Videos and pictures of some interesting items in my collection.

I have a lot of old pen-computing "junk". I have started to post pictures of a few things I think are particularly interesting.

First, a few video files:

... I used to have a collection of links to where other people (with more bandwidth) had the video files, but some of them died from link rot. (Or in one case on YouTube, from file rot.) Now, I keep a copy of the videos here -- your access will be slower than YouTube, though.

1985: Pencept PenPad: Software Control at the Stroke of a Pen

This is a commercial video that contains excerpts of the the demonstration at CHI '85 of the Pencept PenPad and keyboardless/mouseless operation of various applications. The actual CHI video is more extensive (and IMHO, more interesting), but I don't have a copy. The person demonstrating operation is Andrew Nilsson, Pencept's Director of Marketing. Andy and I were co-inventors on one of Pencept's UI patents.

Pencept's specialty was a proprietary technology for robust on-line recognition of hand-printed (or scribbled) characters and symbols, combined with pointing input at the same time. Pencept was not a large enough company to have the resources to develop a custom operating system (like GO's PenPoint) or custom applications (like Wang's Freestyle), and instead developed innovative UIs for their technology to front-end existing keyboard and CAD/CAM graphic applications.

  • Pencept Penpad 320: Software Control at the Stroke of a Pen (LARGE file)
  • Pencept Penpad 320: Software Control at the Stroke of a Pen (smaller file)

    1988: Wang Freestyle electronic ink / voice annotation application.

    This is demonstrated by Dr. Stephen Levine, my boss on the Freestyle project at Wang Laboratories.

    Freestyle was an application that would take a screen capture from a DOS application, and let you add handwriting and voice annotations to it. There was no handwriting recognition: as a whiteboard application, it was very sophisticated at the time. I think Wang found only one customer for the product.

  • Freestyle demo part 1
  • Freestyle demo part 2

    1989: IBM "Paper-like Interface", demonstrations of various prototype applications.

    I visited Dr. Charles Tappert at IBM at about the same time. Dr. Tappert developed the handwriting recognizer used in the application demonstrations. The small research group there had developed a few different pen-computing applications as prototypes. The operating system was DOS: only the applications used pen computing, you had to use a keyboard to run the operating system.

  • IBM Paper-Like Interface: applications.

    1991: Demonstration of PenPoint OS

    While at Slate, I worked on applications for both the PenPoint OS, and Windows for Pen Computing -- that was the historical predecessor to the Tablet PC software that came out about ten years later. Here is a video demonstration from GO Corporation of the PenPoint OS.

  • PenPoint OS Demonstration.

    Alan Kay and Dynabook

    Alan Kay is well-known for the Dynabook proposal and for his conceptual work in the 1960's and 1970's on personal use of computers, particularly for education. He has given a number of talks over the years about his view of the history behind the ideas for a personal computer.

    The videos are interesting, because they include segments from very early demonstrations of the RAND tablet, the GRAIL system, and other handwriting/gesture systems of the 1960's.

    As Alan Kay himself said (in the 2008 Video), history is a slippery subject: For example, Alan Kay has said that the Dynabook concept included a touchscreen or tablet, but this was evidently a proposal made by another person person associated with Alan's research group at the time, and never carried out. Also, the RAND tablet was not the first electronic tablet: that could have been either the Styalator from the 1950's, or Eliza Gray's Telautograph from the late 19th century.

  • PenPoint91b_Penpoint_Demonstration.avi.
  • KayA87a_Alan_Kay_Doing_With_Images_Makes_Symbols_1987.mp4.
  • 2005_Alan_Kay_What_is_Squeak.mp4.
  • 2008_Alan_Kay_40_Years_of_Dynabook.mp4.

    1983: Pencept PenPad M200 Handwriting Terminal

    Here are several views of a Pencept PenPad M200 model: this was a no-keyboard, no-mouse "handwriting terminal" that was a direct replacement for the VT-100 computer terminal that was the de facto standard terminal in the late 70's and early 80's.
    ... you may want to download the images from the link, to see them full-size.

    1986: Casio PF-8000-s calculator.

    I have two of these in my personal collection: they still work. It is a one-of-a-kind design: rather than using a touchpad or digitizer, it uses a set of rubberized buttons on the right side: Casio got a patent on the use of buttons instead of a digitizer or touchscreen.

    Copy of the sales brochure for the PF-8000s


    This is one of the PF-8000s units in my collection:

    Excerpts from Casio user's manual, showing elements of character recognition:

    ... you may want to download the images from the link, to see them full-size.

    Here are some pictures of a working PenPoint "Hobbit" model in my collection.
    (I also have a working Apple Newton, but they are relatively easy to find on eBay and elsewhere.)