We’re utilized to our notebook pcs below in 2022 remaining extremely-moveable, tremendous-potent, and with impressively very long battery life. It is straightforward to fail to remember then that there was a time when from individuals a few attributes the laptop user could usually hope only a single of them in their machine. Highly effective laptops were the measurement of paving slabs and experienced battery lives calculated in minutes, while something modest generally experienced disappointing functionality or nonetheless once again a minuscule electrical power funds.
In the late 1990s suppliers observed a way out of this in Microsoft’s Windows CE, which would operate on modest hardware with no consuming electrical power. Several products created it to market, amongst them one from IBM which [OldVCR] has taken a glance at. It would make for an exciting journey down just one of all those lifeless-conclude side roadways in computing historical past.
In the box bought by way of an on line auction is a little laptop computer that screams IBM, we’d detect it as a ThinkPad immediately if it wasn’t for that manufacturer currently being absent. This is an IBM WorkPad, a newborn sibling of the ThinkPad line supposed as a companion unit. This 1 has a minimized spec display screen and an NEC MIPS processor, with Windows CE on a ROM SODIMM available by way of a address on the underside. For us in 2022 MIPS processors based on the open-sourced MIPS ISA are located in minimal-finish webcams and routers, but back then it was a authentic contender. The write-up goes into some detail on the different households of chips from that time, which is value a study in by itself.
We don’t forget these laptops, and though the IBM one was unaffordable there was a COMPAQ competitor which did look tempting for on-the-street do the job. They unsuccessful to make an influence owing to being promoted as a superior-close executive’s toy instead than a mass-market place laptop, and they had been seen off as “real” laptops grew to become extra economical. A next-hand HP Omnibook 800 did the ultra-transportable task on this bench in its place.
The market experienced several makes an attempt at cracking this market place, most notably with the netbooks which appeared a couple of a long time immediately after the WorkPad was developed. It was still left to Google to reinvent the extremely-transportable non-Intel laptop as an world wide web equipment with their Chromebooks before they would become a mass-market gadget, but the WorkPad continues to be a tantalizing glimpse of what may well have been.
Windows CE at times will make an visual appearance below, and sure, it runs DOOM.