I Am a Walking Office (1993)


It’s cool all the old USENET stuff is available and searchable via Google Groups.  For you non-techies and young ones, these discussion newsgroups WAS the social internet ,  well before the Web ( as we know it) was announced (on a newsgroup, BTW).  This was the pre 1995 era, and yes, I was connected to the Internet (using AT&T Easylink) via a wireless connection, using a tablet.

Walking Office (long) – comp.sys.pen | Google Groups.

Yep, my fav reponse was the NASA dude saying:

This is not just a matter of rudeness/courtesy. It’s a matter of endangering the lives of others because you’re too busy/careless to pull off the road before operating a device that demands a large amount of your attention.

Below is the text of the post along with some replies…


Clayton Weimer Sep 1 1993, 10:53 am

I’ve finally transferred my life onto the EO and now I’m a walking office.

Not just a mobile office that can be used from place to place, but while
going from place to place, you know “anytime, anywhere”.

Yes, I have been living the dream, doing “D”s on Highway 101 (dialing
up people by writing a “D” over their name in an address or
appointment book);  sending and receiving faxes on the beach ( I
actually write this as the surf brushes my feet and the sea breeze
whips my hair); doing real work applying ideas to technical diagrams
conveniently as soon as I think of them (which I did this morning after
a cup of coffee, the EO is the ultimate napkin).


Computers are supposed to be adjuncts to the all important personal
computer we use 24 hours a day, our brains.  But brains are
connected to heads, which are connected to necks (you know the
song), which eventually are connected to legs which are always being
ordered around by the brain to take it to various places.  Tools for the
brain should go where the brain goes, not vice a versa.  Why should I
have to go to a desk to use a computer? Why can’t I use one
wherever I may have a thought?  For me, my great thoughts are born
while I’m getting out of the shower and drying off, while driving to work,
or while suntanning beside a body of water with bikinis surrounding
me.  My EO is the brain tool I’ve been waiting for, replacing and
combining a lot of devices and tools I use in my everyday activities
from time to time, and place to place.  It is a sum of parts that make a
simple, yet powerful whole.

I’ve had many needs for my desktop and laptop computers: e-mail,
presentations, letters, reports, drawing diagrams games, personal
database, on-line bulletin boards, and programming.  All but the latter
is conveniently available, and therefore more useful on my EO.
Beyond that, the human to computer interface of the EO is much more
powerful, fun, and easier to learn than traditional computers once you
get the hang of it (unless you’re a traditional computer user, but that’s
okay, these are “computers for the rest of the rest of us”).

So what about the things I never could do on a laptop or desktop
computer before?


For keeping track of appointments and contacts, the laptop was never
a personal enough “Personal Computer” for my personal organization
needs.  Never there when I needed it during meetings, or while
running into someone in the hall, or in the car to beep me and let me
know I had an appointment in one hour, or while I’m on a phone away
from my office, my stationary office that is.

Now I am a walking office.  My good ‘ole Day Runner organizer is no
longer with me, superseded by the EO (anybody for a personal
organizer and address book burning party?).


Of course,  often  I need the assistance and advice of the one true, all-
knowing personal organizer of my life, my wife.  With the EO, she’s
just a few taps away.

Much talk has been made about the need for a “killer application” in
pen computing, that is, the hook that will bring in masses of
consumers to use these devices.  How about “killer integration”?; a
term coined by my colleague Steve Cox at AT&T to describe this
phenomena of melding communications, information services, and
computing technology into a single solution.

I’ve never been a cellular phone user before, but now its hard to
imagine living without it (kind of like the VCR).  I’ve often joked that
now I’m even more of a menace on the freeway than ever with my EO,
taking  a couple lanes here and there to “call Bob”.  But actually one
could argue that I am a safer driver because when reality hits me that I
am going to be late for an appointment, instead of driving like a
maniac to get there on time I simply call ahead and let those who
would be waiting  for me know I’ll be late, and calmly continue driving
(and reading the latest mail on my EO, which only requires a lane and
a half at the most) .


Two years ago I bought a mini computer chess game, which turned
out to be a sleeping aid, for about forty bucks. Now I have a much
more powerful chess on my EO, which I play on my  chest, playing the
role of the sandman.

Much of this article is being written while lying on a lawn chair on a
beach house terrace during my summer vacation

Behind me a couple, laughing and drinking, just sat down and pretty
much ruined the ambiance of the occasion.  I heard the woman
whisper to her husband, “What’s that he’s writing on?”, and he
whispered back (actually it was quite loud, inebriated people don’t
really whisper), “Its a computer.” in that condescending tone guys like
to use on woman when they think they know something.  She
answered back “No, its not.”, in that other familiar tone woman use to
cut men down.  Well, instead of helping out on the little debate I
decided I was just too comfortable to turn around, and decided to play
a little chess.


Wow, I can even get rid of those two dollar pads of paper and pen for
when I take notes at meetings and such (I always filed and lost them

It works just like pen on paper, just go to a page, write on it, then turn
away from it, turn back to it, and its just like you left it.  But it goes
beyond that. You can treat ink as objects that can be copied, moved,
scaled, aligned, linked with other information on your EO, searched,
deleted, and of course, translated into typewritten text.  Yes, you can
do all kinds of “ooh wow” stuff like getting circles and squares to be
beautied up as you draw too.

