Osborne 1 Computer Restoration Part 1


Hello, and welcome! In this episode, I’m going to be doing another restoration. And this time, it’s going to be on this
old Osborne 1. I actually picked this thing up a couple of
months ago and it does work although one of the disk drives is seized up and it just needs
a lot of cleaning and retrobrite. So, I’m going to get started on that, and
hopefully, if everything works out, I’ll give you a good demonstration of it when I’m
done. So, before we get started, let’s take a
look at the condition of this thing. Lazy Game Reviews did a really nice episode
of tech tales describing some of the history of this machine, that’s definitely worth
watching if you’re interested in the Osborne. To summarize, the company behind this helped
coin the industry phrase known as the “Osborne Effect”, whereby a company can put itself
out of business by advertising an upcoming product too early, thus killing sales of the
current product. So, one problem, I wanted to point out is
this cable has been yanked out of place. This section here should not be here. The problem is, the cable plugs in here. But, when you go to close it up, you can’t
because this cable is in the way. This is supposed to be, right there, like
that. So, we need to fix that. I will plug it in, however. And, as you can see, it does boot and drive
A is working. However, I had this machine apart a few days
ago just looking around and testing some things out and suddenly there was a huge POW and
then smoke started to pour out of the machine. I managed to catch the aftermath on video,
and I’ll show you later on what caused that. I decided to start with the keyboard. It looked easy enough to disassemble. However, the inside was dirtier than I was
expecting. And I also noticed a lot of corrosion on some
of the metal, especially on these screws. I began to suspect part of this may have been
underwater for a time. I went ahead and popped the little wire out
here. I actually think some previous owner may have
done that on purpose. Removing the main connector was tough, because
it was corroded. I did get it of, but you can see what this
looks like up close. I was also a little worried about these screws
being stuck or just breaking off. But they seemed to come out pretty easily. Yeah. That’s pretty yucky. So, I wasn’t sure if these keys were the
original color or if they have yellowed over the years. But, when I look at the side, I can see some
contrast where less UV light was hiding the keys. I decided the best way to deal with the corrosion
was to just soak the screws in vinegar and just let them soak overnight. I also decided, somewhat reluctantly to put
the connector in there. I hope I don’t regret this, as I’ve never
tried anything like this before! I figured the worse case scenario is I could
just replace the whole connecter as there appeared to be enough slack in the cable. Onto the keys. I got my keycap puller out that one of my
fans sent me and started pulling these keys. This device definitely makes this job easier
and now I wonder why I didn’t have one of these gizmos years ago. This little mat appears to be removable. It’s held on by a sticky surface on the
back. But, it did come off without too much hassle. That will make it easier to clean! There’s really nothing else to do here without
some major disassembly, so I’m going to leave this part alone. By the way, I noticed that vinegar was going
to town on that corrosion. I took the plastic parts outside to rinse
with the garden hose. That will save a lot of time. However, there was still a lot of residue
that didn’t rinse off, but you can see most of it just wiped off with a paper towel. Next I went to town with windex and tried
to clean as much of the visible gunk off of the surfaces. As usual, I used alcohol to get anything else
that was being stubborn. The keys actually looked pretty clean, but
when I tried scrubbing them, I could see dirt coming off on the paper towel, so I ended
up cleaning all of the keys one by one. So the surfaces were all prepared for retrobriting,
but I had to wait until the next day so there would be some sunlight. So, the next morning I went ahead with the
usual procedure. Now, I’ve been experimenting with some new
and possibly better ways of retrobriting. However, those experiments are still ongoing,
so for the meantime I’m going to use the method that is tried and true and tends to
work for me. In the past I have also had good luck with
just submerging keys in regular 3% liquid hydrogen peroxide and putting them out in
the sun. But it takes quite a lot longer, usually requiring
several days, and I’ve just found that using this stuff works well in just a few hours. I put them out in the sun early in the morning. Next I got to work on the larger plastic piece. I would need two pieces of plastic wrap for
this. I always make sure to put a generous coat
on the plastic wrap itself, then I paint on another generous coat on the computer parts. Then I put it out in the Sun. I’ve been warned that Osborne plastic may
be more prone to melting so I wanted to avoid having this out in the hottest part of the
day since it is in the middle of Summer in Texas. I’ve had some viewers send me some photos
of their projects that ended up with a streaked or uneven appearance, like these. I’ve experienced this a few times myself,
but I’ve found that it can usually be avoided by setting a timer to remind me every 20 minutes
to come rotate the pieces and massage the cream around to ensure even exposure. While waiting on the retrobrite, I had a look
