20 yrs ahead of its time: Apricot’s First Infra-Red &
Voice Recognition Portable Computer on Show
· COMPUTERS ON THE MOVE! An Exhibition of Computers That Cut the Cord
· Over 65 milestones in mobile computing on show from September-Christmas
· Open invitation to launch at 6pm on Mon 13th September 2004
8th September 2004, Swindon – Hands-up how many IT specialists think that infra-red technology and voice recognition are relatively recent phenomena? Did you know that even twenty years ago Apricot launched a portable computer with detachable infra-red keyboard and speech input? Way ahead of its time, the Museum of Computing in Swindon is proud to present this machine along with over 65 other exhibits tracing the history of mobile computing over the last quarter of a century. Everyone is welcome to the exhibition launch at 6pm for an introductory talk on Monday 13th September 2004.
Another unusual machine is the A4 sized Epson HX-20, which had an integral dot matrix printer with 24 column printout on something resembling a wide till roll. The LCD screen shows 20 characters by 4 lines deep and this was one of the first battery-operated portables. In keeping with many computing devices of its time, there is also a mini cassette recorder used for loading programs. How many young IT consultants today would even recognize a cassette recorder, or a 5 ¼ floppy disc? Perhaps this is a warning to today’s product designers? The exhibition demonstrates that some technological breakthroughs become obsolete. But what makes some ideas stick while others fall from grace?
Whilst the Museum of Computing in Swindon does not offer any direct answers, visitors can review the many milestones in mobile computing on display until Christmas/Easter (TBC). We may take today’s’ laptops and PDA’s and bluetooth devices for granted but portable computers used to weigh 10kgs and the Osborne 1 was the size of a small suitcase! The first PDA had 14k of memory and a single line 16-character display.
The 1980's saw the emergence of the portable computer in many shapes, sizes and capabilities. See www.museum-of-computing.org.uk for a full list of over fifty prime examples of the first ‘luggables’, portables and hand-held computers, which will be on show until Christmas.
· Luggables – designed to be carried, The Osborne 1 fitted aircraft overhead lockers or under passenger seats for 1980’s globetrotting executives.
· Portable PCs – run PC software i.e. IBM compatible
· Pre Laptops – battery operated, proprietary software and full-size keyboards with small screens. Tandy 100 favoured by journalists and Cambridge Z88
· Laptops – Toshiba T1000
· PDA’s – Psion And Sharp personal organizers. (Every Psion model ever produced bar one will be on show).
· Pocket Computers – Sharp, Casio & Tandy. Step up from calculator but programmable in Basic. Collectable & have doubled in price on E-Bay recently.
The exhibition is being sponsored by Business Link Berkshire & Wiltshire and will be opened by Chief Executive Daphne Milner on Monday 13th September at 6pm. There is an open invitation to the launch for anyone interested in computing, and there will be a short presentation tracing major milestones in the ‘History of Mobile Computing’. Throughout the Autumn, leaders in the field of emerging wireless technologies from Intel, Motorola and PalmOne will present a series of talks to accompany the exhibition on the first Tuesdays of October, November and December. The Museum of Computing is based at the University of Bath in Swindon, Oakfield Campus. See www.museum-of-computing.org.uk for further details of opening hours and the popular Saturday morning ‘hands-on’ sessions’. It is worth noting that people travel from all over the country to visit the Museum and it even attracts overseas visitors.
Exhibits of special note are
IBM Portable PC model 5155
Although not quite the first portable from IBM, this was its first portable PC that was compatible with its hugely successful desktop PC. It was basically an XT machine in a portable case, sporting a pair of 5 1/4" floppy drives an amber monitor and a handle! At 15Kg, you wouldn't want to carry it too far.
Tandy 100 1983 Display: 40 characters x 8 lines Price: $799
This could be considered one of the world first laptops. Battery powered, with a full sized keyboard, 8-line display and built in applications, it found favour with journalists and anybody who needed a computer that could be used anywhere.
1981 $1795 Weight 25 lbs
Generally considered to be one of the first portable computers, the Osborne 1 was designed to fit under an aircraft passenger seat. A tiny 5" monitor and twin 5 1/4" disk drives were barely adequate, but on a portable machine were revolutionary!
Psion Organiser 1 1984 The first PDA
The granddaddy of all PDA's the Psion 1 was designed as a truly portable computer that could slip into your pocket. Its unique use of EPROM based storage meant that data was retained even when switched off and even with no battery present!
Toshiba T1000 laptop 1987 weight 6.4lbs
One of the first true laptops, the T1000 from 1987 had a full sized screen, a 3 1/2" floppy drive and MS-DOS built into ROM. With a rechargeable battery, this is getting closer to what we use today.
The Museum of Computing is housed in the business library of the University of Bath in Swindon, Oakfield campus. For directions go to www.bath.ac.uk/swindon/getting-here/ Open during library hours. However, for the hands-on experience of the gaming machines, Curator Simon Webb is on hand most Saturday mornings from 9am to 1pm.
Museum of Computing Profile
The museum is devoted solely to the history of the development of computers. It is adjacent to the Library of the University of Bath in Swindon, and this initiative is being supported by the Science Museum in Wroughton, the British Computer Society and Swindon Borough Council. The Museum has a growing collection of exhibits and accepts donations of suitable machines. Its function will be to act as a showcase for outside exhibitors. The first exhibition was presented by Bletchley Park Trust. The Museum is keen to show former products of commercial computer companies, and welcomes such offers. www.museum-of-computing.org.uk
For further details, jpegs, screen grabs or interviews contact
Rhona Jack MIPR
Blue Click PR Ltd.
Tel: +44 (0)1793 635147
Mobile: +44 (0)7866 546221
For details on specific computer game exhibits, contact
Mobile +44 (0)7939 582544
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