Psion Series 3

The Psion Series 3 range of personal digital assistants were made by Psion PLC. The four main variants are the Psion Series 3 (1991), the Psion Series 3a (1993), the Psion Series 3c (1996), and the Psion Series 3mx (1998), all sized 165 × 85 × 22 mm. In addition, a Psion Series 3a variant with factory installed software for the Russian language was called a Psion Series 3aR, and Acorn Computers sold a rebadged version of the Psion Series 3 and 3a marketed as the Acorn Pocket Book and Acorn Pocket Book II.

The Psion Series 3 range is regarded by Scottish writer Charles Stross as an unsurpassed PDA because of its long battery life (20 to 35 hours), its stable and versatile software, and its durable hardware. About 1.5 million Psion 3s were made.

The Psion Series 3 models were a major advance on the Psion Organiser. They had an original way of managing files: the available program icons are shown in a horizontal line and the associated files drop down beneath them. Manufacture of Psion 3s was discontinued in 1998 shortly after the launch of the Psion Series 5 (a Psion Series 4 does not exist, due to Psion's concern of tetraphobia in their Asian markets) and the Psion Siena. Psion's industrial hardware division continue to produce handhelds running the same 16-bit operating system, some 17 years after its introduction on the Psion MC range of laptops and 5 years after Psion Computer's final 32-bit EPOC PDA was released.

All the Series 3 variants were powered by two AA battery cells which are easily obtainable, rather than having a specially shaped proprietary battery which might be difficult to replace. They all have an internal backup battery in the form of an easily changed small button cell, which enables the main AA batteries to be changed without losing any of the data files. In addition they all have a DC input socket for optional external power-supply via a mains transformer.

The Series 3's innovative clamshell design did have some problems: breakages of any of the four hinges; loss of function in the button bar between the two halves of the clam; and deterioration of the cable linking the keyboard half to the screen, leading to a serious display problem with the appearance of vertical lines.

Psion Series 3s have room for two flash-memory cards, which enabled backup of data. Psion, Acorn and third party software was available loaded onto such memory cards which were available as separate packs.

The Series 3 featured a tone dialing feature using a combination of its built-in loudspeaker and dedicated software for generating tones suitable for telephone systems. It could be used to dial a telephone number by holding the device to the mouthpiece of a tone dialing telephone. The tone dialing feature was integrated into the Psion's Agenda, Contacts and Data applications.

The Embeddable Linux Kernel Subset project has produced a small subset of Linux that runs on the Series 3a.

Read more about Psion Series 3:  Psion Series 3, Acorn Pocket Book, Psion Series 3a, Acorn Pocket Book II, Psion Series 3aR, Psion Series 3c, Psion Series 3mx

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