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Comments on the New York Times Article: Hewlett-Packard to Shut Down P

Comments on the New York Times Article: Hewlett-Packard to Shut Down Production of a Cult Favorite

(We were unable to secure permission to freely quote the full text of the article by Steve Headlam. In place of the article we offer, here, selected portions of the article and a commentary on what the author wrote about the demise of the HP Palmtop.)

Steve's opening remarks compared the incredulity of HP 200LX fans, at the news that the Palmtop would soon be gone, to the incredulity of some Elvis fans. Like fans of the King, Palmtop fans just can't believe that the King is gone. (--Ed: I've known the Palmtop and I've lived with the Palmtop for six years and, trust me, the Palmtop is not Elvis. Yes, HP will soon be withdrawing from the market, but the Palmtop will live on).

Steve quoted Kevin Havre, Hewlett-Packard's technical marketing manager for North America who said "I haven't had to work to sell one in two years. It has one of the most loyal followings I've ever seen. The Palmtop was designed to work as a sole computer, not as an appendage to a desktop. It's the smallest PC The Palmtop was a PC. A full PC. Period." (Ed: To me this is the most revealing quote in the article. From the lips of an HP manager, we now have an admission that HP did little or nothing to market the Palmtop. If they had, you would probably not be reading this article.)

The NY Times article also quoted Hal Goldstein, publisher of the HP Palmtop Paper: " The Palmtop's size and versatility made it so popular, particularly among doctors, engineers and brokers. The applications were brilliant. You could customize the database so easily. Its fans created what he described as a "Linux-like library of hundreds of applications" (www.palmtop.net), including a drug formula program for doctors and another that allowed users to turn the horizontal screen on its side to read a book page."

Yet another quote came from Jeff Johns a deputy sheriff with the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department in Birmingham, Ala. Jeff claimed that besides doing business with his Palmtop, e.g. running criminal checks on his 200LX, he rigged it up to an antenna made of coat hangers, then to his police antenna, to talk to the Mir space station. "How many policemen do you know who exchange messages with cosmonauts while driving around in their squad car?" (Ed: Like the HP Palmtop, the MIR is also being put out of business. However, it's being replaced with something equally, or more, useful. Would that we could say the same thing about HP's commitment to "true, personal computing.")

The final quote in the article came from Walter Francis, an assembly line operator in Kentucky, who described his Palmtop as "a computer that can do everything a desktop can do. It fits in your pocket and runs for weeks on two AA batteries." He was less magnanimous about Hewlett-Packard's decision to discontinue the line. "Most users of the DOS LX Palmtops abhor the Windows CE interface. For us, there is no comparing our sleek and fast interface with the eye candy interface Win CE provides."

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