back to article Atari's Portfolio: the world's first palmtop

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 …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not PC, again.

    He, he, it goes back further than that, if you just mean handheld computers. Funny how the PC crowd got stuck on the notion that the world revolves around PC compatibility, and before that was pre history. The PC struggled as an fledgling sales success for years, for what was basically an heap or rubbish. They then made better rubbish, and so on, till today, where it is so complex most people don't realise ti is rubbish, though an much better sort. Linux people, the bane of an free and democratic society, behind over PC people, continue to hog the alternative better stream by making people think that Linux on PC is the way to go. In the early years of PC, and their blindly obedient IBuM'er Micro Sift slavers, it was plagued by the availability of other better computers, even an Sinclair QL ;) owned by people with brains .

    Having said all that, by the 90's the tide was turning, and an problem with many of these new pocket PC type devices, was expense, and often low battery life. If they could have sold an personal version for $200 (even with Z-80 CPM/6502/ARM/68000 Mac OS) with game controls, TV/Monitor dock and IR wireless game controllers to play it on TV as an video game console, when not being carried around, imagine how many sales they could have made. Pity companies didn't figure this out, and the things were largely not an great success.

    How long till an UMPC gaming handheld? The industry can't, largely, even do gaming: phones, media players and PDA's, so far. Even if they did, would they do it so badly, that PSP/DS would still outsell them.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dip through the pages of a book

    I used to have a DIP Pocket PC - they were cheap on eBay a few years ago, because they did not have the magic Atari brand, and people did not know what they were. It was the standard model. The keyboard wasn't bad, for something so small. The spreadsheet application was limited, and it could only display a very small number of cells at a time. But it wasn't much use as a word processor, or for anything else. Without any graphics there was no way to play 4D Sports Driving.

    It seemed like a clever gadget, but very limited (the tiny memory held it back, and this was long before USB). I remember feeling very sad and empty as I contemplated the machine, because it was of no practical use, and no-one in the world was going to be impressed by a DIP Pocket PC. I think I threw it away in the end.

  3. Dr Trevor Marshall

    You forgot the real original - HP95LX and HP200LX

    The grandaddy of them all was Hewlett Packard's HP95LX, running DOS. The one I have sitting in front of me proudly announces "Lotus 123" amongst the pre0installed applications.

    The HP200LX actually announces "Palmtop PC - 1MB RAM" from its fascia. It also has Lotus 123, but allso ccMail and Pocket Quicken...

    Both of mine are still fully functional, and one even has a memory card in its expansion slot replete with 5 MB of SRAM..

  4. Dillon Pyron

    TI Organizer

    I'll have to look and see when my TI Organizer was built. Calendar and address book. But no word processor.

  5. Simon King

    Classic bit of kit

    I had a Portfolio at high school (90-95). Proved to be a cracking bit of kit for taking notes in class, which I then uploaded to my PC when I got home. Really needed an extra memory card to be of much use and since they were proprietary they cost a fortune!

  6. rob

    The real original?

    The Psion I was released in 1984 and the II in '86 n'est pas?

  7. Graham Dawson Silver badge


    "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.

  8. Bryan Reed

    Far from the first

    Radio Shack made a pocker computer in 1980.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    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.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    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.

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