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Amstrad PenPad PDA600

The Amstrad PenPad, also known by the PDA600 model reference, was commissioned in 1993. The project manager, Cliff Lawson, had helped develop Amstrad's previous computing products. The Eden Group delivered the underlying operating system, and the hardware was designed by Mutech Ltd. For its time the PenPad had a relatively successful handwriting recognition system, where the user would 'train' the PenPad with his own handwriting.

The device was bulky when compared with modern PDAs, but it was very functional with the standard PIM and offered expandability. It featured a calendar, address book, todo list, jot pad, world time, multiple alarms, calculator, and unit conversion stored in the ROM.

It had a memory capacity of 128Kb, a grey-scale screen, a folding hinged cover that protected the screen when not in use, a PCMCIA type I slot for expansion, as well as a serial port to link to a PC.

Eden Group also wrote bespoke software for the PDA600 that run on PCMCIA memory cards, in addition to the standard PIM applications. The PDA600 could be 'hot-synced' with Windows via the optional extra "PC-Organiser for Windows".

The Amstrad PenPad, like the Apple Newton, struggled in a time where these early PDAs were expensive to produce and did not manage to capture enough interest and eventually production was discontinued. The remaining UK units being sold off to Tandy Corporation who retailed the stock through their chain of stores at £50 per unit, half the price they had cost Amstrad to build. It wasn't until the launch of the Palm Pilot 1000 in 1996 that the first truly successful PDA relying on pen input was born.

On the BBC television program "The One Show" broadcasted on BBC One on the 21st October 2011, Alan Sugar said the PenPad was one of the best products Amstrad ever sold. As the PenPad sold under 1 million units, production was stopped.

Processor : Z8S180 at 14.3 MHz
RAM : 128 KB
Interface : PCMCIA I, RS-232 serial port 
Graphics Resolution : 250x320

Amstrad did invest in R&D for a successor to the PDA600, called the PIC700, but with the end of the PenPad it never saw the light of day.

Manufacturer: Amstrad
Date: 1993

Other Systems Related To Amstrad PenPad PDA600:

Item Manufacturer Date
Amstrad CPC 464 Amstrad 1984
Amstrad CPC 464 Plus Amstrad 1984
Amstrad CPC 464 PPC MP1 Boxed System Amstrad June 1984
Amstrad CPC 664 Amstrad 1985
Amstrad CPC 6128 Amstrad July 1985
Amstrad PCW 8256 Amstrad September 1985
Amstrad PC1640 HD20 Amstrad 1986
Amstrad PC1512DD Amstrad 1986
Amstrad PC1640 SD Amstrad 1986
Sinclair ZX Spectrum +2A Amstrad 1987
Amstrad PCW 9512 Amstrad 1987
Amstrad PC2086 S Amstrad 1988
Amstrad ALT-386SX Laptop computer Amstrad 1988
Amstrad PPC 512D Amstrad 1988
Amstrad PC2286/40 Amstrad October 1989
Amstrad PCW 9256 Amstrad 1990
Amstrad ACL-386SX120 Amstrad 1991
Amstrad PC4386SX Computer Amstrad 1991
Amstrad ANB-386SX40 Amstrad September 1991
Amstrad Mega PC 386SX Amstrad 1993
Amstrad 7286 HD40 Amstrad 1993

This exhibit has a reference ID of CH5046. Please quote this reference ID in any communication with the Centre for Computing History.

 

Amstrad PenPad PDA600


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