History of the netbook on Ars Technica


psion5_bigNetbooks have captured the mobile tech crowd’s attention like few products and the folks at Ars Technica have published a history of mobile devices that brought us to the netbook stage.  The article is an interesting read and goes back as far as the venerable HP 200LX and brings us through the evolution of the clamshell device through the Psion offerings.  You remember Psion, they are the folks who trademarked the term “netbook” and have asked people to stop using it.

The history as published rightly points out that Psion did indeed have several classic “netbook” devices and they should be given their due.  The Psion 5 was ahead of the curve when released and while the Psion Netbook didn’t get folks that excited it too was testing the netbook form way back when.  Take a look at the history which promises to be the first of a series and see if you remember all some of these gadgets as do I.


Paul Schofield, England, UK

I still have my Psion Series 7, which was the commercial version of the NetBook – half the memory & a slower processor. The hinge mechanism is as good now as it was new, it was built to last! Alas my 5mx didn’t survive that long.The 7 runs dozens of apps from a 32 mb CF card, a massive amount of storage back then. The Psions were way ahead of their time. Shame they never adopted colour screens.


Ah, the Psion 5mx – current ‘palmtops’ and ‘netbooks’ should only be so lucky to have such a great keyboard….


Is it me or were the older form factors better?

And why has no one copied the psion form factor?


I had a Psion 3c (and briefly the Psion Siena). Good OS, lots of apps, great keyboard, strong user community online. A classic, like the original Palm Pilot. Now I’m thinking about getting the Palm Pre, by the way.


I too had a Psion 5 and a 3C as well.
Loved them… but then I went to the dark-side with Windows Mobile devices where I invested so much time getting it to function properly that I suffered a bout of Stockholm syndrome and kept to that OS them until RIM rescued me.

I see Amazon still sell the 5MX for around $230


I miss my Psion 5mx terribly. It was an amazing machine that was way ahead of its time. Everything I’ve used since then – sometimes including the iPhone – pales in comparison.

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