Marcos 'Bong' Carpio Official Website of Marcos 'Bong' Carpio Retro Tech | Don't Let The World Pass You By

The web author is a technical buff and had been fiddling with personal computers since 1978. He started with the Motorola-powered Commodore PET until he upgraded to the then, state-of-the-art and legendary Apple II in 1980.

From then on, he had been an avid fan and close watcher of the development and growth of the personal computer industry.

A self-confessed fan of the late Steve Jobs, he had been to several MacWorld Expos (later, became iWorld) and had seen oodles of COMDEX (Las Vegas) shows as well during their heydays.

These days, he frequents the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES, - which is also held in Las Vegas) as well as occassional Apple Special Events (Steve Jobs Theater) at their very own 'spaceship campus' in Cupertino, California.

Currently, he operates and maintains this website -as a hobby- on a Mac Pro in California, USA with a co-located webserver that runs on an aluminum Mac mini in the Philippines.

All the devices in this vintage collection are still in excellent working condition. To be classifed as a 'vintage', a device should be, at least, eight (8) years old and no longer being manufactured.

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CIDCO MailStation 100

Designed for people who have no time to use a PC but wants to have access to e-mail -and quickly -, the Cidco MailStation was a device of many names. It was marketed in the U.S. by SBC in 1999 as the eMessage, the Home-m@il by Telefonica (Spain), the MailBug and finally, as the MiVO by Earthlink.

The handy, 2.2 lb. device has a tilting, 6" x 2.5" LCD screen, a built-in 33.6 Kbps modem, a printer port and can be powered by three (3) AA batteries or via the bundled AC adapter.

If not accessing your e-mail, the unit also has PIM (Personal Information Manager) functions: a calculator, calendar, address book as well as a spelling checker. These are inside the "Extras" icon in this screen shot.

The keyboard has a nice feel despite its size and the five (5) gray-colored, function keys are very useful shortcuts to access most of the features of the device.

You can even use it as a no-frills word processor in lieu of a notebook and simply send the document via e-mail or even output it to a printer.

As of this writing - May 2004 - this device is still marketed by Earthlink (an ISP in the U.S.) as the MiVO.

But, again, with the proper hack, the unit can be used on any available ISP.
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Netpliance iOpener (hacked version)

After a month of 'on-off-on' work in this device - this included waiting for the delivery of other essential parts - the transformation was completed on June 02, 2004.

Here are the specs of this "new" machine:

Rise (VIA/Cyrix) 266 mhz CPU (before: a 200 Mhz IDC Winchip); 64 MB of RAM (before: 32MB RAM); 2.1 GB hard drive (9.5" mm IBM TravelStar) (before: none); an 11 mm. active cooling CPU fan with heatsink clipped-on the CPU socket (before: a massive 4" x 7" x 10 mm passive cooling heatsink only); new keyboard-accessible and configurable Award BIOS (before: Award BIOS but was not accessible by keyboard); wireless Internet access -using any ISP- via a USB wireless adapter (before: dial-up Internet access only via built-in 56K modem using Netpliance-provided ISP only).

Other notes: To install the active CPU cooling, the RF shielding was slightly cut open to minimize the noise coming out of the CPU fan as well as to blow out any CPU heat-buildup more efficiently. The 3.5", 9.5 mm laptop hard drive was installed using a piece of aluminum sheet that used to be a top cover of a non-working, standard PC floppy drive. This was cut to size and drilled to mount the laptop hard drive from the base and was attached in a space that was occupied before by the massive heatsink (which was replaced with active cooling).

You can install any flavor of Windows (XP, ME, 9x, 3.1, 3,0, NT, etc), DOS or Linux as long as the CPU and memory requirements for the choice OS are installed.

Windows 98SE was chosen for this reason as well as the availability of drivers for the device. All built-in features like sound, modem are functional under Win98SE.

Simply adding more memory (standard 44-pin SODIMM), will enable the system to operate faster and more efficiently.

The device is now in the kitchen to access online recipes, news, etc... as well as for other PC use...all in a sleek, compact (6" x 11" tilting base) case and a 10" LCD screen!!!

original 2004 notes
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LifeDrive Mobile Manager
by PalmOne

The first - and probably the last - "mobile manager" released in May 2005 by PalmOne as a business entity.

The company acquired full rights to the trademark, "Palm" also in May 2005 and since then, had been known simply as, Palm, Inc.

Although, lacking a phone & camera capabilities like their Treo series, the LifeDrive tried to answer some of the needs of mobile computer users who don't like lugging their notebook PCs. Casual -as well as professional - photographers would find the device a gem.

