Friday, June 10, 2005


Two days after my first post, I'm taking my first browse through WikiMedia. I come across this image. It's the Gateway Handbook 486, one of my favorite tech oddities, and one of the things I plan to discuss on my blog with some regularity.

I'll have a lot more to say about this machine in the future, since I've invested quite a bit of time in it over the years. My wife and I own two of them, although we don't use them much nowadays.

For now though, I'll just bring up the form factor. The Handbook 486, as you can see in the picture, is a small sub-notebook. It's just comfortably larger than a paperback book or a VHS casette (if anyone remembers what those are, anymore.) I never understood why this form factor wasn't more popular. In these days of iPod minis, micro cell phones and shirt-pocket PDAs perhaps there is less of a call for a small computer such as this, but I always found it extremely convenient to have a computer that could go just about anywhere, and the Handbook had the added bonus that it was on as soon as you opened the lid.

Sony has come out with a few sub-notebooks that rivalled the handbook in size, their early Picturebook series. And there have been a few others along the way. And every so often, you'll see a new entry into this space. John Dvorak at PC magazine even ran a column hitting the major subnotebooks of the last 20 years and calling them "the bottom 10" - as in the worst laptops ever.

I disagree, though. There's something about these machines that caputres the imagination in the way a full-size laptop just can't. Maybe its just the "Jetsons" factor, or maybe it's something else, something deeper. The longing to wring as much life as we can out of our short turn upon this mortal coil, or perhaps the hope of finally eluding that haunting loneliness so many of us feel.

Or maybe I'm just a geek.


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