National Semiconductor Consumer Products
Home ] Up ]


web appliances....



Meet Audrey, 3Com's Wired Appliance
Stylish Web appliance supports e-mail and browsing, as first member of 3Com's Ergo family.


Peter Olafson, special to
Tuesday, October 17, 2000


3Com wants to introduce you to Audrey, the sleek first member of its Ergo family of Internet appliances, which takes a bow this week.

The $499 device is designed for accessing the Web and e-mail. 3Com has designed it with a keen sense of style, so perhaps its name is intended to remind you of Hepburn.

This slab of cream-colored plastic with shiny steel buttons frames a responsive 4.75-by-6.25-inch color touchscreen. The unit would look right at home in a well-appointed kitchen or a hip doctor's office.

Its scepterlike stylus is Audrey's crowning touch: When not in use, it rests in a recess atop the unit like an Internet antenna; when you have e-mail, its top blinks with a green glow.

3Com announced its foray into Internet appliances last spring, intending to ship the first member of the product family this summer. Then-chairman Eric Benhamou declared the units would be "bigger than Palm," the venture that makes handheld devices and spun off from 3Com earlier this year.


Access and Interface Options

Some of the 60 keys on Audrey's wireless keyboard were a little too narrow for a typist with large hands. But instead of typing e-mail messages, you can use the stylus to write one on the touchscreen (your scribble is sent as a .gif attachment) or use the built-in microphone to record a message (as a .wav file) up to three minutes long.

Audrey comes with a custom browser and works with many standard dial-up connections. If you add an optional $59 Ethernet adapter, you can use high-speed Internet connections.

A centrally located knob on the front lets you flip through 12 content channels specially tailored to the unit. You can refresh these pages by tapping an Update Channel button, or Audrey can perform updates automatically at intervals you can program. Mail and data will be only as current as the last update.

Audrey is pricier than some competing appliances. For example, the New Internet Computer costs just $199, sans monitor.

But the Audrey appliance allows you to choose your Internet connection, instead of being accompanied with the cost of a designated ISP, as with the Microsoft Network Companions. (See "Ready or Not, Here Come Net Appliances.")



What Happened to Internet Appliances?
Faulty premise and sky-high prices doomed Audrey and friends from the start, analysts say.


Tom Mainelli,
Thursday, April 12, 2001


Once heralded as potential PC killers, Internet appliances today are dropping faster than pet-supply dot-coms. They're bombing for some simple reasons, say analysts: They're based on several faulty concepts, most notably their function.

The main purpose of most Internet appliances today remains frustratingly unclear, says Milosz Skrzypczak, an analyst with the Yankee Group who recently penned a brief on the trouble with Internet appliances.

Are they supposed to be Web browsers, e-mail stations, or something else? And, he asks, if an appliance is supposed to do many of the things that a PC can do but it doesn't do them as well, where is the appeal?

And then there's the price. Most appliances sell in the range of $500 or more. If it's supposed to appeal to new users who don't want a PC, it's too expensive, he says. And if it's supposed to be a "companion" product to an existing PC, then it's much too expensive.

Rob Enderle, a research fellow at Giga Information Group, puts the failings of Internet appliances even more succinctly. "There was simply no proof the market wanted this," he says. "[Vendors] failed to place the customer in the mix."

The Rise and Demise of Net Appliances

As recently as last November's Comdex show, vendors were trotting out their Internet appliance visions of the future. Major vendors showed off new devices. Compaq unveiled its Compaq IPaq Home Internet Appliance, while Gateway showed the Connected Touch Pad, and 3Com heralded the Ergo family, including Audrey. Even the editors here at PC World seemed to think it was just a matter of time before the idea caught on.

But signs of problems were already appearing. Internet appliance pioneer Netpliance announced that same month it would stop selling its I-opener product. Later, Virgin announced it would suspend its Net appliance program just two months after launch.

Vendors should have known from the start these early products weren't going to fly, Enderle says.

"The technology wasn't ready for what people expected," he says. The LCD screens were too expensive to let vendors sell the products at more reasonable prices, and the back-end services weren't advanced enough to make simple Internet connections work the way people expected, he says.

