Panasonic HHC RL-P1004A Mini Printer and Cassette Interface

Date of introduction:  September 1980 (Japan)
 January 1981 (US)
Display technology:  
New price:   Display size:  
Size:  3.7" x 4.5" x 2.4"
 95 x 114 x 61 mm3
Printer technology:  Thermal
Weight:  14.4 ounces, 407 grams Serial No:  4IAKA 04016
Batteries:  4*AA NiCd Date of manufacture:  mth 09 year 1984
AC-Adapter:   Origin of manufacture:  Japan
Precision:   Integrated circuits:  CPU: 5G03-005
 ROM: uPD2332C-PC001
Program steps:   Courtesy of:  Joerg Woerner

Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., outside of Japan better known under their brand Panasonic, developed already in 1979 together with the Franco-American company Friends Amis one of the World's first HandHeld Computers and named it accordingly HHC. The product targeted directly the stronghold of the legendary TI-59 with its innovative Solid State Software ModulesTM, storing customer-specific software applications with up to 5,000 program steps in small, user-accessible module. The innovative HHC went five steps ahead and added to the original concept of the TI-59:

Alphanumeric display with 26 characters instead of 7-segment display with 10 digits
High-level language support including BASIC and Forth instead of keystroke programmability
Three ports for plug-in ROM (Read-only Memory) modules for user applications or programming language support
Memory backup while the systems is powered off, up to 80 hours operating time on a battery charge
Many more peripherals than just a printer, e.g. RS-232 Interface, TV Interface, Modem etc

Product Management at Texas Instruments was obviously pretty impressed when Matsushita introduced the HHC in Japan in September 1980, about three months after Sharp's PC-1211. These two early contenders in the then new Pocket Computer arena and Casio's FX-702P, introduced in 1981, influenced not only TI's Advanced Language Computer (ALC) project but finally led to the cancelation of the TI Programmable 88, also known as the successor of the TI-59.

The HHC Pocket Computer was available in seven versions, mainly differing in the size of its RAM (Random-access Memory) to store user data and user programs and the regions of the market:

Panasonic RL-H1000, 2k Bytes RAM (1k user), expandable to 4k Bytes RAM, markets outside of Japan, MSRP $250
Panasonic RL-H1400, 4k Bytes RAM (3k user), markets outside of Japan, MSRP $500
Panasonic RL-H1800, 8k Bytes RAM (7k user), markets outside of Japan, MSRP $750
Quasar HK-2500TE, 2k Bytes RAM (1k user), Japan only
Quasar HK-2600TE, 4k Bytes RAM (3k user), Japan only
Quasar HK-2608TE, 8k Bytes RAM (7k user), Japan only
Olympia OL-H004, 4k Bytes RAM (3k user), some European markets only

While Texas Instruments offered for their TI-59 Pocket Programmable Calculator with the PC-100C only a huge, mains powered printer cradle, developed Matsushita for the HHC System a huge variety of peripherals:

Product Description MSRP (1981)
RL-P1002 Color Plotter, 4 colors, 114 mm plain paper, up to 80 characters per line  
RL-P1003 Mini Printer, thermal paper, up to 15 characters per line  
Mini Printer and Cassette Interface (Option A), 77 mm thermal paper, up to 40 characters per line  
RL-P2001 Video Interface, 16*32 characters or 64*128 pixels, eight colors, two-page memory  
RL-P3001 RS-232 Interface, up to 9,600 Baud  
RL-P4001 Acoustic Modem, up to 300 Baud  
RL-P6001 I/O Adapter, allows to connect up to five peripherals to HHC bus connectors (and a sixth one with a cable)  
RL-P9001 4k Bytes RAM Module, back-up battery  
RL-P9002 8k Bytes RAM Module, back-up battery  

Dismantling the featured Panasonic RL-P1004A Mini Printer & Cassette Interface manufactured in September 1984 by Matsushita in Japan reveals a very compact design with just one printed circuits board (PCB) centered around a single-chip microcontroller and powered by an internal rechargeable battery. The PCB is using three main Integrated Circuits (ICs) and some other components):

5603: Single-chip Microcontroller manufactured by NEC and using an 80-pin QFP (Quad Flat Pack) package
uPD2332A: 4k Bytes ROM manufactured by NEC in an NMOS process with customer code PC001 using a 24-pin DIP (Dual In-line Package) encapsulation
LB1256: 7-channel printer driver manufactured by Sanyo in a bipolar process and using a 18-pin DIP (Dual In-line Package) encapsulation

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Joerg Woerner, December 31, 2020. No reprints without written permission.