at my screws here. After rinsing them off, they look much better,
even if the original shiny coating was eaten away. I also took this opportunity to work on this
little black mat that goes under the keys. It was actually super easy to clean with some
windex. I also wanted to work on this pin header because
it had a lot of corrosion on it. I decided to use baking soda. I just sprayed a little water on it to make
it like a cream, then used a tooth brush for about 5 minutes. I put it under the sink but I was careful
to only get water just where I needed it to rinse off the baking soda. So, the connector isn’t perfect, but it
looks a lot better. And so, I’ll put that little mat back on. I also noticed there is a little metal brace
that helps with the space bar but it was kind of stiff. So I applied some lithium grease to it in
3 different places and that did seem to loosen it up quite a bit. After the keys had been out for about an hour,
I decided to have a peak at one and see how it was coming along. I could immediately see how the color had
changed to a more gray type appearance, but I could tell a hint of tan on one side, so
I decided to put it back and give them another hour or two. This may have been a mistake, as you’ll
see later. I also brought in the main plastic piece and
I wanted to check the temperature, and fortunately it was only 112, so I don’t think it’s
in danger of melting yet. However, I can still tell part of it is yellow
here on the side, and that was the worst spot, so I put it back out for another hour or so. I brought the keys in again and decided they
were done. I started drying them off and they looked
absolutely fantastic. I couldn’t have been happier with the way
they looked. But something really odd happened, that’s
never happened to be me before. About 10 minutes after I dried the keys off,
I noticed they all started changing colors. They started getting these weird streak patters
on them. After about 20 minutes, every single key was
afflicted with this and there didn’t seem to be any way to cure it. It looked like the case plastic might have
been done so I decided to rinse it off and have a look. After drying it off, I could see that it looked
really good but it still had just a hint of yellowing on that one corner, which was the
worst affected part. That’s probably the corner that sat in the
sun the most during it’s life. But I also realized I forgot to get this edge
here on the other side, since it is visible when put together. So I re-applied the cream and set it back
out for another couple of hours. In the meantime, I decided to start putting
my funny colored keys back on, fortunately, I had taken a photo of the keyboard and printed
it out for reference. I started with the spacebar, which is one
of only two keys that had a spring underneath, the other being the return key. Putting the keys back on is usually the most
enjoyable part of a keyboard restoration. Some of these keys can be confusing, though,
such as these arrow keys, or like the 6 and the 9 key, as well as a handful of others. However, if you look closely there is a slant
to the bottom of the keys that shows which way they go. And, well, that’s it. I now have what I could best describe as a
marble colored keyboard. Time to re-assemble the rest of the keyboard. Time to rinse off the plastic one more time,
and hope it is done. The top ledge looks good now. There’s still just a hint of discoloration
there, but I think I managed to get most of it. However, by keeping it in the sun longer,
there’s now some streaking here, and also some on the bottom. It’s not anything I’m terribly worried
about as it isn’t nearly as noticeable as the keys. I re-attached this cable and I hope it still
works. I did rinse all of the vinegar out and dry
out out with compressed air. And I’m going to put the cable through the
hole here, where I think it is supposed to go. So yeah, I think that’s better. And here goes the bottom piece. Before I begin in the rest of the Osborne,
I want to test the keyboard to make sure I didn’t damage anything. I also want to do a test-fit here. The color difference is remarkable. It’s hard to believe that is the same keyboard
we saw earlier. Here’s a comparison shot from earlier. And back to what we have now. I fired up the Osborne and it does appear
that all of the keys are working properly. I tried every key on the keyboard. All right, so the keyboard took a little longer
than I was originally anticipating. And, it didn’t come out exactly like I was
expecting. I mean, I think I’m pretty happy with the
appearance of the case plastics, but the keys. I’m not really sure what to say about those. They look. In my opinion, they look better than they
did before. Definitely different than they did before. But they still don’t look like I really
anticipated them looking, so I don’t know. Anyway, as I mentioned earlier in the video,
I do have some new retrobrite techniques I’m trying to refine on some test equipment right
now. Some stuff that I don’t really care about. And, I’m having some positive results with
some methods, so I’m going to get to that eventually, but for the meantime, I’m going
to go ahead and say this is going to be the end of part 1 of this video, and I’m about
to start working on part 2, retrobriting the case plastics and fixing some the internal
problems that the Osborne has, as well as I am going to show you some neat things about
the Osborne computers in general and how they work and what you can do with them, and et
cetera, so stick around for that and I’ll see you next time!