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definition - Psion

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Type Public (LSEPON)
Industry Computers
Founded 1980
Headquarters London, England, UK
Key people John Hawkins, (Chairman)
John Conoley (CEO)
Products Workabout Pro 3, NEO, Ikôn, Omnii XT10, EP10, 8500 Series vehicle mount devices
Revenue £170 million (2009)
Employees 900 (2010)
Website psion.com

Psion is a designer and manufacturer of rugged mobile handheld computers for commercial and industrial applications. The company is headquartered in London, England with major operations in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada and additional company offices in Europe, the United States, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. It is a public company listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSEPON) and was once a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index.

Psion's current operational business was formed in September 2000 from a merger of Psion and Canadian-based Teklogix Inc. and is a global provider of solutions for mobile computing and wireless data collection. The Group's products and services include rugged mobile hardware, secure wireless networks, robust software, professional services and exceptional support programs. Psion works with its clients in the area of new and emerging technologies, including image capture, voice recognition and RFID. Psion has customers in more than 80 countries around the world, as well as operations in 14 countries.

Formed in 1980, Psion achieved its first successes as a consumer hardware company that developed the revolutionary Psion Organiser as well as a whole range of more advanced, clamshell-design Personal Digital Assistants. Psion closed, or disposed of, all its previous operations and is now focused on rugged mobile computing solutions. It withdrew from the consumer devices marketplace in 2001. It was announced on 15 June 2012 that Motorola Solutions had agreed to buy the company for $200 million.[1]



  Early development

Psion was established in 1980 as a software house with a close relationship with Sinclair Research. The company developed games and other software for the ZX81 and ZX Spectrum home computers, released under the Sinclair/Psion brand. Psion’s games for the ZX Spectrum included Chess, Chequered Flag, Flight Simulation and the Horace series.[2]

The company name is an acronym standing for "Potter Scientific Instruments", after the company's founder, David Potter. The acronym PSI was already in use elsewhere in the world so "ON" was added to make the name PSION unique. David Potter remained managing director until 1999 and was chairman of the company until late 2009.

In early 1983, Sinclair approached Psion regarding the development of a suite of office applications for the forthcoming Sinclair QL personal computer. Psion were already working on a project in this area and the QL was launched in 1984, bundled with Quill, Archive, Abacus and Easel; respectively a word processor, database, spreadsheet and business graphics application. These were later ported to MS-DOS, collectively called PC-Four, or Xchange in an enhanced version.[2]

  The Psion Organiser

  Psion Organiser II

1984 also marked Psion’s first foray into hardware; the Psion Organiser, the world’s first handheld computer, in appearance resembling early gaming machines. In 1986, the vastly improved Psion Organiser II was released. Its success led the company into a decade long period of "Psion" Computer and operating system development. It included a simple-to-use database programming language, OPL, which sparked a large independent software market. In 1987, Psion began development of its "SIBO" ("SIxteen Bit Organiser") family of devices and its own new multitasking operating system called EPOC to run its PDA products.[2] It is often rumoured that EPOC stands for "Electronic Piece Of Cheese" however Colly Myers, who was Symbian's CEO from founding until 2002,[3] said in an interview that it stood for 'epoch' and nothing more. This development effort produced the Psion Series 3 (1993–98) and the Psion MC-series laptops.

A second effort, dubbed Project Protea, produced the Series 5 Psion for sale in 1997, a completely new product from the 32-bit hardware upwards through the OS, UI, and applications.[2] It is still remembered for its high quality, especially its keyboard which despite its size allowed for touch-typing. But the entirely new feel of the product, and the removal of certain familiar quirks, alienated the loyal Series 3 userbase — who tended to stick with their robust PDAs rather than upgrade. Psion was also challenged by the arrival of cheaper devices running Microsoft’s Windows CE and the lower functionality approach of the Palm Pilot.

  The Software Legacy

The 32-bit EPOC developed by Project Protea resulted in the eventual formation of Symbian Ltd. in June 1998 in conjunction with Nokia, Ericsson and Motorola.[2] The OS was renamed the Symbian Operating System and was envisioned as the base for a new range of smartphones. Psion gave 130 key staff to the new company and retained a 31% shareholding in the spun-out business. The Symbian operating system as of 2007 powered around 125 million mobile phones such as the Sony Ericsson P900 series.

The development of new and updated products by Psion slowed after the Symbian spin-off. Other products failed or had limited success — a Psion Siemens' GSM device, a Series 5 based STB, the Wavefinder DAB radio, an attempt to add Dragon's speech recognition software to a PDA, Ericsson cancelled a Series 5MX derived smartphone project in 2001.

