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Portable Power Concerns Aren't New

Wed, 07/18/2007 - 12:04pm

henrylaxenOp-Ed: My hobby outside of life at ECN is collecting and restoring vintage computers. I write a blog about the hobby and, for my personal collection, I focus on portable systems. Last week I interviewed Henry Laxen who ran software development for a small company called Friends Amis in the early-to-mid 1980s.  Friends Amis designed the Hand Held Computer which was acquired by Matsushita and sold by their Panasonic and Quasar brands. This competed against the Sharp PC-1211, better known as the TRS-80 Pocket Computer 1. Anyway, Henry explained how they used the popular MOS 6502 chip inside. This was quite a challenge for a handheld computer, considering that the 6502 was seen as a primary desktop processor (Commodore Pet, Apple II) just four years earlier. In order to make the pocket computer have functional battery life, they designed a circuit that only turned on the processor when a user pressed any key. That was about 27 years ago. So lest you think otherwise, power management for portable electronics is not a new field!

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