Sign in with YouTube Sign in with Vimeo Post on Blogger

  • The author is a technical buff and had been fiddling with personal computers since 1978. He started with the Motorola-powered Commodore PET until he upgraded to the then, state-of-the-art and legendary Apple II in 1980.
  • From then on, he had been an avid fan and close watcher of the development and growth of the personal computer industry.
  • A self-confessed fan of the late Steve Jobs, he had been to several MacWorld Expos and had seen oodles of COMDEX (Las Vegas) shows as well during their heydays.
Stacks Image 405
Cidco MailStation 100

Designed for people who have no time to use a PC but wants to have access to e-mail -and quickly -, the Cidco MailStation was a device of many names. It was marketed in the U.S. by SBC in 1999 as the eMessage, the Home-m@il by Telefonica (Spain), the MailBug and finally, as the MiVO by Earthlink.

The handy, 2.2 lb device has a tilting, 6" x 2.5" LCD screen, a built-in 33.6 Kbps modem, a printer port and can be powered by three (3) AA batteries or via the bundled AC adapter. If not accessing your e-mail, the unit also has PIM (Personal Information Manager) functions: a calculator, calendar, address book as well as a spelling checker. These are inside the "Extras" icon in this screen shot.

The keyboard has a nice feel despite its size and the five (5) gray-colored, function keys are very, very useful shortcuts to access most of the features of the device.

You can even use it as a very simple word processor in lieu of a notebook and simply send the document via e-mail or output it to a printer!!!

As of this writing - May 2004 -, this device still marketed by Earthlink (an ISP in the U.S.) as the MiVO.

But, again, with the proper hack, the unit can be used on any available ISP.
thex Created with Sketch.
Stacks Image 409
Netpliance iOpener (hacked)

After a month of off-on-off work in this device - this included waiting for the delivery of other essential parts - the transformation was completed on 6/02/2004.

Here are the specs of this "new" machine:

Rise (VIA/Cyrix) 266 mhz CPU (before: a 200 mhz IDC Winchip); 64 MB of RAM (before: 32MB RAM); 2.1 GB hard drive (9.5" mm IBM TravelStar) (before: none); an 11 mm. active cooling CPU fan with heatsink clipped-on the CPU socket (before: a massive 4" x 7" x 10 mm passive cooling heatsink only); new keyboard-accessible and configurable Award BIOS (before: Award BIOS but was not accessible by keyboard); wireless Internet access -using any ISP- via a USB wireless adapter (before: dial-up Internet access only via built-in 56K modem using Netpliance-provided ISP only).

Other notes: To install the active CPU cooling, the RF shielding was slightly cut open to minimize the noise coming out of the CPU fan as well as to blow out any CPU heat-buildup more efficiently. The 3.5", 9.5 mm laptop hard drive was installed using a piece of aluminum sheet that used to be a top cover of a non-working, standard PC floppy drive. This was cut to size and drilled to mount the laptop hard drive from the base and was attached in a space that was occupied before by the massive heatsink (which was replaced with active cooling).

You can install any flavor of Windows (XP, ME, 9x, 3.1, 3,0, NT, etc), DOS or Linux as long as the CPU and memory requirements for the choice OS are installed.

Windows 98SE was chosen for this reason as well as the availability of drivers for the device. All built-in features like sound, modem are functional under Win98SE.

Simply adding more memory (standard 44-pin SODIMM), will enable the system to operate faster and more efficiently.

The device is now in the kitchen to access online recipes, news, etc... as well as for other PC use...all in a sleek, compact (6" x 11" tilting base) case and a 10" LCD screen!!!

— original 2004 notes
thex Created with Sketch.
Stacks Image 413
LifeDrive Mobile Manager by PalmOne

The first - and probably the last - "mobile manager" released (May 2005) by PalmOne as a business entity. The company acquired full rights to the trademark, "Palm" also in May 2005 and since then, had been known simply as, Palm, Inc.