Psion had sold its sole manufacturing plant in 1999 and started to withdraw from its PDA markets in late 2001,[4] shedding 250 of 1,200 staff and writing-off £40 million. The PDA, which was once a niche market, had become a global horizontal marketplace where it was difficult for Psion to compete. The final blow for Psion's Organiser and PDA business came in January 2001 when Motorola pulled out of a joint project with Psion, Samsung, and Parthus, to create "Odin", an ARM-based PDA-phone.[2]

In 2000 Psion acquired Teklogix in Canada for £240 million, and merged its business-to-business division, Psion Enterprise, with the newly acquired company. Teklogix was re-branded Psion Teklogix. This division now forms the core of Psion Plc's business.[5]

In 2002 Psion created a new division called Psion Software. This business developed push email solutions for Symbian smartphones, Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Notes. This business was sold to Visto (USA) in 2003.

In 2004, Psion announced its intention to dispose of the company's remaining Symbian shareholding to Nokia, as they no longer regarded it as a core part of their strategy.[2]

  2010 onwards

Through its open innovation business model, Psion works with its customers and partners to design and build modular and customisable variants of its mobile hardware, software and services to address the needs of specific markets and industries. This collaborative development process happens via the company's open, online community, www.ingenuityworking.com. Launched in March 2010, Ingenuity Working achieved more than 35,000 visitors per month within its first six months.[6]

In January 2011, the company refreshed its corporate identity and developed a new logo, that it describes as an icon. It claims it did this to "demonstrate its new business model in action and to signal that it is no longer a consumer products company, which was symbolized by the old Psion logo".[7]

At the same time it removed Teklogix from its operating company name to create a "clear, unifying, global identity".[7]

  Psion and the term Netbook

Psion registered the trademark NETBOOK in various territories, including European Union Community Trade Mark 000428250 and U.S. Trademark 75,215,401, which was applied for on 18 December 1996 and registered by USPTO on 21 November 2000. They used this trademark[8] for the Psion netBook product, discontinued in November 2003,[9] and from October 2003, the NETBOOK PRO, later also discontinued.[10]

Intel started using the term netbook in March 2008 as a generic term to describe "small laptops that are designed for wireless communication and access to the Internet", believing they were "not offering a branded line of computers here" and "see no naming conflict".[11]

In response to the growing use of the term, on 23 December 2008 Psion Teklogix sent cease and desist letters[12] to various parties including enthusiast website(s) demanding they no longer use the term "netbook".[13][14]

In early 2009 Intel sued Psion Teklogix (US & Canada) and Psion (UK) in the Federal Court, seeking a cancellation of the trademark and an order enjoining Psion from asserting any trademark rights in the term "netbook", a declarative judgement regarding their use of the term, attorneys' fees, costs and disbursements and "such other and further relief as the Court deems just and proper".[15][16] The suit was settled out of court, and on June 2, 2009 Psion announced that the company was withdrawing all of its trademark registrations for the term "Netbook" and that Psion agreed to "waive all its rights against third parties in respect of past, current or future use" of the term.[17]

Similar marks have been recently rejected by the USPTO citing a "likelihood of confusion" under section 2(d), including 'G NETBOOK' (U.S. Trademark 77,527,311 rejected 31 October 2008), MSI's 'WIND NETBOOK' (U.S. Trademark 77,580,272) and Coby Electronics' 'COBY NETBOOK' (U.S. Trademark 77,590,174 rejected 13 January 2009)

  Psion and Linux

Psion PLC had a lengthy, but distant, interest in Linux as an operating system on its electronic devices. In 1998, it supported the Linux7K project that had been initiated by Ed Bailey at Red Hat, which was to port Linux to its Series 5 personal computer.[18][19][20] The project was named after the Cirrus Logic PS-7110 chip of the Series 5. Although this project was one of the earliest attempts to port Linux to a handheld computer,[21] it did not come to fruition for Psion. The project soon transitioned to an informal open source project at Calcaria.net that kept the name Linux7K. After the project transitioned again to sourceforge.net, the project's name was changed to a more general name "PsiLinux", and more recently to "OpenPsion". The project has developed Linux kernels and filesystems for the Revo, Series 5 and 5MX, and Series 7 and netBook.

In 2003–4, Psion Teklogix and its founder David Potter expressed interest in Linux as the operating system for its devices as it divested from Symbian.[22][23][24] However, the only result of that interest was Linux as the operating system on a limited number of custom NetBook Pro's designed for a hospital setting.[25]

The Embeddable Linux Kernel Subset project has produced a small subset of Linux that runs on Psion Series 3 PDAs.[26]


All these PDAs except the Psion netpad have a small keyboard, which excepting the Organiser and Workabout was of the standard QWERTY layout, or a regional variation thereof.