"The whole thing was very poorly thought out," he says.

Live Fast, Die Young?

The fallout has been fast. Today, while Compaq still offers its IPaq model, Gateway is "rethinking" its Internet appliance strategy. 3Com has killed its Internet appliance line, including the well-received Audrey. In the end, 3Com's rash decision surprised even the analysts.

"Audrey was one of the best implementations of what turned out to be a really bad idea," Enderle says. "It could be the poster child for this."

Yankee's Skrzypczak says that while he found Audrey's capabilities wanting--particularly its Web browsing--he was amazed 3Com killed the product so quickly. "I was quite surprised--it must have been bleeding money at an enormous rate," he says.

While he didn't expect the first version of Audrey to be a huge success, with only six months on the market the product never had a chance. But future versions of Audrey would have been better, and its focus could have become more refined, he says.

However, by eliminating its Internet appliance line, 3Com also put down a product that could have been a more immediate success, he says. That product was the Kerbango Internet Radio.

Future Is in Single-Use Devices

The Kerbango product, developed by a company that 3Com acquired, was a good one, Skrzypczak says.

"Its sole purpose was to play Internet radio," he says. That type of product could work--you could see that at Best Buy, he says. Why? Because when somebody asks what it does, you say it plays music. And they understand that and they want it, he says.

"People will spend money if the purpose is clear," he says. It's the same reason Palm-based handhelds have found success--while they do many other tasks, their main purpose is as a calendar, and people want that, he says.

That's likely the future of Internet appliances, Skrzypczak says. They should be single-purpose products that are easy to use, connected, and relatively inexpensive. Handheld MP3 players are a logical extension of that model, he says. If you could connect your MP3 player to an Internet service and download songs for a small fee, you'd be interested. Same goes for an Internet-ready digital camera that would let you move your photos over the Web without a PC, he says.

For any of those devices to work well, however, people will want bigger pipes to the Internet, Skrzypczak says. "I don't see a successful appliance appearing before there is a sizable increase in broadband and networked homes," he says.

As a best-case scenario, he expects a resurgence of single-purpose Internet appliances sometime around 2003. By that time broadband will be more widespread, and "things will get more interesting."


National Semiconductor Introduces New Conceptual Product at Comdex

The Geode Extended Office is Designed for Road Warriors Who Need Wireless "Anytime Access" to Office Data, Business Applications and Video Conferencing

COMDEX, Las Vegas -- 17. November 2002 --National Semiconductor Corporation (NYSE:NSM), the leading silicon and systems provider for information access devices, today unveiled a new conceptual device for mobile office workers who need easy wireless access to all their office data and applications, including Windows XP and video conferencing.

The Geode™ Extended Office (GXO), created in collaboration with Citrix Systems, Inc. (Nasdaq: CTXS), a global leader in virtual workplace software and services, combines key Internet, office and video-conferencing applications in a compact portable about the size of a framed 5 x 7 photograph. Incorporating both Bluetooth™ and 802.11b wireless capabilities, the GXO is smaller, lighter and easier to carry than laptops. It also provides a brigh 6-inch TFT display with 1024 x 768 resolution. The screen is four times the size and offers five times the resolution of a high-end PDA.

The GXO extends National's tradition of introducing conceptual consumer products at Comdex with National's key technology partners.

"The Geode Extended Office takes the concept of worker mobility to a new level of functionality and productivity," said Mike Polacek, vice president of the Information Appliance Division at National Semiconductor. "Today's PDA's suffer from small displays and are incompatible with software, content and corporate security requirements. The GXO integrates PC-compatible software, ultra-low-power processing and wireless connectivity to ensure seamless interfaces to existing business infrastructure. This small, full-featured package is easy to deploy, easy to use, and fun," Polacek said.

The GXO is a wireless thin client that uses 802.11b connectivity to access corporate wireless LANs and Bluetooth to access web-based and other information sources through cellular connections. Utilizing technology from Citrix, the GXO can remotely run enterprise applications and access data that are stored on a server.

