The DEC Rainbow 100

Photo

In the early 1980s, the Rainbow was a major contendor in the struggle for the 16-bit PC market, and it had a lot of advantages over the IBM PC:

On the other hand:

Of course IBM won, and soon all the non-IBM-compatible MS-DOS PCs (the Rainbow, the Victor 9000, the Texas Instruments Professional, the HP-110 and HP-150, the NEC APC, the Grid Compass, the Japanese NEC PC9801, the Wang PC, the Heath/Zenith-100) eventually vanished from the scene. And then IBM did too for all practical purposes, as the marketplace became dominated by PC clone makers such as Compaq, Gateway, and Dell.

Photo: Frank da Cruz. This mint-condition Rainbow 100 happens to be in the Kermit production area in the Penthouse of Watson Lab, serving as the system console to a VAXstation just below (not visible) whose monitor died; the VMS 5.5-2 console log is barely visible on the screen. Peeking out from behind the left side of the keyboard is the VAX's external TK50 tape cartridge drive.

In December 2004 - Feb 2005, Carl Bowman of Bridgewater University commented:

The Rainbow drives were not "totally incompatible" with any other MSDOS PC" as you state. They could actually read and write to disks that had been formatted on an IBM PC using a single-sided parameter in the format command. This may seem trivial, but it wasn't to DEC Rainbow users, because it allowed them to transfer data back and forth between Rainbows and IBM PC's using the RX50 drives.

Both the Rainbow monochrome and color monitors had an excellent high resolution graphics mode. I'm not sure why you say that there were "no graphics and no color" when in fact there were both.

Other notables:


Frank da Cruz / fdc@columbia.edu / Columbia University Computing History / Jan 2001