Feeds

Bugger the jetpack, where's my 21st-century Psion?

Forgotten form factors #2: The handheld PC

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

Way back in 2011 we covered a handy category of portable computer that has completely disappeared. The early A4 portables were a specialist item, much beloved of journalists but not a big hit with the wider world. It took a different design to win those hearts.

Psion Organiser II

Psion Organiser II Source: babbagecabbage

But to start with, let's look at an early ancestor: the Psion Organiser. They weren't pretty, but they were functional – well, for 1984. The Organiser II LZ in 1989 was the one that first tempted me, flush with the earnings of my first job. It boasted a four-line screen, which was just about enough to get by, but its main drawback was its keyboard: a terrible alphabetical-order calculator-style job. Even entering names and addresses into it was a chore; you really would not have wanted to edit text on the thing.

By the time that Organiser II LZ shipped, there had already been a palmtop "PC" (sort of) – the DIP Pocket PC. As its packaging proudly said, it was "Designed in Britain, Made in Japan" – the former part by ex-Psion engineers.

Atari Portfolio

Here's one we made earlier

Made famous in the rebadged version sold by Atari as the Portfolio, it wasn't much of a PC – 40x8 mono screen, 128kB of total storage (that's RAM and the C: drive put together, folks) and a proprietary OS mostly compatible with MS-DOS 2.11. But it could do useful stuff – diary, address book and a spreadsheet – and ran for a claimed month on 3 AA batteries.

The next year, a much-less-constrained – and much more expensive – device went on sale: the Poqet PC.

The Poqet PC

Out-of-Poqet: 1989 palmtop king

It had a full 640kB of RAM, a full 8MHz CPU and cost a full $2,000 to the Portfolio's $399. It also claimed 50 to 100 hours of life out of just two AAs – unless you ran something very CPU-intensive, when this shrank to 10 to 20 hours.

Application security programs and practises

Next page: Tight fit

More from The Register

next story
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
For Lenovo US, 8-inch Windows tablets are DEAD – long live 8-inch Windows tablets
Reports it's killing off smaller slabs are greatly exaggerated
Microsoft unsheathes cheap Android-killer: Behold, the Lumia 530
Say it with us: I'm King of the Landfill-ill-ill-ill
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
Seventh-gen SPARC silicon will accelerate Oracle databases
Uncle Larry's mutually-optimised stack to become clearer in August
EU dons gloves, pokes Google's deals with Android mobe makers
El Reg cops a squint at investigatory letters
Apple orders huge MOUNTAIN of 80 MILLION 'Air' iPhone 6s
Bigger, harder trouser bulges foretold for fanbois
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.