Small, mobile, diskless, and keyboardless computers that you write on with a magnetized pen will be in managerial shirt pockets by the end of 1994, promises developer GO Corp., of Foster City, Calif. Big deal; so will spiral-bound pads that you write on with a lead pencil, promises Eberhard Faber. But here's the difference: the electronic version reads your handwriting and, on command, transforms it into text and/or numbers. Then it processes the data just as any other computer does.
The user writes with a stylus on the face of the computer. Any traditional function -- word processing, number crunching, graphics -- can be integrated with any other, at any location on the screen. To add words or numbers to a document, you draw a caret and handwrite them in; to erase unwanted material, you simply X it out. GO claims a noncursive character-recognition accuracy of 95% to 98%.
The first commercial adaptation will likely measure 8½ inches by 11 inches by 1 inch, and will weigh four pounds. It will cost between $2,500 and $5,000. Robert Carr, a GO cofounder, anticipates it will be available by the end of this year.
Will the pen-based computer catch on as a productivity tool? Most likely, judging from the big players -- IBM, Apple Computer, NCR, WordPerfect, Borland International, and Lotus Development, among others -- who have already affiliated themselves with GO's platform. -- Robert A. Mamis* * *