Fact Check

Pensonal Computer

Do photographs show a conceptual pen-sized personal computer system?

Published Dec 9, 2005

Claim:   Photographs show a conceptual pen-sized personal computer system.

Status:   Partly true.

Example:   [Collected via e-mail, 2005]

All I can say is WOW!?

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look closely n' guess what they could be...

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any wild guesses now?

no clue?...

ladies and gentlemen... congratulations!
You have just now looked into the future...

yep that's right! no booing now...

you have seen something that would replace your PC in the near future....

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In the revolution of miniature computers,
the scientists are ahead with Bluetooth technology...

See the forthcoming computers within our pockets

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This pen sort of instrument produces both the monitor as well
as the keyboard on flat surfaces from where you can just
carry out the normal operations you do on your desktop.

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Origins:   It seems to many of us these days that the pace of technological change is so great that it outstrips our imaginations — just as soon as we can conceive of the next nifty electronic gadget we'd like to have, we find out that somebody has already built it.

Miniaturized devices such as cameras and telephones are examples of now-common technologies that just a few years ago most of us rarely encountered outside the fictional world of spy thrillers. Miniaturized personal computers are the next logical step, but many readers might be surprised to learn that a plan for PC components housed in devices the size and shape of ballpoint pens (as shown above) was showcased by a major electronics company over two years ago.

At the 2003 ITU Telecom World exhibition held in Geneva, the Tokyo-based NEC corporation displayed a conceptual prototype of what they dubbed a "Pen-style Personal Networking Gadget Package," or P-ISM. As NEC described the P-ISM:

P-ISM is a gadget package including five functions: a pen-style cellular phone with a handwriting data input function, virtual keyboard, a very small projector, camera scanner, and personal ID key with cashless pass function. P-ISMs are connected with one another through short-range wireless technology. The whole set is also connected to the Internet through the cellular phone function. This personal gadget in a minimalistic pen style enables the ultimate ubiquitous computing.

The P-ISM system was based on "low-cost electronic perception technology" produced by the San Jose, California, firm of Canesta, Inc., developers of technologies such as the "virtual keyboard" (although the last two pictures shown above appear to be virtual keyboard products sold by other companies such as VKB rather than components of the P-ISM prototype).

We've dubbed this item "partly true" because, as far as we know, no functional prototype of P-ISM system was built or displayed. The items shown in these pictures were more on the level of props created to show off a concept for something that might be built.

Last updated:   9 December 2005


David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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