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‘Compaq’ invents Linux-based palm computer

But actually it's more likely decided to get some mileage out of Digital R&D after all...

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One of the things Compaq got hold of when it bought Digital was the latter's wacky research division. This wasn't obviously something an outfit like Compaq would automatically know what to do with (e.g., 'what are we going to do with Alta Vista then?'), but as the company has now started talking about a Linux-based palm computer, the ex-Digital boffins in Palo Alto may be able to breathe a little easier. The device in question is the Itsy, which is a little bit smaller than a Palm Pilot. It's a research project only, designed to spec out possible future products in handheld and wearable computing. It allegedly uses a 200MHz StrongARM CPU, which strikes us as serious overkill for something this size, but aside from pen input the researchers are looking and voice and at something called Rock 'n Scroll, a gesture-based input system (we said it was Digital's wacky research bit). The StrongARM angle is also interesting. Long term readers will recall that Larry Ellison claims Bill Gates forced Digital to kill-off a StrongARM-based NC, the Shark, but in the interim the labs have still been fooling around with the chip. This might well influence Compaq's long-term roadmap. But actually we reckon Factoid is far more interesting than Itsy. It's a small key-fob computer with no user interface, and it uses wireless with a 30 foot range to communicate. We quote: "The purpose of a Factoid is to accumulate information that is broadcast from other Factoid devices, and upload it to the user's home base. This information is envisioned to be facts, such as one might see on a sign, on a business card, or on the display of an instrument such as a GPS receiver. These facts are uploaded to the user's home base whenever the user walks by an Internet-connected Factoid server." Cool or what? This kind of relates to Bluetooth and kind of to business card computers of the sort that constitute just about the only 'vision' we've ever heard from IBM's Lou Gerstner. Unfortunately, if our recollection of the invention of the term factoid by Norman Mailer (we're pretty sure about this, but write if we're wrong) is correct, a factoid is something that isn't actually true, but which has gained such wide currency that it is now generally accepted as such. Lots more groovy stuff available here, at Digital's Western Research Labs. ® See also: Compaq may release Linux micro-PC to open sourcers

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