CSE 91 Research Paper
The Evolution of Mobile Computing
We have come a long way in mobile computing. With increasing innovations, we are able
to make our mobile devices more portable and widely available. However, these
innovations didn’t happen very rapidly. It took more than two decades to get to where we
The History Laptops
The Osborne 1 released in 1981 was the first commercially available portable computer.
It used the Control Program for Microcomputers (CP/M) operating system. It was
revolutionary because business professionals were able to take their computer and data
with them for the first time. However, it was large, heavy, and had to be AC powered.
The GRiD Compass 1101 released in 1982 was the first true laptop. It introduced the
“clamshell” design, where the flat display would fold shut against the keyboard. It could
run on batteries. However, it was still not IBM-compatible and was very expensive, about
US$ 10,000. This was mainly used by the military.
Compaq introduced, in 1983, the first portable computer that was IBM-compatible and
ran MS-DOS. It was much more portable than the Osborne machine, but it also required
AC power to run. The first few commercial available IBM-compatible laptops were the
IBM PC Convertible, introduced in 1986, and the Toshiba T1000 and T1200, introduced
in 1987. These laptops also introduced the now-standard "resume" feature to DOS-based
machines. They could be paused between sessions, without having to be restarted each
The NEC Ultralite, released in 1989, was the first “notebook style” laptop. It weighed
just less than 5 lbs. The first “notebook sized” laptop with hard drives and standard-
resolution screens were the Compaq LTE series, introduced toward the end of 1989.
In 1989, Apple Computer introduced the first portable Mac-based machine, the
Macintosh Portable. It was another portable computer rather than a true laptop. In 1991,
Apple introduced a true Mac-based laptop, the PowerBook. It introduced many changes
that are now standard on all laptops, including the placement of the keyboard at the back
of the machine, the inclusion of a built-in pointing device, the first 256-color displays, the
first built-in Ethernet card, and then the first true touchpad.
Evolution of Laptops
During the 1990s, there were many technological improvements to laptops. With these
new improvements, the usefulness and popularity of laptops increased and the prices also
went down. All these improvements made laptop’s usability and performance comparable
to desktop computers.
The heavy lead-acid batteries were replaced with lighter and more efficient nickel metal
hydride (NiMH) and then lithium ion and lithium polymer batteries. The slow 80286
processor were replaced by the faster Intel 386SX processor, the first processor designed
specifically for laptops. Active-matrix display technology in LCD screens allowed
screens to be larger, sharper, have higher display resolution, and display colors with great
accuracy, making them more like traditional desktop CRT monitors. New improvements
in hard drives, such as making hard drives thinner, higher-capacity, more reliability,
shock resistance, and lower power consumption, made laptops with hard drives more
widely available. Now users can store their work on the laptop computers and take it with
them. The introduction of internal modems and standard serial, parallel, and PS/2 ports
on IBM PC-compatible laptops made it easier to work away from home. In 1997, built-in
Ethernet cards became available making it easier to connect the laptop to a network. Then
in 1999, USB ports became available making it easier to use with other peripherals.
Today, laptops come standard with wireless technology making it easier to connect to the
internet or networks on the go. Today’s laptops are much faster, lighter, and more like
desktops than before. The screens are even larger, brighter, and support even more colors.
The hard drives are much smaller and come in higher capacities.
The Personal Digital Assistants
Personal digital assistants (PDAs) were devices originally designed as handheld personal
organizers. It featured a date book, address book, task list, memo pad, clock, and
calculator. They were basically calculators with more features.
With new technology over the years, PDAs now have color screens, audio capabilities,
and wireless technology. PDAs run using a variation of the ARM architecture, a 32-bit
RISC processor architecture. The current major of PDAs run operating systems such as
the Palm OS, Windows Mobile, and RIM. PDAs can now do a lot of the task a desktop or
laptop can perform. PDAs now can access the internet, check & send emails, listen to
music, watch movies, connect to networks, and be paired with Bluetooth devices. There
is also the ability to add GPS capabilities to the PDAs for navigation. PDAs can also
synchronize data with a desktop computer or laptop. Data can include files, email,
pictures, videos, and other computer data. We can do all this in the palm of our hands.
