Compaq Concerto – 1993
Integrated high-resolution digitizer — with Wireless Cordless Pen
Integrated Pen “well”
Integrated Pen “holder”
Intel 486/25mhz (486/33mhz available)
9.5″ Monochrome Backlit LCD VGA Screen
100mb hard drive (250mb available)
3.5″ Diskette Drive
2 PCMCIA Slotes Type II
Ports – PS2, serial, parallel, VGA out
Microsoft Windows for PEN Computers version 1.0
Integrated stand doubles as a carrying handle.
“Let’s you work however and wherever you want – with a keyboard or a pen.”
Ok, is it me… or do the specifications for Compaq’s Concerto “convertible- notebook- tablet- sound vaguely familiar? (Yes, I now realize that the “finger” is more powerful then the Pen! ) I knew this product pretty well – I had the opportunity to work on the marketing campaign behind this products launch, back in the last millenium, 1993. Yes. Nineteen hundred ninety-three… 17 years ago.
Just get it out of your system, laugh-titter-giggle – yes we DID have electricity then - and automobiles. And apparently, by all current speculation, a significant head start on tablet computing – at least the rough design and specification.
The Concerto was a very very cool product. For the time, it was powerful – light weight and had the leader in mobile computing behind it – not to mention one of the best partner networks that had ever been assembled. Pen computing was a hot topic, it would have easily been a frequent high scorer with Twitter’s Trending tools in today’s parlance. The industries best and brightest minds – engineers and marketers – were at Compaq Computer in Houston, TX – and all were focused on creating a pen device that would change the way the world used computers – all hail the conquering pen!
But alas, pen computing’s time had come (and gone) again. Why, why, why, why…WHY? The hardware was beyond state of the art – the marketing – not so bad either – the problem(s)?
- No Developer/ISV partner community ready to understand and commit resources to creating unique and enhanced software.
- It was necessary to convince a prospect that the mouse was “so last year”. If they really wanted to be part of the 90′s computing elite and avant-garde – they must replace the blase’ mouse with – wait for it – an electronic pen. Untethered – of course. Yup – we were asking people to trade in their mice for an electronic crayon.
So you may be thinking, mmmm… so it really is about the applications, eh? Darn right it was, (Compaq’s early success came from their ability to “run thousands of IBM programs”), – and is… Just take a look at the success of iTunes.
So with the “Content” and the App’s that Apple so completely understands, combined with great hardware design, (And with a natural human stylus called a “finger”) , Viola! SUCCESS! This is how you (Apple) will continue to change the way the world uses computers – all hail the conquering pen, stylus, finger, gesture!
In conclusion, Please don’t think I am diss’ing the beloved Compaq Concerto, as you can figure out from the spec’s – it ROCKED! What I am attempting to point out is that;
- Being ahead of your time – 17 years ahead – Doesn’t guarantee commercial success (At least at first – Take a look at the amazing Compaq – now HP – Convertible Tablets offered today – Didn’t the tablet at Balmer’s CES Keynote look… enticing?)
- All great products, technologies, and ideas should always have this quote attached: “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.” Sir Isaac Newton
I suspect that the Apple Tablet will be an amazing – ground breaking product – and I am proud to have been around when another great company, Compaq Computer, made a brilliant and valiant attempt to change the way we connect to our computers – almost two decades ago.
Perhaps, after the inevitable DNA testing, the beautiful Apple iPad will be able to proudly acknowledge its heritage – or at least salute those who’ve gone before it.
Apparently, Apple really does have a “Time Machine”.