HOME          ABOUT US          LINKS          GUESTBOOK        REGISTER


The Tandy ZOOMER

          WWW.8BIT-MICRO.COM                           ONLINE VINTAGE COMPUTER MAGAZINE                                               


Early  Zilog CPU based

application notebooks,

ROM based units.



Brother PN-4400/8500


NEC 8300

Amstrad NC-100/200

Citizen CBM-10WP



Game consoles by

Tandy, and Intellivision

Tandyvison One

Mattel Aquarius




The PDA had arrived with

Casio's Tandy entry.


Tandy Zoomer


Introduced: 1992

CPU: NEC V20 (Intel 8088 Core)

RAM: 1 MB.


Ports: RS-232 compatible serial port with subminiature

10-pin "D" connector, subminiature headphone jack,

Built-in infrared transceiver for wireless data transfer,


Controls: Power on/off, Volume, Contrast

Cross-shaped cursor control and two control buttons

Display: 320 x 256,  LCD Display monochrome

Storage Optional: PCMCIA SRAM or Flash Card

Dimensions: Size: 1" x 4.2" x 6.8" (H x W x D)

Weight: 16 ounces

Sound:  Built-in speaker, Three square wave tone

generators, White or metal noise generator,


level control for each channel, Digital to analog

converter (DAC)

Power: Three Alkaline AA batteries or AC Adapter

Operating System: ROM Based Geos & Programs


At first glance, the Tandy ZOOMER, short for "consumer" looks like it was built by Casio

since Casio issued a ZOOMER at the same time, and was identical.  But the history of this

unit is more complicated then that.  First, it must be said that the ZOOMER was a market

flop, mostly due to it's size and inadequate 'handwriting recognition software'.  But an

oxymoron exist in that the ZOOMER was a great success.  That is; it was the start of pal

computing everywhere.


The brainchild of Jeff Hawkins an engineer in the late 1980 for GRiD Systems, Jeff was

onboard when Tandy Corporation bought GRiD  and made it part of the Tandy empire.  At

that time Hawkins was a Vice President of GRiD working on special projects, and his

brainchild was the GRiD tablet, a 12" display 8088 DOS computer with touch screen and

tablet capabilities. 


As the story goes, Hawkins met with three others from GRiD along with Howard Elias from

Tandy Corporation at a hotel in San Jose, CA.  Hawkins tried to get Tandy for build the

ZOOMER for GRiD.  A hesitant Elias prompted Hawkins to incorporate his own company to

proceed with the project in June of 1992.  That company was Palm Computing.   Initially

created to develop software Palm Computing 

At that point Hawkins had Tandy and the rights to GEOWorks. With the backing of Bruce

Dunlevie one of his board members the company was a going concern.  Dunlevie had an eye for talent, and he brought about the team of Jeff

Hawkins and Donna Dubinsky.  Dubinsky was a very skilled marketing manager and shrewd negotiator. With the sales talents of Dubinsky and the

engineering talents of Hawkins, the ZOOMER became a reality.  Produced both in the Tandy and Casio flavors (badges) the ZOOMER sold

well, but the aforementioned short comings made it a market flop.  But, it was the Tandy ZOOMER that started it all!  Palm Computing today is

the grand daddy of the hand held computer world.  The Biggest Little Computer Company, Tandy, had spawned another market first. 


The Tandy ZOOMER maybe a slow 8088 core system, but it is one that I love to use for taking notes.  The handwriting may be a bit flaky, but

that is what spell checkers are for!



(c) 2004, 2005 Brian K. Hahn

 All Rights Reserved.