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Nokia's 3310 revival – what's NEXT? Vote now

Silver badge

Not the compact cassette.

It was an good medium in it's time, it was the job of the time, but at only 90minutes capacity* on something that is easily 10x the size of my music player which holds hundreds of hours, no randomise function, and the ability to spill its guts into the machine requiring painstaking retrieval...

Having said that, I'm fairly sure that the "skip track" function on modern players is the first thing to wear out - back when you had 20 tracks, they all seemed to be just right - there is a benefit to having limited storage, you only store what you really like.

On that list - the Psion 5 organiser wins, hands down, in my opinion.

*Okay, 120 minute cassettes were available. If you enjoyed the added bonus of wow and flutter applied to your favourite sounds, at no extra cost.

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Re: Not the compact cassette.

I'd love an updated Psion 5 with Bluetooth and WiFI. I wouldn't even need a colour screen, just the superb Agenda programme and keyboard. It only needs updating for wireless comms to allow emailing and printing.

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Thumb Up

Re: Not the compact cassette.

"...just the superb Agenda..."

Agreed. Not found a better calendar application to this day.

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Silver badge

Re: Not the compact cassette.

I'd settle for a MacBookPro with an OS that works as well as Mac OS 8.6 did.

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Silver badge
Happy

Re: Not the compact cassette.

A Psion organiser with a USB read/writable mini-disc able to play music, video or hold data.

Plus a laptop with a 4:3 screen (1920 x 1440) able to run at 48, 50, 60, 75 fps (instead of stupid 60fps only and only 1080 lines). CD/DVD/BD bay, parallel & serial ports, firewire port, Analogue TV out (able to do 240, 405, 440, 525, 625 and 819 lines) as well as USB 2/3, HDMI and VGA. Optical audio I/O too. SD card reader, SIM reader. IR sensor and emitter to clone remote controls. 433MHz / 385MHz SDR to sense or operate doorbells, weather stations, IR remote extenders etc.

OS to be 2017 "Classic Edition XP Pro".

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Silver badge

Re: Not the compact cassette.

It only needs updating for wireless comms to allow emailing and printing

Back in the day (1999/2000) I used my 5mx to print to an HP inkjet using the serial to Centronix interface. Worked a treat.

M.

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Silver badge

Re: Psion 5

Please please can I have one of those with modern tat inside it. The only change other than internal hardware would be rubber so that is bounces when falling out of your top pocket. Must confess I'm tempted to see if I can gut mine and make something of it....

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Re: Not the compact cassette.

If you take a look at this thing it might make you change your mind on compact cassettes.

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Re: Not the compact cassette.

Not necessarily added wow and flutter, if you used a decent deck. Nakamichi springs to mind, or one of the high end Akai decks before they rolled over and died, to be swallowed up by Sony.

Having said that, cassettes were never designed for decent sound; all the improvements that happened to 'em still didn't bring them up to even vinyl quality.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not the compact cassette.

The problem with cassettes was when they shredded the tape in the drive rollers.

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Silver badge

Re: Not the compact cassette.

No system that involves storing information in powder glued to a flexible base is ever going to be reliable. Tape and floppies are two technologies that I have no nostalgia for.

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Silver badge

Hmmm...

Apart from the Apple and the Atari, I have all the rest. I ought to dig out some AAs and get it rolling again. Just...'cos.

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tones of battery life

That'd be the tones A, B, C, D, etc, presumably?

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Re: tones of battery life

Do Re Mi Fa Sol!

Looks like he fell between an Imperial and Metric measure! Actually, yesterday I was thinking about a battery in terms of weight - I'd stopped in a layby to make a call, and saw that someone had dumped a large truck battery in the hedgerow... thought of weighing it in at the scrapyard. Whilst it might not weight a ton, or even tonne, it'll weigh at lest an 'Ooffyoubugger'.

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Re: tones of battery life

@Ralph B; The problem with batteries is that they can go out of tune over their life.

I had a "D" battery, but by the time it was used up, I noticed it had dropped in pitch by around a semitone.

It was a "D flat".

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Snoop-proof

Perfect for travel, when visiting countries that like to inspect your phone at the border.

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Re: Snoop-proof

Sir, your Snake score is in the same range as those discovered on the handsets of previous national threats. Therefore we are detaining you as a national threat.

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Anonymous Coward

Back then my computer only had 20gb of storage. Today my tablet has 16 ... Wait a minute!

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20GB? My first PC had a 20MB drive (or 32MB when I acquired an RLL controller for it).

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Anonymous Coward

First PC I put together had a 40MB HDD which I thought was insanely large. Nowadays I have PCs with HDD capacitity in the TB range and I still find my sons fill the disks with steam games + saved games etc and then complain that things aren't workng.

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Silver badge
Headmaster

Likewise. And I can remember back when I was doing my PhD (a couple of decades ago) the first GB drive arriving in the physics dept. And my whole thesis including diagrams happily fitted on two floppy disks (oh the joy of LaTeX).

