Ampro described their Little Board as the world's simplest and least
expensive CP/M computer. It is a complete, miniature single-board computer (SBC)
optimized for compatibility with 5 1/4-inch mini-floppy disk drives.
Ampro had taken advantage of the latest in semiconductor developements, incorporating
all the essential elements of a CP/M computer on one tiny board - CPU, 64K RAM, boot EPROM,
battery-backed clock, terminal port, modem port, printer port, and floppy disk controller.
CP/M was the most popular computer
operating system in the late 1970's and early 1980's, before Microsoft MS-DOS took-over, following
the release of the IBM PC in late 1981.
The Ampro Little Board can be be mounted directly on the bottom of most mini-floppy
disk drives, using the four standard threaded holes, with support for 1 to 4 single or
double density 5 1/4-inch mini drives.
While the $349 Little Board is a capable single board computer, the owner still
has to supply their own power supply and floppy drives.
A few months later, in September 1984, Ampro released their own complete computer system,
the Ampro Bookshelf Series 100, featuring the Little Board, a built-in power supply,
and 1 or 2 built-in floppy disk drives. Althought the Book shelf computer was a kit that
the purchaser had to put together, it was mostly assembly with no soldering required.
The Bookshelf comes with an enhanced version of CP/M 2.2, called "Friendly", which allows
the user to access any program just by pointing to a menu entry on the screen. The screen displays
the disk drive directory alphabetically, and you select what program to run by moving a cursor.
Three different models were available:
Model 121 - $895 - one 400K 48 TPI floppy drive
Model 122 - $995 - two 400K 48 TPI floppy drives
Model 142 - $1,195 - two 800K 96 TPI floppy drives
Since CP/M was nearing obsolescence, 1984 was very late in the game to be releasing a CP/M computer
of any kind. Within a year, Ampro released additional Little Board single board computers,
but these later systems were MS-DOS and PC compatible.