I presented here a few months ago the HHC pocket computers by Panasonic. Interesting systems initially targeted at professionals and based on the use of custom ROM modules. These modules can hold any application, so on power-up, the pocket computer could be used to perform useful business tasks (such as insurance, finance, etc.). This is so true that the HHC didn’t come with a BASIC (or a FORTH module in standard – and of course, no language was available out of the box). Enough context, let’s look at this week’s device of interest: the Quasar Information Processor HHC (HC2000RA).

Yes, you read well, it is the same manufacturer, which translates into a similar look and feel between devices. Comme un air de Famille. However, the Quasar is, in fact, an electronic translator, not a pocket computer. Just plug in the right language module (up to three at the same time) and start translating single words or phrases from-and-into any of the available languages. The resemblance between these devices is more striking when we have a look into the back compartments. Indeed, the ROM modules are identical (as this week’s pictures shows).

Nonetheless, translations are pretty basic, and the processing quite slow. But the device does the job. I had the opportunity to use a similar system – developed by Sharp (IQ3100) – in the 80s’ in Japan. It turned out to be pretty useful and handy. This brings me to my closing thought: pocket computers are in fact the offspring of the electronic calculators and translators. Les chiffres et les lettres in other words.