The Computer in Your Pocket

The computer in your pocket

PSION - having written the four programs to accompany the QL — has now launched its own computer.

The Psion Organiser is smaller than a paperback book, costs under £100, runs off an ordinary PP3 battery, and is claimed to be “the world’s first practical pocket computer”.

It uses a Hitachi 6301-X processor which is a complete micro-on-a-chip device incorporating its own operating system in a 4K Rom. It has 14K Ram on-board, but the device includes two built-in “solid state drives.” These are twin CMOS Eprom cartridge slots for plugging in additional software. They have storage capacity of either 8K (£12.50) or 16K (£19.95).

Where the Organiser is unique, however, is that it can write to these Eproms. Incorporated in the unit is the ability to ‘blow’ software into any blank cartridge plugged into the device.

Information on existing cartridges can also be erased in the same way. Re-recording onto a used cartridge is not possible though, and to do so the cartridge must be reformatted either by a shop (£3.50) or by the individual using a special formatting device (£45).

Either of the cartridges can be removed and a special interface can be connected giving the Organiser a standard RS232C interface. This can be used to printout information to a printer or to dump data to another computer possibly even via a modem and telephone link.

The basic machine at £99.95 provides five commands. Save, Find, Erase and Enter which allows data to be stored and retrieved from any cartridge. The fifth, Calc gives a calculater facility.

Psion is also offering, initially, a choice of three prerecorded software packs each priced at £29.95. These are Maths, Financial and Science packs. All three incorporate a new programming language written specially by Psion for the Organiser called Popl. Popl provides an additional 14 commands including If, Goto, Print, Copy, Free and Label. Popl is a procedure-based language rather like Logo.

The Psion Organiser will be sold initially by mail-order beginning in July. The company is at present manufacturing between three and four thousand machines a month and does not anticipate selling it through stores until 1985.

The machine will also go on sale in the US in Spring 1985 and Psion has established Psion Inc a US subsidiary based in Fairfield County, Connecticut headed up by a former Timex employee, Bill Skyreme.

Psion has also announced that enhanced versions of its QL packages will be launched in August for the IBM PC and XT, the Apricot machines, and the Sirius and Victor. Versions for the Apple Macintosh and Dec Rainbow will follow in the Autumn. All the so-called Xchange packages will sell for over £500.

Psion plans a share flotation onto the USM in Spring 1985.