philpem.me.uk retrocomputing :: psion workabout  

Psion Workabout MX

Vital statistics

  • CPU: 8086 derivative, 27MHz
  • RAM: 2MB (there is a 1MB version, but it's somewhat less common).
  • Storage: Psion SSD (Solid State Disc) cards, ranging from 256Kbyte to 2Mbyte, in both Flash and SRAM versions.
  • OS: Sibo (SIxteen Bit Organiser)

What it is

The Workabout MX is basically a ruggedised version of the Psion Series 3 organiser (I'm not sure exactly which one -- possibly the 3c). It runs Psion's Sibo operating system (the predecessor to EPOC and Symbian), on an 8086 CPU. The display is a two-level greyscale panel (you have a choice of black, grey or 'white') with what appears to be a blue-green electroluminescent backlight. Pretty good for its time, especially when you consider that its sole source of power is two AA batteries, and it gets a good few days of runtime out of those.

What you can do with it

Write software

The Workabout has a built-in programming language called "OPL" (Organiser Programming Language / Open Programming Language), which has existed since the days of the Psion Organiser II. This BASIC-like language makes it possible (and actually rather easy) to create useful applications for the Workabout, without ever having to touch a C compiler.

If, however, you prefer writing code in C, there are two ways you can go about it:

  • Psion Sibo SDK. Gareth Saunders has collected images of all the discs (and most of the PDF documentation) and placed it on his Psion C Programming page. The catch is, you need a copy of Clarion TopSpeed C to use this package. TopSpeed C is an extremely difficult package to find...
  • CPOC. CPOC is a nifty little freeware compiler kit which can do most of what the Psion SDK can do, but without the need for TopSpeed C. Catch is, you can't use the Psion 3A "OOPS" object-oriented coding style, nor can you create "DYL" (DYnamic Library) files...