My first computer was a KayPro II – what was yours?

The year was 1983 when I simultaneously bought a “state-of-the-art” KayPro II “portable” computer and enrolled in a Computer Science class at the University of Southern California. The class was required to earn a B.S. degree in Business Administration and I thought the computer would give me the edge, although I had no clue on how to use it.

The KayPro II computer was created by San Diego digital technology pioneer, Andrew Kay and built in a very busy factory in Solana Beach. The selling price was $1,595, plus tax – in 1982 dollars! That’s about $5,000 in 2022 dollars – a princely sum for a starving student like myself. Although, it did include a large dot matrix printer that could print 15 characters per second onto continuous feed paper.

The Kaypro II had 64 kilobytes of memory and two built-in 5.25 inch floppy drives. For comparison, there are 1,000,000,000 (yes, that reads one billion) kilobytes in 1 terabyte of today’s memory.

In the end, I used the computer as a word processor a few times, but never anything else. I sold it with the original carton, the printer, and all the paperwork for $500 at a garage sale in 1995.

By the way, I got a “C” grade in the computer science class.

British science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke using a Kaypro II in 1985.
courtesy AP/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/United Artists