Pictures taken using digital cameras or cell phones with built-in cameras - with their paltry viewing screens - can be transferred wired or wirelessly to the LifeDrive for better viewing (the LifeDrive has a screen size of approx. 4 inches, TFT, 16-bit color at 320 x 480 resolution). And, with its built-in 4GB hard-drive, storage should not be a short-term problem.

Key hardware features included built-in WiFi, Bluetooth and the ability become an "external drive" via USB. This made the device virtually compatible under any computer platform. Hence, transferring files to and from the LifeDrive was a snap. And, if you're the typical business user who always use MS Word or Excel, the "landscape" mode (triggered via a side button) will enable you to see more of what you do.

On the software side, Camera Companion allowed users to transfer (to computers), copy to the LifeDrive's hard drive (or, to an external SD/MMC card -- the LD has a slot for one) or, simply view pictures.

WiFile LT allowed one to view networked PC/Mac files via 802.11b.

The "Blazer" web browser (v4.3) had been updated to handle most sites.

Although, Palm's implementation of their OS 5.4 (Garnet) on the LifeDrive was quite adequate, setting up VPN (virtual private networking) tended to crash the unit on most occasions.

But, in 2005, having a decent wireless-capable PDA/ultra-portable computer, music player and voice recorder with ample built-in storage capability, made the LifeDrive Mobile Manager a good match for people who loves to travel light.
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Audrey (a.k.a. Ergo)
by 3COM

This linen-colored, 3COM Audrey (also known as the "Ergo") is a slightly modified one —essentially a stock or ‘unhacked’ unit.

The OS of the 3COM Audrey is a variant of UNIX called QNX. The OS was updated to the last revision made by 3COM after they discontinued support in 2002.

The unit itself was put out of production in 2001. This update was made possible by a generous soul who still currently maintains a spoof of the original 3COM Marimba server - where the Audrey gets his OS update automatically.

This OS update ( FINAL 4/23/2001) was very important - since it enabled one to have "shell" access. With this, I was able to add other apps like the MP3 Player and an electronic Picture Viewer (as a digital picture frame!), using the shell window - by simply adding a few lines of code.

As a digital picture frame, the 3COM Audrey is very ideal due to its small size - about 10" x 14" with an elegant 7.9", 640 x 480-capable color screen, rugged construction and a versatile stand.

You can either prop the unit in just about any small desk space or counter top or, even hang it on a wall.

Currently, all our pictures (JPEGs) as well as all MP3s, are hosted in a PC server (though, not the one that hosts this website) running Windows XP. Access to that server is via a 10 Mbps Ethernet — a USB Ethernet Adapter that is connected to one of the Audrey's two USB ports at the back of the unit.

Unfortunately, because of the screen's hardware limitation, the pictures ‘cycle’ better only at 640 x 480 resolution .

Other modifications can be done to the 3COM Audrey to make it run like Windows —by flashing the unit's ROM chip through the use of a CompactFlash card.

But, this will make an already elegant hardware and OS…work and operate just like another, ordinary Windows box!

(Above notes, circa 2004)
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OmniBook 600c
by Hewlett-Packard

The year was 1995 and Hewlett-Packard was hot on the heels of sub-notebook leaders - Sony and Toshiba - to create a faster unit that can run on Microsoft's new Windows 95 operating system, scheduled for release in August of that year.

The outcome was the HP OmniBook 600 series -- the OmniBook 600C and the 600CT.

The unit seen here is the former. It is a small (at approx. 11" x 7" x 1.5") and light (approx. 3.8 lbs. with battery) sub-notebook that came with an Intel 486 DX4-75 MHz processor (Intel had already released the 'Pentium' two years earlier, but mobile versions designed for notebooks were hard to come by), 8 MB of built-in RAM (upgradeable to 16 MB), an 8.5" VGA, back-lit screen using DSTN, either a 170, 260 or 340 MB hard drive which came in a PCMCIA format and a very unique, pop-out mouse called, the 'paw'.

It also came pre-installed with Windows for Workgroups 3.11 and MS-DOS 6.22 but was very much capable of running the, then, upcoming Windows 95 OS.

HP also bundled a lot of software with the unit among them: HP Financial Calculator, LapLink Remote Access, CardView, Appointment Book, Phone Book and an IrDA printer driver.

The plan was to make the unit an essential tool of, not only the professionals on-the-go (or, the hardcore 'road-warriors’), but also, the collegiate crowd that required a small, all-in-one, compact computer they can easily move around their campuses and small dorms.