  1. ^ Figas, Jon. "Motorola Solutions buys Psion for $200 million". Engadget. http://www.engadget.com/2012/06/15/motorola-buys-psion-for-200-million/. Retrieved 15 June 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Litchfield, Steve (1998; updated 2005). "The History of Psion". Palmtop Magazine (UK Online). http://stevelitchfield.com/historyofpsion.htm. Retrieved 2008-12-27. 
  3. ^ Frankal, Elliot (2005-09-04). "Ask and it shall be texted to you". The Observer. http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2005/sep/04/theobserver.observerbusiness8. Retrieved 2008-12-27. 
  4. ^ Needham, Mark (February 19, 2004). "We Remembered Psion and Wept" (PDF). PC Pro. https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=explorer&chrome=true&srcid=0B2I-pNO-pfhoMjk5MTkwZTgtMzFmNC00NWRhLTg3YTQtYzVlYjNmNWQ1YzM3&hl=en_GB. Retrieved 2012-02-22. 
  5. ^ "Psion buys Teklogix". BBC News. 2000-07-12. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/830005.stm. Retrieved 2008-12-27. 
  6. ^ "Psion Launches IngenuityLive! as IngenuityWorking.com Marks Six Month Anniversary with Huge Industry Participation Rates". 2010-10-19. http://www.psion.com/uk/resource-centre/news_2010_psion-launches-ingenuitylive.htm. Retrieved 2011-10-19. 
  7. ^ a b "Psion Removes "Teklogix" Name and Refreshes Corporate Identity". 2011-01-31. http://www.psion.com/resource-centre/news_2011_psion-removes-teklogix-name-and-refreshes-corporate-identity.htm. Retrieved 2011-01-31. 
  8. ^ Psion netbook news release
  9. ^ Psion Discontinued Products
  10. ^ NETBOOK PRO discontinued
  11. ^ Paul Bergevin - VP and GM of Intel’s Global Communication Group
  12. ^ Psion Cease and Desist Letter
  13. ^ jkOnTheRun
  14. ^ Psion threatens netbook sites over trademarks
  15. ^ Complaint for Injunctive Relief, Declaratory Judgment & Cancellation of Federal Trademark
  16. ^ Intel Wants 'Netbook' Trademark Canceled
  17. ^ Psion, Intel settle 'Netbook' trademark dispute
  18. ^ Jones, Marc Ambasna (May 11, 1999). "Opinion: Mobile Linux for Bluetooth – spanner for Microsoft?". News (UK: ZDNet). http://news.zdnet.co.uk/software/0,1000000121,2071868,00.htm. Retrieved 2007-06-17. 
  19. ^ Jones, Marc Ambasna (April 23, 1999). "Mobile Linux for Psion pressures Win CE". News (UK: ZDNet). http://news.zdnet.co.uk/software/0,1000000121,2071685,00.htm. Retrieved 2007-06-17. 
  20. ^ Almesberger, Werner (1999). "Linux in the pocket - The Linux-7k project". Ottawa, ON, CA: Linux Symposium. http://www.linuxsymposium.org/1999/pocket.php. Retrieved 2007-06-17. 
  21. ^ Maddox, Paul (May 4, 2000). "Linux for handhelds: fact or fiction?". Wireless Developer Network (Linux Today). http://www.wirelessdevnet.com/channels/pda/features/linuxforhandhelds.html. Retrieved 2007-06-17. 
  22. ^ Kewney, Guy (February 9, 2004). "Psion looks past Windows to Linux as Nokia buys Symbian". News Wireless (newswireless.net). http://www.newswireless.net/index.cfm/article/423. Retrieved 2007-06-17. 
  23. ^ Partridge, Chris (July 8, 2003). "Psion prepares the way for the one true OS". Computing (VU Net). http://www.vnunet.com/computing/comment/2071752/psion-prepares-way-true. Retrieved 2007-06-17. 
  24. ^ Kewney, Guy (February 2004). "What Will Become the Next Scion of Psion?". eWeek (Ziff Davis Media). Archived from the original on 2007-11-26. http://web.archive.org/web/20071126014633/http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_zdewk/is_200402/ai_ziff118872. Retrieved 2007-06-17. 
  25. ^ Glover, Tony (May 23, 2004). "NHS deal with Psion heralds move away from Windows". The Business Online. Archived from the original on 2004-06-06. http://web.archive.org/web/20040606043910/http://www.thebusinessonline.com/Search/EditStory.asp?ID=6995. Retrieved 2007-06-17. 
  26. ^ "Introduction to ELKS": current status

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