Osborne, Adam 1939-2003
OSBORNE, Adam 1939-2003
OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born March 6, 1939, in Bangkok, Thailand; died March 18, 2003, in Kodiakanal, India. Entrepreneur and author. Osborne is best remembered as the inventor of the portable Osborne-1 computer, which was an industry sensation in 1981. Born in India to English parents, he moved to England as a teenager and earned a B.S. in chemical engineering in 1961 from the University of Birmingham. This was followed by a master's degree in 1966 from the University of Delaware and a Ph.D. in 1967. He used his education to get a job at Shell Oil in California, but his interest in computing led him to found Adam Osborne & Associates, a publishing company that published works about computers, in 1970. He sold this venture in 1981 to McGraw-Hill, a year after he had already founded Osborne Computer Corp. His creation of the Osborne-1 was popular because, weighing in at only twenty-three pounds, it was the first portable PC on the market. Although it had certain limitations, including a small five-inch screen, it including word processing and spreadsheet software that was sufficient for most business people's needs. Sales at first were strong, but when Osborne announced an upgraded version of his computer—the Executive—before it was ready for sale, customers stopped buying the Osborne-1 to wait for the new model. Unfortunately, this resulted in a huge inventory backlog that devastated the company, which went bankrupt in 1983. Next, Osborne founded Paperback Software International, which sold inexpensive software products; but a lawsuit with Lotus Development in 1987 led to Osborne leaving the company in 1990. Finally, in 1992, he founded one more company, Noetics Software, which aimed to develop state-ofthe-art technology such as neural networks. Later that same year, however, Osborne's worsening health compelled him to moved to India to live with his sister. Osborne wrote about his experiences with Osborne Computer in his 1994 memoir, Hypergrowth: The Rise and Fall of Osborne Computer Corporation. He was also the author of Running Wild: The Next Industrial Revolution (1979) and numerous computer programming guides.
OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:
Los Angeles Times, March 25, 2003, p. B11.
New York Times, March 26, 2003, p. C13.
Times (London, England), March 28, 2003, p. 42.
Washington Post, March 30, 2003, p. C10.