The unit had all the ports and connectors for hooking-up essential peripherals including infrared devices (very rare during that time) plus, the de-facto standard for portable computers during that era: two (2) PCMCIA slots.

The OmniBook 600 series was supplanted by newer, faster series later on, but, none of them had the amusing, "pop-out" mouse that made the 600 series so unique.

After all, HP was a company founded on sheer innovation and this is what makes the company linger on...when all other similarly innovative start-ups had faded out in the background of silicon dust.

2013 NOTE: HP still sells notebooks using the OmniBook and the newer, Pavilion brands.
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Apple iBook G3
a.k.a 'Clamshell'

One of the most unusually-designed notebooks made by Apple that was released in 1999, this "clamshell-inspired" notebook was the only notebook Apple ever introduced in different colors (the one seen here is tangerine). A lot of people also derided its appearance, saying, "it looks like a toilet seat cover."

Despite its very controversial design, it also came with a lot of firsts in notebook technology. It was the very first notebook to use wireless networking (WiFi (802.11b) or, as Apple named it: AirPort). Unlike its PC laptop counterpart that enabled or used WiFi usually via a PCMCIA wireless card that stuck-out very ugly on the side, the iBook has the AirPort card cleverly concealed underneath the easily-removable keyboard! The WiFi antenna is also built-in around the periphery of the LCD screen for better coverage and reception.

There is also a retractable handle but NO latch to open up the unit. But the clever design made sure that the notebook opens and shuts perfectly well with no obtrusive buttons nor ugly locks to fumble with. Hence, nothing mars its sleek, smooth edges.

The original iBook came with a 300 MHz G3 processor, 64MB of SODIMM/SDRAM , an ATI Rage Mobility video (4MB of VRAM), 24X CD-ROM drive & a 6GB of hard drive. Except for the CPU and video, all the rest of the above are upgradeable. Also built-in were sound, 56K modem,10/100 Mbps Ethernet & a USB port. The 12" LCD screen is crisp but is hampered by its max of only 800 x 600 resolution.

The keyboard maybe a bit cheesy but still has a nice tactile-feedback & is easily detachable for installation of the AirPort card (optional) as well as quick memory upgrades (max of 320 MB).

A lot clamshell iBooks are still in active use today, and Apple -with the release of their now signature "Snow White" and "Titanium" colored iBooks - stopped producing their candy-colored versions of the iBook altogether... the last being the iBook SE (FireWire).

2004 NOTES: The original iBook (Tangerine) pictured above still faithfully serves as a backup for the ancient Apple G4 - now a PowerMac G5 - that used to hosts these web pages. :)
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Palm VII
by 3COM

From computers to handhelds. My first PDA was the Casio PV-100, because the first Palm handhelds were very expensive.

However, by 1995, Palm became the dominant handheld maker after most of the pioneers in the field like the Apple Newton, General Magic (Magic Cap was their OS) and Magic Cap OS-compatibles like Sony's Magic Link and Motorola's Envoy folded up. Palm's brilliant Graffiti hand-writing recognition software blew the competition away.

The Palm VII series (VII and VIIx) were the first Palm handhelds that incorporated a radio transceiver. These handhelds can be recognized by their unique antennas cleverly concealed alongside the stylus on the right side of the units.

By simply raising the antenna and with a subscription to the Palm.Net network, users can access their e-mails, and literally, surf the Internet - wirelessly - via Palm's unique Web-clipping applications.

With the proliferation of free WiFi access and the integration of phones into handhelds, Palm (then renamed PalmOne), tried to refocus its strategy towards that direction.

NOTES: Due to the popularity of WiFi, PalmOne discontinued their Palm.Net service in late August 2004.

This move left users of the Palm VII series and i705 handhelds unable to use their PQA (web-clipping apps) as well as the WAP browser.
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QuickTake 200
Apple Digital Camera

The Apple QuickTake 200 is an interesting species since it has the features that you can find in most of the older - the ‘primordial’ - digital cameras as well as the current state-of-the-art ones.

Notable of these are the removable optical viewfinder and the use of SmartMedia card for picture storage.

This fixed-focus, 640 x 480, 24-bit color-capable digital camera also features a 1.8" LCD screen, a serial connector and an RCA-type video out.

It was powered by four (4) AA-type batteries. It was also originally bundled with Apple's QuickTake software which was - on other releases- supplemented with Adobe PhotoDeluxe imaging software.

This is the last relic in the Apple QuickTake digital camera series (100, 150 and the 200) after Apple decided to discontinue manufacturing non-core peripherals including printers and scanners.

