Philadelphia Area HP Handheld Club Meeting

Wednesday, September 11th, 1996 - Drexel University

HHC '96 - The HP Handheld Conference in Anaheim

On August 24th and 25th in Anaheim, California, approximately 80 attendees gathered to hear presentations and see demos at the HHC '96 conference. The sessions were divided into "handheld" and "palmtop" tracks each day, with the palmtop sessions much more heavily attended. This was due to several factors, not the least of which was that the conference was promoted much more heavily to professional/business users via the Palmtop Paper and Shier Systems and Software's World Wide Web site. (Shier sells products mainly to the palmtop audience.) The lateness of the most recent Educalc catalog (#72) with its ad was not a great help. I videotaped the handhelds sessions, plus the two presentations which were run for everybody, namely Kheng Joo Khaw's keynote presentation at the beginning of the first day and the panel discussion at the end of the second day. Paul Hubbert videotaped the palmtops sessions, and I have all the tapes and will be editing them into a master for duplication.

HP Singapore's R&D General Manager, Kheng Joo Khaw, spoke on HP's short-term direction in the palmtop/organizer area, mentioning that the 200LX would be around for a long time, as long as the customers continue to keep it a popular item. He said that the Omnigo product(s) met the needs of a special audience which did not need DOS-based software, but wanted the benefits of organizer applications. (See below about the presence of the newly-announced HP Omnigo 120 at the conference.) He also said that the calculator activity was quiet right now, with their not currently perceiving a need for another high-end machine to surpass the HP48G-series machines. In the future, he assured us that "if they thought that the need was there", then they would produce such a unit. We also inferred from Khaw's speech that the HP38G calculator was not yet a TI-killer and there were no successors planned at present. One thing he did mention was that they were in the palmtop area for the long run, and that they are resisting creating any of their own proprietary operating systems for those machines. They will continue to support "open" systems, as Khaw put it, probably meaning Microsoft's upcoming "Pegasus" OS, which has been dubbed Windows CE (for "Consumer Electronics"). See an article later in this handout about Pegasus' impending introduction next week.

On the handhelds side, speakers included Brian Walsh, Joe Horn, Vern Lindsay, Richard Nelson, Gary Friedman and Wlodek Mier-Jedrzejowicz. The palmtops side included Dave White, Hal Goldstein (of Thaddeus Computing), Dave Shier (of Shier Systems & Software), Mary Long (Geo Works) and Jeff Molson (IBM). The complete list of speakers is included later in this handout. Exhibitors were present from EduCalc, Pentax, Palmtop Paper, Times 2 Tech, Grapevine, ACE and others. Overall, it was an enjoyable affair. Had the publicity started in March rather than July, I suspect they might have had fifty percent more people in attendance.

Next Year in S.F. Bay Area or London?

They are already talking about a 1997 conference to be held in the San Francisco Bay area, lasting perhaps three days. It looks like we'll probably see some additional interesting palmtops from Hewlett-Packard by then. Also, Wlodek Mier-Jedrzejowicz entertained the idea of a fifteen-year-anniversary conference of the HPCC group, to be held in London next year. Stay tuned.

The HP48 Programming Contest

The response to Richard Nelson's 4th annual HP48 programming contest was better than any prior year by a long shot. This was due primarily to his making the contest open to anyone on the planet who could email an entry to him. (Yes, Richard now had email - contact him at After disqualifying some entries for various reasons, there were 42 entrants remaining. The top three winning entries all were from outside the U.S. (and Brian Walsh, winner from the prior three years, did not submit an entry this time). The results were not posted until just a few days ago, although they had been promised at the conference. A few tidbits about the contest results appear later in this handout.

New HP Omnigo 120 Organizer

Although it wasn't officially announced until September 3rd, I saw two models of the Omnigo 120 Organizer while at the Anaheim conference. It is identical to the Omnigo 100, except for (1) the inclusion of Pocket Quicken in ROM, (2) support for compact flash cards in the PCMCIA card port (using an adapter) and (3) the presence of a new LCD front glass which makes it appear brighter and easier to read. Price is $399. and according to HP's website (, it will only be offered in North America. The material from HP's website is included later in the handout.

MS Pegasus Coming Soon

A recent PC Week article says that September 16th is the scheduled date of announcement of Microsoft Windows CE (originally known by its codename "Pegasus"), an operating system for handheld devices. Supposedly as many as six companies (including HP) are already working on devices based on CE, which contain a 32-bit CPU, weigh one pound, are clamshell devices with keyboard and (possibly) pen and cost under a thousand dollars.

Two New Calculator Books (Plus a Pocket Guide)

At the Handhelds conference, two new books were introduced. The first is the second edition of Wlodek Mier-Jedrzejowicz' "A Guide to HP Handheld Calculators and Computers", which is now a few dozen pages longer and has updates on just about every page. Another smaller book that Wlodek brought along with him to sell is Mark Staps' "Codenames of HP Handheld Calculators and PDAs: Facts and Speculations". This book reviews each and every HP machine and concentrates primarily on the history and development, with guesses where appropriate on why specific codenames were used. Also, Grapevine Publications recently did a new HP48 Pocket Guide which, unlike Jim Donnelly's version, DOES fit inside the HP48 carrying case. This guide has numerous charts and tables, covering command syntax of every function in the machine.

HP200LX Speedup and Memory Increase

A company called Times2 Tech was at the conference exhibitor area, offering both speedups (to double CPU speed) and 4-meg RAM upgrades for HP200LX models. In fact, the guy running the company was also showing his first 6-meg RAM upgrade which turned a 2-meg machine into an 8-megger. The cost are not that bad, and the work is guaranteed. Looks like a nice niche business.

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