Internally, the HX-20 was fitted with 16KB of memory, upgradeable to 32KB, and connected to the machine's twin processors, one to do the processing and control the display and keyboard, while the other looked after the cassette, the printer and the serial ports. The CPUs were 8-bit Hitachi 6301s, clocked at just over 600kHz.
Like so many machines from the early 1980s, the HX-20 used the Basic language for programming, with a separate option, Monitor, to provide the kind of functions we'd expect from an operating system these days. The HX-20's version was called EBasic and was developed for Epson by Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Ski Soft. Apparently, there wasn't much software available for the machine at the time, but as we did in those days, we wrote our own.
Epson continued to sell the HX-20 through to 1987 and possibly later. The company continues to host a support page for the device. Check it out: you'll find copies of the manual - including details on how to set the unit's language using DIP switches - and an old Basic quick reference guide.
You'll note the Apple II used for comparison in the above ad. Apple itself will still show you how to hook an HX-20 up to a Mac, albeit one with an old-style Apple serial port.
More Forgotten Tech...
• 15 years ago: the first mass-produced GSM phone
• Compact Disc: 25 years old today
• The IBM ThinkPad: 15 years old today
• Apple's first handheld: the Newton MessagePad
• Atari's Portfolio: the world's first palmtop
• 'Timna' - Intel's first system-on-a-chip
• BeOS: the Mac OS X might-have-been
• Sony's first Mylo
From 1981: the World's first UMPC
One on EBay right now
With a voice synthesizer, no less...
go look up item #160113565924
That was the first computer I used at work
Ah, what a loverly blast from the past. Back in 1984, we used an HX-20 to monitor gas concentrations in test rigs, and alter the flow as needed.
The gas valves were opened and closed using a fearsome looking contraption built by Development and plugged into the serial port.
As the 'umble spotty grunt in charge of the test rigs, I felt dead sophisticated punching numbers into a computer instead of having to get up and turn a valve.
And yep, the software was all written in-house. Version 2.0 was supposed to include enough intelligence to let you key in the gas concentration you wanted, and the computer would set the valves accordingly. However, I moved on before it appeared.
Thanks for the memories. Happy days :-)
"And by 1989 things had improved:
Notice how there is still nothing on the market with a clamshell keyboard like this (oh Psion, woe, lament!).
Not heard of the Nokia 9000 series Communicators then, Ken?
Or the soon* to be release Nokia E80 - http://my-symbian.com/s60v3/review_e90.php
* This is of course Nokia's idea of soon, so anything from end May to 2009.
Computers ? Who needs computers ??
Just get me that lady in the picture......
bloody geeks, the lot of 'em
Seriously, the first really usable full spec "laptop" that I know of was the Toshiba 100 (and later, the Toshiba 200). It was a laptop if you had 28 inch circumference thighs !! It used a 386, had a 14 inch LCD screen and could run on DOS, CP/M, or as mine did, on SCO Unix and all the programs that were written for those OSes. Mine actually ran an Oracle client AND database, all be it shoehorned in. And you didn't even need to be a bodybuilder to carry it around, although it helps !!
Re: Husky Hunters
The British military still use Husky Hunters - I used one all the time in the Royal Signals to run radio path analysis software for UHF and VHF directional transmissions.