[ Retro Scan ] HP 95LX

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016

Hewlett-Packard HP 95LX HP-95LX Handheld Computer Pocket Computer Palmtop PC User's Guide Cover scan - 1991HP-95LX: Like a computer-shaped cookie that you can’t eat

In case you didn’t know, the HP 95LX is a small, portable IBM PC compatible machine running a full version of MS-DOS that ran off of two AA batteries. It marked the beginning of HP’s palmtop computer line, which I wrote about recently in a slideshow for PCMag.com.

The HP 95LX is special to me in particular because I’ve had one for over 20 years now. My dad bought the machine slightly-used from a friend not long after it came out. After fiddling around with it for a while, he gave it to me, and by 1993, I had it in my collection.

Using an RS-232 serial cable my dad built for me, I managed to transfer some MS-DOS programs to it (a few text-mode games mostly, and a few HP 95LX apps I downloaded from CompuServe), that I remember taking to school and using once or twice just for kicks. I also used that serial cable to hook the 95LX to a modem so I could call BBSes with it.

The worst thing about the 95LX — aside from its 1/4 CGA screen that doesn’t let you run many MS-DOS apps — is that if you don’t have a plug-in memory card, you lose all your saved data on the RAM disk if it runs out of batteries. Sure, it has a backup coin cell battery (or maybe two), but if that runs out, you’re out of luck. The PC Card-like memory cards cost a lot of money back in the 1990s, so I never had one until recently.

Still, it’s an amazing little machine. Very capable — if you have the patience to use it. A few years later, HP got everything right with the 200LX, which is still a popular portable MS-DOS machine among certain diehards today.

[ From HP 95LX Users’s Guide, 1991, cover ]

Discussion Topic: Did you own a palmtop PC in the 1990s? Tell us about it.

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Supra 28.8 Kbps Modem

Monday, July 29th, 2013

Supra Modem Ad - 1996Glowing Modem

In my early BBS days, I started using a 2400 bps external modem hooked to the serial port of a PC clone. A few years later, I switched to an external Intel 14,400 bps modem. Then I believe I got a Creative Labs Modem Blaster kit with an internal 28,800 bps modem on an ISA card. After that I moved up to 33,600 with some generic Winmodem, then 56,000 bps.

In 2000, I signed up for my first cable modem service…and the rest is history.

[ From Internet World, February 1996, p.9 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: What speed was your first modem?

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Finally…a 1200 Baud Modem

Monday, November 19th, 2012

Radio Shack TRS-80 DC-2212 Modem 1200 Baud - 1985FINALLY, I mean, COME ON.

You too could be the proud owner of this Radio Shack TRS-80 DC-2212 1200 baud modem for the low, low price of $399.95 (about $859.81 in 2012 dollars).

…If you traveled back in time with the proper currency, that is. But I wouldn’t recommend it.

I recently bought a cable modem that is the equivalent of a 150,000,000 baud modem. It cost $70 in 2012 dollars. Not bad for progress.

[ From BYTE, September 1985, rear cover ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: What speed was you first modem?

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Tiger Game.com

Monday, June 21st, 2010

Tiger Game.com Manual Cover - 1997The original touch-screen game system.

Pop quiz: which video game console first featured a touch screen? (Hint: It’s not the Nintendo DS.) How about this one: Which handheld console first supported Internet connectivity?

Believe it or not, Tiger Electronics — a toy company famed for its cheap electronic games — came in first on both counts with the Game.com in 1997. (Sega Saturn was the first home console to support Internet in 1996).

I was a Game.com early adopter, having bought one close to its release. The wonder of its primitive touch screen alone seemed to make up for its deficiencies at the time, so I was pleased at first. The unit shipped with a built-in version of Klondike Solitaire and a Lights Out game cartridge, both of which showed off the system’s touch capabilities well. But my infatuation with the Game.com turned out to be brief.

[ Continue reading [ Retro Scan of the Week ] Tiger Game.com » ]

Retro Scan of the Week: Baton TelePlay Modem for NES and Genesis

Monday, February 19th, 2007
Baton Teleplay Modem Advertisement

When I first saw this ad in EGM around 1992-93, I wanted one of these modems so bad. I was hugely into BBSes and computer telecommunications at the time, and the thought of using one on a console to play games with friends was awesome. My best friend called my BBS, and my imagination went wild thinking about all the fun we could have with a pair of these modems. That is, assuming the games were good.

Eventually, I convinced my mom to call Baton (being a about 11 or 12 years old then) to see if she could order one, but by that time either the phone number was already disconnected, or she didn’t get an answer. Or maybe she did talk to somebody — my memory’s fuzzy on that point. I was hugely disappointed. Crushed. The Teleplay modems never showed up in stores and I never heard anything about them again.

I did get excited when Xband modems came out some years later (for the SNES and Genesis), but I found the experience with their service somewhat lacking. I wanted a direct player-to-player connection with no game broker or middle man.

For more on the story behind the Baton Teleplay modem, check out Frank Cifaldi’s investigative piece at Lost Levels Online. I’m really glad he took the time to research the company so that their story isn’t completely lost to history.

Unfortunately, I forgot to document the issue number this ad appeared in when I scanned it some time ago.

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