Feeds

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

Forgotten form factors #2: The handheld PC

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Next page: Tight fit

More from The Register

next story
Heyyy! NICE e-bracelet you've got there ... SHAME if someone were to SUBPOENA it
Court pops open cans of worms and whup-ass in Fitbit case
SLURP! Flick your TONGUE around our LOLLIPOP – Google
Android 5 is coming – IF you're lucky enough to have the right gadget
Official: European members prefer to fondle Apple iPads
Only 7 of 50 parliamentarians plump for Samsung Galaxy S
Fujitsu CTO: We'll be 3D-printing tech execs in 15 years
Fleshy techie disses network neutrality, helmet-less motorcyclists
Space Commanders rebel as Elite:Dangerous kills offline mode
Frontier cops an epic kicking in its own forums ahead of December revival
VINYL is BACK and you can thank Sonos for that
The format that wouldn’t die is officially in remission
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Managing SSL certificates with ease
The lack of operational efficiencies and compliance pitfalls associated with poor SSL certificate management, and how the right SSL certificate management tool can help.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.