The AlphaSmart was a brand of portable, battery powered, word-processing keyboards manufactured by NEO Direct, Inc. (formerly Renaissance Learning, Inc, formerly AlphaSmart, Inc., formerly Intelligent Peripheral Devices, Inc.). Originally released in 1993, the first AlphaSmart models were intended for writing on-the-go and could be plugged into a computer to transfer saved written text. The units' portability and long battery life made them valuable to journalists, writers, and students. Later models expanded functionality by spell-checking, running applications, and accessing wireless printers.
The last model, Neo 2, was released in 2007, and production was discontinued by the company in late September 2013, although the company still offers support and software to existing users.
- "AlphaSmart" | 2017-12-03 | 67 Upvotes 52 Comments
Atmos is the brand name of a mechanical torsion pendulum clock manufactured by Jaeger-LeCoultre in Switzerland which does not need to be wound manually. It gets the energy it needs to run from temperature and atmospheric pressure changes in the environment, and can run for years without human intervention.
The clock is driven by a mainspring, which is wound by the expansion and contraction of liquid and gaseous ethyl chloride in an internal hermetically sealed bellows. The ethyl chloride vaporises into an expansion chamber as the temperature rises, compressing a spiral spring; with a fall in temperature the gas condenses and the spring slackens. This motion constantly winds the mainspring. A temperature variation of only one degree in the range between 15 °C (59 °F) and 30 °C (86 °F), or a pressure variation of 3 mmHg, is sufficient for two days' operation.
In order to run the clock on this small amount of energy, everything inside the Atmos has to work in as friction-free a manner as possible. For timekeeping it uses a torsion pendulum, which consumes less energy than an ordinary pendulum. The torsion pendulum has a period of precisely one minute; thirty seconds to rotate in one direction and thirty seconds to return to the starting position. This is thirty times slower than the 0.994 m (39.1 in) seconds pendulum typically found in a longcase clock, where each swing (or half-period) takes one second.
- "Atmos Clock" | 2015-06-14 | 37 Upvotes 6 Comments
Bovril is the trademarked name of a thick and salty meat extract paste similar to a yeast extract, developed in the 1870s by John Lawson Johnston. It is sold in a distinctive, bulbous jar, and also as cubes and granules. Bovril is owned and distributed by Unilever UK.
Bovril can be made into a drink by diluting with hot water or, less commonly, with milk. It can be used as a flavouring for soups, broth, stews or porridge, or as a spread, especially on toast in a similar fashion to Marmite and Vegemite.
- "Bovril" | 2015-11-17 | 29 Upvotes 15 Comments
The Capacitance Electronic Disc (CED) is an analog video disc playback system developed by RCA, in which video and audio could be played back on a TV set using a special needle and high-density groove system similar to phonograph records.
First conceived in 1964, the CED system was widely seen as a technological success which was able to increase the density of a long-playing record by two orders of magnitude. Despite this achievement, the CED system fell victim to poor planning, various conflicts with RCA management, and several technical difficulties that slowed development and stalled production of the system for 17 years—until 1981, by which time it had already been made obsolete by laser videodisc (DiscoVision, later called LaserVision and LaserDisc) as well as Betamax and VHS video cassette formats. Sales for the system were nowhere near projected estimates. In the spring of 1984, RCA announced it was discontinuing player production, but continuing the production of videodiscs until 1986, losing an estimated $600 million in the process. RCA had initially intended to release the SKT425 CED player with their high end Dimensia system in late 1984, but cancelled CED player production prior to the Dimensia system's release.
The format was commonly known as "videodisc", leading to much confusion with the contemporaneous LaserDisc format. LaserDiscs are read optically with a laser beam, whereas CED discs are read physically with a stylus (similar to a conventional gramophone record). The two systems are mutually incompatible.
RCA used the brand "SelectaVision" for the CED system, a name also used for some early RCA brand VCRs, and other experimental projects at RCA.
- "Capacitance Electronic Disc" | 2015-11-20 | 20 Upvotes 8 Comments
- "The Capacitance Electronic Disc (CED), an analog video disc playback system" | 2015-09-26 | 16 Upvotes 5 Comments
The Casio F-91W is a digital watch manufactured by Japanese electronics company Casio. Introduced in 1989, it is popular for its low price and long battery life. Annual production is 3 million units per year.