The GXO is based on National's SC2200 Geode™ integrated system-on-a chip. Embedded inside this chip is a fully PC-compatible x86 processor that ensures software compatibility with Windows XP and other PC software. The device is also enabled for both Citrix™ MetaFrame XP™ application delivery and management software and NFuse Elite Access Portal software. In addition to running virtually all software applications, the GXO has more features than a PDA and more functional mobility than traditional notebooks.

GXO Provides Instant Access on the Go
Armed with a GXO, an account manager en route to a customer meeting could use the device to get driving directions via on-board mapping software and GPS navigation. At the location, he or she could connect to web-based data at headquarters using a wireless 802.11b connection. Before starting a meeting, he or she can check email, contact information and meeting details. At the meeting, the account manager could connect to a projector and present the sales presentation using PowerPoint and use the GXO to print a copy of the presentation on a Bluetooth printer. Finally, he or she could open an Excel spreadsheet and conduct a videoconference with the home sales office to confirm shipping, delivery and pricing.

Key Features of the Geode Extended Office
The GXO is 7.3 inches wide, 5.8 inches high and 0.9-inches thick. Weighing one pound, nine ounces, National Semiconductor's GXO packs a world of functionality into a compact, easy to travel form factor.

GXO Features:
  • SC2200 Geode processor
  • Full Windows XP operating system
  • On-board digital camera for video conferencing
  • 6-inch TFT display with 1024 x 768 resolution
  • 10-gigabyte Toshiba hard drive
  • 802.11b and Bluetooth connectivity
  • Enabled for both Citrix MetaFrame XP and NFuse Elite

"Easy-to-use multifunctional products are sure to be popular with a large portion of the computer-literate market," said market analyst Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies. "The inclusion of standard protocols such as Bluetooth, 802.11b and the Windows XP OS, could transform National's conceptual device into a mainstream tool that can be used easily with existing systems and applications."

National's Technology Partners for the GXO
Working with world-class partners. National Semiconductor continues to create enabling technology for information access devices that connect consumers and corporate users to information and entertainment. Citrix Systems, Inc. is a global leader in virtual workplace software and services that provide access to applications, information, processes and people on any device, over any network, anywhere, anytime.

"Citrix is working closely with National Semiconductor to develop a server-based computing solution that provides mobile professionals with real-time remote access to business-critical applications and data so they can be productive at the office or offsite," said Keith Turnbull, vice president and general manager of Citrix's mobility business unit. "National's high-performance Geode processor and integrated analog chipsets continue to drive the market for thin client systems that enhance mobility, manageability and security, while providing lower total cost of ownership."

Other National partners in the GXO project include CoCom International, which provided platform board and mechanical design; and Studio RED, which provided industrial design and prototyping.

About National Semiconductor
National Semiconductor is the premier analog company driving the information age. Combining real-world analog and state-of-the-art digital technology, the company is focused on the fast growing markets for wireless handsets; displays; information infrastructure, and information appliances. With headquarters in Santa Clara, California, National reported sales of $1.5 billion for its most recent fiscal year and has about 10,000 employees worldwide.

TalkBack  49 of 65:
You are currently a: Guest | Login? | Terms of Use

Sounds like you want Origami!

Many of the features you're looking for were built into the Origami device built by National Semiconductor that was on display at Comdex 2001. They were supposed to be on the market by 2002, but never materialized.

The models on display there were even running actual copies of Windows 98 and XP, not just Pocket PC or Win CE.

While it may be a bit bigger than the average PDA, you do get EIGHT devices converged into one 7 1/2" x 4" x 1 1/2" platoform. The technology it was based on is a bit stale and I'm sure they could probably trim the fat a bit and make it even smaller if they tried.

It seems that National Semiconductor sold their interest in the Geode processor to AMD. We'll just have to see what AMD does with the concept.

Posted by: Wolfie2K3    Posted on: 03/17/04



Comdex Takes A Breather
Arik Hesseldahl,, 11.14.01, 12:00 PM ET

LAS VEGAS - Ask anyone who's attended the annual rite of chaos known as COMDEX for the last several years and you'll hear that each successive show seems somewhat smaller than the last. This year there was absolutely no denying it.

