Olivetti Philos 46 – Revisiting my First PC

Back in winter 1994 I remember spending one wet and windy evening sitting patiently in the aisles of PC World in Northampton as my dad spoke to a salesman with about as much focus as I’ve ever seen from someone.

With hindsight it was easy to understand why, as later that evening my dad parted with £1300, which adjusted for inflation is around double at £2600. Even as a 10 year old I understood how serious an investment that was, and that night we went home with a Packard Bell Executive Multimedia 486 PC.

That was the first IBM compatible PC that I had access to, and it replaced our ageing Commodore 64. But this piece isn’t about that PC, but rather the first PC that I personally owned, and that wouldn’t happen for another 4 years in 1998.

A few months prior my uncle had visited and he’d brought with him the first laptop that I’d ever seen in person. It was an Olivetti Philos 46, and it was amazing.

He could tell that I was enamoured with it, and as he was looking to upgrade he made me a deal; if I could come up with £400 he would sell it to me when he upgraded.

At the time I had a part time job working in the back of a fish and chip shop after school, and about 9 months later I’d saved up enough money to lay my hands on it.

The model I had back then wasn’t much to write home about, even at the time. It had a 50Mhz 486 DX processor, 8MB of RAM, 120MB of storage and a monochrome passive matrix screen which was useless for anything other than light office work.

Still that little laptop was my baby, and it stayed my main machine until I spent my first “real” paycheck on an Athlon based desktop in late 2001.

Fast forward to 2021 and I can’t actually remember what happened to that machine. I do remember that at one point I set a boot password on it and promptly forgot what that was, and it then sat in the bottom of my wardrobe for a while. I can only assume that it got sold off when I unceremoniously left the family nest just after turning 21.

Last summer I was discussing my first PC with my very understanding wife, which led to me to check on eBay and see if anyone was selling something similar.

There was….. and now it’s mine:

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