It took about six years from concept to fruition before you could purchase your own EO-440 Personal Communicator
system - a portable, hand-held pen-only PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) computer system with handwriting-recognition technology.
When fully decked-out, the EO-440 becomes the world's first phablet (phone + tablet)
with wireless FAX, email, and cell phone capabilites.
With your EO-440 you can calculate your budget, then FAX it directly to the office, while you relax at the beach;
Write a stern memo, and e-mail it to multiple team members listed in your address book, with an
attached audio message for additional vocal emphasis; Track daily tasks, appointments, and events in
the Day Planner, then make a cell-phone call to confirm your reservations.
It all started in August of 1987 when GO Corporation was founded by
Jerry Kaplan, formerly of Lotus Development Corp, to create his dream -
a leading-edge, hand-held, pen-operated computer, which he first envisioned a few months earlier in February 1987.
After two years of work and million of dollars, in June of 1989, GO Corp. had a hobbled-together partially-working prototype to demonstrate to
investing partners. State Farm Insurance and IBM were two of their largest potential customers.
After another two years, in April 1991, their
PenPoint operating system "developers release" is completed and
available to third-party developers. Designed to run on Intel CPU-based systems, it is an entirely new
computer operating system, not just an addition to MS-DOS, utilizing a notebook-like user-interface
with graphical icons, drag-and-drop capabilities, and dozens of simple pen-based gestures for
document editing and on-screen navigation.
While GO did produce a model G400 prototype, they were having
difficulties developing both the software and hardware aspects, and to appease their largest investor - IBM, in July 1991 GO spun-off a separate and
independant company named "EO Inc." ("eo" is Latin for "go") - GO would concentrate on the software, EO would produce and market the hardware.
AT&T becomes a major investor in new EO, owning 20% of the company.
AT&T also buys Active Book Company, who is working on a
utilizing the ARM processor, just months from release. Active Book Company
is dissolved and incorporated into EO. This new company will concentrate on producting a pen-based system using AT&T's new
Hobbit CPU chipset, which was originally developed for the
Apple Newton, a competing pen-based portable computer system from Apple Computer. Unsatisified with the
Hobbit, the Apple Newton eventually went with the ARM processor instead.
In April of 1992, GO released PenPoint version 1.0 to all interested third-party developers. IBM announces their
ThinkPad 700T (model 2521) hand-held pen-based tablet,
PenPoint operating system,
to ship in October 1992. NCR and GRiD also announce products running PenPoint OS.
Within 16 months of spinning-off from GO, EO's 440 Personal Communicator, not yet for sale, was demonstrated in the AT&T booth at the
Fall 1992 COMDEX show, in Las Vegas, NV.
The industrial design (basically the ears on the sides to differentiate it from competitors) was by Frog Design, Inc.
EO-440 w/ 4MB RAM
EO-880 w/ 4MB RAM
internal 14.4K / FAX modem
4MB RAM module
8MB RAM mudule
external floppy drive
internal 20MB HD (EO-440)
internal 64MB HD (EO-880)
cell phone module
The EO-440 and it's larger sibling the EO-880 were available to the public on April of 1993. They were advanced but expensive, with the most basic system going for
Every EO owner received a free subscription to AT&T EasyLink Mail for both fax and e-mail messages.
Included with and installed in every EO are these pen-based software packages:
Pensoft Personal Perspective - an appointments calendar, address book, and information manager you use to manage time and monitor to-do items.
EO Phone - dial the phone and place voice calls.
EO Sound - add voice notes - sound recordings - to documents.
EO Calc - a miniature "columnar pad" you use to work with numbers.
EO Lock - provides password protection for the EO to keep your data secure.
GO Mail - to send, receive, and work with electronic mail (e-mail) (requires 8MB RAM).
GO Fax - send and receive group-3 compatible faxes (requires 8MB RAM).
GO MiniNote - create simple graphics and handwritten notes in electronics ink.
GO PenTOPS and PenCentral - allows exchange of data with IBM compatatible personal computers directly or remotely.
The AT&T Hobbit chipset is composed of four large chips, which consume a large portion of the system motherboard. Other prominent chips are by
Wacom, for their
electromagnetic resonance pen-sensing technology,
with additional components incorporated into the LCD display.
The optional EO-440 internal hard drive is the tiny and amazing Kittyhawk
20MB 1.3-inch micro-drive from Hewlett-Packard, at the time the smallest hard drive in the world. Fragile? No - a built-in accelerometer parks the
drive heads to protect itself from hard falls, in fact making it the most reliable hard drive available. Kittyhawk was claimed to be able to survive
a 3-foot drop onto concrete while operating without loss of data - perfect for use in a handheld portable computer system.
The Dauphin DTR-1 from 1993 also utilized the tiny Kittyhawk hard drive.
For removeable mass storage, consider the SunDisk (not SanDisk) PCMCIA flash card, which allows quick and easy, but very expensive,
data storage expansion. Sizes available include: 1.8MB ($249), 5MB ($449), 10MB ($749), 20MB ($1,199).
The larger (13x9x1-inch, 4.0 lbs) and more powerful EO-880 ($2,499) has a faster CPU - 30MHz instead of 20MHz, and a larger 9.4-inch display,
which is backlit instead of reflective as in the EO-440. A larger 64MB hard drive ($699) as well as VGA, SCSI, and a second PCMCIA port
round-out this powerful system.
Using the serial port and included software, Both EO-440 and EO-880 can communicate with IBM-compatible machines for sending and retrieving data.
The parallel port is to connect to laser and dot-matrix printers, and data storage on the optional external 3-1/2 inch 1.44MB floppy drive.
A standard PS/2 connector allows the use of an external PC-compatible keyboard for heavy data entry.
GO and EO both had a hard time of it, though, as cheaper but less capable systems were available from other companies, and predatory Microsoft had
effectively locked them out of the Intel-based market. In June of 1993,
AT&T acquired a majority 51% stake in EO,
and in August buys GO entirely, combining the two companies into EO, only to shut it down entirely in July 1994 when it was obvious that their
products were selling poorly. It is estimated that about 10,000 EO systems were sold.