8.31.2019

Vintage GRiDCASE 1520 retrofitted with Logic Supply's CL100




"This started as a “what if” project. I’m a collector of old Grid laptops, after getting my first one when I first went to work of CompuServe in San Francisco in 1986. It was new and only cost CompuServe $8,000. When I left the company in 1997 to join IBM, I bought the Grid from them and still have it today. It also still works. I have since collected a total of 14 that include the first “clam shell” laptop ever produced, the Grid Compass 1101, from 1982. Some fun facts include:

-The case is made of magnesium alloy and fanless. The case acts as one big heat sink (one of the reasons the CL100 is a good fit)
-It was the first “football” for the nuclear codes during the Reagan administration
-Can take a shock up to 80 G’s … the original Toughbook
-First laptop on the Shuttle. After the Challenger accident, two grids were recovered from the ocean floor, dried out, turned on and they both still worked
-Over 300,000 were produced and sold mainly to government and corporations
-Because the case is made of magnesium, all final grinding and shaping of the case was done underwater

The prototype in the pictures, took about a year to build. The biggest problem was interfacing the proprietary keyboard to the CL100. There is a separate processor attached under the keyboard that translates key strokes. That took us better than 6 months to get it working and was written in C under Linux. We replaced the plasma display with a modern 10 inch display. The laptop is running Window’s 10 and has an additional 500 Gb SSD. Above the keyboard is a small door which is where you could plug in eprom chips loaded with software. It now hides a 4 port USB hub. All of the other ports (2 3.0 USB, Audio and RJ45) are located where the 3.5 inch floppy was. On the second and third units we have also located one of the wireless antennas that came with the CL100. The CL100 is attached to a custom fabricated plate made of 12 gage aluminum so that any heat generated by the CL100 is dissipated to the magnesium case. This works great. We can run the Grid for a week and longer and the outside case is barely warm to the touch.

In terms of the CL100, I was looking for something that was around 4”x4”x1.25” and the CL100 was the ticket! The next criteria was fanless and the number and types of ports available. The CL100 turned out to be the only product that filled all of my requirements. It has been flawless in our prototype, which I’ve been running pretty much straight since the first of the year.

I have no plans to sell these units at this time. It has been a private project, but Grids can still be found on ebay, most not working, but then all we need is the case and keyboard. The prototype has gotten an incredible response at tech conferences I have attended with it. It can’t be called a light weight laptop, as it weighs in at 15 LBs."

More info about the fanless computer can be found here: https://www.logicsupply.com/cl100/