mobile computers usually came with some kind of carrying included. I do not know if this case is real leather. But, you can see that it has stood the test of time very well at age 30. An iPhone 4 is seen below the PC-1500 to provide an idea of its size.

Its “chiclet” keyboard had a QWERTY layout and was reasonably easy to use. BASIC keywords could be entered with a single keypress. The clear plastic keyword tempate in this photo is laid over the PC-1500 in this photo. The LCD display had a 156×7 resolution. There is no typo in the previous sentence. The display had a 7 pixel vertical resolution. You could, however, address each pixel individually to produce monochrome graphics. Even primitive animation was possible on the display.

The port on the left side of the PC-1500 plugged into the optional expansion dock.

Four AA batteries powered the PC-1500. Note that the battery compartment is screwed in. There is no chance of batteries falling out by accident.

And, like many devices from that era and the decade that followed it, it had a real physical reset button on the bottom of the unit.

The optional expansion dock’s four-color pen plotter used a proprietary papertape roll for hardcopy.

Here you see the ports for cassette tape used for data storage as well as the AC power plug port.

The dock had its own connector port.

Sharp made sure you had key accessories for the PC-1500. You can see the PC-1500 and its expansion dock sitting in a custom case with pouches for the power adapter and supplies. Again, I do not know if the case is made of real leather. However, as you can see in the photo above, it is in great shape after 30 years.

I got good use out of the Sharp PC-1500. It was my main “super-calculator” for many years.

There an excellent fan page for the device where you can find more information: http://www.pc1500.com/