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12

In the early seventies, companies like HP and Wang sold 'programmable desktop calculators' that were really personal computers Not really, as they stood firmly on the calculator side. If at all, systems like the Cogar 4 and Datapoint 2200 are the origin of desktop computing. Complete units with a CPU, mass storage, CRT display and a full figured typewriter ...


10

The de facto – and indeed de jure – standard interface for computers controlling random equipment was RS-232. Some would argue with that, at least in certain industries — Hewlett-Packard’s HPIB (GPIB, IEE-488) was (and is) also commonly used to connect control and/or measurement equipment. It is simpler to implement than RS-232. So some early programmable ...


8

RS-232 became "standard peripheral interface" later, when most of these "peripheral devices" adopted microprocessors. In early days, parallel ports were more common because they: can read-write data from logic elements like latches and d-triggers can control state of output triggers and even relays Actually they were a window to real life for CPU's ...


7

Hewlett-Packard marketed some of their computers as calculators for some marketing related reason like you stated. Similarly, DEC called their computers "Programmable Data Processors", to avoid the "Big Expensive Machine" connotation that the word "computer" had at that time. Not in every country was it the same as in the West. In the Hungarian People's ...


6

Hewlett Packard in the 1980s-1990s had two divisions. The Calculator Division and the Computer Division. These two divisions each made their own products without reference to each other. The overlap started when the Calculator Division started to break out from just producing hand-held calculators and started producing products that were effectively Intel-...


2

This answer is not quite about retrocomputing, but anyway... They are making them, though it is a bit of a niche market. One of the newer ones (designed by the original Psion designer!) is the Gemini PDA, running Android (and some rudimentary Linux support), trying to spiritually continue the Psion experience (at least from their PR standpoint), and the ...


2

On the issue of qwerty keyboards on handhelds, I sympathise with you entirely (as the owner of a Nokia N900 and a Blackberry KeyOne). Looking at a modern smartphone as the nearest equivalent of a handheld PC, a physical keyboard competes with the screen for space on the front of the device. If one generalises that most people consume more media on their ...


2

I don't know how 'early' this is, but in 1990, the HP48 series had built in RS232. In addition to the IR used by the immediately preceding HP28, there was also a four pin serial connector on the device. With the right kind of cable, this would provide up to 9600bps to another RS232 device. At the time, HP also sold a companion PC connection kit that that ...


1

Maybe it is a feature, not a bug. Many keyboard manufacturers have models with a bigger resistance (you have to press it with a slightly bigger force). Some people with "heavy fingers" appreciate it. The "small rubber things" are the "cheap springs" alternative. Those give the resistance against pushing and provides the proper reaction to pushing (force and ...


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