The Smartphones, or PDAs that are also cellular phones, has sparked a surge in the
popularity of PDAs. Smartphones are very popular because it combines the functionality
of a PDA with a cellular phone. In addition, the Smartphones are always connected to the
network, so users that browse the internet and check their emails constantly anywhere in
the United States.
The BlackBerry is by far the most popular Smartphone on the market right now. It
controls more than 25% of the PDA market right now, and still growing. It was first
introduced in 1999 and supports e-mail, mobile telephone, text messaging, web browsing
and other wireless information services. It was developed by Research In Motion (RIM).
The BlackBerry became very popular because of the e-mail relay service it provides. The
service is provided through the BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES). It can relay email
from any server to your wireless RIM enabled Smartphones. Because of this service,
many people became very attached to their BlackBerries. Some even developed the
BlackBerry Thumb Syndrome, because the users used it too much.
The Palm Treo is another very popular Smartphone. It was originally developed by
HandSpring, which Palm acquired. The Treo have a number of integrated features such
as checking the calendar while talking on the phone, dialing directly from the contacts
list, send emails, and take pictures (available only on later models).
There are currently thirteen Treo models that have been released. The most popular is the
Treo 600(used with Sprint), Treo 650w(used with Cingular Wireless) and Treo
700w(used with Verizon Wireless). All Treos use the Palm OS, except the Treo 700w.
The Treo 700w uses the Windows Mobile 5.0 OS. Palm has recently negotiated a
licensing deal with RIM, which will allow the Treos to connect to RIM’s BES.
Wi-Fi is the acronym for Wireless Fidelity. It is the set of product compatibility standards
for wireless local area networks (WLAN) based on the IEEE 802.11 specifications. New
standards beyond the 802.11 specifications, such as 802.16(WiMAX), are currently in the
works and offer many enhancements, anywhere from longer range to greater transfer
Wi-Fi was created in 1991 by NCR Corporation/AT&T in Nieuwegein, the Netherlands.
It was initially meant for a cashier system. The WaveLAN was the first wireless product
on the market with speeds of 1 Mbit/s and 2 Mbit/s. Currently, Wi-Fi offers speeds of up
to 108 Mbit/s.
Wi-Fi works by having a one or more Access Points (APs). An AP broadcasts its SSID
(Service Set Identifier, Network name) via packets that are called beacons, which are
broadcasted every 100 ms. The beacons are transmitted at 1 Mbit/s, and are relatively
short and therefore are not of influence on performance. Since 1 Mbit/s is the lowest rate
of Wi-Fi it assures that the client who receives the beacon can communicate at at least 1
Mbit/s. The client decides whether to connect to the AP depending on its signal strength.
Wi-Fi technology has revolutionized mobile computing because it allows the user to
connect to the internet wirelessly. It can also connect to any network that is Wi-Fi
enabled. There are also Wi-Fi Hot Spots, or places with many wireless Access Points, so
people can connect to the internet even if they are not at home or at the office. They just
have to be in the range of the Hot Spots. Many places offer free wireless connection, but
there are very few available right now, only in very populated cities. All major airports
provide this service at a price.
FON is a company currently trying to create a global Wi-Fi network. FON users will be
able to use the network for free, if they run a FON compatible AP at home. The users
computer will also have to run a special program designed to connected to FON
networks. The network is relatively small right now because it is in beta stage, but it is
implemented in many countries including counties in Europe and Asia, Mexico, and the
US. The only two countries to have active FON networks is the US and Spain.
U3 - Floppy Disk of the Future
U3 (You: Simplified, Smarter, Mobile) is a platform for running Windows 2000 or XP
applications directly from a USB drive. U3 was founded in 2004 by M-Systems and
SanDisk. It is known as the "smart drive computing" by the U3. U3 lets users run their
own U3-enabled applications on any Windows computer without installing or storing any
data or settings on the computer. It will launch and run applications without a trace on the
-BlackBerry: The 'Heroin of Mobile Computing'
-Do you suffer from BlackBerry thumb?
-History of Laptop Computers
-FON – Wi-Fi Everywhere