The Otrona Attache was similar to those “one hit wonder” musical bands you have heard about. It was laid out well and got the nickname of “BMW of portables”. It was one of the smallest portable computers of its day. It was also one of the most expensive. Read on to discover more on the Otrona Attache here in this informative article.
Those who owned an Otrona Attache were no doubt happy with it. It came out in April of 1982 and some of its defining details were the carrying handle and its size. There was some superior engineering going on at the Otrona company because the handle doubled as a prop for the computer. The size was also a great asset. It was no bigger than a briefcase and could be carried under an arm. The size was not helpful for the monitor, because the text was only spread across a five inch diameter space. The Attache came with a detachable keyboard that was packed with function. The color of the Otrona Attache took a small departure from tradition with a bone-white and dark orange trim layout. This was one of those superior computers of its day that unfortunately took a quick nose-dive into obscurity. It was the vision of Ron Lingeman, an alumni of Hewlett-Packard.
The hardware powering the Otrona Attache gathered around a Zilog microprocessor. It was a Z80 processor that was included in other competitors of the Attache. It ran at four megahertz and was accompanied by 64 kilobytes of random access memory ( RAM ). The RAM could be upgraded to ten times the size of what the computer came with. The storage consisted of two floppy drives that were not sized like others. They were not full-height or half-height, they were somewhere in between. Otrona described them as “all the storage capacity you will need”. They were laid out horizontally on the front of the computer, to the right of the display. One speaker took care of all audio. The speaker could give a tone for keyboard events. Battery packs could be attached to the Otrona Attache. This made it truly portable. The battery voltage that the Attache used happened to be twelve volts, which means it could be powered by an auto battery, which was quite convenient. A single battery pack ( not an auto ) would power the computer for 45 minutes. It was upgraded later to be partially compatible with IBM products.
Even though the Otrona Attache ran CP/M for an operating system, it was not compatible with many IBM products. The CP/M was the forerunner of the MS DOS operating system, but the original Attache could not run it. A later Otrona Attache would be issued that ran with a 8086 processor side by side with the Zilog processor, essentially making it two computers in one package. The 8086 was contained on a separate board and could run MS DOS, which made the Otrona Attache partially compatible with IBM devices.
Even though the Otrona Attache was smaller, more powerful and better looking than many portables, the Otrona company folded two years after its release. Otrona filed for Chapter 11 protection but later changed it to Chapter 7 and liquidated their assets.
The Otrona appeals to collectors of portable and early laptop computers. They are fairly rare but do not command a very high prices on the auction market. Auctions have ended with unsold Otrona’s for under $300.00. They were the high end of the portable market so I would guess that, over time, the Attache will appreciate in value.