Read About Featured Gadgeteer – Evan Koblentz


Name: Evan Koblentz
Location: New Jersey

I’m 29, live in New Jersey, and I write about big-business computing
for a living (mostly for trade magazines.) I don’t have the most gadgets or the
priciest gadgets, just some of the coolest ones. 🙂

On the surface, my gadgets aren’t mind-blowing. The PDA I use everyday is a
PalmOne Treo 650; and I
sometimes take along a USB memory keychain, which has a biometric fingerprint
reader and a MP3 player built-in. I drive around in a Miata, which as far as I’m
concerned is just a bigger, more expensive gadget.

But what really distinguishes my Gadgeteer status is my collection of vintage
PDAs. I own every significant PDA built in the pre-Newton era. (I also was a
speaker on this topic at last year’s Vintage Computer Festival — see Separately, I’m the editor
of Computer Collector, which is a free email newsletter (about 600 subscribers
right now) — see the intentionally primitive site at

Now, most people THINK they know about the history of PDAs, but I’m here to
declare that I spent the past three years studying this, using all of my skills
as a professional journalist. As I’ve come to understand the landscape,
following is a list of the most major PDA developments — and I do own all of

* 1972: HP-35: First scientific calculator
* 1973: HP-45: First calculator with a timer
* 1974: HP-65: First programmable, first with removable storage (card reader)
* 1976: Casio CQ-1: First with an alarm and calendar feature
* 1976: Mattel Auto Race: First handheld electronic game
* 1977: TI-58, TI-59: First calculators with alphanumeric I/O
* 1978: Lexicon LK-3000 and Toshiba LC-836: First with organizer functions
* 1979: HP-41C: First with expansion ports
* 1979-1980: Matsushita and TRS "HHC" – first true handheld "computers"
* 1980: Casio PF-8000: First with character (handwriting) recognition
* 198(2/3): (various companies): First data wristwatches
* 1983: Casio PF-3000: First organizer with password protection
* 1984: Tandy PC-5 and others: First palm-sized HHC
* 1985: Casio FX7000G: First with graphing function
* 1986: HP-18C: First with infrared support
* 198(6/7): Casio IF-8000: First with multiple screen layers
* 198(7/8): Panasonic Personal Partner: First DOS clone clamshell
* 1988: HP-19B: First with multi-language OS
* 1990: Sony PalmTop, sold only in Japan has a GUI interface
* 1991: Psion Series 3
* 1994: IBM / BellSouth Simon, the first PDA/phone hybrid
So do I qualify?

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