The QuickTake 200 was essentially an Apple-designed, Canon OEM'd unit - like most of Apple's printers -and was selling quite well until it was abandoned in early 1997.
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TI-99/4A Personal Computer
by Texas Instruments

The late 70s was the hottest period in the then budding personal computer market. Apple, Commodore, ATARI and a small British-firm, Sinclair Research, were the market leaders.

Texas Instruments -then the dominant calculator maker aside from HP- jumped into the PC bandwagon by releasing the TI-99/4 in 979.

The original TI-99/4 was a silver and black contraption powered by TI's TMS9900 CPU at 3.3 MHz. The next rendition - although, it also originally came out in silver and black- was the unit you see here - the TI-99/4A (note the extra "A"). What's the difference?

The TI-99/4A used a slightly different graphics chip -the TMS9918A- than the TI-99/4's TMS9918.

That was the main difference between the two models, aside from the better keyboard layout for the TI-99/4A. It also came with 16K of RAM and 26K of ROM, where its OS- TI ROM Basic- resided.

The unit above is a redesign of the original TI-99/4A when beige and plastic were becoming the traditional colors and cases of PCs...a trend obviously started by Apple Computer.

Other features are a ROM expansion slot in the front, right portion, a peripheral expansion slot on the right side of the unit, an audio/video output - you use an RF modulator to
hook it to your TV/monitor -and a joystick port...yes, for games!

Introduced in 1981, the TI-99/4A, was, for a time, the best-selling PC in the U.S. market by the end of 1982.

After suffering massive losses due to the very cut-throat PC market throughout the 80s, TI totally abandoned the PC market in 1993.
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Macintosh Color Classic
with 'Mystic' upgrade

When Apple introduced the first Mac in 1984, it was a big hit among computer users because of its GUI (graphical user interface).

In 1986, I got my first Mac -a Mac Plus (Motorola 68000-processor-based with two 3.5" disk drives (the other was an external drive) and a then, "massive" 1MB of RAM (which I eventually upgraded to 4MB using 30-pin SIMMs plus a hard drive).

Bundled with the set was an Apple Personal Modem (back then, it was ”speedy" at 2400 bps).

It was on that same Mac Plus that this web author hosted his first Mac-based, eBBS (electronic Bulletin Board Service) in Manila, Philippines in 1988.

The Mac Plus was superseded by the Mac SE, then a Mac SE/30 (similar to the Mac SE except for a faster MC68030 chip and a hard disk - which I still have) but my yearning for a Mac -with the same all-in-one form factor - with a color screen was only realized with the release of the Mac Color Classic.

I got this one in 1998 although the model was initially released in 1993.

This baby has a “Mystic” upgrade, meaning the original motherboard was replaced with one from a Mac LC 575 series to support higher resolution as well as more memory and, of course, a 32-bit data path.

Currently, it runs Mac OS 8.1 and shares the network via a removable, internal Ethernet card.

This old Mac still retains most of the the same features as the original Macs of 1984: ADB-ports, SCSI hard drive interface, mini-din serial ports, built-in sound as well as the very-popular -but now replaced- multi-colored "Apple" logo!
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Timex-Sinclair 1000

I first laid my eyes on the British-made Sinclair ZX-81 in 1982, in a small electronics store in the outskirts of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The unit was initially released a year earlier -1981- as a follow-up to the highly-successful ZX-80 (released 1980 in the U.K.).

The price of the ZX-81 was about Saudi Riyals SR 350 (Saudi Riyals) which, in those days, was about US$ 112.

In 1982, Sir Clive Sinclair, owner of Sinclair Research, Ltd and creator of the ZX-81, entered the U.S. home computer market in a tie-up with watch maker, Timex.

Hence, the ZX-81 was renamed the Timex-Sinclair 1000 for the North American market.

Powered by a 3.25 MHz chip- the Z80A - made by one of the early microprocessor companies in Silicon Valley - Zilog, it was among the cheapest personal computers aficionados could buy at that time, that it became very popular. But it was mainly regarded as "a toy" by personal computer purists and hence, did not take off as a mainstream PC.

Small and handy at about 6.7" x 6.5", the Timex-Sinclair 1000 was your very BASIC computer -its OS resided in the unit's paltry ROM- with only 4 IC (integrated circuit) chips on the mainboard. A port on the left side hooked it up to your TV (via an RF modulator) while another interface at the back, made the unit upgradeable (16K RAM pack, cassette recorder and thermal printer).

