It should not be a secret anymore that I am a pocket computer and technical/science press fan – among others. Therefore, this week’s post will not come as a surprise to you. In 1988, the Japanese I/O publishing group launched the Pocket & Portable Computer Magazine, a.k.a. Pockecom Journal (or PJ in the short). The magazine by itself was really excellent and had a pretty classic structure and content. In comparison with similar titles printed in Europe or in the US, PJ was a latecomer.
However, and that may explain its success and longevity, the title has benefited from a thriving and extremely rich Nippon electronic industry. If it is almost common to use a micro-controller board to drive some cool gizmos in 2015, the first issue of PJ covered the use of a PC-G801 to drive multiple devices – including a robotic arm – via an external and modular controller/IO board. And that was in 1988! Note that many of the pocket computers of the era exposed a bus/system connector you could use to interface directly with the CPU. Therefore, PJ was – and still is – a gold mine for the pocket computers aficionados. What I want to share with you today is how PJ went the extra mile for its readers. The magazine teamed-up with Sharp to resell a special version of the PC-E500. In the short, the PC-E500, introduced in 1995, is a pretty advanced pocket computer, targeting technical users and students. Programmable in BASIC and assembler (thru BASIC, 8-bit SC-62015), the computer has all you need to have a lot of fun on the road. This includes serial communications as well as a set of built-in software and reference libraries.
Really a good and a complete machine. It is true that personally, I prefer other series of pocket computers by Sharp (the ones targeting the computer technical audience – more on this later – or the very first-gen models [PC-1500, PC-1600, etc.]), but I would recommend the E500 without a doubt. The PJ version had two main differences. The external aspect first: the vivid blue color of the case and the PJ logo silkscreen (as well as the removable sticker) that clearly identified the partnership between the magazine and the manufacturer. The second differentiation was the pre-loaded Heavy Metal scrolling-shoot them up game in memory. Heavy Metal was the winning reader-submitted game during a previous contest organized by PJ. Besides these differences, an E500-BL is a blue E-500. If the special edition of the computer has a strong appeal to a collector, the remarkable component of this original association is really the magazine. Thanks to them for going the extra mile!