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"The primary attraction [of writing sf] is the sheer pleasure of creating something from whole cloth."
- Dan Simmons

Minisec  
  A device like a personal digital assistant (PDA) today.  

Duncan Makenzie had a new minisec, and he was not quite sure how parts of it worked.

The 'Sec was the standard size of all such units, determined by what can fit comfortably in the human hand. At a quick glance, it did not differ greatly from one of the small electronic calculators that had started coming into general use at the end of the twentieth century. It was, however, infinitely more versatile, and Duncan could not imagine what life would be like without it.

Because of the finite size of clumsy human fingers, it had no more controls than that of its ancestor of three hundred years earlier. There were fifty neat little studs; each, however, had an unlimited number of functions, according to the mode of operation - for the character visible on each stud changed according to the mode.

From Imperial Earth, by Arthur C. Clarke.
Published by Harcourt Brace in 1976
Additional resources -

The device also had a dictionary function and could hold large amounts of data. It could also communicte with desktop console computers.

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