Timex ultimately dropped out of the computer market in 1984 while Sinclair Research, Ltd continues to operate and currently purveys an assortment of non-computer related gizmos in the U.K.

(Above notes circa 2004)
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Newton MessagePad 120
by Apple Computer

The 3rd in a series of PDAs released by Apple in the 1990s, the Newton MessagePad 120 -released in 1995 -was probably the first PDA with a "natural handwriting" recognition software.

It was distinctively different from Palm's ‘Graffiti’ but Apple, nevertheless, abandoned the PDA market in 1998.

The Newton MessagePad 2100 was the last product release.

It's interesting to note that the initial code for the word-based handwriting recognition software for the Newton MessagePad were written by Soviet Russian programmers at Paragraph International, Inc.

Some notable features of the MessagePad 120 are: B&W, 320 x 240 screen resolution, support for fax/modems, memory cards and other devices via a single PC Card (Type II) slot.

It can also print using a variety of serial, parallel and network printers via its LocalTalk and RS-232-compatible serial port, a low-power, half-duplex IRDA transceiver and an amazingly crisp and transparent display/ tablet that you can write on using the unique, telescopic stylus-pen!

The gizmo above includes a 2MB SDRAM PC Card (to supplement its core 2MB RAM - 687K used by the OS while the 1.36 MB is non-volatile user RAM), that I alternately use with the original Apple Newton PC Card fax/modem. Power is supplied by either four (4) AA batteries or an AC power cube (as seen here).

And lastly, since this 8"x 4" x1.25" model is powered by Newton OS 2.0, the unit can display the screen output in both portrait and landscape modes -- a feature we see only in the latest and greatest PDAs of today, like the Palm Tungsten T3 !!!
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Apple PowerBook 2400c
a.k.a. 'Comet'

Codenamed "Comet" by Apple engineers, the PowerBook 2400c was the smallest notebook (only 10.3"x 8.2" x 1.5") the company ever produced until the 12" PowerBook G4 was released in early 2003.

Only two (2) versions were released - with the faster variety (with a 240 MHz Power 603e chip) sold only in the Japanese market. The product was truly designed for the Japanese market - where it had already achieved cult status - with its compact keyboard and very 'cutesy' design — features that Japanese easily fall in love with.

Underneath the facade is an engineering marvel - a collaboration of Apple and IBM-Japan - that include features such as a motor-driven, push-button controlled PC Card slots, SODIMM RAM slot (16 MB of RAM is built-in while the slot takes a max of 96 MB for a total RAM capacity of 112 MB), 10.4" active-matrix color screen, a touch pad with clicker, IRDA, as well as, a unique, blinking green, indicator light on the latch when the unit is closed but is in "sleep mode".

Despite the absence of a built-in floppy or CD-ROM drive, ample connectors & ports at the back of the unit -as well as the PC Card slots- enable it to still access today's new hardware including printers and external monitors.

The one in my collection is the U.S.-released version (at 180 MHz), with 80 MB of RAM and 2.1GB hard drive and a matching external floppy drive.

The unit was discontinued in 1998 but remains -until today- as one of the most sought-after PowerBooks in the pre-"Gx" series of the Apple PowerBook line-up.
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Treo 600 Phone-PDA (GSM)
by PalmOne

The first PDA-smartphone released by PalmOne by the end of 2003 - as a new company- after they acquired Handspring in mid-2003 and splintered the original company, Palm, Inc into two separate entities: PalmOne (hardware) and PalmSource (software).

While most of the technologies in this PDA/phone came from Handspring, PalmOne leveraged the PalmOS software to come up with a much robust gadget --one that can handle more apps and newer devices.

Noticeable changes were the enhanced multimedia capabilities of the 'newer' Palm 5.x.x OS that came with the Treo 600 as well as the introduction of an SD (SecureDigital) card slot in the unit to expand its memory capability -- for any multimedia applications that may require more than the 32MB (actually, only 24MB can be use as storage since 8MB is utilized by the Palm OS) that's built-in.

Other features that separate it from its predecessors -the Treo 270 and Treo 300- were: a built-in camera (a paltry 0.3 megapixel at 640 x 480 resolution), stereo sound, a brighter screen (CSTN) and a totally-redesigned keyboard layout which saw the addition of a 5-way navigation keys that was located higher in the new layout. The flip-cover was also done away with to give the unit a more polished, professional look.

Size was approximately 4.5" x 2.25" x 0.75" (L x W x thickness).

