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Advancement of Hand Held Computer Technology

Updated on November 26, 2010
Texas Instruments' hand held calculator.
Texas Instruments' hand held calculator.

Our list begins with the first hand held computer, a calculator... which really isn't a computer at all, but there you have it. This invention was made possible by the advent of transistors and then eventually the integrated circuit. ICs (integrated circuits) consist of dozens to billions of transistors etched on a semiconducting substrate like silicon, complete with wiring between the transistors to act as a function circuit. This ability greatly reduced the previous size of calculating machines.

The EO Personal Communicator, designed to compete with the Apple Newton.
The EO Personal Communicator, designed to compete with the Apple Newton.
The Apple Newton, grandfather to the IPhone / IPod Touch.
The Apple Newton, grandfather to the IPhone / IPod Touch.

Monochrome Ancient IPods

The EO Personal Communicator (Top) and the Apple Newton (Bottom) competed for the market of portable hand-held computers in 1992 which were supposed to be like personal assistants (PDA). The touchscreen overlaying the screen allows for an easy user interfacing experience, a feature which has persisted in nearly every design ever since. Processor capabilities in the early 90's allowed (barely) for useful features such as wireless database manipulation and dynamic information processing like in spread-sheet and word processor type programs.

Fujitsu's IPAD, before the trademark was sold to Apple (an estimated 4 million dollar transaction).
Fujitsu's IPAD, before the trademark was sold to Apple (an estimated 4 million dollar transaction).

A PDA style phone, made by Fujitsu, in 2002. Also called, the IPAD, until the trademark was acquired, via a $4 million dollar purchase by Apple, this PDA cellphone is typical of early 2000s reduced functionality PDAs. They are missing touch screen functionality, in many cases, and have very simplified operating systems with very little upgrade support. The trend for these types of devices has been on a decline with the ever increasing power of cheap, high performance, CPUs.

In 2005 Palm released the PALMTX, a color screen PDA.
In 2005 Palm released the PALMTX, a color screen PDA.

A year 2005 color touch screen PDA phone, running a Palm Operating System, with features like internet browsing and other desktop computer familiarities.

2010 release of the Apple IPad. The evolution of advancement reveals an affinity for thin devices.
2010 release of the Apple IPad. The evolution of advancement reveals an affinity for thin devices.

The 2010 Apple IPad, an upgrade of it's original Apple Newton, although the IPod Touch and IPhone basically share the concept as well. The IPad incorporates many more features than it's predecessors, into an even thinner design with long lasting battery life, and an extra large screen. Through out history a pattern can be seen hinting on where this technology seems to ultimately be going.

Star Trek's tablet devices, originally depicted in the series long before anything like this could actually be built.
Star Trek's tablet devices, originally depicted in the series long before anything like this could actually be built.

Long before many of these devices ever were designed, Star Trek invented a tablet type computer, intended to be used as a notepad and general diagnostic procedures by every member of a the star ship. Apparently, in the future, such devices are cheap and plentiful.

It appears, however, that we have already matched Star Trek's futuristic technology some 200 years or so, sooner.

The trend of computer speeds.
The trend of computer speeds.

Computer speeds have been on the rise at a predictable rate for decades, and by Ray Kurzweil's logic, which I myself am a supporter of, this exponential increase has been occurring for even longer, before the typical concept / idea of the computer was developed.

As the chart depicts, human brain level computer speeds are achievable in 2013. By 2025, the computers should be fast enough to (at least theoretically) negotiate communication protocols with living brains (i.e. people) and load and retrieve memories at rapid speeds. This interface would allow things like PDAs to be talk directly with the brain, eliminating the need for an LCD screen, keyboards, buttons, microphones, speakers, cameras, etc... and macroscopic size altogether.

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