Welcome to the web site of From the abacus to smartphone: The evolution of mobile and portable computers by Evan Koblentz.

This is a short book about a big story.

Mobile or portable computing feels like a recent phenomenon, but its story began long before the iPhone and laptop. There were "luggable" computers before Apple existed, mainframes in Army trucks during the 1950s, and let's not forget the classic slide rule! While we're at it, consider pocket calculators, the abacus, early computers aboard ships and on airplanes, and many others. Each type of portable computing has a unique and largely untold story of how it came to be. Together, these stories will open your eyes!

Chapters: 1. Abacus to aerospace, 2. Land cruising, 3. Becoming smaller, 4. Age of the laptop, 5. Getting personal, 6. The last 25 years.

Print edition: $19.99
via CreateSpace

PDF: Only $8.
(Please be nice and don't post it.
Thank you for understanding.)

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August 2, 2017: Computer historian Liz Petrick reviewed the book for IEEE Annals of the History of Computing.

February 27, 2017: CNBC writer Arjun Kharpal predicts what Gordon Dickson predicted for Hewlett-Packard in 1979.

July 31, 2016: Chapter 2 of my book is about DYSEAC, the National Bureau of Standards mobile computer from 1953. I wrote that its main test applications were connectivity with SEAC and to compute wind speed. Now I've discovered a third test: there was an experiment related to radar tracking, as stated in an NBS report from 1954 (page 83). I hope to learn more about this.

February 22, 2016: The book has three reviews on Amazon and they're all 5 stars! Please add your review.

January 16, 2016: Way back in 1985, a reviewer for The New York Times lamented: "[T]he real future of the laptop computer will remain in the specialized niche markets. Because no matter how inexpensive the machines become, and no matter how sophisticated their software, I still can't imagine the average user taking one along when going fishing." Well, of course not... today they'd bring an iPad.

January 2, 2016: There's a great story about the quipu (sometimes spelled "khipu") in The New York Times. Incan civilization has no written language, but they had a spreadsheet! The article is about new advancements in what the data says.

November 29, 2015: Spanish-language public El Confidencial wrote an article about the book.

October 20, 2015: Slashdot published a video interview with the author.

September 25, 2015: Gizmodo published an excerpt.

September 14, 2015: The digital and print editions are both now in version 1.02. A sentence or two are slightly changed for clarity.

September 7, 2015: Randy Kindig interviewed me for his Floppy Days podcast.

August 13, 2015: The digital and print editions are both now in version 1.01. Various typos and formatting issues are corrected.

July 29, 2015: New Jersey Tech Weekly interviewed me about the book.

July 4, 2015: Abacus to smartphone is now available in print via CreateSpace (it's also on Amazon.com). Kindle edition is coming soon.

June 16, 2015: Click here to see what Osborne engineer Lee Felsenstein said about the book.