Deaths Elsewhere

Deaths Elsewhere

March 28, 2003

Adam Osborne, 64, a British technical writer who became one of Silicon Valley's legends by introducing the first portable personal computer in 1981, died March 18 in Kodiakanal, India. He had been in failing health for a decade.

The Osborne 1 computer, which was introduced at the West Coast Computer Faire in June 1981, was a 24-pound luggable machine with a large library of essential software, including a word processor, spreadsheet, database and programming languages. At the time, it was a startling innovation in an industry dominated by a do-it-yourself hobbyist culture.

The machine created a sensation in the rapidly growing PC marketplace, even though it had a cramped 5-inch display screen. The common belief was that customers were paying for the software, which included popular programs such as WordStar, the SuperCalc spreadsheet and Bill Gates' version of the Basic programming language, and were getting the computer free.

Osborne Computer Corp. in Hayward, Calif., became synonymous with the Silicon Valley tradition of hypergrowth defined by companies such as Apple Computer and Atari. Orders for the Osborne 1 totaled 8,000 in 1981 and jumped to 110,000 in 1982. At one point, the company said that it had a 25-month backlog of orders.

When the company encountered manufacturing difficulties, it was overloaded with inventory as customers deferred purchases of the original machine in expectation of the new one.

It declared bankruptcy Sept. 13, 1983, and a local newspaper photographer captured Mr. Osborne covering his face with his briefcase as he headed for his car in the company parking lot.

After Osborne Computer collapsed, he founded Paperback Software International, with the idea of selling inexpensive software bound into books.

The company was an initial success, but it ultimately lost a legal battle with Lotus Development in 1987 over a spreadsheet program that infringed the operating commands of Lotus 1-2-3.

Robert B. Bourque, 82, who helped invent the coin-operated fortune telling Zoltan the Astrological Wizard machines found in penny arcades in the Northeast, died Saturday in Duxbury, Mass.

Mr. Bourque, who repaired pinball machines and jukeboxes for decades, provided the mechanical expertise, and Robert Cottle, Boston kiddie television's Captain Bob, provided the artistic eye.

It was Mr. Cottle who sculpted the disembodied, fiberglass head of a bearded man in a burnoose who conjured up visions in the glowing crystal ball he cupped in his hands.

The machines were made at Mr. Bourque's home in Milton, Mass.

Betty Zielinski, 74, who posed as the Girl in the Moon with the famous Miller High Life logo as a young woman, died Friday in Milwaukee in an auto accident.

After working as a model, Ms. Zielinski was a service representative for the Manpower job placement firm and eventually formed a business.

Known as "Betty Braun's Best" after her maiden name, the company contracted with food companies to demonstrate their products.

Tauese Sunia, 61, governor of American Samoa, died Wednesday night on his way from Pago Pago to Honolulu for medical treatment.

Mr. Sunia was elected in 1996 and re-elected in 2000.

He had served as lieutenant governor under former Gov. A. P. Lutali from 1993 to 1996, and earlier had a two-year term in the American Samoa House of Representatives and was a former director of the territory's Department of Education.

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