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Max The Magnificent
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So Cool
Max The Magnificent   8/5/2014 1:53:52 PM
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I don't know why it is that these old digital machines seem so cool -- even though they have so little capability as compared to modern devices.

Steve Manley
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Re: So Cool
Steve Manley   8/5/2014 3:43:10 PM
@Max

I never had a Casio SF-7500 but I did have a Casio FX-850P Personal Computer. In fact I still have it some 25 years on and it still works.

Its an amazing device I used for storing names and phone numbers but best of all it came with the Basic language and 10 slots to store programs.

It got most of it's use during the construction of Sizewell B Nuclear Power station in Suffolk England, where I used its trig functions to calculate where I had installed stress measuring instrumentation within the cylindrical wall and dome of the reactor building. A surveyor would give me some measurements from known datum points and from that I could calculate the instruments radius, bearing and height within the building. Oh the memories of crawling around in steel work and concrete.

If it weren't for my smart phone, I would still be carrying this thing around. I don't think I will ever through it away even if it stops working.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: So Cool
Max The Magnificent   8/5/2014 3:52:27 PM
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@Steve: It got most of it's use during the construction of Sizewell B Nuclear Power station in Suffolk England, where I used its trig functions to calculate...

But didn't you hear about the classic problem with the trig functions on Casio FX-850P Personal Computer ...LOL

Steve Manley
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Re: So Cool
Steve Manley   8/5/2014 4:00:48 PM
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@Max:But didn't you hear about the classic problem with the trig functions on Casio FX-850P Personal Computer ...LOL

Not that I recall but my calculations using the Casio were far more accurate than the surveyors, so much so he relied on me to produce the results for him on a few occasions, which I'm quite proud of being Math's isn't my strong point and it was his trade.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: So Cool
Max The Magnificent   8/5/2014 4:04:25 PM
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@Steve: Not that I recall but my calculations...

Don't panic ... I was joking :-)

Steve Manley
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Re: So Cool
Steve Manley   8/5/2014 4:10:37 PM
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@Max: Fewww thank goodness for that. Thought you might be insinuating any crookedness in the building might be attributed to my little Casio PC. LOL

Max The Magnificent
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Re: So Cool
Max The Magnificent   8/5/2014 4:18:37 PM
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@Steve: Thought you might be insinuating any crookedness in the building might be attributed to my little Casio PC

Of course not -- it was just the thought that the design of that huge nuclear poswer station involved a little CASIO PC that made me grin.

ssidman
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Re: So Cool
ssidman   8/5/2014 8:36:50 PM
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Speaking of calculator accuracy, see http://www.rskey.org/~mwsebastian/miscprj/results.htm for the range of accuracies in calculators. I think the trig functions on most of those things were CORDIC.

I actually had that Casio organizer, back in the day.  Came with a kind of serial interface to back stuff up on your (DOS) PC. If you have the whole kit, and can get that one running again, a simple examination of the saved file should answer questions on compression techniques.

David Ashton
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Re: So Cool
David Ashton   8/5/2014 8:47:01 PM
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@Ssidman... "Came with a kind of serial interface to back stuff up on your (DOS) PC"

I saw that in the manual.  I have the cable (think a 2.5 mm stereo jack connector) but not the box that went with it, or the software.  But it probably just needs a convertor circuit to get the voltages up to RS-232, I might be able to figure that out. 

ssidman
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Re: So Cool
ssidman   8/5/2014 9:07:23 PM
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RS-232 voltage conversion should be easy. Most people sort of faked the full levels and got it working anyway. If memory serves, the calculator itself has a built-in mode, where it will start spewing bits out that mini-connector, so you might not need a lot of special softwarre from 1989 to get things going. The manual should have details.

Kind of amazing that 2025 cells have been around that long...

ssidman
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Re: So Cool
ssidman   8/5/2014 9:17:22 PM
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Found this six year old blog after a 30 second Google search. Isn't the Internet scary? Nothing is forgotten. Anyway, it purports to have serial interface directions and schematics.

https://guilleml.wordpress.com/tag/sf-7500/

 

David Ashton
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Re: So Cool
David Ashton   8/5/2014 9:24:44 PM
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@Ssidman...thanks for that....will have a look tonight (our work net nanny won't let me there now :-)

As you say, the diary has a mode that it can autonomously send stuff out, so will try that.

