Psion Mobile Computer MC 400
The Psion MC-400 runs on an Intel 80C86 processor, uses eight conventional 'AA' (or MN 1500, LR6) batteries, and has not only an inbuilt speaker, but also a microphone. Along one of the sides of the MC-400 standard mini-plug jacks permit headphones and/or an external microphone to connect to the unit. A touch pad just below the unit's display screen emulates the use of a mouse as a pointing device; the screen itself has a matrix 640 pixels wide, by 400 high. The addition of a voice processor module would allow users to record and playback their own diary notes, or to leave dictation for secretarial staff to type. According to a product information sheet from PSION, the new voice compression techniques employed in this module would permit eight minutes of speech to be stored in 64 kilobytes of central or secondary memory. If accurate, this would signify a giant step forward in digital speech recording technology; previously, getting a single minute of high quality, immediately useable digitised voice to fit in less than 512 kilobytes was doing well. Many things about the MC-400 beckoned the would be call software developer. The MC-400 came with the structured programming language called OPL
PsiWin 2,2 was able to detect the MC400 which immediately makes connection with the Pc easy.
If the specifications for this product sound a little familiar to Psion Series 3 handheld computer users, that should not be surprising. The MC Word Processor is fully compatible with the Series 3 word processor and offers all the same functions, plus the extra facilities Inherent in running it on a larger, full-screen mobile computer. Using the 'Link' command within the Psion MC Word Processor, you can cut and paste data from the text processor, calculator - and even the Psion MC Spreadsheet. Also within the menu commands, you will find more comprehensive dialogue boxes, and the ability to cut and paste within the outliner, something that not even the Series 3 word processor is able to do.
Although the built-in software (text editor, diary, calculator and database) seems spartan by Series 5 standards, it was very well conceived for the time, with Psion envisaging the MC's use as a portable workspace for business people and journalists. The only problem was that Psion's marketing department priced the MC400 accordingly, initially at £845. Although only a fraction of the price of PC notebooks of the same era, this starting price missed the mark on both fronts. The person in the street felt that £845 was too much for a glorified jotter and diary, while the corporate buyers (for whom price wasn't a big issue) were swayed by the British press, who expressed reservations about the MC's lack of PC compatibility.
Our model was very kindly donated by Graham Lapwood and has a Serial Number of BBB 100254
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This exhibit has a reference ID of CH2801. Please quote this reference ID in any communication with the Centre for Computing History.