Future Computing Trends

From: Yowza! <yowza_at_yowza.com>
Date: Wed Feb 25 21:15:01 1998

On Wed, 25 Feb 1998, Uncle Roger wrote:

> I've got a Ricochet modem (Yeah!), there's this thing, I know there was
> another PCMCIA card thing that did wireless connectivity... Probably
> others I'm not aware of.
> IIRC, one of the features of Alan Kay's (proposed) Dynabook was that
> whereever you went, (school, office, library, etc.) the computer would be
> aware of what resources were available at that facility and would be able
> to access them wirelessly.
> As I see it, we're going to get to a point somewhere down the line where
> Alan Kay's idea will come true -- except that instead of just being able to
> access local resources, you'll be able to access the 'net from just about
> anywhere, wirelessly. This will all be built in to laptops.
> So it occurs to me that these first, early attempts at wireless
> connectivity are important milestones, and are worth collecting now (or in
> the near future when they become affordable).
> I guess, then, my question is, does anyone have any suggestions as to what
> else may fall into this category? Feel free to e-mail me directly...

A technophile after my own heart. I pick up just about every wireless
computing device I can afford (including the boneheaded ones like the
pyramid shaped NewsCatcher). Alan Kay's ideas are pretty much implemented
if you stick a wireless transciever in a pen-based computer. Toshiba even
named their early pen-based machines "DynaBooks".

I've never thought about these things as collectibles, though. I use them
daily. I think the first one I picked up was the LapLink Wireless
(rebranded national semiconductor AirShare), a 900MHz device that connets
to the serial port. It was intended to be used like a wireless LapLink
cable for xfers between two machines, but I used mine for wireless access
to my modem.

Most of the wireless "connect anywhere" devices are pretty bad. Other
than Ricochet, which is regional (and very cool), there are a few that use
the RAM and Ardis networks, which I believe piggyback the pager networks
(and charge per packet). Motorola is launching a constellation of
satelites (IRIDIUM) that is designed to make global wireless communication
a reality, but in the meantime Ricochet is the best I've seen.

I use a wireless LAN at home (because it's nearly impossible to wire the
place for ethernet), and it works great. I'm using Netwave (formerly
Xircom) PCMCIA adapters using 2.4GHz spread spectrum, but there are new
ones (using a different band, I think) that have much better throughput.

I also have some diffuse IR devices from Photonics which work very well if
you want to talk to computers in the same room (like a classroom setting).

The wireless RF LAN PCMCIA cards general go for $200-$500 a pop, but IBM
recently discontinued one of their models, and I got a bunch of them
cheap. Let me know if you want a couple. I'll trade them for classic
portable computers.

-- Doug
Received on Wed Feb 25 1998 - 21:15:01 GMT

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