Philadelphia Area HP Handheld Club meeting
Thursday, October lst, 1992 - Drexel University
The HPCC London Conference
The tenth anniversary conference in London, sponsored by the Handheld and Portable Computer Club (HPCC) was held on Sept. 19th and 20th with a little over a hundred attendees, speakers and vendors from all over Europe and the United States. The presentations were interspersed with displays of most of Hewlett-Packard's handheld products, a display of an HP48SX-controlled electric train set and a visit (on the second day) to the London Science Museum to see a demonstration of a recently constructed version of the Babbage Difference Engine. We also were treated to a videotaped "tour" of the HP Corvallis plant, a demonstration of the new Skystream satellite pager for the HP95LX and an auction of HP handheld products from the past two decades.
This conference was also designated to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the HP35 calculator and included a talk by HP's Jim Donnelly on devices leading up to the handheld electronic calculator age. Jim spoke about many interesting gizmos such as mechanical computing aids, slide rules and electric adding machines. Several choice gadgets were also on display. Jim is pondering doing a book on the "prehistory" of calculators. on the other side of the coin, we were treated to presentations which were speculative on the future of handheld computing. David Frodsham of DIP (which is the company responsible for designing the Atari Portfolio and the new Sharp palmtop the PC-3000) spoke about his company's current activities in that area. Colin Mason of Mitsubishi Electronics talked about the future of memory cards and their increasing use in small computing equipment. And finally, Mark Ellis of HP in the U.K. gave his interpretation of HP's vision of the future of handheld and palmtop products.
Other presentations included Craig Finseth (from Minnesota) speaking about HP95 software applications, Raan Young (from HP Corvallis) on the HP95 pager and comuunications, Brian Walsh (from Chicago) with his new HP48 "help system", Jim Donnely reviewing HP48 System RPL development techniques and Lee Woodruff (from California) speaking on computer algebra systems. The conference (and HPCC group) chairman, Wlodek Mier-Jedrzejowicz had some additional words on using handhelds in mathematics education, Graham Cawsey (of the U.K.) spoke about writing multilingual HP95 applications, Jurjen Bos (from the Dutch STORC group) showed some unique ways in which the HP48's PLOT function can be used and Megha Shyam of Sparcom talked about upcoming new products for the HP48 and HP95.
Overall, I would say that everyone had an enjoyable time and wouldn't hesitate to reassemble at a future date for another European meeting. Meanwhile, the Dutch group named "PROMPT" announced that they would like to host a conference some time in 1994. There still exists the prospect of another conference in the U.S. next year (either to support all HP handhelds or the HP95 exclusively), according to Richard Nelson. A time period and location (some place on the West Coast) is still being sought.
At a meeting in London at the end of the first day of the conference, the heads of eight European clubs met to discuss the potential formation of a coalition called "HEX" (Handheld European Exchange). The ultimate goal of this organization would be to promote exahange of ideas and information amongst the groups and also to get Hewlett-Packard to add info on the clubs to existing promotional literature which is inserted into the box of every handheld sold in Europe. Apparently, all European units are boxed and shipped from Germany, making a data sheet containing all the clubs' addresses a useful prospect to increase membership. It was felt that if the groups approached HP as a single coalition, they would be given the most possible consideration.
The entire London conference was videotaped, and copies are available for those interested.
New Educalc Catalog 57
A new catalog (#57) has been shipped by EduCalc, featuring 14 pages of products related to the HP95LX and 14 more pages for the HP48SX. On the HP95 side, a new Fax/modem for the card slot, a hardware developer's accessory box (which attaches with the pager cradle) and several new software packages have been advertised. In addition, Educalc will be soon offering a portable battery-powered hard disk drive (with capacities up to 120 megabytes) and plug-in flash memory cards (up to 10 megabytes in size). For the HP48, Sparcom's new Calculus card (which includes 2D and 3D plotting), Datalog's business applications card (giving the HP48 more business functions than any of HP's previous machines including the HP19BII) and a new Engineering mathematics Library ROM card (along with 632-page textbook reference) are new in the software area. In addition, Educalc is selling HP's new 100-minute video guide to using the HP48, which demonstrates two dozen capabilities of the machine in a step-by-step fashion.
Persistent HP Rumors
Practically every time a group of HP users get together, there is an exchange of rumors on new products. The London meeting was no exception. Followon products in both the HP48 and HP95 lines seem to be in the near future. A new revision of the HP48 internal ROMs (dubbed revision J) should be hitting the streets in a few months' time. The long-rumored doublespeed version of the HP48 CPU seems to still be far off, with yield problems causing the delay. On the other hand, the next in the HP95 class is supposed to be announced in March with a 25 by 80 screen but fitting into the same size plastic case. Rumors in the press of HP's announcing an HP95 plug-in version of their new 1.3-inch 21-meg hard disk drive seem to have been a bit too ambitious. When the power supply and batteries are added, the unit grows considerably in size. It appears now that this drive will first appear in HP's rumored subnotebook 386-based unit that is coming out next year at the earliest.
A disk of donated HP48 and HP95 software was assembled at the conference, and that material should also be available along with the month's postings on Usenet.
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