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A simple inexpensive mobile computer (simputer) was designed to be a hand-held, mobile computer with image- and voice-based interactivity. Simputers were geared toward people in developing countries.
The simputer technology was released in 2002, but has not been actively marketed since 2005 and is now considered to be obsolete.
Poverty and illiteracy are two major obstacles for Third World countries working to expose their populations to computers. The simputer was designed to address both because it uses graphics, a touch screen and text-to-speech software rather than relying on text and a traditional keyboard.
In 1999, the simputer was created by the India Institute of Science and Encore Software with the goal of harnessing the potential of information technology for the benefit of the weakest sections of society.
Using the Linux OS, the simputer uses up to 64 MB of RAM and has at least 32 MB of flash memory. It featured a 240x320 touch screen, internal modem, infrared port and USB port.
In 2002, the first devices were distributed to government offices in India. The units were also used for electronic education in some areas, as well as for automobile diagnostics, tracking shipping movements and electronic money transfer in India and other developing countries. However, only 4,000 units had been sold by 2005. Critics say the computer's price prevented it from becoming the poor man’s computer it was designed to be.
Simcomputer technology is the forerunner of tablet PC technology and has now fallen by the wayside.