close this bookVolume 1: No. 04
View the documentQuery -- NIST funding
View the documentNews -- software industry
View the documentNews -- opportunities
View the documentNews -- information sources
View the documentTools -- software sources
View the documentTools -- data sources
View the documentReview -- Inside Information
View the documentReview -- PenPoint
View the documentAdvice -- personal computer security
View the documentExperience -- publishing

GO Corporation (Foster City) has recently made its PenPoint operating system available to hardware and software developers. PenPoint offers a graphic "notebook" interface -- yes, with pages and edge tabs, as well as icons, menus, and pop-up windows -- built around pen manipulation and handwritten input. (Keyboards will be optional). Each notebook page is associated with an application program, just as Mac files are tied to their applications. Mobile professionals are the target market -- truck drivers, meter readers, claims agents, salesmen, interviewers -- but I see potential for home, school, and business markets when the hardware becomes cheap enough.

PenPoint is 4 MB of object-oriented code intended to run in anything from a shirt-pocket steno pad to a wall-sized display board. The operating system interfaces with PCs and Macintoshes, and operations such as printing are automatically queued until docked to the right hardware.

According to Bill Campbell (president and CEO, Informix board member, and recently president/CEO of Claris), PenPoint's system calls are more comprehensive and integrated than those of the Macintosh toolbox. The code is also fully object-oriented. Programmers needed a year to switch from DOS or UNIX to the Mac. PenPoint should be easier to learn, with application development taking only 8-12 months (vs. 18 months for just an upgrade on the Mac) and requiring only 200K or so of code.

Several companies, including GRiD, are interested in building compatible notebook computers. (GO Corp. won't have the same lock on product lines and profits as Apple has had.) New companies such as Slate and PenSoft are developing applications, enjoying the lack of entrenched competition. If you're just starting as a software developer, this might be a good opportunity. [Condensed from a 4/15 MicroTimes article by Mary Eisenhart.]