Although, lacking a phone & camera capabilities like their Treo series, the LifeDrive tried to answer some of the needs of mobile computer users who don't like lugging their notebook PCs. Casual -as well as professional - photographers would find the device a gem. Pictures taken using digital cameras or cell phones with built-in cameras - with their paltry viewing screens - can be transferred wired or wirelessly to the LifeDrive for better viewing (the LifeDrive has a screen size of approx. 4 inches, TFT, 16-bit color at 320 x 480 resolution). And, with its built-in 4GB harddrive, storage should not be a short-term problem.

Key hardware features included built-in WiFi, Bluetooth and the ability become an "external drive" via USB. This made the device virtually compatible under any computer platform. Hence, transferring files to and from the LifeDrive was a snap. And, if you're the typical business user who always use MS Word or Excel, the "landscape" mode (triggered via a side button) will enable you to see more of what you do.

On the software side, Camera Companion allowed users to transfer (to computers), copy to the LifeDrive's hard drive (or, to an external SD/MMC card -- the LD has a slot for one) or, simply view pictures.

WiFile LT allowed one to view networked PC/Mac files via 802.11b.

The "Blazer" web browser (v4.3) had been updated to handle most sites.

Although, Palm's implementation of their OS 5.4 (Garnet) on the LifeDrive was quite adequate, setting up VPN (virtual private networking) tended to crash the unit on most occasions.

But, in 2005, having a decent wireless-capable PDA/ultra-portable computer, music player and voice recorder with ample built-in storage capability, made the LifeDrive Mobile Manager, a good match for people who loves to travel light.
thex Created with Sketch.
Stacks Image 434
Hewlett-Packard OmniBook 600c

The year was 1995 and, Hewlett-Packard was hot on the heels of sub-notebook leaders - Sony and Toshiba - to create a faster unit that can run on Microsoft's new Windows 95 operating system, scheduled for release in August of that year.

The outcome was the HP OmniBook 600 series -- the OmniBook 600C and the 600CT.

The unit seen here is the former. It is a small (at approx. 11" x 7" x 1.5") and light (approx. 3.8 lbs. with battery) sub-notebook that came with an Intel 486 DX4-75 MHz processor (Intel had already released the 'Pentium' two years earlier, but mobile versions designed for notebooks were hard to come by), 8 MB of built-in RAM (upgradeable to 16 MB), an 8.5" VGA, back-lit screen using DSTN, either a 170, 260 or 340 MB hard drive which came in a PCMCIA format and a very unique, pop-out mouse called, the 'paw'.

It also came pre-installed with Windows for Workgroups 3.11 and MS-DOS 6.22 but was very much capable of running the, then, upcoming Windows 95 OS.

HP also bundled a lot of software with the unit among them: HP Financial Calculator, LapLink Remote Access, CardView, Appointment Book, Phone Book and an IrDA printer driver.

The plan was to make the unit an essential tool of, not only the professionals on-the-go (or, the hardcore 'road-warriors’), but also, the collegiate crowd that required a small, all-in-one, compact computer they can easily move around their campuses and small dorms.

The unit had all the ports and connectors for hooking-up essential peripherals including infrared devices (very rare during that time) plus, the de-facto standard for portable computers during that era: two (2) PCMCIA slots.

The OmniBook 600 series was supplanted by newer, faster series later on, but, none of them had the amusing, "pop-out" mouse that made the 600 series unique.

After all, HP was a company founded on sheer innovation and this is what makes the company linger on...when all other similarly innovative start-ups had faded out in the background of silicon dust.

NOTE: HP still sells notebooks using the OmniBook and the newer, Pavilion brands.
thex Created with Sketch.
Stacks Image 438
Apple Iic Plus (with Apple Monochrome Display and Stand)

Among the last models in the legendary Apple II series, the Apple IIc Plus was the fastest Apple II that was ever released.

Powered by a MOS 65C02 chip clocked at 4 MHz, it was 4X faster than the original Apple II computer that helped Apple Computer become one of America's top, mainstream computer companies.

Officially launched in September 1988 - a time when Apple engineers were already obsessed in making enhancements to their Macintosh series - the Apple IIc Plus was Apple's last computer that still used a non-graphical user interface (ProDos/AppleDOS 3.1).

It was actually an enhancement of the original Apple IIc that the company originally released in 1984 which, coincidentally, was also the year they released the original Macintosh.

