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"Bureaucracies hide their mistakes, because people's careers are tied to those mistakes. Therefore, bureaucracies are a perfect mechanism for perpetuating mistakes."
- Frank Herbert

Pocket Computer  
  A pocket-sized computer.  

"...Aub!" There was something imperative about his manner of biting off that one syllable name, but then he was a great Programmer speaking to a mere Technician. "Aub! How much is nine times seven?"

Aub hesitated a moment. His pale eyes glimmered with a feeble anxiety. "Sixty-three," he said. Congressman Brant lifted his eyebrows. "Is that right?"

"Check it for yourself, Congressman."

The congressman took out his pocket computer, nudged the milled edges twice, looked at its face as it lay there in the palm of his hand, and put it back.

From The Feeling of Power, by Isaac Asimov.
Published by Worlds of Science Fiction in 1958
Additional resources -

Thanks to Brad Templeton for the tip on this item, and Winchell Chung for pointing me at the right thread.

Another relatively early use of this phrase is in Niven and Pournelle's classic 1974 novel The Mote in God's Eye:

Rod Blaine scowled at the words flowing across the screen of his pocket computer. The physical data were correct, but everything else was obsolete...

He put the instrument away...

See also this usage from their 1981 novel Oath of Fealty.

"Sinclair wants to do some outside work while we're dirtside." He took out his pocket computer and wrote quickly with the attached stylus. "Let's see, we're about one and a half billion kilometers from New Scotland, that's uh, make it a hundred hours to turnover. About two hundred hours' travel time, plus what we spend on Dagda...

Apparently, they also included some sort of wireless link, because (elsewhere in the novel) it says that, when the officers were off duty, they "could always be reached on their pocket computers."

Another early mention of a small "pocket computer" or note-taking device with some mathematical functionality built-in is the calculator pad from Foundation by Isaac Asimov.

Asimov also mentioned a "pocket-computer" in his 1975 story Point of View.

As far as I know, the first pocket computer sold as such was the TRS-80 PC-1 in 1980. It weighed 6.0 oz., had 1.5 kilobytes of RAM, was programmable in BASIC and cost $230.


(Radio Shack Pocket Computer PC-1)

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Feeling of Power
  More Ideas and Technology by Isaac Asimov
  Tech news articles related to The Feeling of Power
  Tech news articles related to works by Isaac Asimov

Pocket Computer-related news articles:
  - HTC Magic Smartphone At Google IO

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