The Atari Portfolio (world’s first palmtop computer)

Year: 1989

Price: $399, $837 in 2020


The Atari Portfolio (Atari PC Folio) is an IBM PC-compatible palmtop PC, released by Atari Corporation in June 1989. This makes it the world’s first palmtop computer.

The ATARI Portfolio was also used in the Terminator 2 movie when John Connor is hacking the ATM.

Atari’s compact clam-shell ran an MS-DOS compatible operating system – DIP-DOS, from Guildford-based Distributed Information Processing (DIP) Systems – on a 4.92MHz Intel 80C88 processor. The Portfolio has 128KB of memory on board, 32KB of which was reserved for data storage, exposed as the C: drive and backed up by the three AA batteries the Portfolio ran from. A built-in long-life cell protected the memory when the batteries needed changing.

The Portfolio’s display was a 40-character by eight-line job with a 240 x 64-pixel graphics mode, mounted next to the unit’s speaker and above the calculator-style QWERTY keypad. A slot on the side took a range of device-specific memory cards running from 32KB to 128KB.

Anticipating Palm’s own Pilot – which shipped in April 1996, seven years after Atari first showed its palmtop – the Portfolio had diary and address book applications, along with a basic word processor and a spreadsheet package. The apps and the OS resided in 256KB of ROM. Plenty of space, you might think, for programming tools, but the Portfolio had none, not even a Basic language interpreter. To be fair, this wasn’t a machine aimed at coders but at the growing number of folk who wanted a computer for information storage and retrieval, a feature Palm was later to major on with the Pilot. In any case, programming tools were later offered as add-ons.


  80C88, 4.9152 MHz Clock Speed
  Memory 128KB internal RAM
  Includes internal configurable RAM disk (C:)
  256KB ROM contains applications software
  Length 200 mm
  Width 100 mm
  Depth 28 mm
  Weighs less than 1lb (454g) excluding batteries
  High contrast Liquid Crystal Display (LCD)
  240 x 64 graphics screen or 40 characters X 8 lines
  Monochrome (MDA) emulation
  Keyboard 63 keys, QWERTY layout
  Hot-key access to built-in applications
  Memory card slot with optional PCMCIA adaptor
  60-pin expansion BUS for optional peripherals
  Built-in speaker with tone dialling (DTMF)
  3 x AA size removable alkaline batteries
  Memory preserved during battery changes
  Optional AC mains adaptor
  DIP DOS 2.11 (MS-DOS & PC BIOS compatible)
  Software runs from ROM, leaving RAM free
Text Processor
  Comprehensive, easy to use text and memo editor
  Wordwrap, line and column count, search 8 replace
  Handles printer and word processor control codes
Address And Phone Book
  Card index with phone list and detailed records
  Automatic tone dialling of telephone numbers
  Entries are sorted and can be selected by category
  Accommodates spreadsheet of 255 rows x 127 cols
  Reads and writes Lotus 1-2-3 files (.WKS)
  Built-in 1-2-3 functions eg @SUM, @IF, @NPV
Time Manager
  Comprehensive calendar and diary to the year 2049
  Wake-up alarms even when the Pocket PC is off
  Entries can be repeated each day/week/month/year

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