Visual Commuter Computer

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This portable microcomputer, named Commuter, has an off-white case with a fixed black handle. To raise the lid, latches on each side of the case are released simultaneously. Inside the lid, the 80 x 16 liquid crystal display (LCD) plugs in via a RJ11 cable to a connector just above the keyboard. The keyboard has 83 keys with a numeric pad to the right and a 10 function key pad to the left. Behind the keyboard, built into the case are two 360K 5¼” floppy disk drives. Above the keyboard on the left is the Commuter logo. A handwritten sticker on the outside rear of the computer notes that the memory was upgraded to 512K, the maximum amount allowed. The LCD display could be removed entirely and replaced by a larger external monitor for office or home use.
The IBM compatible unit uses the MS-DOS 2.1 operating system and an Intel 8088 processor. Although it has no internal expansion slots, it has 6 ports on the rear for cables that would connect to other devises. These ports include: 63 pin expansion, 24 pin asynchronous, 25 pin asynchronous/synchronous, parallel printer, RGB monochrome video (for an external monitor), and a composite video (for a color monitor).
Visual Computer Incorporated introduced the “Commuter” model in November 1983. Advertised as “Portable, IBM Compatible, Powerful, Affordable,” it weighed 16 pounds and sold for $1995. Visual ran ads in PC Magazine, Computerworld, and the American Bar Association Journal appealing to business executives who needed a computer when they traveled--the Commuter was a briefcase-sized portable computer with a handle.
The objects in accession 2016.0321, non-accessions 2016.3153 and 2018.3076 are related.
PC Magazine, April 17, 1984. Advertisement pages 110-111.
Computerworld, June 11, 1984. Advertisement pages 68-69.
American Bar Association Journal, September 1984, Volume 70. Advertisement pages 22-23.
Currently not on view
date made
place made
United States: Massachusetts, Tewksbury
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
plastic (overall material)
overall, closed: 8.5 cm x 45 cm x 39.5 cm; 3 11/32 in x 17 23/32 in x 15 9/16 in
power cord: 237 cm; 93 5/16 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of the Estate of James S. Egan
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Computers
Computers & Business Machines
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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