And, perhaps, more importantly, the Treo 600 was the one product that enabled PalmOne to become profitable again, as a company, after it saw its market leadership greatly diminished in the 'pure' PDA market...due to encroachment of established mobile phone makers such as Nokia, Motorola, Siemens/Sony and others in the rapidly-expanding, convergent PDA/phone market.
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TI Compact Computer 40
by Texas Instruments

Texas Instruments’ first foray in the portable computer market in early 1983 was this sleek, 5.8" x 9.25" x 1", 1.4 lb. (0.62 kg.) creation called the TI Compact Computer 40.

Part calculator, part computer, this gadget can run for an amazing 200 hours - while continuously powered on - using four (4) ordinary AA batteries!

TI's very own 2.5 MHz TMS70C20 CMOS 8-bit microprocessor powered the unit and came with 34K of ROM where the CC-40 ROM BASIC resided.

Although it lacked a built-in storage device or port - where an external storage device can be hooked up such as cassette tapes or memory cards - TI’s proprietary Constant Memory feature retained information stored in the paltry 6K of RAM even when the unit was turned off.

It also sported a 10-pin, peripheral port called the Hex-Bus for hooking up proprietary Hex-Bus printers or modems or a parallel/RS-232 connector widget - so that you can use standard printers and modems. Extra memory as well as other pre-programmed cartridges called Solid State Software- can be installed via the unit's cartridge port.

The clear LCD screen featured a 5 x 8 dot-matrix that scrolled to an 80-character line. It has a 65-key, "chiclet-style" QWERTY keyboard.

Due to very sluggish sales, it was discontinued in 1985.
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Apple iPod Mini
1st Generation

Officially released by Apple in the U.S. on Feb 20, 2004 - yet already a passé gadget for true-blue hardware geeks, since the features are no different from the white-colored, different-capacity-of-songs iPods which were released a year earlier (the original iPod was released in December 2001).

But, credit Apple (again!) for the sleek and innovative features they had crammed into the tiny (2" x 3.6" x 0.5"), anodized-aluminum clad music marvel.

A 4 GB micro hard drive inside holds up to 1,000 songs. The small (1.67") but crisp LCD display has user-controllable backlighting as well as a very intuitive user-interface.

Separate control buttons were incorporated on the "touch wheel" in the original iPod and was renamed the "click wheel"

The original "touch wheel" was a heat/pressure sensitive pad that allowed one to scroll on the menu you see on the LCD screen by simply touching the pad in a circular motion. This was no different from touch pads found in newer laptops and notebooks.

This music widget also packed other features like games, clock/alarm plus calendar, memo and PIM.

Previously left-in-the-cold Windows users bought the Apple iPod mini and worried not about connectivity since the device supported both the fast FireWire and old-reliable, USB 2.0 - with both cables included!

Also added in the set is a holster which was an optional item in the original iPod.

Apple hit another jackpot with the warm reception it had on its Feb 20, 2004 release - as well as the on the Feb 28. 2004 opening of its flagship Apple Store in San Francisco and the gadget became very popular and ubiquitous in all major airports, trains and other forms of mass-transport.
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Treo 270 Phone-PDA (GSM)
by Handspring

Handspring was the first company to directly compete with Palm in the PDA market in the late 90s.

It offered more hardware via its unique 'Springboard' module slot - which was actually just a Compact Flash (CF) card slot.

They came out with a Springboard module in 1998 called the Visor Phone, which paved the way to the first PDA/phone device.

In 2001, they released the first truly, integrated PDA/phone with a built-in keypad called the Treo 180. Another
model, the Treo 180g did not have a physical keypad - it used Graffiti for data input.

With that head start in technology, they released the Motorola-powered (Dragonball VZ -MC68VZ328VF) Treo 270 (my pics above), which was the GSM-variant of the Treo 300 -- it used the CDMA network (which is still very popular in the U.S.), in late 2002.

The Treo 180 and the Treo 270 share the same physical characteristics except that the former was a gray-scale release while the latter came in a bright color STN backlit display with over 4,000 colors.

And, once more, by the end of 2003, PalmOne (after they acquired Handspring) upped the ante in the "smartphone" wars by releasing the much-sought after, Treo 600 as well as the redesigned version, the Treo 650 in late 2004.

It was in mid 2003 that Handspring, the company, was bought-out by Palm, which in turn, was split into separate software and hardware entities - PalmSource and PalmOne, respectively.
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Diamond Multimedia Rio 500
MP3 player

The year was 1999 and iTunes was yet to become the dominant app in the then-too-confusing domain of audio transfer technology.

