Friday, January 21, 2011


I noticed that I had an accumulating pile of left-behind technology, so I thought I would blog about it. I'm going to start at my beginning though, so bear with me for a moment. My first computer was an APF Imagination Machine, purchased in about 1981. In addition to fulfilling me needs as a D&D Dungeon Master, it also fostered a degree in computer programming. And it engendered a need for functional computing devices. It was replaced by a Sinclair-Timex Z1000 in 1983, and then a whoa-baby Commodore 64 in 1984. After graduation I had a series of faceless IBM-clone machines, the first of which had an 8" floppy drive that could save up to a full megabyte of files! Following all that, as my home computers became less distinct tools, came the decade of PDAs. The first of these was a super-geeky device marketed by Pocketmail but branded as a Sharp TM-20:

Pocketmail Device

This unit was about 3"x7" and weighed about half a pound. It was, as described, easy to carry around in a pocket. The outside top had a few indicator LEDs and a prominent send/receive button. Opening it up revealed a small but functional keyboard, an LCD screen for text only, and a few specialized function buttons for contact book, calendar, and mail composition.

Pocketmail Device

The functionality was pure genius. After composing an email, one closed the device and powered it off. Then, using virtually any telephone (there were some problems with early digital cell phones) one deployed the built-in acoustic coupler on the back, dialed Pocketmail's toll-free number, and when the modem answered, pressed the send/receive button.

Pocketmail Device

The device would have an audible conversation with the Pocketmail modem and send your email(s), then retrieve and deliver any incoming emails to the device. For its intended purpose, it was brilliant. It also made a good travel alarm. I traveled for work a lot in those days (when long-distance phone calls were still expensive) and this was a very handy device to have. My wife also had one. Alas, as cell phones became more popular (we resisted for many years) pay phones virtually disappeared. It became more of a challenge to use my little Pocketmail device. I was actually sad when I discarded it to the back of a drawer and the next device took its place.

More to come!

No comments:

Post a Comment

If you don't have a blooger or "open" ID, you are free to use "Anonymous" for your posts, and leave your name if you are willing.