A new laptop that has an 8088 Processor and 640KB of RAM recreates the IBM PC from 1981
All contemporary Intel and AMD personal computers have their origins in the IBM Personal Computer. This computer, which was first introduced in August 1981, was so well-liked and long-lasting that rivals reverse-engineered its BIOS in order to use the same software and peripherals. This action finally led to the creation of a de-facto standard, whose offspring we still use today.
Spend a few hundred dollars for a used IBM PC on eBay if you want to know what it was like to use one in the past. Perhaps you could take a chance on this recent eccentric laptop on AliExpress. With an Intel 8088 processor and 640KB (yes, that’s kilobytes) of memory, the «Book 8088» laptop PC combines modern components with more modern features, including a 640×200 16-color LCD screen and built-in interfaces that let USB accessories and CompactFlash cards interface with the ancient components (a 512MB CompactFlash card serves as the system’s hard drive).
A scaled-down version of the original 8086 with an eight-bit data bus, Intel’s 8088 operates at 4.77 GHz in both the Book 8088 and the IBM PC. Its poor speed and little memory capacity make it best suited for MS-DOS, which lacks multitasking capability in general and has a text-based user interface. Up to version 3.0 of Windows may be run on it, but retro-tech YouTube says it’s not the best time to do it.
There are various add-ons designed to increase the functionality of the Book 8088, including an open socket for an Intel 8087 floating-point coprocessor, a Yamaha sound card accessory compatible with Sound Blaster, and an external dongle with three ISA expansion card slots.
There are reasons to be dubious about the Book 8088, and some research has revealed very little about the manufacturer. The pictures are credited to Xinrui technologies, a Hong Kong-based company that appears to mostly produce inexpensive AV and PC accessories but whose (very outdated) website doesn’t mention the Book 8088. One of the photographs’ boot screen directed us to 8086cpu.com, which lists the Book 8088 and other antique PC projects but offers no other details beyond those in the AliExpress offering. The «Hand386» retro computer, a portable device with an inside Intel 386 SX processor that is significantly more competent, was produced by the same business and sold out quickly.
If you order one of these from the AliExpress vendor DZT, who appears to only offer small CNC machines and has 90% favorable rating, it appears likely that you will at the very least receive something in a package.
These laptops aren’t being produced in large quantities; both the basic, $200 model without accessories and the model with an incorporated 8087 coprocessor are sold out. Around 80 of the ones with a sound card preinstalled are still on the market for $221 as of this writing. About 20 of the $241 model with the sound card and external ISA expansion dongle are available.
Certainly, purchasing a laptop with an 8088 inside will not allow you to experience life during the MS-DOS era. A browser window will directly simulate the first IBM PC on websites like PCjs Machines, replete with software tailored to the time period. The majority of individuals can use one of these emulators for 30 minutes and understand everything about retro computing (mostly, it was slow). Yet, for ardent users who insist on bare-metal technology, this could be a clever method to acquire the capabilities of the IBM PC in a unit that occupies a lot less space.
Xinrui Technologies provided the listing image.