But, for $270 during those days, you get an MP3 player in the Diamond Rio 500 with 64MB of built-in memory (with expansion capability via SmartMedia cards) and, most importantly, a USB interface.

The sleek, gun-metal colored unit is no bigger than a deck of cards (3.5" x 2.75" x 0.6") and is powered, oddly, by a single AA battery that last for about 4-5 hours of continuous playback.

If you happen to have an old computer that runs on Windows 98/ME/2000, you can still transfer songs to the unit using software provided by the open-source community.

NOTE: You can read my full blog of this gadget here.
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Apple G4 iBook (Snow)

Maybe among the last of the original iBook breeds that run on IBM's PowerPC processors before Apple transitioned to Intel processors in 2006, this snow-colored G4 (at 933 MHz) with a bus speed of 133 MHz, came with a slot for the faster AirPort card, called, 'AirPort Extreme' (aka, 802.11 a/b/g).

Other changes from the original iBooks of the late 90s were: a 'slot-loading' CD-RW/DVD (Combo drive), provision for Bluetooth, Gigabit Ethernet (1000 Mbps), V.92-capable internal modem (USB-bus) and a port for connecting either an external, conventional VGA or an ADC monitor.

Gone were the handle (seen in the 'Clamshell' models) as well as the 'longish' lithium battery pack. Instead, Apple went for the more compact but higher 6-cell lithium battery packs.

This was complemented by a smaller, more functional and similarly-colored power adapter. Also, very helpful status indicator lights -including the 'Apple logo' were added to indicate battery charging status, in use or in hibernate mode.

Other specs are: 1024 x 768 screen resolution powered by ATI's Mobility Radeon 9200 chip (with 32 MB VRAM and an AGP bus); 40 GB (Fujitsu) ATA HD at 5400 rpm; 128 MB of DDR-SODIMM (PC2100) built-in with an extra slot that supports up to 1 GB (hence, max of 1.12 GB of RAM); USB 2.0, FireWire (at 400 Mb/sec) and a Texas Instruments-based stereo-capable sound chip.
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iMac (Bondi Blue)
1st Generation

The late Steve Jobs left Apple in 1985, went ahead to form Next, Inc and made Pixar a household name.

But his heart remained at Apple. When he returned in 1997 -and, after a huge Microsoft investment in the near-bankrupt company-, he took off where he left at Apple - creating and developing the Macs.

Since, it was the decade of the Internet, in 1998, he released the iMac (internet Mac). This baby was it.

It is powered by a Motorola PowerPC chip at 233 Mhz (the G3), 32 MB of RAM (upgraded since to 256 MB via two 128 MB SODIMM DRAMs), 4GB of hard drive - now the IDE variety- (upgraded to 60GB), a 15" multi-scan color monitor, a 24x tray-loading CD-ROM drive, two USB ports, 100 Mbps Ethernet as well as a 56K modem - all built-in and well, NO floppy drive!

A unique feature of the 1st generation iMac was the use of round, hockey 'puck' mouse —which had become so hard to find these days!

Although this computer can now be also considered as an "antique", it still runs the latest and greatest (as of Oct. 2003) OS from Apple - Mac OS X Panther (10.3)!

(Above notes circa 2003)
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Netpliance iOpener
Stock version

The tremendous popularity of the Internet can be attested by the fact that a gaggle of companies in the mid 1990s came up with an assortment of easy-to-use-specially-designed-for-Internet-surfing-and-e-mail-only devices.

Most of these companies thought that the market was ripe for such devices they specially made for non-tech-savvy users who were willing to fork out from $500 and upwards for them.

Or, so they thought.

Hence, we had the 3Com Audrey, the CIDCO MailStation, NewCom WebPal as well as Microsoft's and AOL's WebTV, to name a few. Almost all of them had long been gone, or, if ever they are still made, they are surely bleeding their companies' coffers dry.

Interestingly, the company that made the iOpener was the very first to have the concept of practically giving the hardware away - it was very cheap at $99 - with the goal of becoming a dominant ISP -like AOL, MSN or even Earthlink-, by requiring buyers to pay a monthly subscription fee of $21.95 for its Internet services.

Along the way, however, hardware hacks saw the $99 hardware as a very, very cheap opportunity to have a full-blown PC (which then were selling for almost $500 and up for the very basic models).

Inside the guts of a stock Netpliance iOpener is basically a ready-to-hack Windows or Linux-ready machine complete with an Intel-compatible IDC WinChip 200 MHz CPU, a Trident CyberBlade video chip, a 56K modem, a 32MB (but upgradeable) SODIMM/SDRAM and a standard Award BIOS to boot!.