It came with a then, de-facto 3.5", 800k diskette drive instead of the older 5.25" ones, as well as a built-in power supply - unlike the original Apple IIc that came with a bulky, 12V power brick.

A very unique feature was the "keyboard button", which toggled the keyboard layout between 'QWERTY' and DVORAK modes.

The latter was named for its inventor, Dr. August Dvorak, who designed it with the goal of maximizing typing efficiency.

It also had a very beautiful design that made the Apple IIc -as well as the enhanced Apple IIc Plus- very popular among Apple collectors, after it won the Industrial Design Excellence Award in October 1984.

The unit was finally discontinued in November 1990.

The one seen here comes with a matching Apple Monochrome Monitor and stand, which is a 11.5", paper-white variety made by Sony for Apple Computer (most of the components inside an Apple computer including the newer Macs are made specially by Sony for Apple). It's just the perfect size for the Apple IIc/IIc Plus.

Together, the Apple IIc Plus and the Apple Monochrome Monitor complement each other perfectly specially on days when - simply composing a letter or playing those vintage games made my afternoons and evenings in the late 80s much easier.

I long for the times when computing was more straightforward and the people...much warmer, humbler and kinder.
thex Created with Sketch.
Stacks Image 442
Apple G4 iBook (Snow)

Maybe, among the last of the original iBook breeds that run on IBM's PowerPC processors before Apple shifts to Intel processors in 2006, this snow-colored G4 (at 933 MHz) with a bus speed of 133 MHz, came with a slot for the faster AirPort card, called, 'AirPort Extreme' (aka, 802.11 a/b/g). Other changes from the original iBooks of the late 90s were: a 'slot-loading' CD-RW/DVD (Combo drive), provision for Bluetooth, gigabit Ethernet, V.92-capable internal modem (USB-bus) and a port for connecting either an external, conventional VGA or an ADC monitor.

Gone were the handle (seen in the 'clamshell' models) as well as the 'longish' lithium battery pack. Instead, Apple went for the more compact but higher 6-cell lithium pack. This was complemented by a smaller, more functional and similarly-colored power adapter. Also, very helpful status indicator lights -including the 'Apple logo' were added to indicate battery charging status, in use or in hibernate mode.

Other specs are: 1024 x 768 screen resolution powered by ATI's Mobility Radeon 9200 chip (with 32 MB VRAM and an AGP bus); 40 GB (Fujitsu) ATA HD at 5400 rpm; 128 MB of DDR-SODIMM (PC2100) built-in with an extra slot that supports up to 1 GB (hence, max of 1.12 GB of RAM); USB 2.0; FireWire (at 400 Mb/sec) and a Texas Instruments-based stereo-capable sound chip.
thex Created with Sketch.
Stacks Image 446
Treo 600 Phone/PDA (GSM) by PalmOne

The first PDA/smartphone released by PalmOne by the end of 2003 - as a new company- after they acquired Handspring in mid-2003 and splintered the original company, Palm, Inc into two separate entities: PalmOne (hardware) and PalmSource (software).

While most of the technologies in this PDA/phone came from Handspring, PalmOne leveraged the PalmOS software to come up with a much robust gadget --one that can handle more apps and newer devices.

Noticeable changes were the enhanced multimedia capabilities of the 'newer' Palm 5.x.x OS that came with the Treo 600 as well as the introduction of an SD (SecureDigital) card slot in the unit to expand its memory capability -- for any multimedia applications that may require more than the 32MB (actually, only 24MB can be use as storage since 8MB is utilized by the Palm OS) that's built-in.

Other features that separate it from its predecessors -the Treo 270 and Treo 300- were: a built-in camera (a paltry 0.3 megapixel at 640 x 480 resolution), stereo sound, a brighter screen (CSTN) and a totally-redesigned keyboard layout which saw the addition of a 5-way navigation keys that was located higher in the new layout. The flip-cover was also done away with to give the unit a more polished, professional look.

Size was approximately 4.5" x 2.25" x 0.75" (L x W x thickness).

