Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 21st Jul 2011 22:56 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless Today, the technology world is gripped by what can only be described as a dirty war between iOS on one side, and Android on the other. While the parties in this war fight it out in the US court system, the web has latched onto this conflict like a starved leach to a nice juicy ankle, and this focus on just iOS and Android has had a rather unpleasant side effect. This effect was subtle at first, but now, it's everywhere. Yes, if you were to believe the web, iOS and/or Android invented everything when it comes to mobile operating systems. I will have none of that, and my PDA collection begs to differ too.
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Tandy Zoomer
by galvanash on Thu 21st Jul 2011 23:44 UTC
galvanash
Member since:
2006-01-25

This is the one PDA (I had quite a few, including a newton and a few palm and Windows Mobile devices) that I remember most fondly. Not because it was so great - but because it was an endearing oddball at the time:

1. It predates the Palm and Windows Mobile revolution by quite a margin. At the time it's only contemporary was the Newton (which was faster and overall had a nicer user experience - but Newtons where bulkier and had horrible battery life in comparison).

2. It was at least partially PC compatible (it had a NEC V20 processor, which is an 8088 clone). As such it could run many command line DOS applications (yes, I realize this is kind of a strange capability for a handheld device with no keyboard - I did say it was an oddball).

3. It has a conventional run-of-the-mill RS-232 serial port (it was not a standard connector, but it cam with an adapter for 9-pin serial connections). USB didn't exist yet, so having a port that was compatible with at least some PC devices was neat (it worked with many standard modems). It also had a wireless infrared port (also RS-232 based) and could communicate with PCs equipped with an infrared serial adapter (which was ironically never made available but there were some 3rd party ones that could be made to work). It could even access AOL over a modem (which at the time anyway was pretty neat).

4. Jeff Hawkins founded Palm Computing more or less on this device - Palm's first real commercial endeavor was writing the applications that shipped with the Zoomer, so the Zoomer was sort of an ancestor of the Palm Pilot.

5. It's operating system was an only slightly modified version of PC-GEOS v2.0 (which in and of itself is reason to fascinate an OS geek). It unfortunately could not run some GEOS apps well because the pen I/O subsystem for GEOS didn't really exist outside of the Zoomer and many apps expected a keyboard interface - and the screen size often posed problems. That said there were a few exceptions and for a while there some hobbyist who endeavored to write a few GEOS apps (and simple DOS apps) for the Zoomer (some of which were quite useful).

It also had an optional software package (produced and sold under the Palm Computing Brand) that gave you more or less a version of all the Zoomer Applications to run on your PC. The cool part was it was really pretty much a bog standard install of PC-GEOS, just with Palm's Zoomer apps bundled into it. It was quite fun to play with (it could run pretty much any app compatible with PC-GEOS as it was PC-GEOS). The PC Zoomer Apps essentially all operated on the same data that the Zoomer Apps themselves generated, so synchs worked both ways. It was kind of like how modern devices synch with Outlook, except instead of Outlook you just had desktop versions of the same apps the mobile device ran.

Anyway, the little thing fascinated me endlessly. It was slow, the handwriting recognition was so bad you could basically say it didn't work at all (Palm latter released a version (the very first version) of graffiti for it - but it was too late), the list of problems with it was a mile long. But regardless of all its issues it had it's endearing qualities.

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