Corporate travel budgets were already cut way back before the tragedies of Sept. 11. In the wake of the attacks, several exhibitors were said to have cancelled their COMDEX plans. Indeed, in a typical year, the event has required not just the Las Vegas Convention Center but also the nearby Sands Expo and Convention Center to house all the exhibits. This year, the Sands stood empty while the Las Vegas Convention Center provided enough space for everyone--with room to spare.

It's probably just as well: After a string of COMDEX shows packed to the rafters with scores of products that often pushed the envelope, several areas of technology decided to take a breather. And many companies opted to show off prototypes that as yet exist only in a lab or on a product roadmap for the next couple of years.

National Semiconductor's Origami: Bend it, shake it, but you can't buy it.
The best example of this is easily the Origami Personal Communicator from chipmaker National Semiconductor (nyse: NSM - news - people). So named for the multitude of ways it can be folded, Origami is many products in one: a personal digital assistant (PDA) running Microsoft's Windows XP, digital camera, portable Internet access device, smart mobile phone and an MP3 digital music player that supports both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi wireless networking all crammed into a single package. Or rather it would be if it actually existed.

Anyone examining the Origami up close would have noticed that the tiny keyboard did little more than light up when its keys were pressed. The rotating digital camera worked on some of the units and the touch-sensitive screen was also functional. The colorful contortionist gadget is actually nothing more than a prototype whipped up in National's labs, meant to promote the virtues of its Geode SC3200 processor and get the minds of electronics companies thinking about new products that might use the chip.

It's not the first time National has used a prototype to anchor its presence at COMDEX. In 1998, it built a demonstration product that it called a Web pad--a portable flat-panel display screen that connected to the Internet wirelessly.* The pad concept was promoted to create a vehicle for National's first generation of Geode chips. Web pad products from several manufacturers, including Honeywell International (nyse: HON - news - people), have been on the market for more than a year; many use National's chip. Company executives say they expect it will be another few years before someone takes the Origami concept and turns it into a finished product.

One technology that makes products like Web pads readily portable is wireless networking, specifically the type technically known as IEEE 802.11b, but also popularly called Wi-Fi. After a multiyear debate over how home users would be most likely to build networks in their houses--which included using phone-line wiring, electrical outlets and even Ethernet cables commonly used in office networks--wireless networking has emerged as the big winner.

Several companies, among them Cisco Systems (nasdaq: CSCO - news - people), Agere Systems (nyse: AGRa - news - people) and 3Com (nasdaq: COMS - news - people), have developed products intended to make it easy to build a home wireless network. But it certainly has a long way to go: Getting a device like a laptop or PDA to talk to the wireless network properly and configure itself isn't always easy.

The fate of wireless networking is directly tied to the growth of broadband Internet connections in the home, such as cable modems and DSL connections. While there are thousands of people around the U.S. who have broadband access, a wireless network-- which lets several computers share a fast Internet connection at once--are certainly not all that common. Once you've used it, however, it's hard to go back. Microsoft has certainly thrown its weight behind the technology by making sure it works easily with the latest version of the Windows operating system. And if the tablet PC concept that Microsoft has been promoting takes off, it will likely rely heavily on wireless networking.

Wireless networking will also play a huge role in the corporate computing environment. Wireless connectivity to handheld PDAs, notebook PCs and pretty much any other type of work-saving device you can think of will play a big role in the next year or two, as companies look for ways to give people who spend a lot of workday time away from their desks a way to access stored information. Wireless capability is already starting to show up in some peripherals like printers. Japan's Toshiba announced a combined printer-copier-fax machine that can connect to the office network either with a wire or without.

And get ready for a new bit of IT buzz-jargon: B2E. Taking its lineage from B2B for business-to-business and B2C for business-to-consumer, B2E stands for business-to-employee. It refers to using wireless connectivity to bring the office network with you when you're away. It might also know to lock the screen of your office desktop machine when you've gone home for the night. John Prial, vice president of marketing at the Pervasive Computing Division at IBM (nyse: IBM - news - people), says we're only a few years away from networks that keep track of not only our data, but also our physical location. The network will be smart enough to direct e-mail to a mobile device based on the time of day or your location in or out of the office.

