Digital Equipment Rainbow 100 Computer

In the early 1980s, Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) was the second largest computer company in the United States, following IBM, and was the leading producer of minicomputers. DEC had missed the initial development of personal computers, but decided to enter the market with a 16 bit machine. In 1982, it introduced the DEC Rainbow 100, for a price of $2,500.
The Rainbow 100 had both a Z-80 and an Intel 8088 microprocessor that ran at 4 MHz. It had 64 KB or RAM and 24 KB of ROM and had two built in floppy drives that could accommodate 400 KB single-sided quad density disk. It had three operating systems: MS-DOS, CP/M-86, and CP/M. Users made a selection by a menu at boot time. The Rainbow could be used for word processing, spreadsheets, and games, although it had a monochrome screen. In addition to operating as a stand-alone computer, the Rainbow worked effectively as a VT-100 or VT-220 terminal emulator on larger machines, such as DEC's minicomputers. Although the Rainbow was a powerful and effective personal computer, it was not fully compatible with IBM systems, and eventually was overshadowed and undersold by IBM clones.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Date made
Digital Equipment Corporation
Physical Description
plastic (overall material)
metal (overall material)
overall: 66 cm x 32 cm x 45 cm; 26 in x 12 5/8 in x 17 11/16 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Family & Social Life
Computers & Business Machines
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Computers
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Steve Lubar

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