While catching up on older episodes of Earl Evans’ always entertaining Retrobits Podcast, he mentioned a company selling new, still-in-the box Epson PX-8 “Geneva” laptops. My interest in the machine was piqued after listening to additional shows which discussed both the PX-8 in general as well as covered his quest to get a virtual floppy system up and running for the machine.
Amazingly enough, though these podcast episodes were recorded nearly three years ago (in the summer of 2006), Star Technology continues to stock the new-in-box PX-8s for $99 each. Around the same time, I watched a used PX-8 go for $140 on eBay, which sweetened the deal.
I bought a unit, along with a new Software Library package containing Portable WordStar, CalcStar and Scheduler for an additional $15.
Earl provides a great overview of the machine in his podcast, which is of course recommended listening. But in a nutshell, the PX-8 Geneva is a Z80 compatible, CP/M 2.2 based laptop with an 80 column by 8 line LCD display. It sports a respectable 6-8 hours of battery life on a single charge.
Commercial software is provided by way of ROM modules that plug into a bay on the underside of the machine. Out of the box, the unit comes with CP/M utilities and BASIC on ROMs — and as mentioned previously, Portable WordStar, CalcStar and Scheduler are available in ROM format as well. User storage is provided via an internal microcassette drive, but an external cable can be built to interface with a PC-based virtual floppy emulator for more robust storage.
It’s a neat little machine! The display is surprisingly usable - having the full 80-columns does make a huge difference. The keyboard also has a nice, solid feel. It’s certainly a neat way to experience a vintage CP/M machine that doesn’t take up a lot of space, and it’s certainly fun breaking the seal on a machine that was “new” in 1984 … in 2009.