More retro Psion: The HC120 “corporate handheld”

Back in the late 1980s/early 1990s Psion PLC‘s quest for world domination was focused on a group of innovative computing platforms:

Consumer hand-held devices – the Series 3 PDA range
Consumer “lap-held” devices – the MC (“Mobile Computer”) laptop range
Corporate hand-held – the HC (“Handheld Computer”) industrial range

All three shared a common architecture – 80C86 based, custom Psion ASICs, instant-on, solid-state storage using Psion’s proprietary SSD technology and all extremely power-efficient running for many hours on replaceable batteries (AA cells for the S3 & MC) or rechargeable NiCd battery packs (MC & HC). All running slightly different variants of Psion’s own multi-tasking Epoc/Os operating system (later renamed EPOC16).

The HC range was designed as an industrial system for data-collection/barcode reading etc. with 2 expansion ports which could accommodate purpose-designed hardware modules dependent on intended application.

HC’s being sold on eBay with barcode wand as “New Old Stock” (NOS)

I recently acquired my first HC – an HC120 from eBay –

HC120 – handheld coprorate/industrial computing

The HC120’s specs are:

o. Reprogrammable Epoc/Os in 256k Flash ROM
o. 512k RAM
o. 3.84MHz V30 (80C86 clone with improved power handling/lower consumption)
o. 160 x 80 retardation film monochrome LCD
o. 2 x SSD bays
o. 2 x expansion module bays

Interestingly the Expansion modules from the MC are electrically compatible with the HC, but they have to be removed from their MC plastic enclosures before they’ll fit into the HC…

Bare PCB from the MC’s serial/parallel module pressed into action in the HC

Some good HC photos/info (Japanese – Google Translate is your friend!):

Good resource: “The HC Programming Guide” – contains an overview of all the available commands in section 3 “HC Command Shell”

Lots of cutom modules, is this another bar code reader maybe? HC R900:

Published by zedstarr

Chilled out human being, doing techy stuff.

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