Psion Organiser II

It was 1986 when the Psion Organiser II came to market but it wasn't until 1991 when I bought my first one. I was working for a Cargo Inspection company called 'Inspectorate'. Among other locations they did independent surveys of the oil tankers coming into Sullom Voe, Shetland where I lived. The job involved a lot of number crunching, with long formulas, something computers are very good at.

Unfortunately all the company had at the time was some Sharp programmable calculators. A few BASIC programs had been written but I knew there had to be a better way.

I bought myself one of these devices and set about converting the few programs that were available into the Psion's version of BASIC called OPL (Organiser Programming Language). From there I expanded the collection to a full suite of programs I called 'SurveySoft'. The Organiser turned out to be a fantastic piece of hardware for the job. Other inspectors started picking them up and the company started buying datapaks with my software installed. It all sounds very grand but it's nothing compared to today's standards, the whole suite of programs fitted on a 16kb datapak! Yes, that's kilobytes, not megabytes or terrabytes which I couldn't even imagine back then.

So why am I writing about this now? Because as part of my retro collection of computers I just purchased another Psion Organiser II, a Comms Link cable and a couple of memory packs.

So this inspired me to gather together all the floppy disks I could find and transfer the files to my server. I didn't know if they would still be readable but I was hoping to find the Psion files I worked on back then. I put together an old PC with a Floppy Drive and set to it. Amazingly, after 27 years, nearly all the disks were readable. There were a lot of them and in the stacks I found 2 marked 'Psion'. So I still have all the programs I worked on and just for fun I have been loading some of them back onto the Psion.

After 27 years I can only remember bits and pieces of how this device works but I have been able to transfer some files from the PC to the Organiser.  Thanks to the good people that designed, and those that still keep available, an archive of the Psion website. The original link software for the PC, strangely enough, doesn't work on a 64-bit Windows 10 computer but on the site there's a link to a version that does. So those old programs can live again.

It still feels great in the hand. The hardware was so well made, and made in the U.K. I really wish I could find a practical use for it today.