Wireless might be the spark that lights up corporate IT spending next year. A recent market study by Cahners In-Stat suggests that corporate America will finish 2001 having spent 12% less on information technology than in 2000.

But one strong argument for going wireless is to help increase the productivity of workers when they're away from the office. Given all the layoffs over the last year, there are thousands of workers still employed who believe they now have more to do. If that turns out to be the case, it might mean that by encouraging an increase in IT spending, those layoffs might contribute just a bit to the technology market's eventual recovery. And maybe even help foster more exciting COMDEX shows to come.

*A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Honeywell built the original demonstration Web pad.







Origami Mobile Communicator
Jenny Levine unveils the latest in hardware and software for those on the cutting edge

Why the name Origami? Because it can be folded in multiple configurations to be a digital camera, video camcorder, smartphone, or MP3 player. An integrated touch-screen makes the PDA functions easier to use. Built-in Bluetooth connectivity allows it to link to high-speed networks, because the Bluetooth protocol lets devices talk to each other without cables or wires. While similar to the Clie PEG-NR70V, because the Origami doubles as a cell it can be used for videoconferencing and e-mail. Measuring just 7½" x 3½" x 1½" and weighing about ten ounces, the device runs Windows XP embedded and has the option of a 1GB microdrive to handle the video storage requirements. Although originally a proof-of-concept device, the Origami may be available by the end of this year. Pricing is yet to be set.


For Librarians? In the future, patrons will be able to send and receive video and will want to download this type of content from libraries to their mobile devices—if we can circulate it. Perhaps a future edition of Fodor's Guide to Disney World will be a digital video that a patron can download to an Origami-like device and then view while waiting in line at Epcot.




Media Contacts:
Gayle Bullock
National Semiconductor
(408) 721-2033

Mike Brozda
National Semiconductor
(408) 721-3628


wpeA.gif (293627 bytes)
National Semiconductor Introduces Geode Origami Portable Mobile Communicator, Industry's First Device to Combine Eight Consumer Electronics Products In One Flexible Unit

Innovative conceptual device integrates wireless video communication and phone, digital camera, video camcorder, MP3 audio, PDA, Internet access, email and Microsoft Windows Embedded XP OS in a unique folding design

LAS VEGAS, NV-COMDEX-November 11, 2001- National Semiconductor Corporation (NYSE: NSM), the leading silicon and systems provider for information appliances, today unveiled a new handheld conceptual device that integrates today's most popular Internet and multimedia functions into a single, portable unit. About the size and weight of a small digital camcorder, the National? Geode? Origami? Mobile Communicator is a flexible unit that folds and unfolds to perform eight popular consumer electronics functions in one easy-to-use device.  The Geode Origami Mobile Communicator is a proof-of-concept device for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), developed under a joint agreement between National Semiconductor's Conceptual Products Group, Studio RED Inc., and CoCom International, Ltd.

"Origami is a glimpse into the future. It is a revolutionary convergence concept that artfully blends National's Geode integrated processor, and wireless, display and analog technologies," said Michael Polacek, vice president of the Information Appliance Division at National Semiconductor.  "Origami combines National's silicon and software technologies, innovative industrial design, and the Microsoft Windows Embedded XP operating system into a package that's small, incredibly feature rich, and ultimately fun to use."

Key Features of the Geode Origami Mobile Communicator
Measuring just 71/2" long, less than 4" wide, 11/2" thick and weighing about 10 ounces, Origami's flexible form factor reflects its multiple uses.  The Origami folds and pivots into a digital camera, video camcorder, smartphone, MP3 audio player, PDA, Internet access or Internet picture frame, email device or video conferencing terminal. 

