• Psion – A Brief History #clove20

    By Chris , November 22, 2012 - Leave a comment

    How Psion changed over the years.

    As part of the 20th birthday celebrations, we have a rare blog post from our MD Chris Love, who delves back to the early days of Clove and provides us with a brief history of the Psion devices that set the path for Clove and many other devices today.

    Psion Siena

    The Psion Siena was launched in 1996 and was sold alongside the Series 3c /3mx. It was designed to attract a larger audience of users to the Psion range, with its smaller slimmer size and numeric keypad. The OS was still EPOC but many programs had to be re-written due to its small memory size. The Siena included an infra red port for printing and connection to PC’s.

    Not a great success in terms of volume sales, but it probably led to the design of the Revo.

    Psion Revo

    Launched in 1997 it superseded the Psion 3 and became a light version of the 5mx. It lacked additional memory slots but did dun all the software for the Series 5. It led to more females using the Psions and was probably the route that Psion would have built design in future models if they had continued. The keyboard was excellent to use even though it was quite compact.

    Psion 5

    The Psion 5 was launched in 1997 and won many accolades from both the technical and national press. An advanced operating system in EPOC, a clear backlit screen with icon based applications and a touch screen, made it a hugely popular product and well ahead of the rivals at that stage, although major manufacturers were now looking at entering this market sector.

    It has a unique sliding clamshell design which allows the keyboard to slide forward and counterbalance the display. The Keyboard was a joy to use and allowed easy entering of data, with many books being written on it at the time.

    Memory could be added and the operating system allowed easy development of programs and the list of programs available for the 5 and 5mx was impressive, including a route planner from Palmtop BV, who went on to form the company that now dominates the Car GPS market with its TOM TOM devices.

    Already you could browse the web, email and handle internet banking (notably with Lloyds Bank at the time) using their travel modem.

    Psion Series 7

    The Psion Series 7 was launched in 2000, a design well ahead of its time and would be the base for the netbook designs from companies such as ASUS years later.

    Larger than a palmtop, but lighter and more portable than a laptop, with a full colour touch screen, it allowed users to be truly portable and yet productive. Its design even today outshines many of the netbooks that eventually replaced it. We were pleased to supply 250 of these to the UK gas safety organisation, named CORGI at that time with the Psion Series 7 for their field inspectors

    Psion also launched a NETBOOK in 1999 which was designed to be used by the mobile enterprise market, its major difference it that its OS ran from the RAM, which made it faster and easier to load customised versions of the software to suit individual applications.

    Did you use a Psion (we expect many did)?  What did you like or dislike about it? Could you imagine going back to it?


    Chris founded Clove Technology in 1992 and has developed Clove to become a well known and respected supplier for high end mobile technology and himself become a well known figure within the industry. A father of two Chris is a lover of fast cars, football and Formula One. He spends a lot of time out on his road bike and also likes to head to the slopes now and again to show off his skiing skills. Only the best will do for Chris, posh restaurants, luxurious hotels, flash road bike and of course... the most upmarket smartphone available!!


  • I loved the Psion 3 and then 5 (bought from Clove). The 5 was fab – so quick and responsive to use. And the route finder software you mention was great. Sadly missed. I still rate stylus input miles above touch sensitive screens.

    (Does this count for #clove20 ??) – Congratulations on significant anniversary

  • I had the use of a Series 5 for a bit, got slightly addicted to Bandit 😀 #clove20 #fondmemories

  • I had a 3c briefly then a 3mx, which lasted 2 or 3 years till I got my 5mx.
    Clove was where I went looking for my Psion stuff.
    I loved the instant on, and multi tasking with buttons to switch between “apps” as Psion called its programmes.

    The data app was so flexible, for contacts, or flat file databases.
    I could take notes in meetings with all of them if necessary.
    I kept mileage records by adding a colon and the miles to the appointment title in the calendar. I regularly backed up the psion to my PC and then opened the agenda in excel which allowed me to add up the mileage.

    Scrabble was pretty rubbish as the screen was wide but not deep.
    Memory cards were extortionate
    Microsoft Money was sort of ok, but I got quicken on my PC and that was the end of money for me.
    The hinges were not strong enough and eventually ALL of them succumbed to hinge snap.
    The 3a was pretty much black and white, I think the 5 had 16 shades of grey.

    When I moved to my hp hx4700 I really really missed the keypad. However it still had a stylus for accurate screen taps.

  • I started with the original Psion Organiser brick, followed by 2 Psion 3a’s ( both from Clove), a 5mx and a Series 7 (probably the most beautiful device I have ever owned!)
    Well done on 20 years great service.

  • Just come across your blog while Googling, yet again, for news of apps on either Android or Apple that come close to Psion Agenda, Data, Jotter and Palmtop Money. None of the tablet or phablet apps I’ve optimistically tried come near the practicality or versatility of those I still use on Series 5, Revo and Psion Netbook. Still hopeful, and would greatly appreciate any pointers you may be willing to give me. A certain nostalgia attaches to “Clove”, a Company that introduced me to PDA’s that for me, were the precursors to computers.

  • Filed under: Latest Posts

    %d bloggers like this: