My Tandy WP-2 and the Future

Recent posts by Andy Ihnatko and Shawn Blanc about using an iPad as a laptop replacement got me thinking about my first laptop, my trusty Tandy WP-2. I bought this computer in 1990. I was a first year law student and I rocked this computer for three years.

The WP-2 probably explains my fixation with text. With 32K of RAM and the luxurious 14 x 80 pixel display, I thought I had it all figured out. No apps. No Internet. It just wrote text files and ran for weeks on a couple AA batteries. You could plug it into a computer to pull down the text file or, in a pinch, save to cassette. That is right. I said cassette.

After lawschool, I could never bring myself to get rid of this old warhorse. When my kids were little, I gave it to them to play with and they thrashed it, as the pictures attest. It still worked. When I got it out for my 18 month old nephew last weekend, it didn’t power up and that made me a little sad but didn’t bother him in the least as he plopped it on his desk and started banging out his version of the next great American novel.

For a lot of people (but not all people), a mobile computer doesn’t need to be much. So long as it checks e-mail, gets on the web, and gives you a place to write, you can get a lot done. Looking wistfully at my WP-2, I’m pretty sure we are going to be seeing a lot more “the iPad is my laptop” stories.