THE PSION ORGANISER
THE BUSINESSMAN’S TOOL OF CHOICE IN THE LATE EIGHTIES
Anyone who was anyone who was doing business in the late 1980s and wanted to look organised will have shunned the Filofax and embraced the modern world via the British-made Psion Organiser. The rst Organiser appeared in 1984 and cemented its position in briefcases throughout the decade.
These were the days of writing things down and getting pocket-sized address books for Christmas, or from the Post
Of ce while you were queueing to post something; possibly a cardigan or a Black and Decker Workmate that you had ordered from a paper-based catalogue and wanted to send back. If you needed to know someone’s phone number, most likely a landline, you had to rely on a telephone directory or, if you had the cash and the swagger of an organised employee, a Psion Organiser.
The original Psion Organiser came with 4KB of ROM, which was probably about enough for the textbased storage that it was required to do. Users also got a calculator capable of advanced mathematics, a 24-hour clock and calendar, and a sliding protective case. You also got pub credit for being an early adopter, and for having takeaway and taxi numbers at your ngertips.
The Organiser II had a small display screen for up to four lines of text, and a physical keyboard that wouldn’t have looked out of place on a scienti c calculator.
This model is perhaps the most recognisable. It was launched in 1986 with either 8KB or 16KB of battery-backed RAM. Later models offered expansion options of up to 256KB, or standard hardware with 32, 64 or 96KB RAM.
Anyone who thinks the new millennium has the made the metal techno-slab a part of the daily working routine thanks to the tablet computer and smartphone must have forgotten just how good, how handy and how covetable the grey and yellow Organiser was at the time of release.
We are not here to sell the things, however. Even Psion doesn’t do that any more. You can nd them on eBay, as is often the case for these Retro devices, but you’ll nd that the experience doesn’t offer much more than warm, fuzzy, old-school comfort in modern hands.
Psion, which was borne out of Sinclair Computers in 1980, continued to make organisers into the 1990s, but soon found that its hardware and software was being usurped. As late as 1996, the rm was part of the Symbian consortium with Ericsson, Motorola, Nokia, Matsushita, and was to be found trying to license its software and technology. That same year, the
rm launched the Psion Siena clamshell organiser, with a whopping top-deck memory of 1MB.
Though it had a cell battery onboard, the Siena took two standard AA batteries and included no external power options. It offered infrared connectivity, but no room for any expansion slots. It was still very handy though, and could connect to a PC.
PSION OF THE TIMES
While the rm of cially ceased trading in the consumer devices marketplace in 2001, it carried on in the enterprise space as a producer of rugged mobile devices. Motorola announced that it was buying what remained of the company in 2012. The suggestion is that there were signi cant telecoms and enterprise bene ts to be had.
“The Psion directors are pleased to recommend this offer by Motorola Solutions at a price which offers a signi cant cash premium to both the current and recent market prices,” said John Hawkins, chairman of Psion, back in 2012.
“Psion continues to successfully deliver on its strategy of introducing exciting new products while strictly managing the cost base. The offer by Motorola Solutions provides Psion’s shareholders with certainty in an environment where certainty is in short supply.”
Motorola has kept quiet in the interim four years or so about what it’s doing with its purchase, but we like to think there’s a whole load of engineers and mountaineers digging and climbing, furnished with a mobile ruggedised handheld device based on Psion