Cal-Comp "Super Mini"




I picked up this interesting little machine off eBay a couple of years back, thinking I was getting something similar in nature to the Hewlett Packard 100LX (only slightly larger). What I got turned out to be a bit more interesting than that, though substantially less useful. It turns out to be an "Evaluation Sample" (No. 59) of a slightly-larger-than-palmtop form-factor PC from the early 90s.

It has a built in ROM-disk containing the OS (DR DOS Release 5.0), a few utilities and a handful of applications. It has 640K of RAM, 128K of which can be optionally allocated to a "VDISK," a RAM disk that shows up as D:. Other than the RAM disk, the machine has no other writable storage internally. It does have a single PCMCIA slot which supposedly supports memory cards of up to 2MB. I assume it's a Type I slot, but I have no way to verify this as I don't have any memory cards to try it with. Since the RAM disk loses its contents when the computer is turned off, and since it's 128K this machine isn't very useful as it is.

It looks like Cal-Comp (not sure if this is the same as Calcomp, those guys who make the digitizers and plotters) was trying to create some sort of PDA or PIM with this machine as opposed to a plain old PC. It has several PIM apps on the ROM disk including a calendar/schedule program called PA-IM, a text editor called PA-WRITE, and a filer called PA-LINK. None of these applications are particularly useful without any place to permanently store data, though they do seem to have a lot of features.

The computer is very cheaply constructed, probably due to its prototype status. Most of the keys on the keyboard stick and batteries (4xAA) are very difficult to remove from the battery compartment (last time I changed them I had to take the whole thing apart to do so.) The contrast on the screen varies wildly depending on what's being displayed meaning you have to adjust the contrast constantly. I have no idea if this computer was ever mass-produced..


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