Linus Write-Top
TRW Write-Top
Model:Linus 1000
How many:~1,500 sold
Weight:9 lbs / 4 kg
CPU:NEC V20 (8088) @ 7.16MHz
RAM:640K system memory
Display:LCD: 80 x 25 text
640 x 200 graphics
Ports:serial, printer, keyboard
Options:modem, keyboard, floppy
Storage:internal 720K 3.5-inch floppy
removeable RAM card
OS:MS-DOS 3.30

Perhaps the first handwriting-recognition tablet, the Linus Write-Top lets you write directly on the screen with the included stylus. It is not a touch screen, it is a "resistive type touch screen in which a voltage is applied to the screen edges, and a stylus detects the voltage at the touched location." This allows for very high resolution and repeatable stylus tracking.

Using an advanced symbol-recognition algorithm, the Linus ("of or about lines") converts your scrawls into perfect text at a rate of about 5 characters per second. It recognizes uppercase, lowercase, numbers, symbols - up to 75 total.

    "No relation"

Examples of uses include:
  • Health care - doctors or nurses recording on patient charts
  • Insurance - entering data on claims or other forms
  • Sales - entering orders or using the modem to inquire on order status

  • Download these software applications (2.4MB file).
    Includes: Appraise, Currency Trade, Forms, Just-Write II, Learn, Paint, Practice, Your-Write.

    The Write-Top is IBM PC-compatible, with standard serial, printer, external 5 1/4-inch floppy ("D:" drive) ports.
    There's also a standard keyboard port so it can be used for word processing or other uses.
    The optional internal modem allows transfer of data to remote systems over the telephone line.
    An external floppy drive can be attached for local data storage and transfer. The internal 3.5-inch floppy is always available.
    A non-volatile battery-backed removeable solid-state RAM card holds up to 512K of data, and is recognized as the "C:" drive by the operating system - MS-DOS 3.30.

    The internal rechargeable battery will supply the entire system with power for approximately 5 hours.
    Although the screen is small, 5-by-8 inches, it has an attractive electroluminescent backlight.

    The Write-Top cannot read any handwriting at all, until it is first 'trained' to recognize a persons particular script, which is then saved as a 'library'.
    Anyone else who wishes to use the system must also train it to read their writing as well, or load a previously made library of their own.

    Actually, since you teach it your specific longhand, the Write-Top can even learn and recognize Klingon and convert it into standard ASCII text.

    Unfortunately, the Write-Top was not a commercial success - less than 2000 were ever sold, according to sources.

    Just two years later in 1989, GRiD released their GRiDPad, having many of the same features as the Write-Top, but weighing half as much, and displaying twice the screen resolution.

    Sometime before 1989, the Write-Top was apparently acquired or licensed by TRW, as this TRW Write-Top User's Guide indicates.

  • Linus 1000 and Linus Write-Top, by Linus Technologies
  • TRW Write-Top, by TRW Electronics, Inc. (1989)

  • Related links from other websites
  • Linus Technologies, Inc. from blinkenlights
  • The history of PDAs from Evan Koblentz
  • "The State of the Art in On-Line handwriting recognition" (PDF from 1990)

  • Return to the Obsolete Technology Homepage