Early Commercial Digitizer Tech and Terms

Second try on this. I don’ mind people critiquing my posts; I learn from it.

Just so that I get everything right as far as terms for
various pen and digitizer technologies go. And some history
along the way

AES (Active Electrostatic)
Also known as
Finepoint, later Wacom Finepoint. It requires a battery in the
pen and is known as “active”.

From about 2005 to 2018 I got a lot of experience with Gateway 2-in-1
twist into tablet laptops. The first was the M285C, whose “active” pen
battery recharged by an inductive coil built into the pen “garage” on
the computer.

G-way also sold these as CX models. The M285C was a special build
known as CX120, intended for students

Having inductive charging for pen batteries on board
the PC was a nifty idea, but turned into a disaster.

If a user left the pen "garaged’ for a long time, the
battery overcharged, overheated, leaked, corroded
connections and other stuff. Huge wave of failed pens,
unhappy people, general bad news for the company.

(Anyone here experience that?)

HP and others may have gone through something
similar on their TouchSmart 2-in-1 convertibles.

Gateway then hurriedly ditched the AES Wacom
Finepoint battery tech and switched to pens
using EMR (ElectroMagnetic Resonance) that
didn’t need a battery.

I think that tech was called Wacom Penabled and
then Wacom FeelIt (?)

The M295C follow-on had the non-battery pens and worked pretty well.

I think I got this correct. However, feel free to add or critique

I bought these old computers cheap secondhand on E-Bay,
and ended up with way too many useless machines.
Each time the stylus died, I thought it was the compute.,

Switched to the 295s, but Found that the Gateway cooling
system couldn’t cope with our summer weather (often over
110 and as high as 117) The Gateways would (temporarily) roll
over and die.

It was no good having a working stylus on the machine
if I had to wait for it to cool down and, re-boot every
few hours.

So the Toughbooks. But now I’m faced with the
original dilemma, which is I still can’t do sketching
on a computer screen the way I’d like. :cat:

Aren’t GETACs basically similar to Toughbooks?

MPP is “Microsoft Pen Protocol” used to control the Surface Pens
Surface sounds cool, but the hardware looks fragile; I’m just afraid
that it wouldn’t survive up here. Hence the T-Books.

Although they also seem to have their issues. Sigh.

Thank you, @JoeS, for the MPP info and the corrections. R-cat

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That’s quite a lot to digest there.

What is it that you exactly would like?

  • A recommendation for a device?
  • Help with an old device?
  • A request for a thread/wiki for general information?
  • Just a nice nostalgic story?

We’re working on getting a wiki up, but it’s going to take time. Someone can start a ‘wiki’ thread in the mean time if they have time.

In the mean time if you’re looking for some specific help, start a thread that asks for that.

How early do you want to go?

First ThinkPad tables used Wacom digitizers as did the NCR-3125 and some other early PenPoint systems — not sure what AT&T Eo systems used — I’ve got a prototype pen if anyone is curious.

Fujitsu and Compaq used FinePoint digitizers — you could even trick Windows 2000 running on a Fujitsu to use the Windows NT driver for a Compaq TC-1000, but Fujitsu later switched to Wacom for their ST-4100.

There were resistive tablets early on — the Newton used one, as did Palm Corp., and a number of Fujitsu units had resistive digitzers such as the Point PT-510.

Help with an old device and possibly a recommendation for a new device

The old device is my Panasonic CF-19RDR, which means that it has the touch feature and digitizer. When I bought it, I asked for both capabilities. The stylus supplied with it did not work as I expected, and it was teeny and awkward to use. I tried several drawing programs, two Adobe, one open-source (GIMP). On all, they seem to work for about an hour, then the disruptive streaky straight lines start appearing. I’ve gone through several different pens. Got any idea of what’s going on? Not enough memory?

I think I turned off the Touch feature, and went with pen only. The only program that doesn’t do this is Paint, but it is pretty limited. Running on Win 7, if that is an issue. I prefer it to Win 10.

I was thinking about getting a Panasonic CF-33, which is the one with the detachable 12in screen. Or maybe something else, since my
experience with Toughbooks and drawing hasn’t worked. Is there a a good art laptop that will stand up to high heat and a few accidental bumps? They all look really skinny and fragile for sketching outside in the rural California mountains. Some of the Lenovo’s are supposed to have strong cases but would they survive the temperatures? I have one room with a window A/C, and it gets hot even in there. Suggestions welcomed.

Good to meet another Brit here. I was born in the UK, but my parents emigrated to the US.

I’m assuming that these early systems used pens with swap-out or rechargeable batteries. Did they also experience the kind of failures brought on by overcharging rechargeables?

I worked for IBM (1979 - 1991) and they had the Tectronix light-emitting pens on a CRT. Large, clumsy, expensive, but worked. Mostly used for documentation, but some design. R-cat

Finepoint required a AAAA battery, same as many Wacom AES styluses.

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Did Wacom or the computer companies who used those AAAA batts experience pen failure from overcharging? Or were these pens also available with replaceable AAAA batteries? I ask because this was a royal PITA for me at the time. I actually rebuilt one of the rechargeable Gateway Wacom styluses to use a replaceable battery, but the result was too fragile to last long.