Since this blog’s new, I need to add plenty of posts about my previous old-computer escapades. However, I’ll start with my newly-acquired Atari Portfolio

Atari What-now?

I’ll endeavour for this to be the only page on the internet that talks about the PoFo without immediately pointing out its appearance in the hands of a young John Connor in Terminator 2: Judgement Day.

Too late… Shit.

Still, whilst the PoFo can’t actually be used for hacking cash machines, it is an interesting little device.

Just like the equally cool (and much more fun) Atari Lynx, the PoFo wasn’t actually Atari’s own design. It was originally designed by a Cambridge, UK company named DIP Research Ltd. DIP licensed the design to Atari who got the rights to slap their name on it and sell it alongside DIP’s own units.

I had a Portfolio back in the early 90s. As an Atari kid, it was actually my first DOS-based machine — I wouldn’t own a PC until 1995. My first AUTOEXEC.BAT was pecked-out on the Portfolio’s keyboard using its inbuilt editor.

My own device was binned many years ago after the screen cracked (along with the serial adapter too, sadly). But I’ve just got myself another to complete my ‘these are the computers I used to have’ collection.

Rescuing A Portfolio

Well, to be frank… the unit I bought from a member of an Atari group on Facebook didn’t really need too much TLC to get up and running. The FB guy had acquired the PoFo as part of a massive haul of retro stuff. He’d gone as far as powering it up, but that was about it.

The machine was complete, with no missing port or battery covers, and had no cosmetic damage. However, after unboxing, it had a couple of issues…

Firstly, the smell. A heady combination of cigarette smoke and damp attics. Nothing a full disassembly and wash won’t fix. Also, the thing had one of those super-sticky “covered by <whoever> insurance, policy number 12345, call 01-811-8181 if lost” stickers. Bit of IPA and some elbow grease would deal with that.

But sadly, there was a significant problem – the 3 key doesn’t work. Let’s disassemble!

Atari Portfolio with bottom case removed, showing main PCB.
under the cover…

Up around the power connector at the top left, you can see some orangey grot. We’ll remove the PCB by unscrewing 4 screws – note that three of them clamp wires (for grounding) to the board.

Now, sadly I only have post-cleanup images — but there was indeed a fair bit of corrosion on that metal panel that forms the back of the keyboard around the top left. More of the same orange gunk on the keyboard membrane.

And after a thorough cleanup… the 3 key still doesn’t work 🙁

So – up next: try to get the PoFo to run caseless so I can trace and test the keyboard membrane. The computer really doesn’t want to turn on unless fully assembled. There’s lots of points where ground planes are connected to each other… I clearly need to hook those together to stand a chance of naked PoFo’ing!

More to come!

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