Time waits for no man and certainly for no microcomputer reviewer. Since this review was completed,
Non-Linear Systems has revamped its produce line for 1983 with two new system configurations (the Kaypro 4 and
Kaypro 10), new software offerings, and a different pricing structure. The now "venerable" Kaypro II is quite
a bargain because NLS recently dropped its suggested retail price to $1595, a $200 reduction.
The Kaypro 4 is essentially an upgrade of the earlier model. Like its forebear, the Kaypro II, the Kaypro 4 is
a portable, CP/M-based system with 64K bytes of RAM and two double-density floppy disk drives. The three major
differences are that (1) it has double-sided disk drives (each offers 380K bytes of storage), (2) it is
packaged in a dark gray case, and (3) it costs $1995. A minor, if inexplicable difference, is in the product
name. NLS has shifted from using roman numerals (e.g., II) to arabic numerals (e.g., 4) - a change not without
The big news is the Kaypro 10, which incorporates an internal 10-megabyte hard disk as well as one
double-sided, double-density, half-height floppy-disk drive (380K bytes of storage). The Kaypro 10 itself is
an upgrade of the Kaypro 5, a 5-megabyte hard-disk portable shown in 1982 but never produced in quantity. The
Kaypro 10, including software, will put you back only $2795.
First, let's look at the hard disk. The physical 10-megabyte disk is divided into two logical devices of 5
megabytes each, called drives A and B. The 5 1/4-inch floppy-disk drive is drive C. Drives A and B are each
subdivided into 16 user areas (i.e., AO, Al,... A15 and BO, B1,...B15). As delivered from Kaypro, the unit has
the following files recorded on the hard disk:
User 0: Kaypro and CP/M utility programs
You can add or delete files to suit your needs as long as you stay within the 5-megabyte limit per logical
drive. Note that user areas do not have predefined storage limits - each user area takes from the 5-megabyte
User 1: Perfect Writer word-processing program
User 2: Profitplan electronic spreadsheet
User 3: Perfect Calc electronic spreadsheet
User 4: Perfect Filer/Individual Member Data Base
User 5: Perfect Filer/Organizational Member Data Base
User 6: S-BASIC
User 7: MBASIC and Games
One file, SAFETY.COM, is hard-disk-specific. Before ending a session with the Kaypro 10, run the SAFETY
program. This utility moves the hard disk's read/write heads to an unused area of the hard disk prior to powerdown.
Therefore, even if the heads were to hit the surface of the hard disk, no damage would occur to an area on
which data was stored. Running this program is a must for those who will be taking the Kaypro 10 out into the
real world and a should for the rest of us. (It would have been nice if this procedure had been incorporated
into an automatic shutdown process.)
Aside from the single drive, the exterior of the Kaypro 10 looks much like its predecessors, especially the
Kaypro 4. Both systems share the same no-nonsense, gunmetal-gray cabinet and all-black keyboard. One welcome
addition is an integral wire stand for the front of the unit that tilts the display up to a comfortable
viewing angle. Also, the carrying handle has been redesigned to be more compact. Because of the hard disk, the
designers included a fan for cooling the interior components. The whole system weighs 31 pounds, as compared
with 26 pounds for the Kaypro 4.
The back panel shows evidence of some changes also: the power cord is removable, there are connectors for one
parallel port and two serial ports (one printer and one modem), there is a jack for a light pen, the
brightness control has been moved to the back, and the Reset button has been moved to a more accessible
location. In addition to the 80- by 25-character display, the Kaypro 10 has these graphics capabilities:
draw/erase a line, draw/erase a pixel, inverse video, half-intensity, blinking, graphics characters (2- by
4-pixel matrix), cursor positioning, and cursor on/off. The display is treated as a matrix 100 pixels high by
160 pixels wide. S-BASIC has special commands that draw geometric figures such as circles, rectangles,
squares, and bars.
Non-Linear Systems includes a prodigious amount of applications software with each system. In addition to all
of the programs supplied with the Kaypro II, the firm is offering Wordstar as an option to the Perfect Writer
program. There is also a new utility that will read and write disks in the formats of several other popular
computer systems - at the moment, it can transfer data to and from the Osborne 1, the Xerox 820/II, and the
TRS-80 Model I. There is reason to believe that another 10 or more formats are on the horizon.
Arthur A. Little is a technical editor for BYTE.