Atari Portfolio
Released:1989
Price:US $399.95
Size:7.5" x 4" x 1.25"
20cm x 10.5cm x 2.5cm
Weight:17.5 oz / 505g
CPU:Intel 80C88 @ 4.92MHz
RAM:128K, 128K+640K max
Display:40 X 8 text
260 X 64 pixels
Sound:Tiny speaker
Expansion:Memory card slot
60-pin expansion bus
Storage:Internal RAM disk
RAM cards, 640K max
Power:Three "AA" batteries
OS:Built-in DIP DOS


The Atari Portfolio - world's first handheld/palmtop/pocket "PC". The Portfolio is almost the exact same size as a VHS VCR tape. It is not, of course, the first pocket-sized computer. Radio Shack released its pocket-sized computer, the TRS-80 PC-1, over 9 years earlier, in 1980. The difference is, that the TRS-80 PC-1 is programmable only in BASIC, while the Portfolio is an MS-DOS compatible computer.

Also, 5 years before the Portfolio , Hewlett-Packard released the HP-110, their own portable MS-DOS computer, but it cost $3000 and is much larger and heavier.


The Portfolio doesn't really run MS-DOS, it runs DIP-DOS. The Portfolio was designed by Distributed Information Processing (DIP) from Guildford, UK - this is their version of an MS-DOS 2.11 compatible operating system.

There is no internal floppy or hard drive for data storage, all data is stored in the internal RAM memory. This memory is battery-backed, so data is not lost when the system is shut off.

There is a slot on the left side for an optional memory card.

Some of the Portfolio's 128K of RAM, 32K by default, is reserved for the RAM disk (the C: drive), and the remaining 96K is used by the built-in applications.
These applications are:
  • Diary
  • Calculator
  • Editor (text)
  • Worksheet (spreadsheet)
  • Address Book - can dial telephone numbers by playing touch-tones through the speaker.



  • PCMCIA card? No, the Portfolio had similarly-sized memory expansion cards back in 1989. This is the 128K battery-backed external memory card ($199.95). It would be inserted in a slot on the left side of the Portfolio. The floppy disk is for size comparison only -the Portfolio has no floppy drive, although with the appropriate driver, an external serial floppy drive may be used.


    Seen above is the Portfolio with the Parallel Port Interface ($49.95) attached. A Serial Interface ($79.95) is also available. The Portfolio can transfer files to/from other PCs using the Parallel Interface and built-in software.
    To transfer files to/from Portfolio/PC:
  • Portfolio Parallel Interface.
  • 25-pin to 25-pin parallel straight-thru cable.
  • FILE-TRANSFER is available under the Portfolio SET-UP menu. I always use SERVER.
  • Download ft.zip and install it on your PC - you may have to run it in MS-DOS mode, not Windows.

    From STart, the Atari magazine, October 1989:
    "The Portfolio should make Atari millions of dollars and make the Atari name a familiar one in corporate offices around the world."

    Competing pocket PC's include the Poqet PC (1990), the HP 95LX (1991), and the Zeos Pocket PC (1992).

    Illicit uses : Rob an ATM machine (From the movie Terminator 2)

    Easter-egg: The Portfolio will display the names of the developers. From "Editor", Press <Fn><2>, then <K>, then <Alt><[> .

    Related Links

  • Atari Portfolio Web Pages - Lot's of info and downloads
  • Atari Portfolio Software
  • Portfolio Frequently Asked Questions from Blinkenlights
  • The Atari Portfolio Website
  • Portfolio from R/S Programmable Calculators
  • Antic - The Atari Resource
  • Best Electronics - Atari

  • Partial History of the Atari Computers

    • 196?: As an engineering student at the University of Utah, Nolan Bushnell liked to sneak into the computer labs late at night to play computer games on the university's $7 million mainframes.
    • 1972: Bushnell founded Atari with $250 of his own money and another $250 from business partner Ted Dabney. They then created and commercialized the world's first commercial video game, Pong. Bushnell was 27 years old.
    • 1976: Warner Communications buys Atari from Bushnell for $28 million.
    • 1977: Atari introduces the Atari Video Computer System (VCS), later renamed the Atari 2600
    • 1978: December - Atari announces the Atari 400 and 800 personal computers.
    • 1979: October - Atari begins shipping the Atari 400 and Atari 800 personal computers.
    • 1979: December - Atari produces the first coin-operated Asteroids game machine.
    • 1981: May - Atari announces the 8KB Atari 400 is being discontinued.
    • 1982: January - Atari begins shipping all Atari 800 units with GTIA graphics chips, allowing three more graphics modes than previously.
    • 1982: December - Atari issues a US$55 rebate on the Atari 400, dropping its retail price to under US$200.
    • 1983: January - Atari introduces the 1200XL home computer.
    • 1983: May - Atari offers a US$100 rebate on the Atari 800, bringing its retail price to below US$400.
    • 1983: June - Atari introduces the Atari 600 XL.
    • 1983: June - Atari introduces the Atari 800 XL, with 64 KB RAM.
    • 1983: June - Atari introduces the Atari 1450 XL, with built-in 300 bps modem.
    • 1983: June - Atari introduces the Atari 1450 XLD, with built-in 300 bps modem and disk drive.
    • 1983: October - Atari begins shipping its XL computers.
    • 1983: - Atari cancels production of the Atari 1200XL, due to compatibility and other problems.
    • 1984: July - Jack Tramiel, President of Commodore International, leaves Commodore in January and buys Atari.
    • 1984: - Atari introduces the Atari 7800 ProSystem.
    • 1985: January - Atari introduces the 65XE, for US$120.
    • 1985: Atari introduces the 130XE, with 128KB RAM.
    • 1985: Atari introduces the 130ST for US$400.
    • 1985: Atari introduces the 520ST for US$600.
    • 1987: January - At the Winter CES, Atari announces a US$1500 laser printer.
    • 1988: September - Atari introduces the Atari TT.
    • 1989: - Atari Computer introduces the Portfolio, a 1-pound DOS-based PC, which runs on three AA batteries. Price: US$400
      Source: Chronology of Events in the History of Microcomputers



    Return to the Obsolete Technology Homepage