Cake
  • Log In
  • Sign Up
    • Josh Carter

      As a self-appointed, unofficial historian of General Magic lore (and former employee) I have quite a collection of Magic Cap devices. Photos of my complete collection are on my web site, and I'm posting the coolest of the prototypes here.

      First: did you know the Sony PIC-1000 is not the first Magic Cap device? It's the first one that shipped, but in fact Sony created an earlier device called the HIX-300, code-named Bamboo. So what happened to it? Zarko Draganic told me:

      Sony was always ahead of the game, and they were miles ahead of everybody when Bamboo was developed--it was definitely targeted to be a real product.... When it became obvious that the Magic Cap software was going to slip at least another year, Sony aborted the Bamboo product even though it was in pre production.

    • Josh Carter

      Next up: did you know that NTT (Japan) was evaluating a Telescript cloud with custom Magic Cap devices? Indeed the svelte Panasonic NeoNet was created just for them. It ran Magic Cap 1.5--which was a solid upgrade from 1.0--but strangely lacked built-in battery charging, meaning you had to change its alkaline AA's rather frequently.

    • Next: the first of the Magic Cap 3.0 devices, the Oki Apollo prototype was the obvious precursor to the DataRover 840. It featured a backlit screen and the far-faster Gen 2 guts, powered by a custom MIPS processor. (And a quite stylish paint job.)

    • Next: the other Magic Cap 3.0 device which nobody ever knew about, code-named Gemini. It was a clam-shell design with a few fatal flaws: a gummy keyboard that people hated, and battery charging circuitry that didn't work. At this point in General Magic's life--about 1998--the hardware people had left, and we no longer had the ability to fix Gemini's flaws.

    • Finally: perhaps the most exclusive prototype of all is Zodiac, a modified Sharp Zaurus case with all-custom guts. Zodiac was extremely compact and featured a smaller screen resolution than other Magic Cap devices, requiring some custom software tricks to maintain a nice user experience. It fit into a pocket and the hardware keyboard had a lovely tactile feel. The Gemini prototype above was a (failed) attempt to productize Zodiac.

    • I see how it could look that way, but I'm pretty sure even the MIPS core in Zodiac would choke and die on video. πŸ™ƒ Alas the camera-looking thing is a contrast knob for the LCD. These days it's hard to remember what non-backlit screens were like, and how you really needed that contrast adjustment to see anything. Oh, and passive-matrix too!

    • Fantastic!! Thanks for posting the photos. It looks like I used one of your photos on another post and didn't credit you. 😬😬😁 Checking to see why, but I'm really sorry about that.

    • No worries on the photo use, happens all the time--though I did tell Mark Harlan to give you a hard time about it. πŸ˜‰ [Feature request for Cake: it would be nice if there was an optional "photo/image credit" field when attaching an image.]

      Unfortunately I don't have any of the open-board prototypes or wooden mock-up devices from the early days. Pretty sure all those had been swiped before I got there in 1995. Do you (or any other Magicians here) have photos of any of those?

    • [Feature request for Cake: it would be nice if there was an optional "photo/image credit" field when attaching an image.]

      +1 ☝️

    • [Feature request for Cake: it would be nice if there was an optional "photo/image credit" field when attaching an image.]

      Agreed! Image captions are on our todo list. In the meantime, one convention some users have adopted is to write a caption or photo credit on the last line of the post preceded by a camera emoji, like this:

      πŸ“· Photo courtesy of Josh Carter.

    • Hmmm, I don't know, but I am going to the film tonight at the Computer History Museum and I'll ask if other Magicians know.

    You've been invited!