"Origami is perfect for people on the move who want to stay connected to family, friends and business associates while accessing the information they need," said Michael Polacek.
Key features of the Origami include a 4" TFT LCD 640 x 480 resolution display with integrated touch screen support, integrated 16-bit stereo sound capability with built-in microphone and speaker, headphone and hands-free headset connectors, USB and Compact Flash ports and long battery life for hours of mobility. 

Origami utilizes Bluetooth? wireless technology for network connectivity.  PAN and LAN networks use a Bluetooth-equipped access point, while WAN uses a Bluetooth GSM or CDMA phone.  Origami can also be scaled for future 2.5 and 3G cellular networks such as GPRS and W-CDMA.
The device runs Microsoft Windows Embedded XP and leverages the broad array of applications already available for that platform - applications such as NetMeeting for videoconferencing, Internet Explorer 6.0 for browsing and Windows Media Player.

"Easy-to-use multifunction products will be popular with a large portion of the population," said Egil Juliussen, president of eTForecasts, a computer and Internet industry analyst firm. "Multifunction or convergence products tend to be a bargain versus several single-function products, and they take up less space."

National's Technology Partners
Studio RED, Inc., a Silicon Valley product development firm, has designed and engineered high-tech consumer products for almost 20 years.  National approached Studio RED to create the industrial design for its revolutionary Origami prototype.

"The challenge for Studio RED was to develop a totally new product identity that was the visual equivalent of National Semiconductor's incredibly advanced technology," said Victor Lazzaro, vice president of design for Studio RED.  "With a tight, unforgiving deadline, we produced a rugged, sophisticated design that complemented the wizardry housed inside.  We enjoyed working with an imaginative company like National.  Their innovation and curiosity freed us to really push the limits in pursuit of something spectacular."

CoCom International, Ltd., a worldwide leader in the design and manufacture of a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, completed the manufacturing process by combining the silicon content from National with the industrial design from Studio RED.

National Technology Inside
National's award-winning, high performance, low power Geode SC3200 processor is at the heart of Origami.  This processor features integrated, high-end video graphics and full 16-bit stereo audio that offers the optimal balance between cost, performance and power consumption, enabling manufacturers to build affordable, full-function devices. 

National's analog technology brings the Geode Origami Mobile Communicator to life with sound powered by National's Boomer? audio products, a display enhanced by National's LVDS technology, power management products that prolong battery life while increasing portability, and temperature sensors that monitor and maintain overall system health.  Origami is also designed to take full advantage of the complete range of features of National's Wireless Solutions Bluetooth Compact Flash card.

Origami is the latest in a series of industry-shaping products National has introduced at COMDEX Fall. In 1998, the company unveiled the WebPAD? device, which spawned a new category of products: information appliances.  Last year, National received the "Best of Show" award in the services category for its Geode WebPAD Metro, a wide-area mobile personal access device. National named its new Origami device after the Japanese art of folding paper into birds, animals or other artistic shapes. Addional information about Origami is available at  To view a high-resolution, downloadable photo of the Origami, visit National's photo gallery at

About National Semiconductor
National Semiconductor is the premier analog company driving the information age. Combining real-world analog and state-of-the-art digital technology, the company is focused on the fast growing markets for wireless handsets; information appliances; information infrastructure; and display, imaging and human interface technologies. With headquarters in Santa Clara, California, National reported sales of $2.1 billion for fiscal year 2001 and employs about 9,700 people worldwide.  Additional company and product information is available on the World Wide Web at


Who designed this  appealing looking product?

Studio RED, Inc.

click here  

and see the designers and some of their other thought provoking forms they have brought to items in our everyday life.

National Semiconductor Unveils Software Platform, Reference Schematic

Everyday we rescue items you see on these pages!
What do you have hiding in a closet or garage?
What could you add to the museum displays or the library?



DONATE! Click the Button Below!

Thank you very much!


Material © SMECC 2007 or by other owners 

Contact Information for
Southwest Museum of Engineering,
Communications and Computation 

Talk to us!
Let us know what needs preserving!


Postal address - Admin. 
Coury House / SMECC 
5802 W. Palmaire Ave 
Glendale, AZ 85301 

Electronic mail 
General Information: