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The BOOK 8088 is one of the weirdest laptops to launch in 2023. It’s a budget mini-laptop with a 7 inch display, a QWERTY keyboard… and the guts of a 40-year old computer including a Intel 8088 compatible processor with a 4.77 MHz base clock but support for turbo speeds up to 8 MHz.

Now the developer behind the BOOK 8088 has started selling a new version that brings a few upgrades including a VGA graphics card and serial and parallel ports. It drags this retro computer forward a few years, but the BOOK 8088 v2.0 is still very much a device for running very old software.

Key changes in the new model include:

  • VGA graphics card with support for 640 x 480 graphics and up to 256 colors
  • COM1 serial port
  • LPT1 parallel port

The original BOOK 8088, by comparison, lacked the new ports and had an IBM-CGA graphics card and a 16-color, 640 x 200 pixel display.

The upgrades should make the new version a little better for playing classic DOS games (the system supports DOS 6.22 and Windows 3.0 software), while the ports should make it easier to connect older peripherals like mice, keyboards, or printers that may have been collecting dust in your house for the past three or four decades.

The BOOK 8088 V2.0 has 640 KB of RAM and uses a 512MB CompactFlash card for storage. It also has an ISA connector, a USB port, a 3.5mm audio jack, an Adlib OPL3 audio card, and a 4,000 mAh battery. It measures 240 x 150 x 30mm (9.4″ x 5.9″ x 1.2″).

One thing to keep in mind about this little computer is that previous versions have shipped with an unofficial version of Sergey Kiselev’s 8088 open source BIOS that did not give credit to the developer or acknowledge the GPL license. It’s unclear if that’s been addressed in the latest version, but if you’re looking to install a compliant version of the BIOS, Kiselev added support for the original BOOK 8088 when releasing version 1.0 of the 8088 BIOS a few months ago.

The BOOK 8088 v2.0 is available from AliExpress for around $160 to $180.

via Tom’s Hardware and @dosnostalgic

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  1. I ordered one, waiting for it.
    I’m already preparing a few old CF with specific config (and one with an old DOS 6.2 boot menu).
    I create them on my 386 with a CF2IDE adapter.
    It’s strange to see how difficult is to fully load a 500MB disk with XT software.

  2. What a strange combination. VGA didn’t come out until the era of the 386. Most DOS games that have VGA graphics aren’t good to like that 8088 very much, even if it is overclocked.

    1. so i have one of these and you’re both right and wrong.

      it includes a few games (including arkanoid) that happily chug along on an 8088 with 640k and run in vga and a benefit of using said vga card is that it also can do EGA (which Windows 3 seems to demand… it just refuses to acknowledge the VGA card exists even if you set it to VGA but I’m not sure -why- you would willingly subject yourself to Windows 3… I mean it runs, but– anyway, tangents)

      the VGA mode on it is pretty nice when it comes to things that are more text-based. you get a lot more on your screen and there’s a surprisingly large amount of games that support it albeit unofficially or otherwise not listed because i’m sure back in the day what you were saying was true… like, who would have VGA on an 8088? considering how much VGA would’ve cost and how weird it would be to be using VGA on such an old system when VGA was new… but it seems like most software that supports older machines but also runs on newer (as in newer at the time) stuff doesn’t seem to actually bother to check nor care if the hardware makes sense.

      it’s just like “… an XT with VGA? whatever man sure i don’t care” (since that’s what most software sees it as)

      its both delightful and slightly terrifying watching old cad software begrudgingly accept vga on an 8088 but then whine and whinge about the mouse driver taking the last little bit of memory it wanted to gobble up

    1. Oh… this is interesting!

      As I’m reading liliputing’s writeup, I kept thinking that anything less than a 386 wouldn’t do. The book386 sounds perfect!

  3. Would be cool if the designer kept the form factor and battery, but made it Pi (or pi compatible) drop in.

  4. I still run DOS natively on occasion on my Legion, thanks to its USB “compatibility” mode, I can boot a DOS bootable cd. Or, you could use DOSbox to run old DOS software.

    To be honest, I’d be concerned about a chinese made processor. Why? Even the Cyrix back from the 90’s had a built-in back door with hidden registers, that was discovered later. Of course, the article I found a few years ago seems to be gone now.

    But. I wouldn’t want a chinese made processor on my computer. If you want DOS, run a real DOS or Dosbox, but don’t buy this. Just my opinion.

    1. It has an NEC V20 processor. All the parts are scavenged.

      Nobody is going to backdoor a 4mhz hobbiest laptop

      1. Even if someone backdoor your 8088/V20 standalone machine, what’s the deal ?
        no network, no personal data, except by contaminating the USB storage, what’s the risk ?
        In the worst case, replace the CF card with a new created one et voila.