So, just tweak the BIOS and add an IDE hard drive to the hacks-gleefully-discovered IDE port and, voila, you have a full scale PC by simply installing your OS of choice to the hard drive! (note: view the "hacked" version)

The iOpener also came with a USB port for other devices (shown here being used by a USB mouse), a PS/2 port for the bundled keyboard which has a built-in, scrolling button (mouse) and a unique ‘pizza ordering’ key, a parallel port (for a supported Canon printer) and a 10 inch, passive matrix 800 x 600 LCD.

Over the course of time, however, most people bought the iOpener, not to pay the monthly fee of $21.95 to Netpliance as their ISP, but to have a sleek and compact PC that can access the Internet -wired or wireless- via its USB port.

Netpliance, the company, became part of the dot-com bust in the early 2000s.
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Apple IIc Plus
with Apple Paper-White Display & Stand

Among the last models in the legendary Apple II series, the Apple IIc Plus was the fastest Apple II that was ever released.

Powered by a MOS 65C02 chip clocked at 4 MHz, it was 4X faster than the original Apple II computer that helped Apple Computer become one of America's top, mainstream computer companies.

Officially launched in September 1988 - a time when Apple engineers were already obsessed in making enhancements to their Macintosh series - the Apple IIc Plus was Apple's last computer that still used a non-graphical user interface (ProDos/AppleDOS 3.1).

It was actually an enhancement of the original Apple IIc that the company originally released in 1984 which, coincidentally, was also the year they released the original Macintosh.

It came with a then, de-facto 3.5", 800k diskette drive instead of the older 5.25" ones, as well as a built-in power supply - unlike the original Apple IIc that came with a bulky, 12V power brick.
A very unique feature was the "keyboard button", which toggled the keyboard layout between QWERTY and DVORAK modes.

The latter was named for its inventor, Dr. August Dvorak, who designed it with the goal of maximizing typing efficiency.

It also had a very beautiful design that made the Apple IIc -as well as the enhanced Apple IIc Plus- very popular among Apple collectors, after it won the Industrial Design Excellence Award in October 1984.

The unit was finally discontinued in November 1990.

The one seen here comes with a matching Apple Monochrome Monitor and stand, which is a 11.5", paper-white variety made by Sony for Apple Computer (from the 80s to mid-90s, most of the components inside an Apple computer including the newer Macs were made specially by Sony for Apple). It's just the perfect size for the Apple IIc/IIc Plus.

Together, the Apple IIc Plus and the Apple Monochrome Monitor complement each other perfectly specially on days when - simply composing a letter or playing those vintage games made my afternoons and evenings in the late 80s much easier.

Sometimes, we long for the days when computing was more straightforward and the people...much warmer, humbler and kinder.
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Apple iPod Classic
6th Generation

The last generation in the top-of-line iPod model originally released by Apple in Sept. 2007. The one picture above was a slimmed-down 160GB version that was released during Apple's 'It's Only Rock & Roll' event in Sept. 2009.

Now made of anodized aluminum (prior models face plates were made of polycarbonate plastic), it boasted of longer battery life plus a better UI that supported Cover Flow.

It also has a 2.5" backlit color display at 320 x 240 resolution and came with the original 30-pin FireWire charging port.

Although Apple officially discontinued production of the model in Sept. 2014, unused iPod Classics can still be purchased online at very much the same price when they were initially released.

The iPod still lives on today via the iPod Touch and which Apple still sells. Ironically, it looks more like an iPhone than an iPod — the one product die-hard music lovers & collectors have a special place in their hearts
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Blackberry PlayBook (32GB)
with USB Charger-Stand

Among the few companies that tried to compete with Apple when the iPad was released in 2010, Blackberry had modest success when it released the PlayBook in April 2011.

Based on the QNX operating system, the unit's UI (user-interface) was fast, includes a robust browser, decent (3MP front & 5MP rear) cameras as well as HDMI output.

Except for the very small & quirky power button, the 7.5" (W) x 5.1" (H) x 0.38" (D) - landscape-mode dimension- unit also sported 1024 x 600 WSVGA resolution with 1080p video playback, WiFi, Bluetooth, a headphone jack and great loudspeakers.

The lack of 3rd-party apps, however, spelled its doom as Blackberry finally discontinued sales in mid 2014.

The unit seen here comes with the faster TI OMAP 4460 dual-core processor with 32GB of storage RAM - and the optional rapid-charging - 2X faster than the included USB charger-stand.
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