Adam Osborne

Adam Osborne born in Thailand on March 6, 1939, to British parents Arthur and Lucia Osborne. He spent most of his childhood in India. He graduated from the University of Birmingham in 1961 and received his Ph.D. from the University of Delaware in the United States. He also was a member of Mensa. In 1968 he became a US Citizen, and shortly thereafter began working for Shell Oil Co., as a chemical engineer.

He left Shell in the early 1970s to pursue his writing and computer passion, and in 1972 he formed a company, Osbourne Publishing, that printed easy to read technical manuals on computers. Within 5 years, he had more than 40 titles to his credit and by 1979 he sold his business to McGraw-Hill for a reported $3 Million.

Shortly thereafter, in 1980, he formed Osbourne Computer Corporation, and within a year, he had introduced the first portable computer known as the Osbourne 1. This portable computer revolutionized the computer business by not only making a computer affordable for business and home use, but easy to move due to its smaller size, weighing less than 25 pounds and at about half the cost of computers already on the market.

His computer was the first to bundle software with his computer, such as word processing and spreadsheet programs. He revolutionized the personal computer by including necessary programs already built-in to his computer unlike his main competitor, IBM. He argued that it was nonsense to buy a computer without the necessary programs to run it. Before his revolutionary concept of bundling software, computers companies were selling their computers with only basic operating systems, and then offering to sell necessary business programs separately.

Within a short period, Osborne Computers were shipping 10,000 Osborne 1 computers each month, generating more than $1 million a month in sales. By 1982, Osborne Computer reached more than $68 million in sales. In 1983, Osborne announced a more advanced version of his computer, which caused a slowdown on purchases of his Osborne 1. The inventory backup caused financial difficulties, which eventually led to Osborne Computer filing for bankruptcy.

Adam wrote a book in 1984 discussing his rise and fall of his computer company called ‘Hypergrowth: The Rise and Fall of Osborne Computer Corporation’. He also formed a software company called Paperback Software that same year, competing with such names as Lotus and IBM for a share of the software market.

His idea was to produce inexpensive computer software for the average person. Fielding great success in this market until Lotus Corporation sued his company for copyright infringement in 1987, soon consumer and investor confidence slipped. Lotus won the suit in 1990 and Osborne stepped down from the company shortly thereafter.

Adam Osborne returned to his home in India in 1992 after suffering several massive strokes, on March 18, 2003, Adam succumbed to his illness and passed away in Kodaikanal, India at age 64. Adam Osborne has to his credit the introduction of a computer that would make it easy for anyone to own, not just major corporations, but people in general to use in their home. His concept brought many industry leaders like IBM, Tandy, and even Microsoft to mimic his early success in introducing the home computer.

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