Rather an odd feeling to think I've probably got more storage and computing power about my person on any given day now than they had in the whole damn building back then.

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That's about the size of it. I ran a 100 user system that had 2 456MB drives and a 50 user one that had 6 (both DEC VAX), so 150 users on 3.6GB of disk space. Each phone on my desk has over 4 times that storage.

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Silver badge
Windows

A harddrive? It was hundreds of pounds for a 20MB (Megabytes, not GB) hard disk drive back in the day. We had single density floppies and liked it.

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Anonymous Coward

20gb you lucky lucky bastard,

When I were a lad we had 20mb drives and you had to wind them up for t'power.

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Silver badge
Windows

re 20GB

My first PC had 100K floppies, I added a CP/M card, 80 column card, 1M dual 8" floppy and finally 5M byte HDD.

I've not bought an Apple since.

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20Mb! Luxury!

The first machine I ever owned had a 16k ram pack...

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20gb, 20mb, pah... The law firm I worked at had Amstrad PCW9512 with Daisy Wheel Printers... they had 3" compact floppy disks... bloody awful and tiny... plus they always went wrong in every possible way.

I think my first home built PC however had a Conner 420mb HDD from a Computer fair down the local Leisure Centre. Clunky and noisy as hell... I eventually upgraded to a Quantum Bigfoot...I think that was about 1GB.

20-summat years later, I have my 64gb Pi for Openelec and some fruity fondlestuff for everything else.

Work laptop stays at work!!

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First HDD I ever bought for personal use was an 80MB 2.5" drive to fit in an Amiga (an A500 with an adaptor).

I even partitioned it for specific functions, full Workbench on one, trimmed down version for gaming, another command line only boot etc.

Happy days!

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Aaaah the squirrel interface!!! I think that was it... SCSI for Amiga. Hard drive had to stay outside the case though as I remember.

Happy days indeed!!!

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Bronze badge

"My first PC had a 20MB drive"

My first IBM-compatible PC had two 5.25" (yes, inches, I'm not building a replica of Stonehenge...) floppy drives.

I borrowed a hard disk for it. 10 MB full-height (as tall as the two floppy drives together) drive removed from a PDP-11. I gave it back when it started dropping sectors, and scoured Computer Shopper for the cheapest 20 MB Seagate I could get my hands on. At the time, I lived in the US, and found the cheapest one from a supplier whose address was just three miles from where I was living.

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Anonymous Coward

At school we had a 6800 micro with 1kB RAM ... then the (hex) code for startrek was pritned in something like Byte or Dr Dobbs and there was a rush to build a 4kB memory *eurocard* so that we could run (after typing in all the hex codes!) such an enormous game! Seem to recall one of the TTL chips was missing so was much searching of datasheets to find who we could cosntruct the same fucntion from another ship we had with pins connected in a differnt order!

Also remember at the same time wrting a "lunar lander" game for a friend in the 80 available instructions on his programmable calcualtor.

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ZX81 with the rampak stuck on with white tack to stop it crashing the beast every time you jogged the table

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Silver badge
Pint

And if you tell kids today that, they wouldn't believe you.

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Silver badge
Headmaster

I did, and they didn't.

And when I told them I could remember a world without either mobile phones or the internet, they looked at me like I was a dinosaur.

At least until I pointed out whilst I'm of the generation that grew up without them, I'm also of the generation that invented them (more or less anyway)...

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In the mid 1980s I - chief user rather than a techie specified, had installed and then looked after a network of four PCs and a printer, three of the PCs had just a floppy drive to allow them to be booted. All of the output of the journalists who used the kit was saved on what was then termed a Winchester drive of a whole 20MB. Concurrent CP/M worked well.

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Anonymous Coward

I remember going to a PC exhibition in the early 1980s. One stand was selling a 10MB Winchester disk for the Apple ][. A snip at just under £2k (what's that now - £10k?).

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Anonymous Coward

Doing a back up to USB 2.0 disk of my weekly data run recently - I noted that the nearly 600MB took about 10 minutes. In 1970 we did a back up of our mainframe enormous 600MB hard disk to tape - and we were pleased when after much tuning it only took 8 hours.

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Silver badge
Gimp

(oh the joy of LaTeX)."

Fixed icon for you :-)

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Bronze badge

Ah, those were the days,.... we had a four node VAX Cluster, I remember helping the engineer when a drive failed and was replaced, ~half a gig, so the same 456Mb (RA81?) drive you mention, and it took both of us to lift and slide it into place. I seem to recall the device ID was selected via a plastic button / insert on the front?

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Anonymous Coward

four node VAXcluster

"we had a four node VAX Cluster, I remember helping the engineer when a drive failed and was replaced, ~half a gig, so the same 456Mb (RA81?) drive you mention, and it took both of us to lift and slide it into place."

