Sharp PC-5000

From Sharp minds come Sharp products

The Sharp PC-5000 is very likely the second clamshell-style portable computer, and the first to be introduced by a private, non-governmentally funded corporation.

The Sharp followed the GRiD Compass (the first clamshell) and was announced at the same time or prior to the better-known Gavilan (occasionally misrepresented as the first.) It actually matched the Gavilan with several innovations. Like the Gavilan, the Sharp used removable memory cartridges, but relied on bubble memory (as used in the Compass) rather than batteries like the Gavilan.

The Gavilan offered a portable printer as an option; it connected to the rear of the computer. Likewise, the Sharp has an internal compartment to install a thermal printer. Whereas the Gavilan only offered a 66 column screen, the Sharp featured a full 80 column display. (Both machines showed 8 lines of data initially.)

The Sharp PC-5000 is, unfortunately, much less known than its competitors. I am very glad to have had the opportunity to learn about it and add an example to my collection.

All text and images are copyright © 1998-2002 Roger Sinasohn
Unauthorized use or duplication is strictly prohibited.
The Sharp PC-5000, closed and looking much like modern laptops, only slightly larger.
The Sharp PC-5000

A close-up of the Sharp PC-5000 name and model on the top of the machine.
The Logo

On the back of the screen, (the top of the laptop when closed,) the PC-5000 has a small storage area for cables and documentation.  Mine had a word processing quick reference guide in it.
The storage area

A thermal printer could be added to the PC-5000.  This is the compartment at the rear, with the foam blockI found inside.
The printer compartment

The Sharp PC-5000 open and ready for use.  The screen lifts up and reveals the full-size keyboard.  Also shown is the Bubble Cartridge slot.
The Sharp PC-5000 in all its glory

The PC-5000 could store data and programs on non-volitale Bubble memory cartridges.  These cartridges held 128K and were removable.  The cartridge slot is located just above the keyboard towards the left.
Bubble Memory Cartridge and slot

The machine included a speaker, and space to expand the memory.
The belly of the beast. Note the speaker grill and the two memory expansion drawer covers on the upper right.

The rear of the computer offered almost a full complement of ports -- the usual parallel port is absent, likely due to the ability to add an internal printer.
The rear controls and ports. From Left to Right and Top to Bottom, The power switch, the charging/operation switch, the proprietary serial port, the RS-232C port, the Bus Expansion port, the cassette recorder ports (earphone, microphone, and remote,) and the power connector.

The side of the computer shows a cut-out for a knob to turn the platten of the printer, were it to be installed.  There is also a volume control, (for the internal speaker, presumably, not the printer,) an innovation sadly lacking in many more modern machines.
The left side. Note the cut-outs for the printer controls, and the contrast and volume control wheels along the bottom edge.

Mfr: Sharp
Location: New Jersey, USA
Model: PC-5000
Processor: 8088
Op. Sys: MS-DOS
Internal: 16
Data: 8
Min: 128K
Max: 256K (plus 128K Bubble Memory)
ROM: 192K (System Program: 64K, MS-DOS, BASIC: 128K)
Display: 8x80 LCD
Floppy Disk:
Hard Disk:
Serial: 1 proprietary, 1 RS-232C
Parallel: See Expansion
Keyboard: None
Joystick: None
Other: Ear/Mic/Rem Cassette
Expansion: Bus Expansion port, optional built-in printer, Bubble Memory Cartridge Slot
Introduced: 1983
Size: 12.8" x 12" x 3.4" (326mm x 305mm x 87.5mm)
Weight: 9.48lbs (4.3kg)
Voltage: 12vdc 850mA
Polarity: + -(O- -
The Manual indicates that a second, Control CPU exists in the machine, but only identifies it as an 8-bit processor.

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