And, perhaps, more importantly, the Treo 600 was the one product that enabled PalmOne to become profitable again, as a company, after it saw its market leadership greatly diminished in the 'pure' PDA market...due to encroachment of the big cell phone makers such as Nokia, Motorola, Siemens/Sony and others in the rapidly-expanding, convergent PDA/phone market.

NOTE: In late 2004, the new Treo 650 was released by PalmOne to showcase the new features of version 5.4 of its 'Garnet' (Palm OS 5.x) operating system.
thex Created with Sketch.
Stacks Image 450
Apple ‘Clamshell’ iBook (G3)

One of the most unusually-designed notebooks made by Apple that was released in 1999, this "clamshell-inspired" notebook was the only notebook Apple ever introduced in different colors (the one seen here is tangerine). A lot of people also derided its appearance, saying, "it looks like a toilet seat cover."

Despite its very controversial design, it also came with a lot of firsts in notebook technology. It was the very first notebook to use wireless networking (WiFi (802.11b) or, as Apple named it: AirPort). Unlike its PC laptop counterpart that enabled or used WiFi usually via a PCMCIA wireless card that stuck-out very ugly on the side, the iBook has the AirPort card cleverly concealed underneath the easily-removable keyboard! The WiFi antenna is also built-in around the periphery of the LCD screen for better coverage and reception.

There is also a retractable handle but NO latch to open up the unit. But the clever design made sure that the notebook opens and shuts perfectly well with no obtrusive buttons nor ugly locks to fumble with. Hence, nothing mars its sleek, smooth edges.

The original iBook came with a 300 mhz G3 processor, 64MB of SODIMM/SDRAM , an ATI Rage Mobility video (4MB of VRAM), 24X CD-ROM drive & a 6GB of hard drive. Except for the CPU and video, all the rest of the above are upgradeable. Also built-in were sound, 56K modem,10/100 Mbps Ethernet & a USB port. The 12" LCD screen is crisp but is hampered by its max of only 800 x 600 resolution.

The keyboard maybe a bit cheesy but still has a nice tactile-feedback & is easily detachable for installation of the AirPort card (optional) as well as quick memory upgrades (max of 320 MB).

A lot clamshell iBooks are still in active use today, and Apple -with the release of their now signature "Snow White" and "Titanium" colored iBooks - stopped producing their candy-colored versions of the iBook altogether... the last being the iBook SE (FireWire).

NOTE (2004): The original iBook (Tangerine) pictured above still faithfully serves as a backup for the ancient Apple G4 - now a PowerMac G5 - that used to hosts these web pages. :)
thex Created with Sketch.
Stacks Image 454
Apple Macintosh Color Classic (with ‘Mystic’ upgrade)

When Apple introduced the first Mac in 1984, it was a big hit among computer users, because of its GUI (graphical user interface).

In 1986, I got my first Mac -a Mac Plus (Motorola 68000-processor-based with two 3.5" disk drives (the other was an external drive) and a then, "massive" 1MB of RAM (which I eventually upgraded to 4MB using 30-pin SIMMs plus a hard drive).

Bundled with the set was an Apple Personal Modem (back then, it was ”speedy" at 2400 bps).

It was on that same Mac Plus that the author hosted his first Mac-based, eBBS (electronic Bulletin Board Service) in Manila, Philippines in1988.

The Mac Plus was superseded by a Mac SE, then a Mac SE/30 (similar to the Mac SE except for a faster 68030 chip and a hard disk - which I still have) but my yearning for a Mac -with the same all-in-one form factor - with a color screen was only realized with the release of the Mac Color Classic.

I got this one in 1998 although the model was initially released in 1993.

This baby has a “Mystic” upgrade, meaning the original motherboard was replaced with one from a Mac LC 575 series to support higher resolution as well as more memory and, of course, a 32-bit data path.

Currently, it runs Mac OS 8.1 and shares the network via a removable, internal Ethernet card.

This old Mac still retains most of the the same features as the original Macs of 1984: ADB-ports, SCSI hard drive interface, mini-din serial ports, built-in sound as well as the very-popular -but now replaced- multi-colored "Apple" logo!

It still can access the Internet (via Ethernet or dial-up), runs Adobe Photoshop, MS Office98 for Mac as well functions as an elegant book end!
thex Created with Sketch.