Atari's Portfolio: the world's first palmtop
18 years before Palm's Foleo...
Forgotten Tech There's nothing new under the sun, some folk say, and that's certainly true of Palm's recently announced Foleo. It's the palmtop reborn in a slightly sexier, slightly larger form. Even its name is reminiscent of that bygone arena - it's rather like the Atari Portfolio, the world's first palmtop PC, released in June 1989.
Atari's Portfolio: a rebranded DIP Pocket PC
Atari's compact clamshell ran an MS-DOS compatible operating system - DIP-DOS, from Guildford-based Distributed Information Processing (DIP) Systems - on a 4.92MHz Intel 80C88 processor. The Portfolio has 128KB of memory on board, 32KB of which was reserved for data storage, exposed as the C: drive and backed up by the three AA batteries the Portfolio ran from. A built-in long-life cell protected the memory when the batteries needed changing.
The Portfolio's display was a 40-character by eight-line job with a 240 x 64-pixel graphics mode, mounted next to the unit's speaker and above the calculator-style QWERTY keypad. A slot on the side took a range of device-specific memory cards running from 32KB to 128KB.
Anticipating Palm's own Pilot - which shipped in April 1996, seven years after Atari first showed its palmtop - the Portfolio had diary and address book applications, along with a basic word processor and a spreadsheet package. The apps and the OS resided in 256KB of ROM. Plenty of space, you might think, for programming tools, but the Portfolio had none, not even a Basic language interpreter. To be fair, this wasn't a machine aimed at coders but at the growing number of folk who wanted a computer for information storage and retrieval, a feature Palm was later to major on with the Pilot. In any case, programming tools were later offered as add-ons.
Atari's Portfolio: expandable
Unlike the Pilot and, now, the Foleo, the Portfolio was designed to operate on its own, independently of a desktop machine or other device. That said, data could be transferred back and forth between the palmtop and a desktop, via a cable connected to the Portfolio's add-on parallel port.
Incidentally, movie buffs may recall an Atari Portfolio was the device the young John Connor used to hack an ATM in Terminator 2.
Re: Hmm? Graham Dawson
Linux itself is an problem, it is old and dated, not terribly efficient, and that proved the case in performance testing. But maybe it has been vastly improved int he last ten or so years, since I last visited it. The PC of the OS world, with an number of forgotten better alternative OS's out there, sacrificed in the "free" for all ;) . Start on an bad basis, build on it, and how are you going to get rid of it. Linux2?
People seem to think HP and Psion were the first, Ir ember those Tandy, Sharp ad nausea pocket computers. Hmm, how I would have liked one of those one line, 16 character display devices (really wanted the four line ones). But before this was the Cambridge Technology UniBrain machine by Sir Clive I think (or was that Video Brain or something or other). Before that, I forget.
What about Psion's MCs
About at the same time (1989/1990) Psion produced is addition to it's Organiser range of product the MC200, MC400 and MC600. The first two were Epoc based computer while the latter one was a full notebook PC. These were more closer to the Foleo concept, I think, as it was device for the move with the 'same' featre as you desktop device.
Far from the first
Radio Shack made a pocker computer in 1980.
"Linux people, the bane of an free and democratic society",
"continue to hog the alternative better stream by making people think that Linux on PC is the way to go."
That would be why Linux and its paraphenalia run on just about every architecture available for purchase, plus a few that aren't. Wouldn't surprise me if there's a linux distro that runs on a sinclair spectrum out there somewhere... it'd be crap though.
The PC is ubiquitous. It is everywhere, You can't move without tripping over an x86 processor these days, and I agree that this is not an ideal situation. The linux people are catering to the existing x86 market but they aren't limited to it, unlike certain other providers. An ideal solution would be to see some sort of Power-powered alternative to the PC, or some other decent architecture becoming ubiquitous. If the majority OS was architecture agnostic then you could easilly see alternative architectures coming to the fore, opening up the market to greater competition. That ain't going to happen while people are locked in to x86, and they're locked in to x86 for a reason I shall not argue about here. All I shall say is that the reason for this ubiquity isn't Linux.
The real original?
The Psion I was released in 1984 and the II in '86 n'est pas?