From 1981: the World's first UMPC

Epson's battery powered mobile computer


Internally, the HX-20 was fitted with 16KB of memory, upgradeable to 32KB, and connected to the machine's twin processors, one to do the processing and control the display and keyboard, while the other looked after the cassette, the printer and the serial ports. The CPUs were 8-bit Hitachi 6301s, clocked at just over 600kHz.

Epson HX-20 - How to turn it on...

Like so many machines from the early 1980s, the HX-20 used the Basic language for programming, with a separate option, Monitor, to provide the kind of functions we'd expect from an operating system these days. The HX-20's version was called EBasic and was developed for Epson by Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Ski Soft. Apparently, there wasn't much software available for the machine at the time, but as we did in those days, we wrote our own.

Epson HX-20 - Using the printer...

Epson continued to sell the HX-20 through to 1987 and possibly later. The company continues to host a support page for the device. Check it out: you'll find copies of the manual - including details on how to set the unit's language using DIP switches - and an old Basic quick reference guide.

Epson HX-20 - Epson's other ad, courtesy www.digibarn.com

You'll note the Apple II used for comparison in the above ad. Apple itself will still show you how to hook an HX-20 up to a Mac, albeit one with an old-style Apple serial port.

Epson HX-20 - Epson's flyer

More Forgotten Tech...
15 years ago: the first mass-produced GSM phone
Compact Disc: 25 years old today
The IBM ThinkPad: 15 years old today
Apple's first handheld: the Newton MessagePad
Atari's Portfolio: the world's first palmtop
'Timna' - Intel's first system-on-a-chip
BeOS: the Mac OS X might-have-been
Sony's first Mylo

Similar topics

Narrower topics


Other stories you might like

  • Dell unveils new XPS 13 devices with Alder Lake CPUs
    Best hedge against a slowing PC market? Take some design tips from Apple

    Dell has pulled the lid off the latest pair of laptops in its XPS 13 line, in the hopes the new designs, refreshed internals, and an unmistakably Apple-like aesthetic of its 2-in-1 approach can give them a boost in a sputtering PC market. 

    Both new machines are total redesigns, which is in line with Dell's plans to revamp its XPS series. Dell users considering an upgrade will want to take note, especially those interested in the XPS 13 2-in-1: There is quite a bit of difference, for both enterprise and consumer folks. 

    The XPS 13 maintains its form factor – for the most part – but gets a new smooth aluminum chassis that makes it look more like a MacBook Air than ever. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing: the new design is reportedly lighter and thinner, too. 

    Continue reading
  • We sat through Apple's product launch disguised as a dev event so you don't have to
    M2 chip teased plus MacBooks, iOS 16, macOS 13, watchOS 9 and more

    WWDC Apple opened its 33rd annual Worldwide Developer Conference on Monday with a preview of upcoming hardware and planned changes in its mobile, desktop, and wrist accessory operating systems.

    The confab consists primarily of streamed video, as it did in 2020 and 2021, though there is a limited in-person component for the favored few. Apart from the preview of Apple's homegrown Arm-compatible M2 chip – coming next month in a redesigned MacBook Air and 13" MacBook Pro – there was not much meaningful innovation. The M2 Air has a full-size touch ID button, apparently.

    Apple's software-oriented enhancements consist mainly of worthy but not particularly thrilling interface and workflow improvements, alongside a handful of useful APIs and personalization capabilities. Company video performers made no mention of Apple's anticipated AR/VR headset.

    Continue reading
  • Higher spec machines lift US PC revenues 40% even as shipments drop
    Desktops, inflation and other factors also shaping American demand

    US PC shipments fell by double digits in the first quarter of 2022, mostly due to the collapse of Chromebook orders, yet the effect of inflation and a greater mix of higher spec machines lifted the value of those sales.

    According to data compiled by tech analyst Canalys, some 19.554 million units were shipped into the channel during the three months, down 14 percent year on year, but revenues were up a whopping 40 percent.

    This is the third straight quarter of unit sale declines after the "relative strengths of end-user segments changed," said Brian Lynch, research analyst. "The consumer and education segments saw demand slow further due to market saturation and rising concerns about inflation, which peaked in March at 8.5 percent, the highest rate of 12-month increase since 1981."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022