- "List of Guantanamo Bay detainees accused of possessing Casio watches" | 2010-05-15 | 26 Upvotes 8 Comments
Cell is a multi-core microprocessor microarchitecture that combines a general-purpose PowerPC core of modest performance with streamlined coprocessing elements which greatly accelerate multimedia and vector processing applications, as well as many other forms of dedicated computation.
It was developed by Sony, Toshiba, and IBM, an alliance known as "STI". The architectural design and first implementation were carried out at the STI Design Center in Austin, Texas over a four-year period beginning March 2001 on a budget reported by Sony as approaching US$400 million. Cell is shorthand for Cell Broadband Engine Architecture, commonly abbreviated CBEA in full or Cell BE in part.
The first major commercial application of Cell was in Sony's PlayStation 3 game console, released in 2006. In May 2008, the Cell-based IBM Roadrunner supercomputer became the first TOP500 LINPACK sustained 1.0 petaflops system. Mercury Computer Systems also developed designs based on the Cell.
The Cell architecture includes a memory coherence architecture that emphasizes power efficiency, prioritizes bandwidth over low latency, and favors peak computational throughput over simplicity of program code. For these reasons, Cell is widely regarded as a challenging environment for software development. IBM provides a Linux-based development platform to help developers program for Cell chips.
- "Cell (microprocessor)" | 2015-10-21 | 40 Upvotes 24 Comments
The Gurgel Itaipu E150 is an electric car, produced by the Brazilian automobile manufacturer Gurgel. The Itaipu was presented at the Salão do Automóvel in 1974, with an intended production start in December 1975. Only a few of these cars were produced and is today a collector's item. Top speed was of the first prototypes were of approximately 30 km/h (19 mph) and the latest models reached up to 60 km/h (37 mph). While about twenty pre-series cars were built, it was never commercialized. It was the first electric car built in Latin America, and, its specifications were comparable to similar models of the time (see CitiCar). The car was named after the hydro-electric dam and power plant on the border of Brazil and Paraguay.
The car's design was unique, a very compact trapezoidal two-seater. The car itself weighed a mere 460 kg (1,014 lb), with the remaining 320 kg (705 lb) consisting of batteries. The name "Itaipu" was brought back for a larger commercial vehicle in 1980, called the Itaipu E400. This was based on the Volkswagen-engined Gurgel G800.
- "Gurgel Itaipu" | 2019-12-08 | 94 Upvotes 34 Comments
The IBM Simon Personal Communicator (simply known as IBM Simon) is a handheld, touchscreen PDA designed by International Business Machines (IBM), and manufactured by Mitsubishi Electric. BellSouth Cellular Corp. distributed the Simon Personal Communicator in the United States between August 1994 and February 1995, selling 50,000 units. The Simon Personal Communicator was the first personal digital assistant or PDA to include telephony features. The battery lasted only an hour, and flip phones became increasingly slim which led to its demise.
The iLoo (short for Internet loo) was a cancelled Microsoft project to develop a Wi-Fi Internet-enabled portable toilet. The iLoo, which was to debut at British summer festivals, was described as being a portable toilet with wireless broadband Internet, an adjustable plasma screen, a membrane wireless keyboard, a six-channel speaker system, and toilet paper embossed with popular web site addresses. The iLoo was also to have an extra screen and keyboard on the outside, and was to be guarded. It was intended as the next in a series of successful initiatives by MSN UK which sought to introduce the internet in unusual locations, including MSN Street, MSN Park Bench and MSN Deckchair.
The project was announced by MSN UK on April 30, 2003, and was widely ridiculed before being declared a hoax by Microsoft on May 12. On May 13, another Microsoft press release stated that although the project had not been a hoax, it had been cancelled because it would do little to promote the MSN brand. There has since been speculation as to whether the project was cancelled for fear of being sued by Andrew Cubitt, who had invented the similarly named product "i-Loo". The iLoo was described as a public relations "debacle" by Online Journalism Review.
- "iLoo" | 2015-07-23 | 354 Upvotes 56 Comments
Metrecal was a brand of diet foods introduced in the early 1960s. Though its products were criticized for their taste, which newer varieties of flavor tried to improve upon later, it attained a niche in the popular culture of the time. Created and marketed initially by C. Joseph Genster of Mead Johnson & Company, it was eventually replaced in the market by competitors such as SlimFast and lost popularity because it was linked to deaths.
- "Metrecal" | 2013-08-21 | 25 Upvotes 18 Comments