Clive
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Re: So Cool
Clive "Max" Maxfield   8/6/2014 9:30:53 AM
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@ssidman: If you have the whole kit, and can get that one running again, a simple examination of the saved file should answer questions on compression techniques.

It depends -- the CASIO might uncompress the data into an ASCII format for upload to the PC, then re-compress it on the download ... as you say, if David can get it working, it will be interesting to take a look at the saved file...

bwmetz0
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TI PS-6560i with 128K & RS232
bwmetz0   8/5/2014 8:06:44 PM
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I'm too young to have enjoyed these in the late 80s, but was using their distant relatives by the mid to late 90s before Palm Pilots and WinCE PDA really took off or at least were affordable on my college budget.  I remember one boss that had one of those Psion devices...man were they the cat's meow at the time.

My first unit was a Royal DM80Plus Personal Organizer with merely 11K.  It was attrocious, data entry being a major pain.  I quickly moved to the TI in the subject line.  This little beauty had a RS232 docking station for syncing with a PC, thus enabling me to keep CSV files with wiring/network/equipment details for pretty much everyone in the company.  Having this at my fingertips when away from my desk, since no one in the computer department but the boss got laptops at the time, was a godsend for fixing problems.

Clive
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Re: TI PS-6560i with 128K & RS232
Clive "Max" Maxfield   8/6/2014 9:27:44 AM
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@bwmetz0: This little beauty had a RS232 docking station for syncing with a PC, thus enabling me to keep CSV files with wiring/network/equipment details for pretty much everyone in the company.

It's amazing how fast things have changed -- I remember back in 1998 when I had a small office with a friend wherte we worked in the evenings after our day jobs. We had one 56K modem and a lying cable that we plugged ino the back of whichever machine we wanted to use to upload files to the Internet -- I was blown away when we worked out how to connect the machines together in such a way that either could access the Internet (one at a time) without having to move the modem cable LOL

antedeluvian
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Compaq iPaq
antedeluvian   8/5/2014 3:06:55 PM
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David

In the meantime, did you ever own one of these devices (or something similar)?

When my brother passed in 2003, I inherited his Compaq iPaq (similar to this, although I don't think it was colour). I did try to get myself computer calendar literate, but there are two problems. Firstly I hate having something hitched onto my belt or in any of my pockets. Secondly it seemed to need charging every day or two, so I would have to develop some kind of discipline. It never took, nor has anything else. Despite the calendar on Outlook, a mobile phone (dumb, but still with a calendar/ appointment function), an iPad and a Microsoft Surface I still write everything down in a paper day-timer. Notwithstanding my work in this industry, apparently this dog can't change its spots.

antedeluvian
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Lost data
antedeluvian   8/5/2014 3:23:59 PM
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David

 If so, are you aware of any techniques the designers used to compress the data and take maximum advantage of the limited resources?

Not only am I unaware, I can remember two instances where similar devices broke and the data was irretrievably lost because they couldn't be linked to other devices.

traneus
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HP95 pocket MS-DOS PC
traneus   8/5/2014 7:56:37 PM
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I use an HP95 (vintage 1990) pocket MS-DOS PC for writing on camping trips where I don't have access to chargers. The HP95 runs for more than a week from a pair of alkaline AA cells. It stores a standard FAT filesystem image on internal SRAM (C: drive) and on a removeable PCMCIA SRAM card (A: drive). MS-DOS, Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet, a simple text editor, and a few other programs are stored in masked ROM. The HP95 and the SRAM card both have coin cells for SRAM backup power.

I copy the files from the SRAM card onto a Linux box when I return home.

Clive
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Re: HP95 pocket MS-DOS PC
Clive "Max" Maxfield   8/6/2014 9:23:45 AM
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@traneus: I use an HP95 (vintage 1990) pocket MS-DOS PC for writing on camping trips where I don't have access to chargers. The HP95 runs for more than a week from a pair of alkaline AA cells...

Wow -- that's pretty darn good -- but why are you writing while on camping trips? You should be relaxing LOL

David Ashton
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So cool
David Ashton   8/5/2014 8:26:15 PM
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Thanks all for the comments and info.   I was not sure if anyone would be interested in old stuff like this, but I will try and get this one going and report further.

@Traneus...I remember seriously wanting an HP-95 when they came out.   I seem to remember you could get a couple of add-on things for them (maybe a floppy drive??)

