My first laptop - Bondwell B200 (CPU 80C88)

lap_b200_05.jpgAnd now for something completely different - my first laptop. It wasn't a Pentium as some might suspect. It wasn't even a 386. No, it was something, even older! If you are interested in computer archeology, you might be interested in this post ;>

I've received the laptop somewhere around 1990 (or 1991), and it wasn't literally my laptop, since I was kinda too young to own or need one (I had my Atari 800 XL then, what more could I possibly want?). So, it was my fathers, but I had unlimited access to it, so I could play games like North & South (the link leads to the Amiga version of the game, the PC version had worse graphics, especially on a CGA mono display ;p), or code in my favorite GW-BASIC'u (yees, it was Microsoft GW-BASIC).

OK, enough of personal history. I'm sure you're more interested in what's inside this machine:

CPU    : 80C88 (I think it was around 4MhZ)
RAM    : 640 KB
OS     : I've had Dr-DOS and some old MS-DOS on floppies
HDD    : the what? nope, none
Floppy : 2x 3,5' DD (720KB)
GFX    : CGA Mono
Monitor: LCD ?320x200? Monochromatic
Porty  : Printer Port (LPT), COM (RS232-C), RGB Out (no idea)
Bateria: there was one, but I don't remember how good it was

As you can see, it's a collection of interesting things. Let's start with the CPU. It was an Intel 80C88 which is a younger brother of 8088, and the older brother of 80188, 80186 or 80286. So it was a "normal" x86, it just didn't know that yet (x88 ;p). And I guess the instruction set wasn't so extended.
The second thing is the RAM. Do you remember the famous quote "640K ought to be enough for anybody" (which Bill denies he said btw)? Well, on this machine you could really find it out if thats enough! And to tell you the truth, the 640KB was quite enough, as long as you didn't go outside of year 1991 ;>

The HDD was not present (there was a version of this laptop marked B320 which had an HDD), instead, there were two FDD 3.5' DD (DD meaning Double Density - 720KB on a disk; the reader might be more familiar with the HD (High Density) 3.5' disk which were 1.44MB, or even with the ED (Extended Density) 3.5' disk which were 2.88MB).

As for the OS, you had a partial Dr-DOS or MS-DOS (I think it was something around 3.2 and 4.0 versions). "Partial" meaning you had 3-4 files: command.com (the command line interpreter), io.sys (the kernel) and config.sys and/or autoexec.bat (the start scripts). Of course you had no need for stuff like himem.sys (Upper Memory Area driver) or EMM386.exe (XMS/EMS driver) for obvious reasons - the laptop had only 640KB RAM.

As for the GFX Card, there was a CGA Mono, which is a little funny - CGA stands for Color Graphic Adapter, so there supposed to be some Color. However the LCD was monochromatic (black and white), so it was hard to display something colorful there (maybe the RGB Out port was more colorful; I don't recall if I had an occasion to check it). However it was good that it was CGA! On my PC (80286) I had a Hercules graphic card (monochromatic) and I had to run all sorts of CGA emulators (like color.com) to get a game running. Well, on the laptop I didn't have to do that ;>

As for ports, just the standard: LPT, COM and some RGB Our that looks a little similar to D-SUB, it just had two, not three, pin rows (like COM aka RS232).

You know what's great about this 20-year old laptop? It still works! With the same speed as in the old days (well, I should use the word 'slowness' instead of 'speed', but I think it's just me, not the laptop).

Now a short movie with POST (I can't seem to find a FDD with an OS):

And some pictures:

And thats all for today!


2010-03-31 14:33:43 = grym
Heh, a long time ago I had this laptop, too!
2010-07-07 17:05:47 = jeffer

nice article!

i just got my vintage B200...but without software...
is there anyway you can help me to get this machine some floppy's?
pls use url to answer...since i dont like to spam my mail around...

thanks in advance
2010-07-18 13:38:55 = Damian
First "panoramic" LCD? :D

Where did you find it?
2010-07-18 15:01:07 = Gynvael Coldwind

Nah, the software got lost decades ago ;D
But it's x86 (well, almost), so old DOS software should work :)

Ahahah yeah, seems so. Wonder if it's 16:9 ;D
But seems mode like 2.39:1 ;D

Anyway, It was lying in my house the whole time hehe ;)
2011-07-29 14:43:39 = Cyberfox

on that time i was working in a computer shop, and we've the last model of bondwell b200.
Noone was able to sell it!!

One day i've received the congratulations of my boss when he know i've been able to sell it!!

Was very expensive...
Old good days...
2012-01-04 12:25:33 = Pete
Hi there,

funny to see somebody else is remembering this device. These days I wanted to sell mine at ebay but I have no idea someone will buy?

Unfortunately the battery and power adapter are lost so I can not check it. But it worked fine in the early 90s, when real laptops were expensive. I even wrote a program - tailored to that thing - to have mobile access to my database... and yes, it was fast enough (almost ;) and 640K was huge (until I decided to use graphics in my program, which is another story). Finally I upgraded to B320 with HDD ;)

Greetings from Germany.
2022-01-31 18:30:36 = MrPoppe
Hi there!

I just bought a Bondwell B200, I wondered if I could get copies of your Bondwell Dr-DOS floppies?
Images (like WinImage) would be great, I got non Bondwell branded DOS 5 with mine...

Jonas Hillerström
2022-05-27 16:40:26 = Gynvael Coldwind
Sorry, just noticed your comment (e-mail with comments stopped working and I noticed after 5 months 🤷).
Unfortunately I don't think I had the original Bondwell ones. I remember only ever using "start floppies" with a couple of basic OS files from Dr-DOS on them ;(

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