Information services manager, Peter Lancashire, says, "The Epson HX-20 was a laptop, with a decent keyboard, a tiny four-line by 20 character LCD screen, a cassette tape for data storage and a printer. It was packed into a trendy silver casing. Battery life would shame a laptop.
"I encountered it when working for the Ministry of Agriculture in the mid-1980s. Some colleagues managed to ruggedise it with clingfilm - the keyboard did often need replacing.
"The HX-20 was programmed in what looked like MS-Basic. We wrote our own programs for collecting data and statistical analysis.The problem was getting data out of the HX-20 and into the Prime mini-computer system.
"My contribution was writing a small terminal and file transfer program to keep up with the 4800 baud serial port. I did this by running the x-on/x-off flow control loop in the top two lines of the program. This was necessary for enough speed from the brain-dead MS-Basic, which searched for jump destinations linearly from the top of the program.
"I have fond memories of the HX-20. Its tapes were portable. The cases clipped together neatly. How many laptops come with a printer now?"
Technical support manager, Rupert Moss-Eccardt, comments, "It was nice to see the HX-20. It was a shame not to mention the PX-8. HMV had one in every store. Hotels still have them for telephone logging."
Systems administrator Nick, says, "I've compiled daft attempts of pushing hardware to its limit."
"I should have got out more."
This was first published in December 2000