I have a couple of other ancient devices.... an old Palm, which apart from bigger Memory does not do much more than this, and an HP Jornada which is more like the HP-95 - it runs a crude windows OS and can be linked to a PC.  I guess the main thing in this connected age is that these things either don't connect - they are standalone - or they only have rudimentary commuunications with a PC.  If you've used an Ipad or smartphone you'd find them very limiting. 

traneus
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HP95 add-ons
traneus   8/5/2014 10:16:15 PM
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My HP95 has an infrared output to drive a printer, and a serial port to connect to a modem. I haven't used either of these ports.

Instead of a floppy disk, the HP95 has a PCMCIA slot which takes SRAM cards. These are the original PCMCIA battery-backed SRAM cards, not the later cardbus hard-drive-emulating flash cards. The HP95 works with SRAM cards up to 2 megabytes.

MS-DOS formats the SRAM card as if it was a floppy disk. The first 512 bytes of the SRAM are skipped, and the rest of the SRAM is formatted FAT-12 like a floppy disk.

I built hardware to copy the card SRAM data sequentially into an image file on my Linux box. I mount the image file as a FAT-12 device using the loopback filesystem, and then copy my writings from the mounted image file.

David Ashton
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Re: HP95 add-ons
David Ashton   8/5/2014 10:53:15 PM
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@Traneus...you certainly have yoruself well set up.

I got a PCMCIA slot for a desktop PC.  It fits in a 3.5" slot.  My plan was to use my work aircard on it to get internet (we get a 5GB allowance and I hardly use any for work).  However DSL has got so cheap I got that (also it lets the wife use it when I am at work).

Sometime I must try and get the HP Jornada going too, it's a lot more advanced than the Casio, probably more in line with yours.

ssidman
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Re: HP95 add-ons
ssidman   8/6/2014 10:27:08 AM
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Impressive! I did something similar with a PCMCIA SRAM card and my Toshhiba T1000. Acting as a hard disk, I loaded up WordStar, VP Planner spreadsheet, and Procomm for logging in to the work. It had a 10 MHz 8086, and had snappy performance. The battery lasted 2-21/2 hours, too. Finally, I even had a reasonable text to speech program that PWMed the speaker which produced good quality, understandable speech! These days, the splash screen for some apps is bigger than systems of some years ago that did real work. I did play around win an HP95, but only to put VI on it...

toney
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costs...
toney   8/5/2014 11:08:47 PM
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I bought a CASIO fx-300ES at Wam Mart last week.  It was $10.  I also bought a 8 digit hand held calculator.  It was 94 cents. 

Clive
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Re: costs...
Clive "Max" Maxfield   8/6/2014 9:35:00 AM
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@toney: I also bought a 8 digit hand held calculator.  It was 94 cents.

I never fail to find this sort of thing mind-boggling...

OleAlexander
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It took me a week to get my dad to scrap his...
OleAlexander   8/6/2014 3:54:19 AM
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My dad bought one of these Casios (sometime early nineties), to store contacts and calendar items. Claimed it was much more efficient than the paper Time Manager he used.

Me and my brothers instantly started mocking him (as you can tell we're liberal eurotrash that have no respect for the elders:-), since we saw that it was extremely cumbersome to use. However he did not back down, so we sat back and waited for what must obviously come.

 

Lo and behold, within a week, I noticed the Casio on my fathers  desk.

with a post-it on it.

The post-it had an appointment scribbled down.

After 15 minutes of disrespectful pointing out how the logical conclusion must be that the thing was impractical and therefore useless, he gave in and went back to the Time Manager.

 

Clive
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Re: It took me a week to get my dad to scrap his...
Clive "Max" Maxfield   8/6/2014 9:36:15 AM
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@OleAlexander: Lo and behold, within a week, I noticed the Casio on my fathers  desk... with a post-it on it. The post-it had an appointment scribbled down.

LOL

Clive
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Re: It took me a week to get my dad to scrap his...
Clive "Max" Maxfield   8/6/2014 9:39:04 AM
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@OleAlexander: ...as you can tell we're liberal eurotrash...


I'm Eurotrash too -- are you Northern Eurotrash or Southern Eurotrash? LOL

antedeluvian
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Cahoots
antedeluvian   8/6/2014 8:21:59 PM
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David

Is this blog part of an integrated marketing effort? See this offer for a 1980s Databank Watch. Apparently a newer model is still available, so I am not sure if you are getting the antique!

