Sony Launches PalmTop Computer - PTC-500

7th March 1990
Sony Launches PalmTop Computer - PTC-500

A Computer Without A Keyboard

TOKYO — Sony Corp. unveiled a book-sized portable computer with no keyboard that can read letters handwritten on its screen in English or Japanese.

Sony described the PalmTop PTC-500 as a significant breakthrough that could make personal computers as common as Walkman portable stereos.

"This machine has historical significance," said Toshi Doi, director of Sony's microcomputer group. "The product is targeted for a far wider range of potential users in the coming era of a computer for everyone."

The PalmTop measures about 8 by 6 by 2 inches and weighs 2.8 pounds. The user writes on its foldout screen with an electronic pen; the computer reads the writing and organizes it for retrieval or printing.

For example, the time and place of an appointment could be written on the screen and filed into a calendar, said Makoto Araki, a Sony spokesman. The computer would file the appointment into the proper place in the user's schedule, which could then be called up for review.

With a 16-bit processor and 320 kilobytes of built-in RAM memory, the computer is said to be capable of recognizing English letters and more than 3,500 complex Japanese characters - in more than one million variations of individual writing styles.

The computer uses "fuzzy logic" - a set of reasoning rules that enables a computer to process information expressed in vague and imprecise terms. ''Fuzzy logic" has been used in other Japanese computers to imitate human reactions for functions that require flexible responses, such as starting and stopping subway trains.

"A keyboard is still faster and will continue to be used by many people," Araki said. "But for those who have not learned how to type, the PalmTop will be useful."

The PalmTop will be available in Japan beginning April 1 at a cost of $1,320, Araki said, and Sony eventually hopes to offer a version for export.





Sony Launches PalmTop Computer - PTC-500

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