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Early Laptop #2005-0023Press Office, North Wing, Upper floor

NEC Microcomputer model PC-8201A, with built-in keyboard, telephone handset, Sendata acoustic coupler, Arlec 6V power pack; with typed and handwritten instructions for use; fitted into padded leather briefcase; used by staff at the Hobart Mercury.


This NEC Microcomputer model PC-8201A early laptop was used by journalists at the Hobart Mercury. While journalists initially used typewriters, by the 1980s personal computers were beginning to appear. This is an example of one of those early models used by journalists.

Introduced in March 1983, the PC-8201A was one of the first notebook computers. The size of an A4 notebook and weighing less than 2 kilos, the PC-8201A had an LCD screen and a full sized keyboard. It was powered by four AA batteries and could last for up to 20 hours. Pre-programmed with BASIC programming language (BASIC), Text Editor (TEXT), and telecommunications (TELCOM) software this computer could be used for a variety of functions. As late as the second decade of the 21st Century the NEC Microcomputer model PC-8201A is still used by some.

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Statement of values

This NEC Microcomputer model PC-8201A early laptop is significant as an example of technology used by journalists in the Press Offices and Gallery. The Press Offices reflect the growth and evolution of the electronic media in Australia during the critical period of the advent of national news broadcasting, and of the introduction of television. They have outstanding historic significance because of their association with the evolving nature and composition of the Press Gallery, the press coverage of Parliamentary debates, and, increasingly, of broader party political and executive developments, from 1927 to 1988.

This early laptop is part of the Associated Parliamentary and Political Collection, which comprises those objects which are relevant to the democratic, parliamentary and political history of Australia. This collection includes items of material culture which are acquired for exhibition, interpretation and research.


Width 450mm
Height 120mm
Depth 320mm
Medium Plastic; metal; rubber; componentry; timber; leather
Creator’s name NEC
Date created Circa 1983