The Atari Portfolio was not only the first ever palmtop computer, but it had one of the coolest product placement movie roles ever. Everyone will remember the Atari Portfolio as the handy little computer the prepubescent pre-wimpy John Connor uses in Terminator 2 to hack an ATM.

Atari released the Portfolio in 1989 with a retail price of $400. The unit had a 4.92Mhz Intel 8088 processor and 128K RAM. Additional memory or programs were loaded in on RAM cards (these RAM cards should not be confused with PCMCIA cards as the Portfolio predates PCMCIA!). Its O/S was called DIP-DOS, which was a clone of MS DOS 2.11. Onboard software included all your old favorites (calendar/calculator/phone book) plus a simple word processor that could read Word .doc files and a Lotus 1-2-3 compatible spreadsheet.

File transfer between the Portfolio and PC was over a "Male-to-Male DB25 all-lines straight through" cable (not included) and a clunky command-line driven transfer program. It was also very slow. Many people gave up on the cable method and bought a $100 Atari Card Drive unit for their PC that could write to the Portfolio’s RAM cards.

The Portfolio was generally compatible with most PC software but owing to the small memory size, one couldn’t load big programs like WordPerfect. However the Portfolio did a good job of running software designed for the PC Jr.

Like many of Atari’s post-2600 products, the Portfolio was slightly ahead of its time and failed in the market place.

Interesting additional trivia about the Portfolio’s appearance in Terminator 2: The Portfolio and Atari’s Missile Command coin op were both featured in the movie. In the film’s credits, Atari Games is thanked for their contribution. However, Atari Games was not the division that made the Portfolio or Missile Command. The Atari Corporation made the Portfolio and made the arcade games like Missile Command. Atari Games made software. Atari Corporation was the hardware division sold to Jack Tramiel. Atari Games was owned by Time-Warner and later ceased to exist, being folded into Time-Warner Interactive.

So like. Whatever.

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