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Toshiba T-3100

Posted by Tracy Poff on March 4, 2014

I meant to publish some of my pending game reviews, but I’m taking rather too long with editing those, so have something completely different: the Toshiba T-3100 laptop PC.

While doing some work on MobyGames, I learned about the existence of this laptop. It was released in 1986, and,  according to the IPSJ Computer Museum, it was “the world’s first 16-bit laptop PC with a built-in hard disk”, and the Japanese version (called the J-3100, apparently on the theory that Japanese people have some patriotic attraction to the letter J) was Japan’s first PC-compatible laptop. I’m a little unclear on the exact timeline here–it seems like the Japanese version might not have been released until 1989

The T-3100 may have a name like a robot assassin, but it’s a reasonably standard computer for the era, featuring 640K of RAM, an 8MHz 286 CPU, a floppy drive, and a 10MB hard drive, plus one interesting quirk: its display, normally CGA compatible, could be switched into a high-resolution 640×400 monochrome (horrifyingly orange) mode.

In Japan, Imagineer published special J-3100 editions of Lemmings, Sim City, and Sim Earth (although this one’s labelled as ‘DynaBook edition’, so it’s probably intended for the 386-based laptop released in 1990, instead). One wonders what was different about these versions, since the J3100 was PC-compatible. Given the release dates, perhaps it was DOS/V support.

If you’re interested in more information on early Japanese PCs, there’s a relevant article in the April 1997 issue of Computing Japan, “From Chaos to Competition: Japan’s PC industry in transformation” by John Boyd, which mentions the J-3100.

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