A four node VAXcluster via VAX emulation can be done on a multicore modern x86 or quite possibly a Raspberry Pi 3 (or a couple of them).

For hobbyist use the cost of the software (including SIMH for emulation and the genuine VMS OS and 'layered products' such as development tools) is roughly zero.

RA81s aren't really around much any more but VMS is still around, receiving new focus under new management, with the prospect of a native release on selected x86-64 servers, currently in development and planned for release in 2018:

https://vmssoftware.com/products_roadmap.html

Whether the previous owners of the rights to VMS (HPQ, who presumably also own the contact lists) have told the right people in the market about these recent developments is a slightly different question.

"the [RA series disk] device ID was selected via a plastic button / insert on the front?"

Sounds about right. And the inrush current on startup of the drive motor in those days was such that if you had more than a few of these drives, the startup had to be staggered using an inter-drive sequencing cable that lots of folks forgot about. Otherwise Bad Things would happen.

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Psion 5mx

I still have and use my 5mx on a regular basis, mainly for the Palmtop Money app to track my finances. I've never found anything yet to replace the app's functionality to my satisfaction. Having a decent proper keyboard doesn't hurt either and runs forever on a pair of AAs.

Oh, and oblig. Psion = Potter's Scientific Instruments Or Nothing that someone usually trots out regarding the company name.

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I went for the floppy drive... because it's ripe for backup devices. No need for a spinning disk when you can have a disk with some flash storage on it. Hot swappable with a USB 3/C connector, some simple software... Looks retro with a modern use.

Could easily have large capacity retro looking disks of a TB or two.

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Silver badge

Series 5

If the Series 5 doesn't win a landslide in that list...

I'd probably buy a new S5, even if it was the original specification (perhaps swap the serial port for USB), but an updated S5 would be brilliant. I'm a bit worried about what you could do with the software as 50% of the brilliance of the original device was the OS and built-in apps (worried an updated model might have to run Android), but the form-factor was nigh-on perfect. I did almost an entire PGCE on a 5mx, so impressive was the keyboard. Colour screen with a few more pixels, modern ARM processor, decent chunk of memory, USB, WiFi, maybe a 4G modem, SD slot, fix the screen cable issues, yes update all of those, but

  • keep the form-factor
  • keep the stylus
  • keep the thing running for a week on a pair of AAs

M.

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Re: Series 5

The Series 5 was a dreadful device. I was a fan of the Psion from day one, but lost my enthusiasm at the Series 5. I introduced the Psion to the company I worked for and ordered for those who wanted one. . it had a number of drawbacks. The hinge was very weak and broke extraordinarily easily. The worst part was the battery drain. particularly the quiescent drain. I had a number of users almost crying. They'd come back from a fortnights holiday to find both main and backup batteries dead, and all their data vanished. Personally, for pocket use the Psion peaked at the 3mx. All was not lost, however, the netBook was and is a dream. I have one, and it's in near daily use

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Silver badge

Re: Series 5

The Series 5 was a dreadful device.

The hinge I'll sort of agree with - I had to have my screen cable replaced twice, though the hinge itself was fine (unlike my Series 3, where the hinge did completely break) - but I really don't recall battery drain being a problem, and I don't think I changed the backup battery more than once in the couple of years I made heavy use of my 5mx.

Then again, I did save files to a CF card rather than the internal RAM disc, so even if the batteries did die, my data didn't.

M.

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Silver badge

Re: Series 5

I'm a bit worried about what you could do with the software as 50% of the brilliance of the original device was the OS and built-in apps (worried an updated model might have to run Android)

Android? No. Just no.

It has to be EPOC (guess I should call it Symbian now). Can't speak for others, but personally I don't need yet another Android device. EPOC/Symbian is perfect for the Psion 5.

And of course OPL. I whiled away many boring train journeys/flights by writing stuff in OPL (either on Psion 3 or 5 or Nokia Communicator).

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Re: Series 5

Back in 1999 or 2000 I had a Rex5000.

I loved that little thing. Data entry on it was crap, but worked well when you used it to sync with the laptop app.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/REX_5000

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Thumb Up

Gotta be the Psion

Great keyboard, excellent software, brilliant runtime off a couple of AAs, OK display for its day.

I still have one somewhere. If they launched a new model with some hardware updates (Wi-Fi, SD card slot, perhaps a colour e-ink display) I'd be sorely tempted.

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Silver badge

Re: Gotta be the Psion

>If they launched a new model with some hardware updates (Wi-Fi,

Aaaaaaand there goes your week long battery life! :)

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Re: Gotta be the Psion

Yeah, you may be right. But I think some sort of simple network connectivity is probably non-negotiable these days. If my 5mx had that, I might still be using it.

Perhaps something like Bluetooth pairing with a smartphone would be better for battery life. Or ditch the AAs (boo) and put in some sort of higher density bespoke module. Removable, of course.

This is all theoretical anyway, because there's no sign there'll ever be an updated Series 5. Sniff.

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