A few months ago, I talked about the only PC ever shipped with BeOS preinstalled, the Flora Prius from Hitachi. However, due to illegal pressure from Microsoft, Hitachi disabled the special bootloader required to boot into BeOS, so while the best operating system ever made was right there on the hard drive, buyers couldn’t actually use it without manually restoring the bootloader and BeOS partitions.
Of course, I now have to try and find a working example of this Hitachi Flora Prius computer line. They were apparently only sold in Japan, so the odds of finding one anywhere seem slim, at best. It doesn’t help that most people who bought one of these had no idea BeOS was installed or what BeOS even was, so the historical significance was lost on them. I also think these weren’t particularly noteworthy computers otherwise – most likely one of the many dime-a-dozen beige boxes sold all over the world. Searches on eBay and Japanese auction sites yield no results.
I got an e-mail today from an OSNews reader, informing me of something quite rare. On the Japanese auction site mercari.com, someone is selling a BeBox, which in and of itself is already a very rare occurrence, as few BeBoxen were ever sold (1800 in total). To further add to the rarity, it’s the dual 133 MHz model, which is the rarer of the two configurations (800 pieces sold). These machines don’t come up for sale very often, and I’m pretty sure the seller is going to net a good price for this museum piece, which seems to be in almost pristine condition, without scratches of scuffs. The price is set at ¥950000 (€5821) excl. shipping (shipping costs to e.g. Europe or the US would be substantial), but I’m pretty sure the seller could ask for more.
Seeing a BeBox for sale is already quite exciting, but browsing through the accompanying pictures, there’s something even rarer: documentation and software CD-ROMs for the Hitachi Floria Plus 330j and BeOS. The machine itself is not part of the auction, but even seeing the documentation and CD-ROMs for it is entirely unique, and most likely something we won’t be seeing anywhere else anytime soon. Since the Floria Plus was sold as a generic, uninteresting PC, probably long forgotten and scrapped by most people, I doubt one will ever be found.
The documentation and software in this auction might be one of the last surviving tangible relics of the only PC ever sold with BeOS preinstalled.