I see that the 1980s spell checker though, is obsolete

Reigster for DoT This Week
for a Chance to Win a Casio Databank


 

David Ashton
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Re: Cahoots
David Ashton   8/6/2014 9:25:25 PM
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@Antedeluvian....well if mine works I could auction it off, or donate it for a prize for the caption competition :-)

I guess these days the watch would come with a bluetooth headset and keyboard and a projection screen, not to mention a 3g or wifi caonnection capability..... 

PS there's a service station near me that advertises Deisel fuel.   Must have been the same marketer :-)

GeeKv2
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Childhood memories.
GeeKv2   8/7/2014 4:09:34 AM
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This article brought back some of my childhood memories. My dad had one of these with a colour LCD. It was so futuristic. I played with it for a while to understand all the functions and helped my dad punch in all the contacts and taught him how to use it. In hindsight, maybe he was just trying to have quality time with me :)

It even had a screen saver like function that showed a cruise ship sailing by with a dolphin in the background. It was the most impressive thing I had seen.

The battery comment also reminded me how I used to carefully follow the instructions when I was changing them for him :) 

I had a similar one but not a Casio, some name starting with 'K' (Kaice or something I think). I never got to use it. After all how many phone numbers would a 12 year old need in the 90s ?

ffxx68
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Was that a NEC CPU as well?
ffxx68   8/7/2014 8:41:20 AM
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Casio didn't abandon this field until recently. Back in the '90s I was an enthusiastic owner and programmer of the Casio PV palm-sized PDA (here my web page about it, never touched since, I guess, ten years or so!) and I remember the excitement when they published the SDK for this NEC-Renesas SoC-based device. It wasn't an ARM CPU yet at that time, but the SoC brand experience (about releasing the SDK) later convinced me to purchase another Renesas-ARM tablet, which I enjoyed hacking the Kernal and Android AOSP as well: here my group. It's a real shame Renesas isn't in the game anymore...

rick merritt
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Flashback
rick merritt   8/7/2014 10:42:05 AM
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In the early 1990s the Palmtop PC was a huge fad and the Casio Dairy was one of the leaders of a market that never emerged as people hoped (The Sharp Wizard was another).

Everyone was pursuing the elusive PDA. Taiwan cranked out a ton of fairly clunky pocket-sized PCs. The Apple newton and General Magic pad dug a deep hole everyone ran away from. 

Jeff Hawkins' Palm emerged as one of the few winners. But the smartphone tsunami of the Apple iPhone made all that just an interesting footnote in mobile computing history.

MeasurementBlues
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Psion
MeasurementBlues   8/8/2014 10:17:55 AM
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In the late 1980s and early 90s, I worked for Extech. The company sold the Psion Organiser and we were desinging printers and modems for it. Psion later came out with the Series 3 and then 3a. I had a 3a. Psion the hinges off the Casio. It was even programmable through a Basic-like language called OPL.

Psion did a magnificent job designing the cases, though my hinge did break after a few years. I found another one and used that for acuple of years, then bought an HP PDA. I still have it but don't use it. The WiFi was terrible.



 

mhrackin
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What's with all this MODERN stuff?
mhrackin   9/22/2014 3:23:00 PM
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I really get a kick out you young-uns talikng about "antiques" that your PARENTS had!  In my personal museum I have several items whose vintage brackets the advent of the IBM PC in 1981!  These are portable computers of a sort: the older one is an Epson unit with a 4x20 monochrone LCD screen and a digital microcassette drive that is a bit smaller than the Thinkpad 420 I'm using right now.  It still works (although its batteries are surely deceased by now, it still should work on external power). I "inherited" it from an old employer; we used these as portable field service computers, with a serial client program to allow connectinfg via RS232 to our products (energy management systems and PABX/Call center systems).  I also have a bunch of games for it on microcassettes!

The "new" tech item is also a good conversation piece: a Canon portable laptop PC-AT clone with a BUILT-IN inkjet printer!  I bought that one in 1993 (used) for $1900 for the consulting business I was a partner in. It weighs about 15 lb so it was not exactly a joy to "wear" running through FRA for a connecting flight!  I haven't fired that one up for a couple of years but I believe it's still functional, although the printer head may be clogged (and the cartridge dried out....).  It's in my home office closet next to the Panasonic 1624 printer (with several ribbons!) and my Mustek SCSI interface flat-bed scanner, both in its original box.



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