NEC PC-8201A and PC-8300 - Real World Applications

The NEC PC-8201A and PC-8300 series computers were used for an extraordinary variety of real world applications.  For programmers, these computers were often used as "controller devices".  For others, they were the first, or among the first, truly portable, notebook computers anyone had ever seen or used.

The NEC PC-8201A was introduced in 1983.  It was replaced by the NEC PC-8300 in 1987 which, in turn, was discontinued in 1990.  Although their built-in calendar software can only display the date in terms of the 1900's, people around the world continue to use these computers today in a variety of environments for a number of purposes.

What follows is a partial list of real world applications for which the NEC PC-8201A and NEC PC-8300 have been used...

1-  Rick Weinstein used the NEC PC-8300 to write advertsing copy for a radio station with the largest classical music audience in the USA.  He used it on commuter trains, airplanes, and telephone booths at a time when few people had ever seen a portable computer.  In the field, Rick printed hardcopy with a tiny, two pound, battery-powered printer.  In the office, he connected his PC-8300 to a laser printer for a more polished presentation. Everywhere he went, people were amazed.

2-  Clark Thompson used the NEC PC-8300 to track 25,000 pounds of lobster divided into 25 categories and stored in 30 holding tanks on the northern coast of Massachusetts.  He used the PC-8300's internal modem to check Dun & Bradstreet credit reports and to send pricing information to 40 fax and telex machines worldwide.

3-  A Florida company programmed the NEC PC-8201A and PC-8300 to change and manipulate flashing message signs along state highways.

4-  The NEC PC-8201A and PC-8300 were used to count passengers on buses in Seattle, Washington.

5-  A company in Michigan and Range Rover of North America, located in Maryland, both used the NEC PC-8300 to test and diagnose automobile equipment.

6-  AT&T Network Systems used the NEC PC-8201A and PC-8300 to test and diagnose telephone equipment.

7-  The University of California at San Diego used the NEC PC-8201A and PC-8300 to monitor temperature changes in laboratory experiments.

8-  The Chairman of the Russian History Department at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia used the NEC PC-8300 to gather research information while in the Soviet Union.  A colleague who owned a Toshiba laptop computer that was too heavy to lug to the library each day wound up spending his nights typing his hand-written notes into his Toshiba while information stored on the NEC PC-8300 was "backed-up" to a two pound battery-powered disk-drive.

9-  A professor at the University of New Hampshire wrote software for the NEC PC-8201 and PC-8300 to assist community leaders in Africa with public policy decision-making skills.

10-  This same professor also wrote software enabling the NEC PC-8201A and PC-8300 to assist census-taking operations along state highways.

11-  A well-known USA company used the NEC PC-8201A and PC-8300 to control elevator systems.

12-  Several companies strapped NEC PC-8201A and PC-8300 computers to warehouse forklifts to assist in tracking inventory.

13-   An eye doctor in San Francisco used the NEC PC-8300 to type labels on slides.

14-  A major defense contractor in Massachusetts used the NEC PC-8300 to label new equipment.

15-  A major hospital in Boston used the NEC PC-8300 as a portable electronic charting device.  Nurses used it while making their rounds.  They held it in one arm and typed with their other hand.  Later, they uploaded their data to the hospital's mainframe computer.

16-  The NEC PC-8300 was used by field representatives to collect data for a children's research project at the University of Kansas.

17-   A state trooper in Connecticut used an NEC PC-8300 to write activity reports.

18-  The NEC PC-8300 was used by the road manager and private pilot for a Mick Jagger tour of Japan to send e-mail back to the US and to send travel information to telex machines at Japanese hotels on the itinerary.  He could have travelled with his Toshiba laptop, but chose the NEC PC-8300 because it was "lighter, smaller, and more convenient."

19-  NASA used the NEC PC-8201A and PC-8300 as an important tool in telesensory and telemetry projects.

20-  The NEC PC-8300 was used by a muffler company in St. Louis to read bar code labels.

21-  A chain of 28 retail stores in California used the NEC PC-8300 to read bar code labels.

22-  Students and professors at colleges and universities used the NEC PC-8300 to write papers and gather research information.

23-  The NEC PC-8201A and PC-8300 computers were used by the US Navy and the US Information Agency.

24-  Bob S. used the NEC PC-8300 to keep a journal while in a wheel chair in a house without electricity in a remote part of Hawaii.  Most so-called laptops were too heavy for Bob's lap (and budget) and couldn't compete with the NEC PC-8300's long battery life.

25-  A reverend in San Diego and another reverend in Upstate New York used the NEC PC-8300 to write and deliver sermons.

26-  A California company used the NEC PC-8201A and PC-8300 to control security systems.

27-  A security company in Brooklyn, New York used the NEC PC-8300 to program burglar alarm systems and perform RF (Radio Frequency) diagnostics while on the rooftops of apartment houses.

28-  George Archer wrote about the NEC PC-8300's value as a "truly portable computer" in a report published by the National Genealogical Society in Washington.

29-  Travel agents in New Hampshire used the NEC PC-8300 as a portable peripheral to Apple Macintosh computers in the office.  The NEC PC-8300 was also used with an external modem to check airlines schedules and make flight reservations.  (Remember, this was the 1980's!)

30-  Dick DeBartolo used the NEC PC-8300 in New York City to write humor for MAD Magazine.

31-  An agricultural chemical company in Kansas City used the NEC PC-8300 to collect data in wheat fields while researching new pesticides.  Data was later uploaded to a desktop PC for integration and evaluation.

32-  When the batteries failed in a handheld touch tone device, an NEC PC-8300 was used to generate touch tone signals into a rotary telephone at an old house in the woods.  (This was long before the local telephone company began to offer touch tone service in that area.)  As a result of being able to use the NEC PC-8300 to generate touch tone signals, it was possible to change an important outgoing message on a telephone answering machine 60 miles away.

33-  A company in Mississippi used the NEC PC-8300 to control a $14,000. pump in a project commissioned by the US Department of Agriculture.

34-  The Los Angeles Times newspaper used the NEC PC-8300 at its office in Moscow, Russia.

35-  Powered by solar energy, the NEC PC-8201A and PC-8300 were used in Africa and in New Guinea to communicate via ham radio through terminal node connectors.

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