A brief history of being a nerd on the go (pt 1).

We’re so obsessed with our mobile gadgets lately, that we sometimes forget it wasn’t so long ago that most people carried only a phone, or nothing at all. I’ve been thinking about this lately, and decided to take a brief look back at some of the other geek boxes I’ve carried in my pants over the last few years. For those of you who can’t stand hearing about this, feel free to zone out and think of Christmas. But don’t think of all the crap you still have to do before the actual holiday, or you’ll just stress yourself out.

We’re going to do this by operating system, otherwise it would just get out of hand, and the three of you who might still be reading would lose all interest. I probably won’t get as technical as I could, either, because this is more about a brief hit of near-nostalgia than an outdated processor pissing contest. Plus, again, most of you wouldn’t care.

If you’re still here, let’s begin with an old favorite, Windows Mobile (aka Pocket PC) 2003. I didn’t really get on the PDA bandwagon with Palm, so my first real foray into the world of mobile computing came with an HP iPaq 4350. I looked at a ton of them before I finally settled on this one, as it had the best keyboard of the lot at the time, and also a decent screen. It ran Pocket PC 2003 (which was what they called WinMo before it became WinMo and eventually Windows Phone), and for all its quirks, it was a solid little system, even with its blazing 64 MB SD RAM, and 32 MB flash ROM. 

Such fond memories. NES FTW! (4350) 

Naturally, the majority of my time with it was spent running NES emulators and loading ROMs onto an SD card, along with DivX movies and some MP3s. I wasn’t nearly as much of an important big-shot type as I am now, and having a 5-way rocker button and hardware keyboard made NES action simply divine on there. I remember taking it on a tour with my band at the time and being so amazingly thankful for both Metroid and headphones.


From that device, I jumped to my first PDA phone, which was the Sprint PPC-6600, also known as the Audiovox (or later UT Starcom) 6600. It ran PPC 2003 as well, but it was the very exciting SE (second edition) which added exactly zero interesting features. Not really, I’m sure, as to which some internal MS and Sprint marketing literature would surely attest, but as a user, you saw very little difference. This device also had a keyboard, but was a bottom-slider, which made it weirdly long when typing, but still somewhat usable.

First of the phones, the lovable brick. (6600)

Not by today’s standards, of course, where I would have compared the device to a freshly prepared plate of excrement, but then it was pretty cool. Heavy and bricklike, it served its purpose, but was quickly supplanted by the much sexier, slightly smaller, yet still brickish 6700, which we will discuss later, as thinking about Windows Mobile this much makes my brain cry.

Plus, since it was technically running Windows Mobile 5, we could (and MS does) consider it a different OS, even though it was pretty much freaking identical with the exception of a few minor polish points. But it did do some cool stuff, too, even if it meant sacrificing the quality of the NES action.

What was your first serious mobile device? I’d like to hear about it. (I’m a dork that way.)

Author: Seth Clifford

I'm here for the open bar.