IBM PS/2 Modell P70 386

YEAR: 1988

Initial Price: 7695 USD

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The Personal System/2 IBM PS/2 model P70 386 is a portable computer of briefcase size providing the same functions as the PS/2 desktop models. These models are also known as luggables.  It’s meant to be a portable computer, but it’s definitely not a laptop or a notebook.

It was a fairly sophisticated machine, having more in common with a high-end server than with other luggables of it’s day.  It came in 386DX-16 and -20 MHz speeds, with 30 MB, 60 MB, or 120 MB DBA ESDI hard disk options.  The display is a gas-plasma type, which means basically that it is an incredibly complex neon lamp.  This makes it one of the few modern computers that can be said to actually contain a vacuum tube!  The display/controller combination supports standard VGA resolution at 640×480 pixels (16 gray levels), and includes a 15-pin connector on the rear panel for an external VGA color monitor (16 colors supported).  CGA and EGA resolutions are also supported.  A maximum of 8 MB of RAM is supported on the system planar, with an additional 8 MB on a memory expansion card in one of the two microchannel slots.  One 16-bit and one 32-bit Microchannel expansion slots are provided, along with a socket for a 387DX math coprocessor.  Other features include a PS/2 mouse port, serial port, parallel port, internal 1.44 MB floppy disk drive, and an external floppy disk drive port.  All of this snaps together in a neat little package about the size of your average briefcase – a lot of technology in a small area in it’s day!

The P70 came in two planar versions: the older 38F4688/65X1564, used primarily in the 20 MHz -061 machines (but also seen in some -121 20 MHz boxen), and the 38F6973/56F9085 used in 16 MHz and 20 MHz -121 models.  The 38F4688/65X1564 planars have the 386DX socket immediatly to the right of the 387DX coprocesssor socket, and two BIOS ROMs near the upper edge of the board.  The 38F6973/56F9085 has the 386DX socket above and to the left of the 387DX socket.  Another distinguishing feature of the newer models is the inclusion of video output filtering on the video card instead of on a ‘daughter card’ fitted in series with the video output cable.  The newer planar seems slightly  faster on some benchmarks, but the difference is hardly noteworthy. RRP $4,995 when released in 1988.

Processor: Intel 80386 microprocessor 16.0 or 20.0 MHz operating speed
Memory: 2.0 mB RAM standard
Expandable to 16 mB
Drive: 30, 60 or 120 mB ESDI Drive

Manufacturer: IBM /28 years ago

Storage 1 x 1.44 mB 3.5″ floppy disk drive
Graphics Integrated 16-gray-level gas plasma display VGA, CGA, EGA, MCGA 320 X 200 to 640 X 480.
Sound PC speaker
Power 85 watt worldwide autosensing and autoswitching
OS OS DOS 3.3
Size\Weight Approx. 12″H x 18.3″W x 5″D; approx 20.8lbs, (9.4kg)

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Added to my collection in 2015, the unit was a donation from a friend of mine.

Thank you, Alex!

Useful links:

Reference Diskette, Removal instructions and other Utilities

Hints and tips on the PS/2 P70 portable

Also, below I had posted the original brochure of the unit.

Download the ibm-ps2modelp70-386

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