Everyday I discover something new I can do with the EO which makes
it easier and easier to use.  The text processing facility on the EO
allows for automation of copy-editing notations (based on standards of
the professionals).  Just five seconds ago I learned that a right-up
gesture over a word will capitalize the  word (right-down uncapitalizes
it, then again if I used the ‘?’ gesture I would have known all this and

Little things everyday, but sometimes you learn something that just
blows your mind and realize this just might be greater than “sliced

For example a “mini revolution” for me was figuring out how to fit a
cursive  handwriting recognition component into my way of doing
things on the EO. I’ve finally got it all working to where I can
simultaneously write and translate to text productively without it being
too much of a hindrance to my thinking.

With the EO I can compose where no man has composed on a
computer before.

But wait, like the lady said, this is not a computer,  this is a Personal


All the different kinds of information and ways of manipulating it on the
EO that I have just described are wonderful, but it would be a lot more
powerful if that information could infiltrate the rest of the world and vice
a versa.  Again, the key is the “killer integration” concept.

All information created and modified on the EO is sendable.   That is, I
can fax, electronically mail, move or copy any information I desire to
some other place.  That other place can be a printer, fax machine,
computer or some information network or mail box in the sky.  I have
the ability to do this anytime, whether wired to a phone line, or
wirelessly on my cellular.

Anytime includes now when information is at its most usefulness.  For
example, a colleague of mine just recently was attending a very crucial
status meeting at another company.  It was critical that he relay their
project schedules as soon as possible to our main office so we could
promptly update our customers in another meeting that was to occur
shortly thereafter.  In real time, as he got the updates he wirelessly
faxed the information back to us during the meeting with his EO.

Anytime also means, when it is convenient.  For example, I can decide
to put the information I want to send into a waiting queue as I’m
working, and then later send everything off at one time when I’m at
home (I don’t always want to send via cellular, though the rates are as
cheap as they have ever been, they still are a bit more expensive than
the wired option).

Of course, the information in the rest of the world would be nice to
easily access so I could do all kinds of wonderful things with it on my
EO.  In fact, this is the hidden gold of the whole Personal
Communicator concept.  To be able to access information “Anytime,
Anywhere” from anywhere is an idea that has no bounds.  I am
experiencing the tip of this wondrous iceberg right now with my EO
just by receiving e-mail from individuals and subscribed information
sources.  A mailman and newspaper boy all in one.

This is just the beginning, only after a little less than two months of
use. What will I be able to do tomorrow?  I and my great
communicator will be letting you know…

Written (not typed) on an EO

— Clay
These views are my own, and when they change my
observers will be notified.

J. Eric Townsend  Sep 1 1993, 5:15 pm 
 More options 

Regardless of how cool I think your ‘puter is/isn’t.

“cew” == Clayton Weimer <c@netcom.com> writes:


[…] cew> Yes, I have been living the dream, doing “D”s on Highway 101
cew> (dialing up people by writing a “D” over their name in an address

You’re not just a ‘walking office‘, you’re a moving road hazard
endangering the lives of hundreds of other motorists by irresponsibly
playing with a pen based system while operating a motor vehicle.
(Cell phone usage is also dangerous, check out the number of countries
making using a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle illegal.)

This is not just a matter of rudeness/courtesy.  It’s a matter of
endangering the lives of others because you’re too busy/careless to
pull off the road before operating a device that demands a large
amount of your attention.

Personally, I don’t want to be injured or killed because of your

I still think EO’s are way cool.

J. Eric Townsend j@nas.nasa.gov 415.604.4311| personal email goes to:
CM-5 Administrator, Parallel Systems Support  |   j@well.sf.ca.us
NASA Ames Numerical Aerodynamic Simulation    |—————————
PGP2.2 public key available upon request or finger j@simeon.nas.nasa.gov

Michael Cerda Sep 1 1993, 6:37 pm 
 More options

>cew> Yes, I have been living the dream, doing “D”s on Highway 101
>cew> (dialing up people by writing a “D” over their name in an address
>You’re not just a ‘walking office‘, you’re a moving road hazard
>endangering the lives of hundreds of other motorists by irresponsibly
>playing with a pen based system while operating a motor vehicle.

The EO is a big improvement for me. It was really hard to drive with a
laptop and mouse. I’m glad that’s over!
-Zoom Zoom Mike

Michael Cerda (Sir Da) —   UNIX/VMS Support Group
Computation Center (COM 1)  Internet: ce@bongo.cc.utexas.edu
Univ. of Texas at Austin    UUCP: {uunet,harvard}!cs.utexas.edu!cerda
Austin, TX  78712-1110      VOICE: (512) 471-3241       FAX: (512) 471-1582

Nigel Ballard Sep 7 1993, 5:10 am 
View profile  
 More options 

Evening Clayton

If they are your own thoughts, and you are not just repaying a favour to
AT&T, and you REALLY wrote the article on the EO….then well done that
man.  Great article, a most interesting read, and we are all green with

Cheers Nigel

* Nigel Ballard | INT: ni@dataman.demon.co.uk |  I’M PINK          *
*  Bournemouth  | CIS: 100015,2644   Radio-G1HOI |      THEREFORE     *
*     U.K.      | AOL: Pelham123     Label-4AD   |          I’M SPAM  *


Related Posts

Leave a Reply

You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>