After buying the Franco-American CIE Friends Amis (Amis means Friends in French) and their hand held computer project, Matsushita manufactured the computer and sold it under Panasonic (RL-Hxx series) and Quasar (HK-2600TE) brand names. About 70.000 Panasonic systems were sold.
The system was mainly conceived to run custom software developed by third companies. For this reason, it didn't included powerful built-in software or languages but featured an universal expansion port able to manage several peripherals simultaneously, and three ROM chip compartments. Examples of available software are: Portawriter, Telecomputing 1-2-3, File Exchange, Portacalc, Portaflex (store management), Portabudget, Portabroker, Porta Bid, Portastock, Portalog, Portasales, Portaservice, Portaaudit, etc.
The system featured SNAP, an interpreted programming language, close to Forth and not really easy to learn. Hopefully, a light version of the Microsoft BASIC interpreter ROM could be added.
The HHC (for "Hand Held Computer") had great success in USA, mainly in insurance companies thanks to a built-in custom insurance calculation application dedicated to claim adjusters and travelling salesmen who could make any insurance quotation and print it, anywhere, anytime. Few systems were sold in other countries.
The picture shows a system with a Printer/Cassette interface attached. User had to buy it to save programs files on tape! The printer used a small roll of thermal paper of 75 mm wide. It printed 16 chars. per line at a speed of 24 chars./second.
Graphic possibilities were available as an option, as well as a TV video interafce which enabled the HHC to be connected to a TV through a scart connector. The HHC could then display 32 x 16 characters in text mode (character matrix 5 x 7), or 128 x 64 with 8 colors in semi-graphic mode or 128 x 128 with 4 colors in graphic mode.
EPROM expansion board, by Tom Klein
When working for FIPSCO - a life insurance marketing software producer - we designed a EPROM expansion board. It was housed in a one-inch thicker tray and interfaced between the printer and compueter, adding about 1 inch to the length. The main unit would only hold 4-8K EEPROMs but the address space for each "slot" was for 16K. So we put 8-64K EEPROMS in crimp molds into sockets in the expansion box. Each chip looked like 4 to the OS.
By doing this we could hold more rates and product illustration software, reducing the requirement the agent "change chips" in front of the customer. Turns out Motorola had a lock on the 8K chips and the 64K were less expensive.
We could illustrate and print one insurance illustration faster than a 286 at the time. And it fit in the briefcase.
The expander box kept the unit in the field for an extra 3 to 5 years until laptops became reliable, powerful and affordable.
Curt Benjamin adds:
Many two-way radio shops still use the Panasonic HHC (part of the GE TQ-2310 "suitcase" programmer) to program GE two-way radios. Our shop still has a working one although it has since been replaced by a DOS program and radio interface box. More info here.
I have the entire set up of the hhc panasonic still in the brief case it came in. looking to sell it today. Program books and the instructions it was bought with. mint condition. no reasonable offer refused. questions and comments please email me. happy to show . it works . firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday 1st August 2014
jason beck (United States)
I am looking to buy a printer for the tq2310 dose anyone know where to find one for sale thanks
Monday 7th July 2014
Jimmy james (Indiana USA)
Several years ago, I managed to contact one of the developers of the systems software used in the Panasonic HHC. He had retired to an idyllic life to an island somewhere. I had emailed him inquiring about the SNAP language, and he graciously responded. He wrote that SNAP was a custom forth executive ( similar to a runtime ) and that the applications were developed on Apple II computers. For those unfamiliar with forth, the programs can be compiled to a list of memory addresses that point to library functions or data. The runtime is a program loop that reads the top address and calls the library function at the address. The called function may add, to or change the list. The net effect is execution speed close to a compiled program, with the compact program size similar to an interpreted program. I suppose, if one was determined, they could extract a rom image, and byb comparing the application roms to the systems roms, and identify the entry points, and using this info and amodern forth environment write custome software.
Tuesday 11th June 2013
BUILT IN LANGUAGE
65 keys, calculator type. All the keys are redefinable.
6502 Low power NMOS version
2, 4 or 8 KB. Up to 96 KB with 4, 8 or 16 KB memory modules.
16 KB internal - 3 x optional 16 KB modules
LCD display - 1 line x 26 chars.
8 x 159 dots
SIZE / WEIGHT
227 x 95 x 30,5 mm / weight: 570 gr.
44-pin expansion port, 3 sockets for program ROM's
BUILT IN MEDIA
Tape recorder interface built into the printer expansion
5 x built-in Ni-Cad batterie 'AA' type (80 hours autonomy) or external 9 v. P.S.U.
Printers, I/O expansion interface, RS-232 interface, IEEE 488 interface, TV display interface, acoustic modem, RAM expansions, disk drive, EPROM burner, etc.